“Luke the beloved physician and Demas greet you” (Colossians 4:14).
“Luke the beloved physician” is well-known to Biblical audiences as the human author of the Biblical book of Acts and the gospel that bears his name. Yet there may be more to Luke’s presence here in Colossians 4:14 than Paul the Apostle’s simple expression of affection for him.
For instance, let’s consider Paul’s efforts to preach the gospel and establish local church fellowships as chronicled in the book of Acts. Some portions of that book use first-person narrative terms such as “we” and “us” in describing Paul’s evangelistic work. This tells us that Luke must have accompanied Paul on some of those missionary journeys and personally experienced the history he would later record within the book of Acts.
Since it is widely believed that Paul suffered from some sort of eye disease or other physical ailment, it’s possible that Luke also attended to Paul in a professional capacity as a physician. So in addition to being a beloved friend and traveling companion, Luke’s position as a medical professional may have helped Paul fulfill his calling. Of all who served and traveled with Paul, it appears that Luke was the only one stayed with him until the end of his ministry (2 Timothy 4:11).
In contrast to Luke’s example, we have another person named Demas who is also mentioned here in Colossians 4:14. Much like Luke, Demas is identified as a “fellow laborer” with Paul in the New Testament book of Philemon. Unfortunately, Paul also wrote the following in some of his last recorded words: “…Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has departed for Thessalonica” (2 Timothy 4:10).
With this in mind, we can say that Demas was someone who started well in his relationship with Christ but finished very poorly. It appears that the influence of this world and the lure of having nice things was more important to Demas than using his time to advance the kingdom of God. Not only was his decision emotionally painful for Paul, it presumably meant that he missed his remaining opportunities to positively impact others for Christ.
These examples remind us that our decisions often lead to tangible repercussions for better or worse. Like these men, we also make real choices in real time that lead to real consequences that carry a real eternal impact. Perhaps this is why Ephesians 5:15-18 tells us, “Be very careful, then, how you live-not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”