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MATTHIAS ONE OF THE TWELVE?

 

Scripture citations are to the New International Version UK edition of 1984.

Question: Acts 1: 26 shows that following the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, the eleven remaining Apostles picked a replacement for Judas. Does this mean that St. Paul was the thirteenth Apostle?

 

‘They cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.’

 

Answer: After Judas’ betrayal and death, the ‘eleven’ searched the Scriptures for guidance on what to do. The account is in Acts 1: 15-26. Peter led the discussion, arguing that a substitute must be found, and that it must be someone who had seen Jesus after His resurrection. Two candidates were put forward: Barsabbas (also called Justus) and Matthias. The assembly cast lots and Matthias was selected.

 

Nothing more is heard of Matthias, a reasonably strong evidence that however useful he may otherwise have been to the Church, he did not have an Apostolic ministry.

 

The eleven had erred in their intention and, perhaps, in the method they employed. As they themselves had been hand-picked by Jesus, so the replacement must be selected by the Lord, not by the operation of a lottery, no matter how well intended the procedure. Bearing in mind that the eleven had not yet been anointed with the power of the holy spirit at Pentecost, their mistake may be understandable.

 

Paul was the twelfth Apostle. The account of his conversion is found in Acts 9. In verse 15 he is described by God as ‘my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel’. To prove his credentials as a bona fide Apostle, Paul notes that he witnessed Jesus’ resurrection long after that event (1 Corinthians 15: 3-8; ‘as to one abnormally [prematurely] born’). And unlike the chance selection of Matthias, the Apostle Paul was ‘sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father . . .’ (Galatians 1: 1).

 

There have never been more than twelve Apostles, all of them male. Through their verbal and written teachings were revealed the fundamental truths necessary to the building of the Gospel-Age Church and the canon of Scripture. In Revelation 21: 14 they are identified as the ‘twelve foundations . . . the twelve Apostles of the Lamb’. In Luke 22: 29, 30 Jesus says they would reign with Him and ‘sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel’.

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