Acts 1:12-26

Matthias chosen to be Judas' replacement

12 Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day's journey.

[A sabbath day's journey] A sabbath day's journey was a measure of distance specified by Jewish traditional law ( an embroidery of Moses' command to do no work on the sabbath, Leviticus 23:3,) as 2000 cubits or approximately 3000 feet. Rationale for selecting this distance is variously reported as the distance from a city's outer wall to the maximum extent of the suburbs, Numbers 35:5, or the distance which was required to be maintained between the ark of the covenant and the people as they followed it in the wilderness. Joshua 3:4.
Some critics have complained that in the gospel of Luke Jesus is said to have led his disciples to the town of Bethany, more than twice a Sabbath day's journey from Jerusalem, so there must be a mistake either in Luke or Acts regarding the location from where Jesus ascended into heaven. Luke 24:50-53.
This seems to me to be an invalid charge. The verse (Acts 1:12) specifies Mount Olivet, not Bethany, as a sabbath day's journey. Secondly, the region around a town is often known by the name of the central town. While it is possible that Jesus ascended to Heaven from the town square in Bethany, it is much more likely that he chose a more peaceful place on the Mount of Olives, in the region of Bethany, to issue final instructions and make his departure.

13 And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James.
14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.

[Where abode] Following Jesus' resurrection the apostles had returned to Galilee where Jesus met with them. Matthew 28:7. As the day of ascension approached Jesus and the apostles returned to Jerusalem. Persuant to Jesus' command at his ascension, "Tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem until ye be endued with power from on high." Luke 24:49, the apostles and their families took up residence in an upper room in Jerusalem. Finding such space was not difficult. Three times a year all the Jewish males were commanded to appear before the Lord in the place which he shall choose, Deuteronomy 16:16, the Temple in Jerusalem. 1 Kings 11:36. Since Jerusalem was the target of such pilgrimages many commercial inns and presumably some private homes had space available..

15 And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,)

[Peter stood up] Peter, by temperament and by designation, was the natural leader of the infant church. A quick study of Gospel references to Peter show that he was the one whom men approached when they wanted to collect tribute (taxes) from Jesus. Peter was the one who often spoke up to request clarification of a teaching. Jesus himself instructed Peter to feed his sheep.

[About an hundred and twenty] The number one hundred twenty was significant. It was the minimum number of Jews required to establish a council in a given city. Since the apostles were about to conduct some religious business it probably was important to Luke to certify that the action was in accordance with Jewish law.

16 Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus.
17 For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry.
18 Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.
19 And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood.

[Concerning Judas] Judas was one of the chosen apostles. Many of Jesus' followers had hopes that Jesus would establish a kingdom and that by being associated with him the follower might receive special benefit. It is not unbelievable that Judas' attraction to Jesus and his later disaffection may have been influenced by such thinking. Jesus was well aware of Judas' future actions when he chose him. Judas, for the price of thirty pieces of silver, contracted with the chief priests to lead them and their soldiers to Jesus at night when the general populace would not be present to object. If Judas had held any hope that Jesus would escape his hope was in vain. When he realized what he had done he was distraught. He threw the pieces of silver down in the temple and went out and hanged himself. The priests took the money and purchased the potter's field as a burying place for indigents. Eventually Judas' dead body deteriorated and, when it was cut down or fell when the rope broke, burst asunder. He lost his life, his honored position as an apostle and his opportunity for salvation.
Zechariah 11:12-13, Mark 14:1-2, Matthew 26:14-16, Matthew 26:21-25, Matthew 26:47-56, Matthew 27:3-10, John 17:12.

20 For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take.

[For it is written] The apostles were waiting in Jerusalem for the next event on God's calendar. Waiting is difficult. They were spending much of each day in the temple praising God. Luke 24:53. In their hearts they were thinking, "We need some action.What else can we be doing while we wait?" They found a couple of verses which seemed appropriate. Psalm 69:25, Psalm 109:8.

21 Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us,
22 Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.

[Must be ordained] Peter's intent was to fill the vacancy in the twelve caused by the departure of Judas Iscariot. Notice that the apostles understood their mission as being witnesses to Christ. Not positive thinkers or proponents of "God is going to make every Christian rich," or other feel-good-while-on-earth nonsense. 2 Timothy 4:3-4.

23 And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias.
24 And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen,
25 That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.

[And they appointed two] Undoubtedly two men of very high character and appealing personalities. "God, we have selected two candidates for you. Please tell us which of them is your choice to be the new apostle."

26 And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

[The lot fell upon Matthias] Ordinarily the lot was determined by writing the alternatives on small pebbles which were placed in a jar or pot. After prayer, one of the pebbles was pulled from the jar and the winner determined. In this case, "They gave forth their lots" almost sounds like a vote was taken. In any case, Matthias was selected and joined the eleven as the twelfth apostle.


This page updated 08/27/2008

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