Choice of Matthias (Acts 1:15-26) (Part 2)

1.3 Casting of Lots

It was a method allowed in the Old Testament for making decisions under God’s guidance (Leviticus 16:8; Numbers 26:55; 1Samuel 14:41; Proverbs 16:33). The “casting lots” (Acts 1:26) which may have been identical with “Urim and Thummim,” by this method officers were chosen for:

  • The Temple (1Chronicles 24-25).
  • The truth was brought to light (1Samuel 14:41).
  • Offenders were brought to justice (Joshua 7:16).
  • Arguments settled (Proverbs 18:18).
  • The Land of Canaan divided among the Tribes (Numbers 26:55).

In this way the Israelites were able to believe that the resulting decision was from the LORD. This was because of their belief in God’s Sovereignty and His Will (Proverbs 16:1-4). Casting of Lot is recognised by the Law – Leviticus 16:8 (KJV) “And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats: one for the LORD, and the other lot for the scapegoat.” Two explanations by the Expositors:

1. Grotius – According to Grotius, this was taken by means of two urns. In one they placed two rolls of paper, with the names Joseph and Matthias written within them, and in the other two rolls, one with the word “Apostle” and the other blank; and one roll was drawn from each urn simultaneously. This suggestion by Grotius is less acceptable by most Expositors.

2. Clark (Com.) thinks that the selection was by ballot, the Lord directing the mind of the majority to vote for Matthias. In the case of selection by lots there was no chance; for “the lot is cast into the lap (properly urn); but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD” (Proverbs 16:33 – KJV). The method of casting lots as expounded by Clark (Com.) is “better-in-line” with the biblical Expositors.

  • Proverbs 16:33 (Amp. Bible) “The lot is cast into the lap, but the decision is wholly of the Lord – even the events (that seem accidental) are really ordered by Him.”
  • Proverbs 16:33 (NIV) “The Lot is cast into the lap, but its decision is from the Lord.”

Proverbs 16 begins with the theme of God’s Sovereignty (Proverbs 16:1-4) and ends with His control even in the casting of lot (Proverbs 16:33). Proverbs chapter 16 robustly affirmed that God is in control, even over what may appear to be mere chance events, like casting lots. The Name picked was qualified in the eyes of the Leaders and the Congregation. Therefore, any one of the nominations could serve as an Apostle. However, by casting lots, there was great trust that God would use the casting lots to see that His choice was picked. The casting of lot was the last act of the Old Testament (Acts 1:15-26) before the Coming of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Church (Acts 2:1-4). This method was never again in use once the Holy Spirit is given to the Church.

1.4 Close of the Old Dispensation

The casting of lots was the last act of the Old Testament Era – The Last Dispensational Act was an act consistent with the close of the Old Dispensation. The New Dispensation (Church Age) begins in Acts 2, the Coming of the Holy Spirit, and the birth of the Church:

  • Proverbs 16:33 “The lot is cast into the lap, but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord.”
  • Acts 1:26 “And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.”

1.5 The Choice of Matthias

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 on the eve of the birth of the Church:

  1. Divine Government – Matthias was numbered with the eleven Apostles (Acts 1:26) to bring forth Divine Government and Apostolic Fullness before the birth of the Church. Number 12 = Divine Government and Apostolic Fullness (Revelation 12:1, 12, 21; Revelation 22:2). Note the 12 in the Holy City of God (Revelation chapters 21 to 22). It was fitting that the Foundational Apostolate should be complete before the Outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Church and its first preaching:
  2. Matthias – The choice of the Successor in place of Judas Iscariot was foretold in the Old Testament “For it is written in the book of Psalms,…and his bishopric let another take” (Acts 1:20; Psalm 109:8). What is clear about the choice of the Successor to Judas is that it was the Holy Spirit who prompted David to prophesy that the Successor to the Betrayer (Judas Iscariot) must be found who had all the qualifications necessary for the Office of Apostle, were fulfilled. God’s Word acknowledges Matthias’ appointment as a replacement for Judas Iscariot and one of the Twelve:
    • Acts 1:26 (KJV)”He was numbered with the eleven apostles.”   
    • Acts 2:14 (KJV)”But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice.” 
    • Acts 6:2a (KJV) “Then the twelve (Apostles) called the multitude of the disciples unto them” (Acts 6:2a, KJV).

      The validity of the appointment of Matthias never seems to have been questioned by the Apostles or the Church. Matthias will be one of the Twelve judging the 12 Tribes of Israel and that his Name will be inscribed on the Foundation of the New Jerusalem – Revelation 21:14 (KJV) “And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.”  
       
  3. Paul’s Affirmation – Paul recognised the Twelve in the position which they occupied – 1Corinthians 15:5, 7 “And that He (Jesus) was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve (apostles)…..After that, He (Jesus) was seen of James; then, of all the apostles.” Paul himself saw the Twelve in a different category when he compared himself to them – 1Corinthians 15:9 (NIV) “For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.”
  4. Matthias was chosen through Prayer and the Old Testament practice of casting lots – “And they prayed, and said, thou, Lord, who knowest the hearts of all men, show which of these two thou hast chosen. And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles” (Acts 1:24, 26, KJV; Proverbs 16:33, KJV). 
    • God alone knows the human heart
    • God alone had the right to choose
  5. Matthias fulfilled the qualifications of an Apostle – He was in the company of the Apostles during Christ ministry (Acts 1:21). He also witnessed the Resurrection of Christ (Acts 1:22). 
  6. The choosing of Matthias was by the Lord Jesus – “Thou hast chosen” (Acts 1:24b). Judas Iscariot gone to his own place, but Matthias found his place (Acts 1:25, 26). 
  7. Matthias was included in the twelve of whom Luke speaks – Acts 6:2 “Then the twelve (apostles) called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, it is not fitting that we should leave the Word of God and serve tables.” The Leader is to be appointed by the fellow Leaders with the Congregation through the Christ’s Guidance. Although the Holy Spirit had not yet come when Matthias was chosen, He was already present to guide the Disciples in their actions regarding this (John 20:21, 22). The Scripture itself does not indicate any error in this decision. In fact, three New Testament Writers appear to confirm their action:  
  8. Luke refers to the Apostles as being Twelve in number (Acts 1:26; Acts 2:14; Acts 6:2). He recorded the events concerning Matthias after Paul was saved and had become an Apostle (abt. A.D.36), whereas “Acts of the Apostles” was written in A.D.60. It seems obvious, then, that Luke did not question Matthias’ place among the Twelve (Acts 1:26; Acts 2:14; Acts 6:2) despite the addition of Paul to the Apostolic group. Matthias was recognised as one of the “Twelve:”
    • Before Pentecost – Acts 2:26 (KJV) “And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.”
    • At Pentecost – Acts 2:14a (KJV) “But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them.”
    • After Pentecost – Acts 6:2a (KJV) “Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them.”
    • Recognised by Paul – 1Corinthians 15:5,7 “And that He (Jesus) was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve (apostles)…..After that, He (Jesus) was seen of James; then, of all the apostles.

      The principle of “threefold witnesses” is established – 2Corinthians 13:1b (KJV) “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.
  9. Apostle John who was involved in the choosing of Matthias, refers to the Twelve in the Book of Revelation with no explanation, apparently continuing to accept Matthias as one of the Twelve Apostles (Revelation 21:14). 
  10. Paul – Although Paul regularly defended his Apostleship, he obviously did not think of himself as one of the Twelve. He speaks of the Lord Jesus appearing to the Twelve and then to him “as one born out of due time” (1Corinthians 15:5, 8). The idea that Paul was Divinely intended to be the Twelve, and that the Apostle Peter and the others Apostles have wrongly anticipated God’s plan, betrays a misunderstanding of the unique character of Paul’s Apostleship (Acts 9:15). 

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