Acts Devotional Commentary [Acts 1:12-26] Matthias Chosen to Replace Judas

Matthias Chosen to Replace Judas

Acts 1:12-26

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’;


“‘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.

Observations and Reflections


Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away.

It has now been 40 days+ that the disciples were in Jerusalem with Jesus. This would be bizarre behavior had Jesus not been arrested. The passover festival was long finished and none of them were really from Jerusalem. They were Galileans. They should have been home already and back fishing. However, they were not interested in returning to their pre-Jesus careers. What is also interesting was that Luke points out that the walk back to Jerusalem from the location where Jesus ascended was “a Sabbath day’s journey away”. This fact would only be important if it was the Sabbath day. A Sabbath day’s journey was the estimated distance that a person can travel before they are “working” or violating any travel regulations. It’s been suggested by many that such travel restrictions stem from Exodus.

See! The Lord has given you the sabbath, therefore on the sixth day he gives you food for two days; each of you stay where you are; do not leave your place on the seventh day.” (Exodus 16:29)

However, this passage was about instructions give to the Israelites while in the desert and living on manna and quail. But the principle was that the Sabbath was a holy day. God did not want them outside searching for food. This idea made its way into oral Jewish law and it was that law that was likely what Luke was referring to, not Exodus.

Another interesting detail given by Luke is that Mary was in the upper room with the disciples and Jesus’ (his) brothers.

“…..Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers”

Luke knew that Mary had other children besides Jesus and it was not a controversy. It was later Christian church fathers that began to dispute this idea. However, scripture is clear that Mary had other children was not a perpetual virgin.

Lastly in this passage, Luke details the replacement of Judas as well as the reasoning behind it. Peter quotes from Psalm 69:25 and 109:6-8. They are not really directly applicable to the current situation except that they wished the wrath of God, which David was praying for, to be laid upon Judas. In Psalm 109 David prays evil upon his enemies. Part of that prayer is that his accuser would be replaced.

6 Appoint someone evil to oppose my enemy;
let an accuser stand at his right hand.
When he is tried, let him be found guilty,
and may his prayers condemn him.
May his days be few;
may another take his place of leadership.
(Psalm 109:6-8)

It is hard to know how literally Peter was trying to apply this passage to the current situation, but it’s clear that Peter’s understanding of the Psalms is somewhat prophetic in nature.

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. (Acts 1:16)

Lydia.jpgThe followers of Jesus Christ had all gathered together to unite as one and add new members to their group. Right now it was a time in which they were looking for one to replace the lost disciple. Judas had committed a terrible act of betrayal towards Jesus Christ. His heart had been filled with hate, malice and distain for Jesus Christ and throughout the three years that he followed Christ, his heart just became darker.

It is a tragic and sad story that we read about here in the life of Judas. His acts of hatred and utter betrayal towards Jesus resulted in his gruesome and brutal death. When Judas finally realized what he had done, it filled him with an overwhelming sense of guilt but enough to change his heart towards the gospel. The deed had been done and he could live with what he did and in order to end it, he killed himself.

Peter explains this story in detail because it is important of the body of Christ to understand that hope could still be found in the men and women that had gathered here today. The life of Judas serves as a warning to those who think they can claim to be followers of Jesus Christ and if not rooted in a firm foundational relationship with Him, one can easily be swayed.

It is a beautiful thing to see that the followers of Christ were still filled with hope and a love to continue to follow after Him. In choosing Matthias, we see how God was already leading and guiding this new body of believers and preparing them to be His spokesmen and women to spread the gospel of Christ to the entire world.


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