9 Make every effort to come to me soon, 10 because Demas has deserted me, since he loved this present world, and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. 11 Only Luke is with me. Bring Mark with you, for he is useful to me in the ministry. 12 I have sent Tychicus to Ephesus. 13 When you come, bring the cloak I left in Troas with Carpus, as well as the scrolls, especially the parchments. 14 Alexander the coppersmith did great harm to me. The Lord will repay him according to his works. 15 Watch out for him yourself because he strongly opposed our words. 16 At my first defense, no one stood by me, but everyone deserted me. May it not be counted against them. 17 But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that I might fully preach the word and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. 18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil work and will bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever! Amen.
2 Timothy 4:9-18
Have you ever felt the deep heartache of watching a loved one turn away from their faith in Jesus? Or have you experienced betrayal by someone you’ve invested in or discipled? In our 20+ years of ministry work, my husband and I have seen many seemingly faithful followers of Jesus turn their back on the gospel. Some because they were hurt by another believer and couldn’t escape the perceived hypocrisy. Some because they didn’t fan the flame of their faith and their light went dim. And still others because they simply wanted what the world had to offer more than what Jesus could give them.
When someone you are personally discipling acts defiantly or abandons their faith, the pain and heartache are often intensified. In this passage, Paul mentions two men in his circle who defied or denied the truth. His grief is evident as he updates Timothy about his circumstances and some of their former partners in ministry.
The first person he mentioned, Demas, is noted elsewhere in scripture as having traveled with Paul on his missionary journeys (Colossians 4:14, Philippians 1:24). Despite having had the benefit of traveling with (and undoubtedly learning from) Paul, Demas abandoned their mission because he “loved the things of this life.”
The second person mentioned, Alexander the coppersmith, was likely an elder in the church of Ephesus. It’s possible that Paul discipled him in the early days of the Ephesian church. Paul was forced to remove Alexander from the church so that “he might learn not to blaspheme God” (1 Timothy 1:20). Alexander is believed to have played a role in having Paul thrown into prison.
Though Paul suffered these losses and betrayals, he modeled what we should do when other believers we’ve invested in reject us or the gospel. First, he prayed for them, and asked that their betrayal not be held against them. Second, he trusted God to redeem the situation. He reminded himself that it was the Lord who stood with him and strengthened him, so that the gospel would be made known to the Gentiles. Third, even in the difficulty, he praised God.
In this difficult situation, we must also remind ourselves that ultimately God is the sovereign redeemer. While we must certainly do all we can do for reconciliation and healing, we can prayerfully trust in God’s plan and in His power to redeem and restore.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- Have you experienced betrayal or pain from someone you’ve invested in who has walked away from Jesus? What was your initial reaction?
- How can you pray for that person today?
Pray for David and Laura, our church family’s global workers to Western Europe of 30 years. They have relocated to London temporarily, and are waiting on the Lord for the next step in their journey. Pray for wisdom and direction, and for Europeans to hunger for the Lord.