The Replacement

Acts 1:12-26

Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away. And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying; that is, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas the son of James. These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers. And at this time Peter stood up in the midst of the brethren (a gathering of about one hundred and twenty persons was there together), and said, “Brethren, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit foretold by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. “For he was counted among us, and received his portion in this ministry.” (Now this man acquired a field with the price of his wickedness; and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. And it became known to all who were living in Jerusalem; so that in their own language that field was called Hakeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) “For it is written in the book of Psalms, ‘LET HIS HOMESTEAD BE MADE DESOLATE, AND LET NO MAN DWELL IN IT’; and, ‘HIS OFFICE LET ANOTHER MAN TAKE.’ “It is therefore necessary that of the men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us— beginning with the baptism of John, until the day that He was taken up from us—one of these should become a witness with us of His resurrection.” And they put forward two men, Joseph called Barsabbas (who was also called Justus), and Matthias. And they prayed, and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all men, show which one of these two You have chosen to occupy this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” And they drew lots for them, and the lot fell ito Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

What I love most about the book of Acts is it’s nonstop action. It’s in the title–Acts is a narrative of what the apostles accomplished after the ascension of Jesus, through the Holy Spirit but I am getting ahead of myself. The genre is certainly the rudder that steers the ship. The narrative train keeps right on rolling and appears to never stop, as the book of Acts comes to a close, it’s in mid-action. But I am getting way ahead of myself, again. The problem with nonstop action is that we tend to gloss over the fulfillment of prophecy and allusions, oftentimes forgetting the words of Jesus that come to fruition in the book of Acts. Let’s get on the train and consider the context, author’s aspirations, genre, examples and divide rightly the word of truth.

We have read in Matthew about Judas, especially in my missive, Brotherly Betrayal? Let’s look at the ramifications of Judas betraying Jesus and then taking his own life out of regret and not repentance, found in today’s text. We will come across curious prophecies concerning Judas and his office. First, we see how the erratic Peter becomes the first disciple to begin to understand what Scripture says.

“Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away. And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying; that is, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas the son of James. These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers. And at this time Peter stood up in the midst of the brethren (a gathering of about one hundred and twenty persons was there together).”

We see from Luke’s composition that not only were the named, remaining, eleven apostles present but also the women and Jesus’ family and some other one hundred people. While this may seem insignificant, because it is considering how many people Jesus came in contact with, it is important to consider how small yet close knit this gathering was. After all of the lives of which Jesus touched, only a hundred and twenty are gathered together now, only hours after the departure of Jesus. We notice how the apostles and the others were devoted to prayer being of one mind. And in the midst of this, Peter stands and speaks to the significantly small group, yet as it pertains to Peter’s preaching, it is pretty large.

“And at this time Peter stood up in the midst of the brethren (a gathering of about one hundred and twenty persons was there together), and said, ‘Brethren, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit foretold by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. For he was counted among us, and received his portion in this ministry.'”

Notice not only the Scriptural understanding but also the Spiritual and prophetic. Peter says, “the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit foretold by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus.” What a rollercoaster ride Peter is on; the twisting and turning between two worlds: “You are the Christ; Never Lord; I will die with you; I don’t know the man,” and now a recognition of  Scripture and prophecies and the ability to communicate it to a large group of people–the man is a yo-yo. I don’t believe Peter was manic-depressive or bipolar, he’s simply an excellent example of the two worlds, the two kingdoms, the two ways of thinking, earthly and heavenly. We should see what Peter saw in the Scriptures.

In Psalm, 109, Peter had read;

“Thus they have repaid me evil for good
And hatred for my love.

Appoint a wicked man over him,
And let an accuser stand at his                  right hand.

When he is judged, let him come                    forth guilty,
And let his prayer become sin.

Let his days be few;
Let another take his office.

Let his children be fatherless
And his wife a widow.”

When we read Psalm,109, we understand that David not only speaks about himself but alludes, foreshadows and prophesied about Jesus and his betrayer, Judas because Peter tells the gathering that it does. This is the best way to let Scripture interpret Scripture, by letting Scripture interpret Scripture. Sometimes it’s easier than others, as it is in today’s text. Let’s Look at the context of Peter’s preaching.

“’Brethren, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit foretold by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. For he was counted among us, and received his portion in this ministry.’ (Now this man acquired a field with the price of his wickedness; and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. And it became known to all who were living in Jerusalem; so that in their own language that field was called Hakeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) ‘For it is written in the book of Psalms, “LET HIS HOMESTEAD BE MADE DESOLATE, AND LET NO MAN DWELL IN IT’; and, “HIS OFFICE LET ANOTHER MAN TAKE.”‘”

Peter also quotes the oft quoted, Psalm, 69; “May their camp be desolate; May none dwell in their tents” and applies it to Judas. Problem, for us not Peter; he rips the verse out of context and even changes the words. In my missives on Matthew, Psalm 69 is quoted or alluded to several times. One example we wrestled with is, “They also gave me gall for my food And for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.” Clearly David is foreshadowing the cross in Psalm 69, and Judas was heavily involved in the events that lead up to the cross. Nevertheless, does Peter have the literary license to change the wording of a Psalm? Yes, he does, but the mega-church pastor does not.

Many may argue that Peter was quoting directly from the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, which he most likely was. While the Septuagint does differ from other Old Testament translations, this is not the reason why Peter misquoted the passage. The reason is simple: the Psalm composed by David, meant something to him and his audience at that time but was also foreshadowing the cross and Judas. Peter points this out to the people present after Christ’s departure. Peter was an apostle, an eyewitness to Jesus, he has the authority to do so, we do not. I  don’t believe that any of us would have made the connection that Peter made–we have to let Scripture interpret Scripture. We don’t impose our words and thoughts on the Scripture but let the context clear our minds of cultural clutter, clarifying the content. Today’s text is not an example of how to rip verses out of context but how to let the Scripture writers clarify the Scripture.

Therefore, in this context we certainly see the cross of Christ and his betrayal, only six or seven weeks removed, but foreshadowed from hundreds of years prior, by David, through the Holy Spirit. Yet the focus of Peter is that they need to find a responsible replacement for Judas–“his office let another man take.” There were twelve tribes of Israel, twelve disciples and it appears that there will be twelve apostles, not based on my beliefs but on the context–Peter said so.

“It is therefore necessary that of the men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us— beginning with the baptism of John, until the day that He was taken up from us—one of these should become a witness with us of His resurrection.” Now, I know the question that arises when I write, there will apparently be twelve apostles; wasn’t Paul an apostle? Other questions also arise; wasn’t Barnabas an apostle? Were there not several other apostles? Matthias is never mentioned again, did he run away or die? Was casting lots wrong? Was Matthias not the Holy Spirit’s choice but man’s. Seeing that it is Luke who writes not only about this scene, but all that Paul and Barnabas did, we should not jump to any conclusions other than those laid out for us by Luke. As of today’s text, we don’t know Paul or Barnabas but only that Peter is claiming through Scripture, that a replacement is needed for Judas. A replacement who was a witness to all that had happened.

“And they put forward two men, Joseph called Barsabbas (who was also called Justus), and Matthias. And they prayed, and said, ‘You, Lord, who know the hearts of all men, show which one of these two You have chosen to occupy this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.’ And they drew lots for them, and the lot fell ito Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.”

They prayed and cast lots, and the lot fell to one of the two who were qualified to fill the position, the never-again mentioned, Matthias. Because they cast lots, some pastors and preachers, theologians and teachers claim that the choice of Matthias was invalid; I’m not kidding. While I am not suggesting that we cast lots when faced with a choice, I do find it ridiculously dogmatic to consider what the disciples did as a form of forbidden gambling. We would do well to remember that this was a curious time between Testaments and between the departure of Jesus and the coming of the Spirit. But more importantly is the context; Luke never says that the disciples participated in a form of forbidden gambling.  Rather Luke writes, “And they put forward two men, Joseph called Barsabbas (who was also called Justus), and Matthias. And they prayed, and said, ‘You, Lord, who know the hearts of all men, show which one of these two You have chosen to occupy this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.'”

The apostle Paul has yet to meet the Lord and the Holy Spirit is about to come. For now, according to the context, a replacement for Judas is needed, one who was an eyewitness to Jesus, and the lot fell to Matthias. Though Matthias is  never named again, he was the Lord’s choice to be the replacement for Judas. Although not named, we do see Matthias again, but I am getting ahead of myself.

 

 

 

 

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