During this time, when about 120 believers were together in one place, Peter stood up and addressed them. “Brothers,” He said, “the Scriptures had to be fulfilled concerning Judas, who guided those who arrested Jesus. This was predicted long ago by the Holy Spirit, speaking through King David. Judas was one of us and shared in the ministry with us.” (Judas had bought a field with the money he received for his treachery. Falling headfirst there, his body split open, spilling out all his intestines. The news of his death spread to all the people of Jerusalem, and they gave the place the Aramaic name Akeldama, which means “Field of Blood.”)
Peter continued, “This was written in the book of Psalms, where it says, ‘Let his home become desolate, with no one living in it.’ It also says, ‘Let someone else take his position.’ “So now we must choose a replacement for Judas from among the men who were with us the entire time we were traveling with the Lord Jesus— from the time He was baptized by John until the day He was taken from us. Whoever is chosen will join us as a witness of Jesus’ resurrection.” So they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. Then they all prayed, “O Lord, You know every heart. Show us which of these men You have chosen as an apostle to replace Judas in this ministry, for he has deserted us and gone where he belongs.” Then they cast lots, and Matthias was selected to become an apostle with the other eleven.(Acts 1:15-26)
Here are your questions: (one of you took the words right out of my mouth – Will tell you that story soon).
- Why were two men nominated for the position?
- Why didn’t God just make it clear who was to be chosen, like the selection of David by Samuel?
- Why was the casting of lots the way to determine God’s will?
- Is that the pattern we should be following today?
- What is the point of this passage in Acts?
- Why is it included?
- Is there relevance for us today?
Notice how closely this account is tied to Scripture and what was predicted. Peter anchors this firmly on the basis of God’s Word.
- The Scriptures had to be fulfilled concerning Judas
- It was predicted long ago by the Holy Spirit, speaking through David
- This was written in the book of Psalms, where it says, ‘Let his home become desolate, with no one living in it.’
- It also says, ‘Let someone else take his position.’
- “So now we must choose a replacement for Judas from among the men who were with us the entire time we were traveling with the Lord Jesus
- Whoever is chosen will join us as a witness of Jesus’ resurrection.
- So they nominated two men
- Then they all prayed, “O Lord, You know every heart. Show us which of these men You have chosen . . .”
- Then they cast lots
It is clear that all of this is happening because God said it would and it is underpinned by the prophetic nature of the Word of God. What is interesting in this passage is that such a seemingly spiritual, biblically based process should finish with the method of casting lots which seems so unspiritual and based on chance. Clearly there is a need to keep the full complement of disciples (soon to be Apostles). It is important to fill the number. And note, they need to be men who walked with Jesus and were witnesses to His resurrection. Hence they needed to be men who were with the others the entire time they were travelling with the LORD (assumedly having come down from Galilee) and witnesses to the Resurrection. We must assume therefore, that Barsabbas (aka Justus) and Mathias qualified.
Matthı́as, or Maththias; from Mattithyāh, “given of Yah”: Matthias was the one upon whom the lot fell when he, along with Joseph Barsabbas, was put forward to fill the place in the apostleship left vacant by Judas Iscariot (Acts 1:15-26). This election was held at Jerusalem, and the meeting was presided over by Peter. The conditions demanded of the candidates were that they should “have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and went out among us, beginning from the baptism of John, unto the day that he was received up from us.” Also, that the one chosen should “become a witness with us of his resurrection.” (Acts 1:21, 22)
Hilgenfeld identifies Matthias with Nathanael. He was traditionally the author of the “Gospel of Matthias,” a heretical work referred to by Origen, by Eusebius and by Hieronymus. No trace of it is left. The Gnostic Basilides (circa 133 AD) and his son Isidor, claimed to ground their doctrine in the “Gospel of Basilides” on the teaching Matthias received directly from the Saviour. Various parts of the apocryphal “Contendings of the Apostles” deal with the imprisonment and blinding of Matthias by the Ethiopian cannibals, and his rescue by Andrew. According to the Martyrdom of Matthias he was sent to Damascus, and died at Phalaeon, a city of Judea. Other sources mention Jerusalem as the place of Matthias’ ministry and burial.
Barsabbás, or Barsabás; Joseph Barsabbas was surnamed Justus (Acts 1:23). Barsabbas was probably a patronymic i.e., son of Sabba or Seba. Other interpretations given are “son of an oath,” “son of an old man,” “son of conversion,” “son of quiet.” It is likely that the “Judas called Barsabbas” of Acts 15:22 was his brother. Ewald considers that both names refer to the same person, but this is improbable.
Joseph was one of those who accompanied the apostles “all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and went out among us, beginning from the baptism of John, unto the day that he was received up from us” (Acts 1:21,Acts 1:22). At the meeting of the brethren under the presidency of Peter in Jerusalem shortly after the crucifixion, he was, therefore, proposed along with Matthias as a suitable candidate for the place in the apostleship left vacant by the treachery and death of Judas Iscariot; but was unsuccessful (Acts 1:15-26).
According to Eusebius, Joseph was one of the 70 (Luke 10:1), and Papias records the oral tradition that he drank a cup of poison without harm (compareMark 16:18). The Acts of Paul, a work belonging to the 2nd century and first mentioned by Origen, relates that Barsabbas, Justus the Flatfoot and others were imprisoned by Nero for protesting their faith in Christ, but that upon having a vision of the newly martyred Paul appearing to the emperor, he ordered their immediate release.
From early times, there appears to have been a tradition of the nomination of more than one person in an “election” or selection process, to give those choosing a choice. There are some elections or selection processes within organisations which require more than one name on the ballot to ensure there is abonafide election. But some feel when we rely on God to select a candidate, why does there have to be multiple names on the ballot? Surely God can indicate who His person is for the job. I am sure you can think of many examples in Scripture where there was not a second person “on the ballot” but rather one was chosen as wife, king, prophet , etc. In fact, it seems more definitive when God appoints or makes clear His choice. Even more so in this case, when one of the two names on the slate to “select the right candidate” is then chosen by casting lots. When everything else about the criteria appears to be biblical, why does the selection process appear so “based on chance”? Surely God could have made it clearer than that.
The question which took the words right out of my mouth above was: “Why were two men nominated for the position? Why didn’t God just make it clear who was to be chosen, like the selection of David by Samuel?”
In the story I told about our “house manager” I was fully convinced that God would lead me to the right man. When it became clear that Ken Rolfe’s name was not in contention, I felt that God would eliminate another name and make it clear to me which man was “His man for the task”. Somehow to me in those early years of following God, the fact that it should come down to one name was proof that God was at work. God is perfectly capable of pointing out “one out of many” and making it clear to us. But that is to assume that only one is needed. As our experience above indicates, we should not always assume that ONE person is required. Even apart from surprises like Garry Danswan having to withdraw, it may still be necessary to have two or more people involved in the initial nominations as a means of grooming them for further leadership.
But yes, I would agree with you that somehow it seems more spiritual if God is involved in the process all the way from start to finish. That way we get the right person for the job. Not always, what about the selection of Saul as king?
I think we all want the kind of selection process that is hinted at in Acts 13:1-3. Now that is God at work isn’t it? Isn’t that the spiritual way to do it? The simple answer is “not necessarily”. We will discuss the Acts 13 example when we come to it in the process of going through Acts. In the next Gems we will examine this surprising process of “choosing by lot”. What does that mean and where does it come from? Is it spiritual enough for real Christians? Surely the answer has to be NO. Give us the Acts 13 process, that is more spiritual. This is a continuing, unfolding story – there is more to come. Keep tuned in.
If one crab attempts to escape from a bucket of crabs, other crabs pull it back down. Don’t let people pull you down. True democracy is a dog eat dog process in order to be selected (or crab eat crab process).Anon
Goals are like stepping-stones to the stars. They should never be used to put a ceiling or a limit on achievement!Anon
If you have no critics you’ll likely have no success!Anon
The benevolent man makes allies of his foes and friends of his enemies.Anon
The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me if God is with me.Anon
Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.Mother Teresa