For Demas hath forsaken me.—This once faithful companion of St. Paul had been with him during the first imprisonment of the Apostle at Rome (Colossians 4:14; Philemon 1:24); but now, terrified by the greater severity and the threatened fatal ending of the second imprisonment, had forsaken his old master.
Having loved this present world.—Chrysostom paraphrases as follows: “Having loved ease and safety, chose rather to live daintily at home than to suffer affliction, than to endure hardship, with me, and with me to bear these present dangers.” The tradition, however, which relates that he became in after days an idol priest at Thessalonica is baseless. Demas is a shorter form, probably, for the well-known and now common Grecian name of Demetrius.
The present world (aiōna): that is, the present (evil) course of things.
Is departed unto Thessalonica.—From Chrysostom’s words above quoted, Thessalonica was apparently the “home” of Demas. It has been supposed, however, by some, that Thessalonica was chosen by Demas as his abode when he left St. Paul because it was a great mercantile centre, and his business connections were there, and he preferred them, the rich and prosperous friends, to St. Paul, the condemned and dying prisoner. Thessalonica was, at this time, one of the great cities of the empire. It was the most populous of the Macedonian cities, and had been chosen to be the metropolis of that great province. Before the founding of Constantinople, it was evidently the capital of Greece and Illyricum, as well as of Macedonia. It was famous throughout the Middle Ages, and is celebrated by the early German poets under the abbreviated name of “Salneck,” which as become the Saloniki of the Levant of our days. It is singular that the name of its patron saint, “Demetrius,” martyred about A.D. 290 (identified above with Demas), whose local glory (comp. Conybeare and Howson’s St. Paul, chap. 9) has even eclipsed that of St. Paul, the founder of the Church, should be identical with that of the “forsaker” of St. Paul
For Demas hath forsaken me – Demas is honorably mentioned in Colossians 4:14; but nothing more is known of him than what can be gathered from that place and this – that he was at first a friend and fellow-laborer of Paul, but that, under the influence of a desire to live, he afterward forsook him, even in circumstances where he greatly needed the presence of a friend.
Having loved this present world – This does not mean, necessarily, that he was an avaricious man, or that, in itself, he loved the honors or wealth of this world; but it means that he desired to live. He was not willing to stay with Paul, and subject himself to the probabilities of martyrdom; and, in order to secure his life, he departed to a place of safety. The Greek is, ἀγαπὴσας τὸν νὺν αἰῶνα agapēsas ton nun aiōna – having loved the world that now is; that is, this world as it is, with all its cares, and troubles, and comforts; having desired to remain in this world, rather than to go to the other. There is, perhaps, a slight censure here in the language of Paul – “the censure of grief;” but there is no reason why Demas should be held up as an example of a worldly man. That he desired to live longer; that he was unwilling to remain and risk the loss of life, is indeed clear. That Paul was pained by his departure, and that he felt lonely and sad, is quite apparent; but I see no evidence that Demas was influenced by what are commonly called worldly feelings, or that he was led to this course by the desire of wealth, or fame, or pleasure.
And is departed unto Thessalonica – Perhaps his native place. “Calmet.”