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ACTS - In the Triumphal Procession of Christ
Studies in the Acts of the Apostles
PART 1 - The Foundation of the Church of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and Syria - Under the Patronage of the Apostle Peter, Guided by the Holy Spirit (Acts 1 - 12)
A - The Growth and Development of the Early Church in Jerusalem (Acts 1 - 7)

4. Matthias Chosen in Place of the Sinful Judas (Acts 1:15-26)

ACTS 1:15-20
15 And in these days, Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples (and the number of names was about one hundred twenty), and said, 16 “Brothers, it was necessary that this Scripture should be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who was guide to those who took Jesus. 17 For he was numbered with us, and received his portion in this ministry. 18 Now this man obtained a field with the reward for his wickedness, and falling headlong, his body burst open, and all his intestines gushed out. 19 It became known to everyone who lived in Jerusalem that in their language that field was called ‘Akeldama,’ that is, ‘The field of blood.’ 20 For it is written in the book of Psalms, ‘Let his habitation be made desolate. Let no one dwell therein;’ and, ‘Let another take his office.’

The lively communion of Jesus’ disciples was shaken for a few days by two frightful events. The disciples were moved by the death of their Master on the cross, who had died to redeem all men. His death was very painful to them. At the same time, they were shocked by Judas’ despairing suicide following his betrayal of Christ. The first had all the fullness of the Godhead dwelling in Him bodily; the second was possessed by the devil, who had entered him. Dear brother, choose your way. Do you want to sacrifice your life in the service of many sinners for the sake of God’s Spirit, or do you want to die, sinful, hopeless, and fearful of God’s angry judgment?

The sin of Judas left a vacancy in the circle of apostles. The twelve had been ordained by the Lord to preach to the twelve tribes of their nation, whom the Lord will judge in the last day if they do not believe. Thus they met to elect one of Jesus’ faithful followers, who had to be an eyewitness to take Judas’ place. They gathered together about a hundred and twenty of the faithful, men who knew each other. They prayed together, and waited for the promise of the Father. It must have been a wonderful meeting!

Peter stood up in the midst of them to preside over the meeting. They all knew him as Christ’s denier, a denial that would show itself openly in the four gospels. Yet they also knew that Jesus had forgiven this disciple, who had shown a contrite spirit over all his sin. Christ had confirmed him as their leader following His resurrection from the dead. That was notable proof of the presence of the Spirit of Truth in the early church. They did not exaggerate the denial of the greatest one of them, nor did they pass over it lightly. At the same time, the spirit of love became more and more evident in them. They accepted the fact that Christ had entrusted Peter with a commission to feed His flock. How astonishing, for there he is, standing in the midst of the big meeting, without any complex! He might have said: “I am sure that Christ has received me, a great sinner, cleansed me from all my sins, and commissioned me, failing disciple that I am, to serve Him.” Peter did not speak in his own name at all, nor did he desire to promote himself. All that he worked and spoke for was for the glorification of his living Lord.

Peter did not speak as one who had supremacy over the rest, like a bishop or a pope would do. Instead, he stood up and spoke as one elder speaks to other elders. He called the men brothers, for God is their Father. There is no greater title in heaven or on earth than this unique title, “brother”, for it is a token of relationship within the family of God.

The disciples, praying and meditating, must surely have thought about the end of Judas, who had became a guide for God’s enemies, having cunningly delivered Christ, the righteous One, into the hands of the unjust. The disciples remembered the days they had spent in company with Judas while in Jesus’ fellowship. Judas had become an innermost member of the kingdom of God. He received from his Lord a call, an office, and an authority. He had served God, along with the other disciples, for a period of time.

This Judas, however, loved money, and according to Luke did not refuse the bribe of iniquity. He wanted to provide security for his disturbed soul, and therefore bought an open field outside the city. But he had no rest, having felt in his conscience the blows of God’s whip. He grew hopeless under the devil’s insinuations that were accusing him. Consequently, he ran out and hanged himself. The rope with which he hanged himself split apart, and his half-hanged body fell from the tree to a pointed rock, which entered the body and caused his belly to burst open. All his bowels gushed out. Luke writes like a physician, understanding from his experiences how such a terrible scene would have appeared.

All the dwellers in Jerusalem heard this report, and felt the wrath of God against this traitor. They kept away from this field, for it was wet with the blood of the accursed.

Christ had already known the sin of betrayal in the wicked one, and warned him several times in His sermons, but the warnings were useless, for Judas preferred the power of money to secure his life over the power of his living Lord. He therefore lost both his heavenly portion and his earthly field. His office before God was transferred to another, and his newly bought house became desolate. Its walls were demolished, and bats settled in it.

The disciples were profoundly frightened, for at the Last Supper they had not been very sure of themselves when Christ revealed to them that one of them would betray Him. Each of the disciples saw himself fit for it. Moreover, in their communal prayers they realized that the Spirit of God had foreseen the way of the betrayer. Yet the Holy One did not lead the traitor to his sin, for the Lord has endowed every man with a free will, and no man is forced into sin. Judas hardened his heart toward the love of Christ and consequently died under God’s curse. This is what the Holy Spirit had foretold one thousand years earlier through David (Psalms 69: 26; 109: 8).

Dear brother, do not harden your heart toward the drawing of God’s Spirit, but agree that the Holy One should free you from the love of money, and guide you to sacrifice and serve him. Do not seek riches, wealth, honor, dignity, and authority for yourself, but seek humility, contentment, meekness, and simplicity, for that is how Jesus Himself lived, along with His disciples, poor in money, yet rich in the Spirit of God.

PRAYER: O Lord, forgive me my love of money, my selfishness, and my covetousness. Sanctify me that I may serve Your name and trust Your providence. Let Your Spirit fill my soul, and the soul of all my brothers, that we may abide in Your love, and never come under any curse. Amen.


  1. What did you learn from Judas’ death?


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