Matthias or Paul?

The book of Acts begins with Jesus telling his followers to remain in Jerusalem and wait until they are baptized with the Holy Spirit.  After he gave his final commands he was taken up into Heaven.  The promised baptism occurred in chapter two.  Between these two events Peter felt the need to take care of some unfinished business, choosing a replacement for Judas.

In those days Peter stood up among the brothers (the company of persons was in all about 120) and said, “Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus.

It is written in the Book of Psalms,
‘May his camp become desolate,
and let there be no one to dwell in it’;
and ‘Let another take his office.’

So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.”
Acts 1:15-16; 20-22

The other believers agreed with him.

And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias. And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.”

And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.
Acts 1:23-26

And Matthias is never mentioned again in the Bible.

The ninth chapter of Acts describes an encounter between Jesus and a man named Saul of Tarsus, who was persecuting the church.

Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”

And he said, “Who are you, Lord?”

And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.”
Acts 9:3-6

Saul is the one whom we know as Paul and he was chosen by God to carry the gospel to the Gentiles.  He wrote thirteen letters that are part of the New Testament and Peter acknowledged that his writings were inspired by God.

And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.
2 Peter 3:15-16

Paul often referred to himself as an apostle and began every letter except Philemon by applying that title to himself.

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus:
Ephesians 1:1

These facts have led many to conclude that God intended for Paul rather than Matthias to replace Judas.  While I believe this is likely to be true the evidence for it isn’t conclusive.  Matthias isn’t mentioned after he was chosen to be an apostle but neither were many of the other apostles, and there were other apostles besides the Twelve.  Barnabas, Paul’s partner on his first missionary trip, is called an apostle.

But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their garments and rushed out into the crowd, crying out, “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them.”
Acts 14:14-15

The word apostle means someone who is sent as a messenger.  The ones we call missionaries could also be called apostles.

Today we can’t be sure who the replacement for Judas was but a time is coming when that will no longer be true.  Chapter 21 of Revelation describes the creation of a new heaven and a new earth after the present heaven and earth have passed away.


And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
Revelation 21:2, 14

One of the foundations will have the name Matthias or Paul on it.  This will settle the question of which one was the successor of Judas.

Posted on February 20, 2016, in Bible study and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Matthias or Paul?.

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