Study Notes on Acts 1:15 – 26
Replacing Judas – Applying Scripture and Prayer
1) The Problem – Judas Betrayal and Death (v15-19)
The Holy Spirit Speaking Through David (v16)
“All Scripture is inspired (2 Timothy 3:16). It’s God-breathed, gang. And if you ever get involved in a church or become part of a Bible study group where the teacher says, “Well now, we can’t be sure if this verse or this section is inspired,” I would encourage you to immediately stand up, walk out, and never go back. Why? Because once you start to say, “I’ll decide which part of the Bible is inspired and which part isn’t,” you suddenly become the judge of the Bible rather than allowing the Bible to judge you. And it’s amazing what verses we will cross out given the opportunity!” Jon Courson
Alternate account of Judas’ Death (Mathew 27:3 – 10)
- Judas returned the money and the priests bought the field, while Judas hanged himself
- Did Judas hang himself in the field and his body burst when he was cut down / branch snapped (perhaps from a great height)?
- Judas was remorseful, did not repent leading to his suicide, Peter was both remorseful and did repent
Satan wreaks havoc when he has control – Don’t let him in !!!
Disciples were betrayed by a friend – it would have been an emotional hit
“In both accounts the effect of Satan’s control over Judas’s life is clear, demonstrating the general principle that Satan brings total destruction and disgrace to the person who comes under his control, for “he was a murderer from the beginning” (John 8:44).” ESV Study Bible
- Don’t succumb to temptation, and if you do once, don’t do it again
2) Solving the Problem – A Replacement (v20 – 22)
The first thing to note is that the apostles were regularly praying (v14) when trying to work out what to do about Judas’ betrayal and death
- We wrestle with a problem ourselves, we talk to others, but how often do we pray?
Seeking scriptural guidance (v20):
- Psalm 69:25 David asking God to judge those who oppose him
- Psalm 109:8 David calling for God to judge those who betrayed him
- Psalm 41:9 – David’s close friend betraying him
“In the Psalms the Messiah is anticipated as the ideal King; therefore the royal psalms, which discuss the King of Israel, often anticipate Christ. Likewise the enemies of the royal psalmist became the enemies of the Messiah.” Bible Knowledge Commentary
“The words are a combination of Ps 69:25 and Ps 109:8; in which the apostle discerns a greater than David, and a worse than Ahithophel and his fellow conspirators against David.” JFB Commentary
- How often do we search scripture when seeking guidance?
The need to replace Judas – but not other apostles
“The addition of this new twelfth apostle would complete the new nucleus for the people of God, parallel to the heads of the 12 tribes of Israel in the OT. Though these 12 would remain the core group of the apostles (see Luke 22:30; 1 Cor. 15:5; Rev. 21:12, 14), a few more later became “apostles,” including at least Paul and Barnabas (Acts 14:4, 14) and James, the Lord’s brother (Gal 1:19)” ESV Study Bible
- the apostoles replaced Judas, but when the Apostle James died (12:2) there is no record of a successor being appointed
The requirement and main role: (v21,22)
- With them from the time Jesus was baptised by John to when Jesus was raised from the dead
- Be a witness to the resurrected Lord Jesus – the great proof of his being the Messiah, and the foundation of our hope in him.
“The apostles were ordained, not to worldly dignity and dominion, but to preach Christ, and the power of his resurrection” Matthew Henty
“The resurrection defines the church from that day to this. The church is either the movement that announces God’s new creation, or it is just another irrelevant religious sect.” Tom Wright
- So often our hearts can wander to comfort and ease, perhaps glory or status. But ultimately what will stand the test of time is our witness from Christ
The main concern – God knows the hearts of all
“”Thou, Lord, who knowest the hearts of all men,”
which we do not; and better than they know their own. It is fit that God should
choose his own servants;” Matthew Henry
3) The New Candidate (v23 – 26)
Should Matthias have been chosen?
Some feel that choosing Matthias was wrong:
- that this was a poor method to use
- Paul should have filled the vacancy left by Judas’ apostasy
However, those who believe Matthias was a proper selection argue:
- Christ says his disciples will sit on 12 thrones judging Israel (Mt 19:28) is Jewish in orientation, but Paul ministered to Gentiles (Gal 2:9)
- Paul did not meet the criteria of (v21,22)
- Luke acknowledged the Twelve as an official group (Acts 2:14; 6:2)
- Finally, there is no sense or spirit of censure in the Acts account on the selection of Matthias
Should we cast lots today?
“This does not imply that people should cast lots to make their decisions today, for there is no such command in any NT letter or in any of Jesus’ earthly teachings. The appointment of a twelfth apostle was a unique situation, a choice that was made by Jesus himself. In the rest of the NT, the elders and deacons and other church leaders are chosen according to decisions made by human beings, whether by an apostle or by others in the churches (see Acts 6:3–6; 14:23; 15:22; 2 Cor. 8:19; cf. 1 Tim. 3:1–13; Titus 1:5–9).” ESV Study Bible
“Part of Christian obedience, right from the beginning, was the call to play (apparently) great parts without pride, and (apparently) small parts without shame.” Tom Wright
- Do we have the humility to serve God in the role He chooses for us?