Choice of Matthias (Acts 1:15-26) (Part 1)

1.0 Statement

Most Christian and Bible Scholars feel that Peter and the Apostles were not acting in the will of the Lord Jesus in choosing Matthias to replace Judas Iscariot because they hold the position that Paul was the replacement instead of Matthias, basically, for three reasons:

  1. Prominent – Paul has “a huge place” in the New Testament, being the Writer of 14 Books of the New Testament (if it includes the Book of Hebrews). The biography of his life and ministry is recorded in the Book of Acts. He is sometimes considered to be the greatest of the Apostles. In fact, on this basis, some have felt that Paul was God’s choice to replace Judas Iscariot among the Twelve. Furthermore, Matthias was not heard of again in the Scripture.
  2. Jesus’ Choice –Jesus Himself personally chose Paul on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-16). 
  3. Casting Lots – Casting lots was not an appropriate way to choose a replacement of an Apostle in place of Judas Iscariot.

1.1 Divine Government

Since the fall of Judas Iscariot, it leaves the Apostles as eleven in number – number eleven speaks of incompleteness, disorganisation; disintegration; lawlessness (Genesis 32:22; Genesis 35:16, 18; Genesis 37:9; Matthew 20:6; Ex.26:7; Deuteronomy 1:2; Daniel 7:24) – this could not be the state of the Divine Government of God on the eve of the birth of the Church (Acts 2) – Peter and the Apostles have to choose another Apostle to replace Judas Iscariot, who fell, to bring it to twelve (Number 12 speaks of Divine Government) – since they did not yet have the New Testament to guide them, they followed an acceptable Old Testament practice of “casting lot” (Acts 1:23-26; Leviticus 16:8; Numbers 26:55; 1Samuel 14:41; Proverbs 16:33) and prayed that God would guide them in the choice of another Apostle.

The Writer (R/S) is of the opinion that Peter and the Apostles acted correctly under the Divine Guidance of the Lord Jesus Christ and appointed Matthias to take the place of Judas Iscariot – Acts 1:24-26 (NKJV) “And they prayed and said, You o Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell…..And they cast their lots, and the lot fell on Matthias. And he was numbered with the eleven apostles.” Matthias (má-thí-ás) means “Gift of Jehovah.” Of the family of Matthias, no account is given, and of his life we have no account, excepting the record in Acts 1:15-26, viz., him being chosen as an Apostle in replacement of Judas Iscariot.

1.2 The Selection Process

The one hundred and twenty Disciples were assembled in the upper room at Jerusalem, waiting for the advent of the Holy Spirit. There was a Presbytery (Apostolic) of Jerusalem who met with the Congregation for the selection of the Successor to Judas Iscariot. The meeting was under the supervision of Peter. The Successor must be an associate. He must be in fellowship with other leaders and a Believer over a prolong period of time. Peter “laid down” the essential qualifications for the Apostolic Office:

  1. He must have been a companion of Jesus – “Wherefore, of these men who have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us” (Acts 1: 21, KJV). From His (Christ’s) baptism by John the Baptist till His (Christ’s) Ascension (Acts 1:22, KJV). Matthias was a Disciple of John the Baptist with Andrew and Simon the sons of Jonas, and John the son of Zebedee. “The next day John seeth Jesus coming to him, and saith to them (including Matthias), behold the Lamb of God.” Matthias heard him speak, and he followed Jesus, along with John and Andrew, as Peter tabled Matthias’s name on the day of election. Matthias was left out in the initial selection of the 12 Disciples (later became Apostles) by the Lord Jesus. However, Matthias did not let his heart sour. He accepted being set aside as his proper place. He continued to follow the Lord Jesus for three and a half years – “Wherefore, of these men who have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us” (Acts 1:21, KJV). Not only Matthias keep true to his Master through all these times of waiting and disappointments, but he continued to behave himself and to lay out his life just as if he had been elected. Thus, Peter was able to certify to the character and faithfulness of Matthias to the one hundred and twenty at the Presbytery meeting at Jerusalem in Acts 1:21-26. Delay and disappointments tested Matthias’ character and are extended opportunities to enable him to be somewhat ready when the time arrived (Acts 1:23).
  2. Matthias must have been a witness of  Jesus’  Resurrection  –  “Must  one  be  ordained to be a witness with us of His resurrection” (Acts 1:22). Two such men were chosen, but the ultimate decision was referred to God Himself by the sacred “casting of lots,” accompanied by prayer. The two were:
    • Joseph, called Barsabas, and surnamed the Justus.
    • Matthias, upon whom the lot fell.

A momentous decision was about to be made. Immediately the Disciples set themselves to praying – Acts 1:24 (KJV) “And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen.” The Lord Jesus to whom the prayer was addressed because He had chosen the original Twelve Apostles was now asked to choose another in replacement of Judas Iscariot. Two levels of involvement in the selection process:

  • Leadership’s Responsibility – We must remember that before the lots were cast, they selected two men whom they judged most worthy to fill Apostolic position left vacant by the fall of Judas Iscariot – Acts 1:23 (KJV) “And they appointed two. Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus and Matthias.”  
  • Divine Sovereignty – Having passed this difficult screening test, they were now prepared to receive God’s Will. Casting lots to discern God’s Will was a sacred institution in Ancient Israel. The Disciples believed in God’s providence and remembered: “The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD” (Proverbs 16:33, KJV). The lot fell on Matthias, and he was chosen and appointed (numbered – Acts 1:26) among the Apostles. No further records in the New Testament after the election and appointment into the Apostolic Office.

To be Continued….. Stay Tuned…..

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