The Problem of Opposition Part 1
2 Timothy 4: 10-22
By: Mike Stokes
When everyone is pulling for you it is encouraging, but a little opposition can be devastating, the sting of criticism can shatter enthusiasm. Paul, in v9-18 gives guidelines on how to keep going and overcome the pressures of opposition. When everything is going bad there is a tendency to imagine, it is in the mind where our battles are won or lost, Satan is only too happy to whisper in our ear, making suggestions that are inconsistent with reality.
Paul, who was incarcerated in Mamertine prison in Rome, shares with us his thoughts. This passage could have run over with names of people who opposed him and his work, but he only identifies two men. We can adopt this information to our own experience. It is important to identify the resistance. Note, Paul first identifies his opposition by name: Demos and Alexander (v10, 14).
Demos, we could say, represents the milder form of opposition. Paul says, “Demos has forsaken me,” which means, “To abandon,” to “Leave in a lurch,” to “Walk away.” He had trusted Demos and he let him down. When this type of thing happens to any of us we often feel disillusioned, bitter, and an urge to retaliate. This kind of response will defile and destroy a family or a church. What caused Demos to desert Paul? His love for the world (v10). We can follow the erosion of his life: Philemon 1: 24 Paul refers to Demos as, “Fellowlabourer” an enduring title; Colossians 4: 14, there is something very subtle here, Demos is identified by name only, no special title. Had Demos changed with time? We can only conclude that he made a willful and determined decision to walk away.
Alexander, by comparison, represents a drastic form of opposition, he actively assaulted Paul’s person and ministry. Paul says he vigorously opposed our teaching (v15). Alexander made slanderous or strong accusations against Paul, he made up things and attacked Paul’s character.
So, Paul has identified the resistance by name: Demos and Alexander, and by method. Demos illustrates a passive resistance, expressed by quiet desertion; Alexander illustrates aggressive resistance, expressed by public opposition.
I do not think we can expect to make an impact for Christ in the world without opposition, misunderstandings, misrepresentation, and misinterpretation. Next time we will examine Paul’s method of dealing with-The Problem of Opposition.