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STUDIES IN ACTS      Studies in Acts

3. MATTHIAS - a man with a lot

"And they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles" (Acts 1:26).

Matthias raises a number of interesting questions, involving his selection, and the way he was chosen as an apostle to replace Judas Iscariot.

Consider the person
All we know about Matthias is to be found in Acts 1:15-26. He was a follower of the Lord Jesus from the commencement of his public ministry until his ascension. He may have been one of the 70 or 72 the Lord sent on mission (see Lk.10:1-20).

Study the Scriptures
Peter was directed by the Scriptures to replace Judas Iscariot. He cites two verses from the Psalms (69:25; 109:8). The references are used rather freely; especially the first, but he obviously heard the living voice of God through them. Alternatively, the Lord Jesus may have interpreted and applied the scriptures during his post-resurrection ministry (Acts 1:3).

Ask questions

1. Again, notice how the historical basis of the Christian faith is emphasised by Luke. Matthias had to be a witness of the ministry and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. How important is it to believe in the literal resurrection of Jesus? Consider 1 Cor.15:1-11.

2. Were the apostles right in casting lots for this selection? The method is used in the Old Testament (e.g., Lev.16:8-10; Num.26:55), but it is only found here in the New Testament. Some scholars argue that after the advent of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2) the Lord gave clear directives through prophets and gifts of the Spirit. So, was the choice of Matthias premature? Consider Acts 13:1-4.

3. Did the 120 make the right choice? Some hold, as Matthias is not mentioned again, that a wrong decision was made – Paul being the Lord's choice. But we cannot argue from silence. The activities of other apostles are not featured in the Acts. Further 'the Twelve' (which includes Matthias) are recognised after Pentecost (Acts 6:2). F.F.Bruce argues that Paul was bigger that this office. In his opinion a Jerusalem-centred ministry would have restricted his calling.

Apply some thoughts

1. Luke teaches that church decisions should be made prayerfully and in the light of the Word of God.

2. Should a whole congregation be involved in church decisions?

3. Share experiences of the Lord speaking through the Scriptures.

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Copyright 2008 Vernon Ralphs

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