Acts 1:26 And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.
While in the upper room awaiting the outpouring of the Holy Ghost, the eleven apostles prayed and then chose Matthias as a replacement for Judas Iscariot. Some believers incorrectly think Matthias is disqualified since the apostles chose him before the outpouring of the Holy Ghost. Because of this premise they believe the apostle Paul is the true twelfth apostle. I believe the Bible overwhelmingly agrees with the eleven’s choice to appoint Matthias. This study will outline this evidence.
ELEVEN PLUS ONE IS TWELVE
One of the most solid proofs that Matthias was God’s choice to replace Judas is found in Acts 2:14.
Acts 2:14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:
Notice this verse says, “Peter, standing up with the eleven…” This “eleven” plus Peter equals 12 apostles (11+1=12). To have “eleven,” Matthias had to have been included. This satisfies the argument that Matthias was chosen before the outpouring of the Holy Ghost since it was written after this occurred. And since Acts 2:14 is inspired scripture, I must believe its math is correct.
The twelve apostles were chosen for a specific calling. (John 6:70) They were sent to preach repentance to all men to prepare themselves for the then coming kingdom of God. Through their words, every man, woman, and child can find salvation in Jesus Christ. They were also to be witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection. Thus, when Peter looked for Judas’ replacement, he looked for a man that had been “numbered with” the original twelve and who was “part of” their “ministry.” (see Acts 1:17)
Having exactly “twelve” apostles serves a specific purpose.
- 12 is the number of tribes of Israel. (Genesis 35:22; Exodus 28:21)
- 12 is the number of thrones on which the twelve apostles sit while judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Matthew 19:27-28; Luke 22:30)
- 12 apostles make up the foundation on which Jesus’ New Covenant is built (Revelation 21:14, Ephesians 2:20)
There are other examples of the number twelve being used in Bible. However, in this part of the study, I wanted to show that Matthias being added to the other eleven Apostles was a proof that He did replace Judas.
The eleven Apostles cast lots to decide Judas’ replacement. The Bible says their lot fell on Matthias. (see Acts 1:26) Although nothing can replace prayer and studying God’s Word, casting lots was a biblical method whereby God made known His will to man.
Lots are thrown in the Old Testament and in the New Testament. There is not much known about their construction. Some of the materials suggested include sticks, stones, bones, and other materials. Regardless how they were made, lots were thrown similarly to dice as seen in this verse:
Proverbs 16:33 The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD.
In this verse, a person threw their lot into their lap. And as the passage further states, however, this lot landed, it’s message was believed to be “of the Lord.” The following lists examples where God revealed His will through the casting of lots:
- The sacrificial goat and the scapegoat were chosen by lots. (Leviticus 16:8-10)
- Moses choosing the 70 elders was by lot. (Numbers 11:16, Numbers 11:24-26)
- Achan’s disobedience was discovered by lots. (Joshua 7:16-18)
- Offices and functions in the Temple were decided by lot (1 Chronicles 24:5, 31; 1 Chronicles 25:8-9; 1 Chronicles 26:13-14)
- The division of the physical Promised Land under Joshua (Numbers 26:55-56; Joshua 15, Joshua 16:1-10, Joshua 16:17)
- David divided the Priests by lots. (1 Chronicles 24:5)
- King Saul discovered Jonathan disobeyed his command by lots (1 Samuel 14:41-42)
- The sailors threw lots before tossing Jonah off the ship (Jonah 1:7)
- The Roman soldiers cast lots for Jesus’ coat (Matthew 27:35; Mark 15:24-32; Luke 23:34; John 19:23-24)
The apostles did not choose Matthias outside of God’s will. They used a biblically recognized method whereby many choices were made in the Old Testament. As a result, they prayed and asked God to show His will through their lots. When this fell to Matthias, by faith they believed this was God choosing him to replace Judas.
DID THE ELEVEN GET IT WRONG?
Jesus gave His Apostles the power to make decisions that affected both Heaven and earth. This was both a great honor and a great responsibility. This verse speaks of their authority:
Matthew 16:19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
“Bind and loose” speaks of what these apostles prohibited and what they permitted. Thus, if a decision was bound, it was unlawful for the Church, so God said it was unlawful. And if a decision was loosed, it was lawful for the Church, so God said it was lawful. Jesus agreed that the Apostles’ decisions were to be viewed as His own. We find this in the next passages:
(18) Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
(19) Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.
(20) For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
In other words, if two or three apostles agree together to “bind” or “loose” anything on earth, Jesus stood in agreement with them. With that in mind, consider that we do not find any verses in the Bible that speak of Matthias being wrongly chosen to replace Judas. Not a one. Jesus could have inspired something to be written that Paul was actually Judas’ replacement, but no such passage exists. Therefore, the authority the Apostles took to choose Matthias was in line with Jesus Christ’s will.
CRITERIA FOR THE TWELVE
Before any lot was thrown, certain points had to be met before a man could be considered for Judas’ replacement. To understand why the Apostle Paul did not meet these measures, we must first look at the context in which they are found.
(16) Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus.
(17) For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry.
(18) Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.
(19) And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood.
(20) For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take.
(21) Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us,
(22) Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.
(23) And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias.
(24) And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen,
(25) That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.
(26) And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.
In Acts 1:21-22, Peter gives four points that must be met before a man could replace Judas. The following are those four measures emphasized with added [brackets]:
(21) Wherefore of these men which have  companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us,
(22)  Beginning from the baptism of John,  unto that same day that he was taken up from us,  must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.
The Apostles Paul did not meet these four stipulations. To show this, I will list each of these four points and add a “yes” or “no” to answer if Judas, Matthias, or Paul qualified.
- “companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us” (verse 21)
- “Beginning from the baptism of John” (verse 22)
- “unto that same day that he was taken up from us” (verse 22)
- “must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection” (verse 22)
This list shows that Judas and Matthias did meet these four points. It also shows that Paul did not meet even one. As a result, Paul could not have biblically been Judas’ replacement, but Matthias could. At this point, some may wonder why I said “no” to Paul and this fourth point. I will explain that later.
PAUL SAID HE WAS NOT PART OF THE TWELVE
Of course, Paul was a God-called Apostle of Jesus Christ. In fifteen different passages, he made no qualms about admitting to being an Apostle of Jesus Christ. However, not in one of these verses do we find him writing he was part of the original twelve. He also does not even hint at being Judas’ replacement. Instead, what we do find is Paul saying just the opposite. This is found in these next verses:
1 Corinthians 15:1-8
(1) Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
(2) By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
(3) For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
(4) And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
(5) And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:
(6) After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.
(7) After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.
(8) And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.
First, this chapter is a beautiful explanation that Jesus’ gospel is His “death, burial, and resurrection.” In the above verse three, Paul says he “received” this gospel. Peter’s four measures included personally witnessing everything Jesus did from John the Baptist until Jesus ascended. Paul wasn’t there for any of that, so he “received” it through teaching. Instead of “received” the New Living Translation words it this way: “I passed on to you…what had also been passed on to me.” So, Paul wasn’t there, thus he is disqualified as Judas’ replacement.
Second, many wrongly believe Paul’s statement of being “born out of due time” refers to him being later numbered as the twelfth apostle. However, Paul was quoting scripture when saying this expression. Many of his readers would have recognized this and would have known he meant something entirely different. The phrase “born out of due time” is the Greek word ektrōma. (see Strong’s G1626) Thayer’s Greek Definitions defines ektrōma as: (1) an abortion, abortive birth (2) an untimely birth.
Ektrōma is found nowhere else in the New Testament except 1 Corinthians 15:8. However, ektrōma is found in the Greek Septuagint used for the Hebrew word “nephel.” (see Strong’s H5309) This ektrōma appears in Job 3:16 and Ecclesiastes 6:3.
Job 3:16 Or as an hidden untimely birth I had not been; as infants which never saw light.
Ecclesiastes 6:3 If a man beget an hundred children, and live many years, so that the days of his years be many, and his soul be not filled with good, and also that he have no burial; I say, that an untimely birth is better than he.
Both nephel and ektrōma, mean “an abortion, or an untimely birth.” Paul’s usage of ektrōma in 1 Corinthians 15:8 speaks of him feeling completely unworthy to be used as an Apostle of the Lord. Paul saw himself unfit for such a calling. He did not walk with Jesus like the first chosen apostles. This point is clearly communicated in Paul’s words as translated in the Amplified Version.
1 Corinthians 15:8 AMP And last of all He appeared to me also, as to one prematurely and born dead [no better than an unperfected fetus among living men].
Paul saw himself as the “least of all” the apostles and of other believers. (see 1 Corinthians 15:9; 1 Timothy 1:15; Ephesians 3:8) Before his conversion, Saul (aka, Paul both persecute the Church and blasphemed the name of Jesus Christ. Paul was not there during Jesus’ earthly ministry. He was also not a witness to Jesus’ crucifixion, burial, or resurrection. This inexperience is why I earlier wrote Paul did not witness Jesus’ resurrection in Peter’s fourth point. Not that Paul’s experience on the road to Damascus was not true (see Acts 9:1), but because that this event was not the same as what the twelve Apostles witnessed. Paul’s experiences as Saul led him to testify that he was prematurely born into Jesus’ salvation as well as into his calling as an Apostle.
MORE THAN A DOZEN?
Jesus first chose twelve Apostles. This dozen men are listed here:
1 And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.
2 Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother;
3 Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus;
4 Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.
When speaking of the “Apostles,” the above twelve names is what normally comes to mind. However, the Bible speaks of more apostles than just this chosen dozen men. Here are some verses that mention these:
Galatians 1:19 But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother.
James was not one of the original twelve apostles. He was martyred in Acts 12:2. Afterward, the Elders sent Paul and Barnabas to a specific work. (see Acts 13:2-3) This leads to the next verse.
Acts 14:14 When the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard what was happening, they were very upset. They rushed into the crowd
Barnabas was not a member of the original twelve apostles. Yet he is addressed as an “apostle” with Paul.
Luke 10:1 After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come.
In this verse, “sent” is the Greek word “apostellō”. (see Strong’s G649) Strong’s defines apostellō as: set apart, that is, (by implication) to send out (properly on a mission) literally or figuratively: – put in, send (away, forth, out), set [at liberty].
In comparison, “Apostle” is the Greek word “apostolos.” (see Strong’s G652) Strong’s states “apostolos” is from “G649 apostellō.” As a result, it also speaks of “a delegate; specifically an ambassador of the Gospel; officially a commissioner of Christ (“apostle”), (with miraculous powers): – apostle, messenger, he that is sent.”
So, the seventy “sent ones” (Apostles) listed in Luke 10:1 most likely included both the Barsabas and Matthias we find in Acts 1:20-26. This would explain why these men qualified for Peter’s four-points and for the Apostles’ casting of lots. The number 70 has biblical significance. This may have been why it was chosen for the number of these “sent” Apostles. Here are some examples where “70” is used in the Bible.
- 70 of the world’s nations or ethnic groups descended from Noah’s three sons Shem, Ham, and Japheth (Genesis 10)
- There were 70 souls of the house of Jacob that went into Egypt (Genesis 4:27; Exodus 1:5)
- Moses had 70 elders of Israel (Exodus 24:1; Numbers 11:16, Numbers 11:24)
- History has 70 members in the Sanhedrin Council (Numbers 11:16)
- Jesus told Peter to forgive “‘seventy’ times seven.” This 490 times is also the exact number of years prophesied before God’s judgment (Matthew 18:22; Daniel 9:24)
More than any of the Apostles in the Bible, the greatest Apostle is Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 3:1 Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus;
No one was “sent” to fulfill a “mission” that is more important than the Lord Jesus.
From the above passages, we see the calling of being an Apostle was not confined to just the original Twelve. Thus, Matthias and Paul were both Apostles, although, per Peter’s four-points and the biblical testimony, only Matthias qualified to be Judas’ replacement.
MATTHIAS IS NOT MENTIONED AGAIN
One argument for Paul being the twelfth apostles rather than Matthias is that Matthias’ name is not mentioned again after Acts 1. If that were the case then the same thing could be said for many of the other apostles. Here is a breakdown of who is and who is not (YES and NO) mentioned after Acts 1:
- YES – Peter
- YES – James (the elder/see Acts 12:1-2)
- YES – John
- NO – Andrew
- YES – Philip
- NO – Thomas
- NO – Bartholomew
- NO – Matthew
- YES – James (“The Lessor.” May have written James’ epistle)
- NO – Simon Zealotes
- NO – Judas (Jude, brother of James)
- NO – Matthias
If not finding an Apostle’s name listed after Acts 1 disqualifies them from their Apostleship, then seven out of twelve Apostles are eliminated. Of course, we know this cannot be true, which means it is also not true for Matthias.
The Bible says Matthias was added to the eleven Apostles to make their number again equal twelve. It also says he was chosen by lot under God’s guidance and through the Apostles’ authority. Matthias met Peter’s four-point criteria for Judas’ replacement as required in Acts 1:21-22. And unlike Paul, Matthias did not reject the idea of being part of the twelve Apostles. Though the Bible does not mention Matthias after Acts 1, he is not alone in this absence. Combined, these proofs conclude that Matthias did, in fact, replace Judas and that this appointment was recognized by God as His will.
Copyright © 2017 TK Burk. All Rights Reserved.
2 Replies to “The Twelfth Apostle”
Very interesting article! Well researched and easy to understand. Keep em’ coming Brother!
Thank you for your kind words, Bro. Borison. Your input is always welcomed.
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