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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 1:21-26
21 “Of the men therefore who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John, to the day that he was received up from us, of these one must become a witness with us of his resurrection.” 23 They put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. 24 They prayed, and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all men, show which one of these two you have chosen 25 to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas fell away, that he might go to his own place.” 26 They drew lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

The apostles did not reason philosophically about why Judas had betrayed Jesus, his master, but believed in God’s just judgment. They did not look back for long, nor did they stand shaken in their feelings, but moved forward, and thought of the duty of preaching to the world. In their prayers they wished to ask Jesus to restore the complete number to their apostolic circle, so that the number of those commissioned might not be reduced when the Holy Spirit was poured out on them.

The person qualified to be nominated as an apostle must have been a constant companion of Jesus from the beginning. He must have been a witness of His life and works and experienced personally that He had been raised from the dead. The twelve disciples had not wandered from town to town alone with Jesus, for there were many others of His followers with them. Jesus had sent seventy disciples to Galilee and commissioned them for service. Thus they defined the conditions of the apostolic service with more strictness in order that the nomination for this service might be limited to a small number, particularly of those who had adhered to discipleship with John the Baptist, continued with him, and confessed their sins before him, waiting for the realization of the kingdom of God. In fact, a good number of John’s disciples had heard the Baptist´s call: “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” and, therefore, left their teacher of water baptism for the remission of sins, to follow Him who would baptize them with the Holy Spirit, and confirm them in the New Testament feasts of rejoicing.

We might suppose that those who had followed Jesus incessantly would have become wiser and more prudent than the others. However, the disciples’ conduct proves the contrary. No one is fit for true faith, great love, and extensive hope except the one prepared by the Holy Spirit. The disciples had heard Jesus’ words, but their hearts had remained proud. They had seen His glory after His resurrection, but remained empty of eternal life, for the Holy Spirit had not yet indwelt them. Some commentators think that choosing Judas’ successor was a godless and hasty human work, for the Lord would choose Paul in due time to be the apostle to receive Judas’ service and authority to preach to the Gentiles.

Yet the eleven disciples did not think first of preaching to the world, but of renewing the twelve tribes of their people. Peter behaved in harmony with the other apostles in calling for a big meeting of Jesus’ followers, asking them to nominate the candidates. They then placed the final choice in the hands of the Lord, who as the searcher of hearts knows the purposes of the soul. It is to be observed that Peter did not act in supremacy, as a bishop, nor was the election performed in a democratic way, favoring the choice of the majority. Instead, they all came together unto God, seeking His divine judgment and immediate guidance.

To perceive God’s voice, they used lots before the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Thereafter, when they chose the seven deacons, the apostles gave the church all the options. It had happened in Antioch that the Holy Spirit Himself had chosen Barnabas and Paul, while the elders prayed with fasting, seeking Christ’s leading and guidance. In fact, the history of the Acts of the Apostles is the history of Christ. His works made for the accomplishment of spreading the kingdom of God. We do not live in church under papal authority, political democracy, or socialistic dictatorship, but are under the direction and guidance of Jesus Christ. His power is realized through the working of the Holy Spirit who works in the hearts of believers.

It is good when we entrust church responsibilities to deacons, elders, and assistants. We are not to rely on our minds, will, or family abilities, but on prayer. Firstly and lastly we ask that Jesus Himself might choose His ministers, not according to their money, abilities, or social level, but according to His pleasure alone. Then the Lord’s work is done, and the Lord’s ministers are filled with the Holy Spirit. Success is provided to a priest, elder, or bishop not through his degrees in Theology, relationship with parties, or denominational schools, but through his relationship with Christ and His immediate call to him. He who serves the Lord without this call is subjected to the danger of falling into hell at once.

The eleven apostles were not willing to distribute Christ’s services and authorization independently. They were aware that no one could truly know the hearts, tempers, talents, and faithfulness of man. A hundred and twenty men prayed together that the Lord might choose one of the candidates for this service of grace and qualify him with power to carry out this service. If the Son of God did not interfere in the appointment of the gospel’s minister all this service would be useless.

They nominated two for this office, yet we have no detailed information about these two equally qualified candidates. We do not know how lots were cast to choose between them. However, the one chosen was not the first, but the unknown Matthias, who was called to bear the responsibility as a member of the apostolic college. Not many days after, Christ filled this substitute with His Holy Spirit, and confirmed his joining the kingdom of God. We have no other information about the chosen Matthias.

PRAYER: O Lord, we thank You that You call unqualified people to service. You train them, authorize them, equip them, send them, accompany them, and make them succeed. If we find grace in Your eyes, please do not reject us, but break our pride, and renew us that we may be strengthened in Your power and serve You for the glorification of Your name.


  1. What are the conditions for joining Christ’s service?


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