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Demas, the Deserter

Learn More about Demas

Whereas John-Mark had an early collapse and then made a comeback, Demas started strong but ended in failure.

He began well. In Paul’s letter to Philemon, Demas is called a co-worker and in Paul’s letter to the Colossians, Demas sends his greetings. Clearly he was involved with Paul’s ministry in a helpful and supportive role.

However, in one of Paul’s darker moments, he sadly laments that Demas “loved the world” and “deserted me.” Despite his one-time standing as a co-laborer of Paul, the man did not finish well.

Jesus said, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” Demas first looked back and then he went back, turning his back on Paul, on ministry, and on God.

Looking to our past, we see both successes and failures. Today we stand at a crossroads. What will our future look like? Click To Tweet

Unlike John/Mark who started poorly and finished strong, Demas started well and finished poorly.

Looking on our past, we see both successes and failures. Today we stand at a crossroads. What will our future look like? Will we turn our back on our faith like Demas or finish well like John-Mark?

May it not be said of use that we loved the world more than God or that we deserted our friends and colaborers when they needed us the most.

[References: Philemon 1:24, Colossians 4:14, 2 Timothy 4:10, Luke 9:62.]

Read about more biblical characters in The Friends and Foes of Jesus, now available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Lessons from the Life of John Mark

Learn More about John Mark

There is an interesting story that begins in Acts 13. From it we can learn about the life of John Mark.

God tells the church to commission and send out Barnabas and Paul to other cities, telling the people they meet about Jesus. They do this, taking with them John (also called, John Mark or just Mark).

A Rough Start

The thing is, God didn’t tell them to take John Mark. He apparently doesn’t belong there. This is borne out later, when John Mark deserts Barnabas and Paul to return home.

Later, Barnabas wants to give John Mark a second chance (an example of mercy), but Paul says “no” (an example of justice). They part company over this disagreement, each going their separate ways.

This might seem like a bad development, but it turns out to be good, as they are then able to cover twice the ground, doubling their effectiveness and outreach.

A Strong Finish

For John Mark, his story ends on a positive note, too, with him and Paul later being reconciled (an example of grace) and Paul esteeming John Mark as his fellow worker and as being useful to him.

This is a great lesson in life. Despite making mistakes along the way, we can still finish well. John Mark did and so can we.

[Acts 13:2-3, 5, 13; Acts 15:36-41; Colossians 4:10, Philemon 1:24, and 2 Timothy 4:11]

Read about more biblical characters in The Friends and Foes of Jesus, now available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Four Johns but One Mark

Who Is John Mark?

In “Another Man with Two Names” we talked about a guy known as John Mark. Although no one knows why he’s called John Mark, it does distinguish him from other men in the Bible named John.

John

In addition to John Mark, I count four guys in the Bible with the name of John:

John Mark

It seems there is only one guy called Mark. Mark is mentioned eight times in the New Testament (three times as John Mark, twice as Mark, but referring to John Mark, and three times as Mark, likely referencing John Mark.)

Mark

Lastly, John Mark (sometimes called Mark) may have been the author of the book of Mark. Wouldn’t it be confusing if we called his book John-Mark, instead?

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Acts 1-4 and today’s post is on Acts 4:6.]

Read about more biblical characters in The Friends and Foes of Jesus, now available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Read more about the book of Acts in Tongues of Fire: 40 Devotional Insights for Today’s Church from the Book of Acts, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover. [Originally published as Dear Theophilus Acts.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Discover the Comeback of John Mark

Everyone Deserves a Second Chance

A person who keeps resurfacing in the Bible is a man with two names. Sometimes he is Mark, and sometimes he is John. For clarity, Luke often refers to him as John, also called Mark, John Mark for short. Let’s explore the failure and the comeback of John Mark.

John Mark’s story begins in Acts. When Peter is miraculously released from prison he heads to the home of John Mark’s mom, Mary. They are praying for Peter at that time. John Mark is likely a part of that prayer meeting (Acts 12:12).

Barnabas (John Mark’s cousin) and Paul take him on a missionary journey (Acts 12:25). He helps them at first (Acts 13:5). But after a while, John-Mark bales on them early on and returns home, to Jerusalem (Acts 13:13).

Later, Barnabas wants to give his cousin a second chance, but Paul adamantly disagrees and the two-part company over John Mark’s failure (Acts 15:37-40).

However, the story doesn’t end there. John Mark makes a comeback and wins Paul over. In Paul’s various letters, he affirms their relationship (2 Timothy 4:11), calls John Mark a coworker (Philemon 1:24), and asks the church to accept and welcome him (Colossians 4:10). 

Peter also affirms John Mark (1 Peter 5:13).

John Mark rushed into ministry before he was ready—he didn’t “count the cost” (Luke 14:28)—and did not prove to be faithful. Despite his poor start, he turned things around and finished well, helping both Paul and Peter.  He is likely the author of the gospel of Mark.

[Discover more about the Bible at ABibleADay.com: Bible FAQs, Bible Dictionary, Books of the Bible Overview, and Bible Reading Plans.]

Read about more biblical characters in The Friends and Foes of Jesus, now available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Another Man With Two Names

Simon Peter

Last week we talked about Simon Peter, a guy with two names. Another man with two names is John Mark. Unlike Abraham and Sarah who received new identities from God and Peter who got his second name from Jesus, the origin of John Mar’s two names seems to lack divine origin.

Perhaps his parents gave him one name at birth and his other label, a nickname bestowed by friends. Maybe he needed two names to avoid confusion with other guys named John and other dudes called Mark.

Regardless John Mark’s dual name does not seem to have any spiritual significance, but to simply be practical.

Even so, John Mark is a fun name to say.

[Read more about John Mark in “Lessons from the Life of John Mark” and “The Comeback of John Mark.”]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.