Life-Study of 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus and Philemonby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In this message we shall consider from 4:9-22 the issue of the decline of the church.
In 4:9 Paul says to Timothy, “Be diligent to come to me quickly.” This is a loving and intimate word. Paul could write such a word only to one who was very close to him. Timothy was close to Paul and intimate with him.
In verse 10 we find the reason Paul charged Timothy to come to him quickly: “For Demas has forsaken me, having loved the present age, and has gone to Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia.” Loving the present age, the world now before our eyes, is in contrast to loving the Lord’s appearing, mentioned in verse 8. The world, the cosmos, is composed of many ages. It seems that every decade is a different age. The present age is the world which surrounds us, attracts us, and tempts us. Demas was one who loved the present age.
Some believe that Demas came from Thessalonica and that this was the reason he went to Thessalonica after forsaking Paul. But whether or not he was a native of that city, it is certain that he went there because he loved the world and forsook the apostle.
Verse 10 is difficult to understand because the predicate “has gone” governs not only Demas, but also Crescens and Titus. This means that Demas had gone to Thessalonica, Crescens had gone to Galatia, and Titus had gone to Dalmatia. Does this indicate that Titus, like Demas, left Paul in a negative way? If it were not for the fact that the name of Titus is presented positively in the New Testament, I would understand this verse to say that Demas, Crescens, and Titus all left Paul in a negative way. At least, I would take it to mean that Crescens and Titus took their own way. However, I find it difficult to believe that Titus would leave Paul in a negative way, especially after he had received from Paul an epistle addressed to him. After Paul had been arrested and imprisoned the second time, Titus visited him. Although I find it hard to believe that he forsook Paul, it is nonetheless a fact that he is categorized with Demas in verse 10. Did Paul send Crescens to Galatia and Titus to Dalmatia? We do not know for sure if they were sent by Paul or if they went on their own initiative.
In verse 11 Paul says, “Luke alone is with me. Take Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for the ministry.” The fact that Paul says that Luke alone is with him may indicate that Titus left either in a negative way or in a neutral way. Demas forsook Paul because he loved the present age; Titus may have left him for some other reason. Because Paul was suffering as a prisoner in Rome, none of his co-workers should have left him for any reason unless they were sent by Paul. They should have remained there with Paul to strengthen him. Paul’s word about bringing Mark also indicates that he needed helpers to strengthen him. Ultimately we must leave to the Lord the question of whether Titus was sent by Paul to Dalmatia or went there on his own.
Verse 12 says, “Now Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus.” It is difficult to decide how to translate the first word in this sentence. We could use now, but, yet, or and. I prefer to use either but or yet. It seems that Paul is saying, “Although I need helpers and although I need you to come quickly and bring Mark with you, yet I have still sent Tychicus to Ephesus.” Although we may have difficulty deciding how to render the Greek word at the beginning of this sentence, we can still praise the Lord that there was a church in Ephesus, that Paul could send a brother there, and that there was a brother willing to be sent. Thank the Lord for such a sending!
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