23 So they put forward two men, (a)Joseph called Barsabbas (who was also called Justus), and (b)Matthias.
24 And they prayed and said, "You, Lord, who (c)know the hearts of all men, (d)show which one of these two You have (e)chosen 25 to (f)occupy this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to (g)his own place." 26 And they (h)drew lots for them, and the lot fell to Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles.
Eusebius mentions him in Book 3, chapter 39, verse 9 as follows:
And he tells another wonderful story of Justus, surnamed Barsabbas: that he drank a deadly poison, and yet, by the grace of the Lord, suffered no harm
Both these men, Joseph and Matthias had met the criteria laid out by Peter. Many think that picking these men was premature and suggest that Paul should have been the twelfth apostle. I disagree for three reasons:
- After the resurrection, Jesus taught the apostles and opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, Lk 24:45. He showed them the things written of Him in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms and how they must be fulfilled. Peter starts this speech with those exact words, “the Scripture had to be fulfilled”, Acts 1:16. Peter was not picking a replacement just because he thought it was a good idea. He was doing this because Jesus told him to. I believe he received the criteria from Jesus concerning how to go about picking the next apostle.
- Paul did not meet the criteria. He was not a follower of Jesus while He was on this earth and he didn’t witness the resurrection as a believer. Paul probably saw Jesus during His earthly ministry as He would come in and out of Jerusalem, 2Cor 5:16 alluded to this, but he was not a follower of Jesus until after the road to Damascus.
- Paul was called to the Gentiles not the Jews, Acts 9:15, 22:21, Gal 1:15-16, even though he very much wanted to bring the Jews to Jesus it was not his mission. The twelve apostles are specifically called to the Jews and will judge the twelve tribes of Israel, Matt 19:28, Rev 21:14. Since Paul was not called to the Jews, he could not be one to judge them in the end.
v.24 (c) know the hearts- καρδιογνῶστα, kardiognosta- knower of hearts; from the root word, γινώσκω, ginosko- to know intimately.
God alone knows the heart of all men, this is why He is the only one who can judge and condemn to eternal damnation. The apostles had a criteria and a command to pick a replacement for Judas. This plan was issued by Jesus and implemented by Peter. The ultimate decision was given to God because He is the knower of hearts. He is able to judge the thoughts and intents of the heart, Heb 4:12.
v.24 (d) show- ἀνάδειξον, anadeixon, this word chosen is only used in one other place in the New Testament; Lk 10:1 when Jesus sent out the seventy. The English translation gives the impression to show or disclose, but the Greek word actually means to reveal by appointing. When Jesus sent out the seventy, He appointed them and sent them.
The apostles gave this decision to God. They said “You know the hearts of all men, reveal the man that you have chosen before the foundation of the world by appointing one of these two men that we have narrowed down according to your instruction”.
v.24 (e) You have chosen- ἐξελέξω, exelexo- to choose or select. There are 22 uses of this word in the New Testament. The majority of the uses is about God choosing us. The other uses all have to do with men choosing other men for ministry and one use from Lk 14:7, a parable of guests picking their place at the table; signifying them choosing their spiritual status instead of letting God exalt them.
This word indicates a higher level of choosing, some choice of importance, a choice that results in spiritual and everlasting results.
To be chosen of God is to be a part of His plan. God has not chosen everyone for His good work; only those who have received His invitation; many are called but few are chosen, Matt 22:14, Eph 2:10, Phil 1:6, 2:13. God invited everyone into His family by sending His Son to die for the sins of whole world, Rom 5:8, Jn 1:29. The invitation went out, but only a few in comparison have accepted. Those who have accepted the invitation are those who have been chosen.
v.25 (f) occupy- λαβεῖν , labein- receive, take hold of, aquire, take the place of.
Mathias would take the place of Judas; not just physically, but spiritually as well. He was to be one of the twelve apostles joined in ministry and apostleship for all eternity. This will be a title forever in his name, carved into the foundation of the walls of the new Jerusalem, Rev 21:14.
v.25 (g) his own place- this wording has led people to think that Judas, being named the son of perdition by Jesus, Jn 17:12, is in his own special place and could possibly be the anti-christ, 2Thes 2:3.
The phrase simply means “man doomed to destruction”. Two people have been given this title, Judas, Jn 17:12, and the anti-christ, 2Thes 2:3. This doesn’t mean that they have to be the same person. They are just two people that God has chosen to reveal their destiny; which in this case is eternal damnation.
Judas is in hell and destined for the lake of fire; not because he was predestined by God, but because he chose to deny Jesus and this choice is what predestined him to eternal damnation.
v.26 (h) drew lots- this was an Old Testament practice of allowing God to control a decision. To us it seems like chance, but this was before Pentecost, before they had been endowed by the power of the Holy Spirit to show them things to come, Jn 16:13. They had received the Holy Spirit making them a new creation, Jn 20:22-23, but had not yet been filled with the power of the Spirit to lead and guide them into all Truth, Jn 16:13. The disciples could not be criticized for not relying on a source of power and discernment they had not yet received.
God’s hand was on this situation; they had just prayed and gave it to Him in the previous verse.
There are Old Testament examples of casting lots. Each candidate’s name is written on a stone, which is then placed in a container. The container is shaken and the name drawn out or the container turned upside down and the lot falls out, Josh 18:6, Prov 16:33.
In this age, because Pentecost has occurred and the power of the Holy Spirit is now living and residing in us, 1Cor 6:19, I do not suggest casting lots for getting answers from God. This is why He gave us the Holy Spirit. He will guide us into all truth if we listen to Him, Jn 16:13. With that said, I still believe the choosing of Mathias was made by the hand of God because it was before Pentecost and a legitimate Old Testament practice approved by God without man’s influence.