Demas [Dē'mas]—popular or ruler of people. A companion of Paul during his first Roman imprisonment (Col. 4:14; Philem. 24).
This seems to be an indication that this native of Thessalonica was not fully trusted even when he was near to Paul (Phil. 2:20). Scripture has this against him, that he forsook Paul for this present world (2 Tim. 4:10). It is amazing how a student of Comparative Anatomy can build up a whole unknown structure from one or two known bones. In the same way we can sketch the character of Demas from the few references to him in the Bible’s portrait gallery.
Before he met Paul we can picture him as an agreeable young man with no particular vice. The material of his character had no rent in it. It was only shoddy throughout. Under the strong influence of Paul’s personality, Demas was like a piece of soft iron, temporarily magnetized by the presence of a magnet. Becoming a disciple, he was carried away by the enthusiasm of sacrifice. He wanted to live with Paul and die with him, and have a throne and a halo among the martyred saints.
But when Demas came up to the great capital of the then known world in company with the Lord’s prisoners, Paul and Epaphras, it was a different story. He was not a prisoner, and gradually the contrast between the cell and the outer world became intolerable to him. He saw the magnificent halls of the Caesars, the gorgeous homes of the rich and the glitter of a world of music, venal loves, jest and wine. Such a gay world cast its glamor over Demas, and he yielded to its charms. The prison where his friends were languishing seemed wretched alongside the music-haunted, scented, dazzling halls of Rome. Thus Paul had to write one of the most heartbreaking lines in his letters:
“Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world.” This man of wavering impulse who surrendered the passion of sacrifice and sank in the swirling waters of the world, is a true reflection of the thought that where our love is, there we finally are.