-Luke and Demas Extend Their Greetings to the Colossians
Lesson # 118
Luke, the beloved physician, sends you his greetings, and also Demas. (NASB95)
Luke, our physician, who is the beloved one, gives his regards to each one of you as well as Demas. (My translation)
completes a section of this epistle which began in and which contains greetings from several of Paul’s companions in Rome.
In these verses, Paul passes along greetings to the Colossian Christian community from men who were his companions in Rome.
In verses 10-11, he passes along greetings to the Colossians from three of his Jewish Christian brothers, namely Aristarchus, Mark and Jesus how was also known by the name Justus.
In verses 12-14, Paul passes along greetings from his Gentile Christian brothers, namely Epaphras, Luke and Demas.
Notice, that Paul describes Luke as the doctor for both himself and his companions with him in Rome.
Some argue that there is no evidence for this being the case.
However, it is hard to believe that Luke would not serve as Paul’s doctor if he was in the apostle’s presence.
No doubt, when Paul needed medical attention and Luke was present, the latter treated the apostle.
The vocabulary and skill in the use of the Koine Greek language in the gospel of Luke reveals that Luke was a very well educated man.
Peter Davids writes “Luke’s designation as a physician indicates that he had some learning, although given the unsystematic state of medicine at that time it would be hard to say how much education he had. Nor can we say anything about his status in that slaves were often highly educated by their masters if a particular expertise were needed in the household. Luke could have obtained what training he had as a free man or been trained as a slave and later received his freedom, perhaps as a reward for healing received through his hands. Whatever his previous history, Paul thought highly of him, which contrasts with the negative cast given to physicians in other biblical texts.”
Keener writes “Physicians were well educated but were often slaves or freedpersons, with relatively low social status. Although most physicians were men, women physicians besides midwives are known. It is possible that Luke studied medicine in Laodicea (where there is evidence of a prominent medical practice) or practiced for a healing cult in Hierapolis (before his conversion); the readers seem to have heard of him.”
is the third time in Paul’s epistles, in which he passes along greetings to a Christian community from Luke.
The other two occurrences are in and .
Demas is also mentioned again by Paul in as well as .
Epaphras, my fellow-prisoner in the cause of the Christ, who is Jesus, gives his regards to you 24 as well as Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my co-workers. (Author’s translation)
Notice, that like , mentions Luke, Demas and Epaphras together as being his companions in Rome.
In , Luke as well as Mark, Aristarchus and Demas are described as Paul’s co-workers in the service of the body of Christ and the gospel.
This emphasizes that they employed their time, talent, treasure and truth to serve the Lord Jesus Christ and His body, the church.
This description indicates that they helped Paul in propagating the gospel throughout the city of Rome.
All five of these individuals appear in , and 14, which suggests strongly that Paul wrote Colossians and Philemon at approximately the same time in Rome.
The apostle’s description that these four were his co-workers also demonstrates his great appreciation for their service in the cause of Christ while in Rome.
Unfortunately, in , Paul says that Demas deserted him because he was in love with the cosmic system of Satan and went to Thessalonica.
Please don’t delay, make every effort to come to me soon 10 because Demas has deserted me because he loved this present age. He also traveled to Thessalonica. Crescens traveled to Galatia. Titus traveled to Dalmatia. (Author’s translation)
“Demas” refers to an individual who Paul in describes along with Aristarchus, Mark and Luke as his fellow worker.
The apostle Paul states that the reason why Demas deserted him was that he loved this present age.
This is referring to the particular period of human history in which the devil is the temporary ruler over planet earth in contrast to the age to come, i.e. the millennium, when Christ will rule planet earth (cf. ; ; ).
This age is characterized by suffering for the Christian in contrast to the millennial age in which they will be free from suffering.
When Paul says that Demas loved this present age, he means that this apostate Christian took pleasure in the cosmic system of Satan because he held it in high regard and it gave him satisfaction.
Demas loved the cosmic system of Satan in the sense that he took pleasure in it because he held it in high esteem so that it became more important to him than his relationship with God and the body of Christ.
This stands in direct contrast to Paul and other faithful Christians who loved the appearing of Jesus Christ (cf. ).
Demas was disobeying the command of .
Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever. (NASB95)
Only Luke is present with me. Please get and bring along with yourself Mark because for my benefit he is useful for service. (Author’s translation)
After informing Timothy that Demas had deserted him and that he had dispatched Crescens to Galatian and Titus to Dalmatia, Paul informs him that only Luke was present with him in Rome.
However, in , Paul passes along greetings from Eubulus, Pudens, Linus, Claudia and all the brethren.
So how are we to understand Paul’s assertion here about Luke?
It appears to be a contradiction but it is of course not a contradiction.
Paul’s assertion that Luke alone was with him means that Luke was the only Christian permitted in the Mamertine dungeon in Rome so he might take care of Paul’s health needs since he was a doctor.
Luke was also serving as Paul’s secretary and was serving as his amanuensis when dictating this second epistle to Timothy.
On the other hand, the individuals he mentions in were not with him in prison on a day by day basis but were simply acquaintances from the Roman church whose greetings the apostle was simply passing along to Timothy.
The early church fathers say that Luke was from Antioch, which is substantiated by several passages in Acts (; ; ; , ; ).
He is mentioned in the writings of Paul in , and here of course in .
Many scholars believe Luke wrote his Gospel and the book of Acts while in Rome with Paul during the apostle’s first Roman imprisonment.
Apparently, Luke remained nearby or with Paul also during the apostle’s second Roman imprisonment.
Shortly before his martyrdom, Paul wrote that “only Luke is with me” ().
An early source supplied a fitting epitaph: “He served the Lord without distraction, having neither wife nor children, and at the age of 84 he fell asleep in Boeatia, full of the Holy Spirit.”
 Davids, Peter H.; Cornerstone Biblical Commentary; Colossians, Philemon; page 308; Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Carol Stream, Illinois; 2008.
 Keener, C. S. (1993). The IVP Bible background commentary: New Testament (). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 McNeal, T. R. (2003). Luke. In C. Brand, C. Draper, A. England, S. Bond, E. R. Clendenen & T. C. Butler (Eds.), Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (C. Brand, C. Draper, A. England, S. Bond, E. R. Clendenen & T. C. Butler, Ed.) (1056–1057). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.