The Forum

The Forum

Matthias Not Paul

Dear Mr. G.

I disagree that the casting of lots for one to take the office of Judas was carried out without divine command for Peter quotes from Psalm 69:25 and Psalm 109:8.

Notice the words of Peter (Acts 1:21-22), “Of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that He was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be witness with us of His resurrection.”

The two appointed were two who had companied with the Lord and with them, and were witnesses of His resurrection. 1 Corinthians 15:5 confirms what is recorded here in Acts 1. In verse 24 they asked the Lord to show them which one of the two He would choose, and Matthias was the Lord’s choice. This is recorded by the Holy Spirit that the Scripture should be fulfilled. Matthias, and not Paul was numbered with the eleven (Acts 1:26).

Yours faithfully,
A. K.

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Dear Brother A.K.

We do appreciate your letter, and welcome another approach to a difficult passage of Scripture.

In our search for the truth (All must study the Scriptures with the intention of finding the truth.), the reward of which, because of our finite capacities, can be only relative, we must remember that God alone knows truth in its absolute and complete form. In His Holy Word it has pleased Him to reveal certain aspects of truth in fullness and clarity; it has also pleased Him to withhold certain other aspects, which our curious minds would like to know, but which in His wisdom He conceals. Furthermore, there are certain other aspects which He reveals partially, indefinitely, in order to stimulate our thinking, and to provoke a deeper study of the Holy Scriptures. God reveals to us all that in His wisdom He wants us to understand. When He gives us a well-defined revelation, we must accept it with all credence; when He withholds a revelation, we must bow in submission and humility before Him; and when He gives fragmentary revelation, in spite of personal opinions about it, we must be tolerant with one another. Of course, as Dr. Collier has said, “We must not let go manifest truths because we cannot answer all questions about them.” Those who have the widest vision and the deepest knowledge of a matter, generally speaking, sense their responsibility to be lenient with the convictions of another.

An examination of the context will show that the words, “This Scripture must needs have been fulfilled,” modify the quotations in regard to the untimely end of Judas; they were “concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus.”

There are points in regard to the election of Matthias which remain unanswered to the satisfaction of many sincere and devout students of the Scriptures. The necessity presented by Peter in his statement, “Must one be ordained to be a witness with us of His resurrection,” is naturally questioned in the light of the martyrdom of the Apostle James a short time later. If the vacancy caused by the defection and death of Judas had to be filled, why not the vacancy caused by the death of James? Since the Lord predicted the apostacy of Judas, why did He not predict the need of a successor? Did He, the Lord, not commission the eleven true apostles as a group on the mountain of Galilee after His resurrection (Matt. 28:16-20; John 20-19-23)?

Furthermore, was it absolutely necessary to replace the witness of one concerning whom Christ said, “Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?” (John 6:70).

Dr. Blaiklock, in his commentary on the Book of the Acts, states concisely our own opinion:

“Peter ever craved for action in times of tension (John 20:3; 21-3), and usually persuaded others to follow his bold lead. Here (15) he runs true to form. His citation of Old Testament authority is natural argument for one who habitually thought in the forms, language, and imagery of the Scriptures, and the speech is highly consistent with Peter’s later manner as recorded in the narrative, and with his own writings…

“We hear no more of the good Matthias (23-26) save for the legend of Ethiopian martyrdom, and it is commonly assumed that Peter ran ahead of God’s purpose in seeking this appointment. Paul was destined for the vacant place. The casting of lots was a provision of the Law (Lev. 16:8), and as such a practice of immaturity. Chrysostom was the first to note that these events took place before Pentecost. The Spirit of Truth made such actions obsolete.”

Since this has been a problem to the saints during many generations (Chrysostom lived in the middle of the third century of the Church), it must be considered as one of the fragmentary items recorded in Holy Scripture. Be that as it may, we are happy to publish an alternative view.

Sincerely in Christ,