There are times in our lives that we make decisions … it might be personal, as husband and wife, family and as a Church … and these decisions seem right and good and well pleasing to all … and does not harm the Kingdom of God … but is it the will of God? The first major decision facing the early Church was close at hand. Please read:
Ac 1:15 In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty) 16 and said, “Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through the mouth of David concerning Judas, who served as guide for those who arrested Jesus— 17 he was one of our number and shared in this ministry.” 18 (With the reward he got for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out. 19 Everyone in Jerusalem heard about this, so they called that field in their language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) 20 “For,” said Peter, “it is written in the book of Psalms, “‘May his place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in it,’ and, “‘May another take his place of leadership.’ 21 Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.” 23 So they proposed two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. 24 Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen 25 to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.” 26 Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.
1) Peter was the first leader of the Church. He was one of the Twelve. He was one of the inner core (Peter, James and John). He was the prominent disciple and apostle. It seems natural that he would become the leader of the first believers
Ac 1:15 In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty).
“Stood up” seems to indicate leadership, but he did not hold onto this position. By the times we get to Acts 12 we find a new leader
Ac 12:17 Peter motioned with his hand for them to be quiet and described how the Lord had brought him out of prison. “Tell James and the brothers about this,” he said, and then he left for another place
This is confirmed by:
Ac 15:13 When they finished, James spoke up: “Brothers, listen to me.”
Ac 21:18 The next day Paul and the rest of us went to see James, and all the elders were present.
Who is this James? It could not be John’s brother because by the time we get to Acts 12, we find he is executed.
Ac 12:1 It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. 2 He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword.
Amongst the Eleven there were two men known as James:
Ac 1:13 When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James.
The first James was John’s brother but he is now dead. Then there is James son of Alphaeus. Could the new leader of the Church be this James? Personally I don’t believe so. Mark tells us about Jesus’ brothers:
Mk 6:3 Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon?
This James wrote the Letter known as James in the New Testament. There is no reason to not believe it is him. Inspired by the Spirit we see his wisdom, qualities and knowledge in the Letter he wrote.
2) Peter was accurate about Judas. In verses 16-19 Peter calls on Old Testament Scripture to validate what he says about Jesus’ betrayer, Judas Iscariot. Without wasting too much time on him, let me just say … Judas was doomed to destruction and it would have been better had he not been born. See this in two passages …
Mt 26:24 “The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.”
Jn 17:12 “While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.”
If there is a lesson to learn from Judas it is this … each one of us needs to make very certain we love the Lord Jesus passionately, are not materialistic (Judas was the treasurer and helped himself to that which was in the money bag) and ensure our motives for being in the Visible Church are legitimate. In other words, make certain you are genuine.
3) Peter was right about replacing Judas. He knew and understood the Old Testament.
4) Yet was Peter right about the qualifications of the one to replace Judas?
Ac 1:21 Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us.
Remember Jesus chose the Twelve from out of those following Him. Therefore there were a few to choose from … but according to Peter they needed to fulfil the requirement of participating in John’s baptism, present throughout Jesus ministry, death, resurrection and ascension. In other words … such a person would qualify as a suitable witness of Jesus resurrection. The qualifications seem so right … but was it?
5) And … was Peter right to be so hasty? He was eager to have a full complement … For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection. Was he running ahead of God?
6) They proposed two men, prayed and then cast lots which fell to Matthias. Did God answer the prayer and allow the lot to fall to Matthias? You might be thinking I’m challenging the Word of God. We need to understand that the Bible is a true record of all that happened. The great question for me is … “Where does the apostle Paul fit into the Twelve?” If he was an apostle, appointed by Jesus Himself and if the names of the twelve apostles Jesus appointed are on the wall of the New Jerusalem:
Rev 21:14 The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb
Did Peter run ahead of himself? Was Paul Judas’ replacement? We will only know in heaven!
O God, thank You for all the early Church leaders. They served well and faithfully seeking to be true to the Word. Help us to be faithful to Your Word. Amen.