12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away. 13 And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, 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. 14 All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.
15 In those days Peter stood up among the brothers (the company of persons was in all about 120) and said, 16 “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. 17 For he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.” 18 (Now this man acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness, and falling headlong he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. 19 And it became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their own language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) 20 “For 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.’
21 So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 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.” 23 And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias. 24 And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen 25 to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” 26 And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.
The fulfillment of Scripture is a recurring theme in the book of Acts. All sorts of things that might appear to be random or contrary to God’s plan are understood to be in accord with Scripture and part of God’s plan. In this episode, Judas’ betrayal of Jesus and his eventual death are understood as fitting into God’s overall plan of salvation. Luke does not explore here the relationship between divine necessity and human responsibility. He simply states that Judas’ actions were a fulfillment of Scripture.
What significance do you find in the differences between this recollection of Judas’ death and the version in Matthew 27:3-10?
If Judas’ actions were part of God’s plan, how can Scripture say he was responsible for what he did?
The remaining eleven determine that they must replace Judas so that their number will again be complete. They have clear requirements for the replacement. (Note that these requirements rule out Paul, whose story will fill half of the book of Acts).
Why do you think it was so important to replace Judas?
What do the specific qualifications the eleven were looking for tell us about what they considered important?
Eventually, it will become important for believers to be able to witness to what they have not seen. As time passes and the church grows, the witnesses of the Gospel will include people who never heard Jesus teach, never witnessed a healing, never saw him risen from the dead. But for now, the eleven find it important for the replacement to be a first- hand witness, and they determine that the best way to choose between the two candidates is through the casting of lots. They assume that God will make his will known in this way.
Do you think there is any significance to the fact that we never hear another word about Matthias?
Let us prayer … Gracious God, we face a historical reality that does not favor You or the Your church. Instill in us your wisdom, words, and deeds, so that we may serve to bring Christ to our family, friends, and neighbors. May we be a reflection of Christ. In Jesus, we pray. Amen.