Empty Nest Remorse: 2 Timothy 4:9-13
“9) Make every effort to come to me soon; 10) for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica; Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia.” 2 Timothy‬ ‭4:9-10‬
As Paul faced his eminent martyrdom, some of his team and men that he had mentored began to scatter from him. Demas is mentioned also in Colossians 4:14 in a positive light. He seemed to be closely associated with Luke.
The reference of him having loved this present world is not to be taken that he was embracing a life of sin and pleasure and was turning his back on Jesus. Rather it appears that he was not being held in Rome for legal prosecution as was Paul and decided to chose life over death. His departing for Thessalonica was a safe alternative. The same was true for Crescens and Titus.
As the end was drawing near, Pauls team began to scatter. Luke remained with him. He was appealing for Timothy to make every effort to come to him. He also wanted Mark to join him. According to verse 15, he sent Tychicus to Ephesus.
Though it is natural to feel a sense of personal abandonment, his team spreading out may have been by divine providence. They were going to key area’s where Paul himself had ministered. They were the second wave of leaders so needed by the early Gentile church.
I may be wrong in my view of this text, but Paul does not seem to be placing any condemnation on these men, but he was very naturally feeling lonely in his own darkest hour. God had other plans for them.
Herein is a difficult mystery of the spread of Christianity. The church grows by multiplication followed by times of Spirit directed dividing and spreading out.
Families are the same way. As children mature, they gradually spread their wings and launch into life to start the cycle over again. But the empty nest can be awkward and lonely. It leaves many parents with remorse.
I see this text as Paul very possibly wrestling with the empty nest phenomenon. His team was providentially spreading out, while he was left to face his own pending fate. Holding those we mentor with an open hand and watching them fly away into their own calling is not easy, but it is necessary.
As a side note, Luke opted to stay with Paul. In the process he suddenly vanished from the pages of history. This valued historian wrote the gospel of Luke and the book of Acts, then he suddenly goes silent.
In my view, the book of Acts ends abruptly. We are now left with mere speculation. 2 Timothy 4:11 is the last mention of him in the Bible. One can only wonder if his decision to stay with Paul sealed his own fate?
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global