Advertisements

Saint Matthias - Simone Martini (circa 1317-1319)

The apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city. When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. They all joined together in constant prayer, along with women and Mary, the mother of Jesus and with his brothers.

Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty) and said,

“Brothers and sisters, the Scripture had to be fulfilled in which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through David concerning Judas, who served as a guide for those who arrested Jesus. He was one of our number and shared in the ministry.”

(With the payment Judas received for his wickedness, he bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open, and all his intestines spilled out. Everyone in Jerusalem heard about this so they called that field in their language, Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood).

Peter continued,

“For 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.’

The election of MatthiasTherefore, it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us, 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.”

So they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. Then they prayed,

Advertisements

“Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.”

Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias, so he was added to the eleven apostles.

What the story means to us today

It was important to God’s plan that a disciple be chosen to replace Judas

The disciples had been told to stay in Jerusalem until “you have been clothed with power from on high”. Knowing a vacancy existed because of Judas’ betrayal, they used the time to choose another disciple – one that had been with them while Jesus was spreading his word on earth. The disciples knew something big was coming, Jesus promised them that, so they waited patiently as instructed. In hindsight, readers will soon see that choosing the next disciple at this time was extremely important. The newest member had to be chosen before the Holy Spirit descended upon them (see next chapter).

Additional thoughts and considerations

More than just the twelve disciples

Many envision Jesus’ travels as the Son of God and twelve disciples. In fact, the core group consisted of more people, possibly many more. As we see here, along with the disciples are “the women”, probably wives of the disciples, Jesus’ mother Mary, and Jesus’ brothers. No doubt children were present too. It is likely a fairly large contingent travelled with Jesus during his ministry. In fact, Acts 1:15 tells us that at the time of Matthias selection, the number of believers in Jerusalem totaled around 120.

Jesus brothers change their minds and follow their brother

It is surprising that Jesus’ brothers were present at the time. Mark told us that his brothers thought Jesus as “out of his mind” and John told us that “his own brothers did not believe him”. The return of Jesus to earth is in fact, further supported by the brothers’ presence. Something magnificent changed the brothers’ minds as we now see them as part of the early Christian congregation.

Judas’ death in Akeldama (the Field of Blood)

udas Iscariot from Tarzhishte Monastery - Edal Anton Lefterov (abt. 1500)In verses 18-19, Mark tells us,

“With the payment he received from his wickedness, Judas bought a field. There he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out. Everyone in Jerusalem heard about this, so they called the field in their language Akeldama, that is, “Field of Blood”.

Matthew seems to present a different version of events. Matthew tells us (1) that Judas tried to give the money to the chief priests and elders but they could not accept it so he threw it down in the temple, and (2) that Judas hanged himself. On the surface, the difference seems to be one of the widest contradictions in the Bible. But given deeper study, the message is clear.

It is likely the true events were a combination of the two stories. Judas hanged himself (as Matthew tells us) in the field and his body was left there, rotting, until it fell headlong onto the ground (as Mark tells us) where it burst open and “all his intestines spilled out”. The field had been purchased by the elders using Judas’ money that he threw down in the temple.

Why wasn’t Paul a disciple?

Paul, although considered an apostle by most, was not one of the twelve disciples. Paul would be selected on the road to Damascus by God three years after Jesus was resurrected. Jews of the day expected twelve disciples – a number symbolic for the twelve tribes. The need for twelve disciples was urgent. There was no time to wait for God to select Paul for ministry. To minister in Jerusalem, the twelve chosen disciples were ideal.

The science and history behind the story

The disciples return to the upper room

When the disciples arrived in Jerusalem, they “went upstairs to the room where they were staying”. We are not told which home this was but an upper room in Jerusalem would have been highly sought after because of its seclusion from the hustle and bustle of the busy streets below. Upper rooms were often used for meetings or parties. It may have been in the wealthy upper section of the city.

The room mentioned here could be the room where Jesus appeared after his death, the room in which the Passover took place, or maybe a room in the house of Mary (John Mark’s mother) which was to become a meeting place for early Christians.

A Sabbath’s day’s walk

Akeldama - St. Onuphrius MonasteryThe verses tell us the disciples returned from the Mount of Olives which was “about a Sabbath day’s walk from Jerusalem”. This distance “a Sabbath day’s walk” is defined by the Jewish Mishnah, a collection of Jewish historical traditions also known as “the Oral Torah”. The distance is defined as two thousand cubits which is about 1,100 meters or 1,000 yards (about ¾ mile from the city).

Akeldama or Field of Blood

The exact location of the field mentioned by Luke is unknown. It may be located on the southwest side of Jerusalem. During the time of the First Temple, Hinnom Valley was notorious as the place where Jews sacrificed their children through fire to the god Moloch. Because of these horrors, the field’s name became a byword for hell. The exact location of Judas’ hanging is believed to be where the Monastery of St. Onuphrius stands today. St. Onuphrius was built on the spot in 1874 over the remains of an even earlier church. The Crusaders may have known the location too. In the 12th century, they buried many dead in the valley.

Bible Text

NIV

12 Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city. 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. 14 They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.

15 In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty) 16 and said, “Brothers and sisters, d the Scripture had to be fulfilled in which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through David concerning Judas, who served as guide for those who arrested Jesus. 17 He was one of our number and shared in our ministry.”

18 (With the payment he received 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,’ l

and,

“ ‘May another take his place of leadership.’ m

21 Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living 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 nominated 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.

The New International Version. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011. Print.

Akeldama (Field of Blood) at base of St. Onuphrius MonasteryThe NET Bible

1:12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mountain called the Mount of Olives (which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away). 1:13 When they had entered Jerusalem, they went to the upstairs room where they were staying. Peter and John, and James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James were there. 1:14 All these continued together in prayer with one mind, together with the women, along with Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers. 1:15 In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a gathering of about one hundred and twenty people) and said, 1:16 “Brothers, the scripture had to be fulfilled that the Holy Spirit foretold through David concerning Judas—who became the guide for those who arrested Jesus—1:17 for he was counted as one of us and received a share in this ministry.” 1:18 (Now this man Judas acquired a field with the reward of his unjust deed, and falling headfirst he burst open in the middle and all his intestines gushed out. 1:19 This became known to all who lived in Jerusalem, so that in their own language they called that field Hakeldama, that is, “Field of Blood.”) 1:20 “For it is written in the book of Psalms, ‘Let his house become deserted, and let there be no one to live in it,’ and ‘Let another take his position of responsibility.’ 1:21 Thus one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time the Lord Jesus associated with us, 1:22 beginning from his baptism by John until the day he was taken up from us—one of these must become a witness of his resurrection together with us.” 1:23 So they proposed two candidates: Joseph called Barsabbas (also called Justus) and Matthias. 1:24 Then they prayed, “Lord, you know the hearts of all. Show us which one of these two you have chosen 1:25 to assume the task of this service and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” 1:26 Then they cast lots for them, and the one chosen was Matthias; so he was counted with the eleven apostles.

Biblical Studies Press. The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible. Biblical Studies Press, 2006. Print.

New King James Version

12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey. 13 And when they had entered, they went up into the upper room where they were staying: Peter, James, John, and Andrew; Philip and Thomas; Bartholomew and Matthew; James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot; and Judas the son of James. 14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.

15 And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples (altogether the number of names was about a hundred and twenty), and said, 16 “Men and brethren, this Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus; 17 for he was numbered with us and obtained a part in this ministry.”

18 (Now this man purchased a field with the wages of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his entrails gushed out. 19 And it became known to all those dwelling in Jerusalem; so that field is called in their own language, Akel Dama, that is, Field of Blood.)

20 “For it is written in the Book of Psalms:

‘Let his dwelling place be desolate,

And let no one live in it’;

and,

‘Let another take his office.’

21 “Therefore, of these men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.”

23 And they proposed two: Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. 24 And they prayed and said, “You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen 25 to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.” 26 And they cast their lots, and the lot fell on Matthias. And he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

The New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982. Print.

The Message

12–13 So they left the mountain called Olives and returned to Jerusalem. It was a little over half a mile. They went to the upper room they had been using as a meeting place:

Peter,

John,

James,

Andrew,

Philip,

Thomas,

Bartholomew,

Matthew,

James, son of Alphaeus,

Simon the Zealot,

Judas, son of James.

14 They agreed they were in this for good, completely together in prayer, the women included. Also Jesus’ mother, Mary, and his brothers.

15–17 During this time, Peter stood up in the company—there were about 120 of them in the room at the time—and said, “Friends, long ago the Holy Spirit spoke through David regarding Judas, who became the guide to those who arrested Jesus. That Scripture had to be fulfilled, and now has been. Judas was one of us and had his assigned place in this ministry.

18–20 “As you know, he took the evil bribe money and bought a small farm. There he came to a bad end, rupturing his belly and spilling his guts. Everybody in Jerusalem knows this by now; they call the place Murder Meadow. It’s exactly what we find written in the Psalms:

Let his farm become haunted

So no one can ever live there.

“And also what was written later:

Let someone else take over his post.

21–22 “Judas must now be replaced. The replacement must come from the company of men who stayed together with us from the time Jesus was baptized by John up to the day of his ascension, designated along with us as a witness to his resurrection.”

23–26 They nominated two: Joseph Barsabbas, nicknamed Justus, and Matthias. Then they prayed, “You, O God, know every one of us inside and out. Make plain which of these two men you choose to take the place in this ministry and leadership that Judas threw away in order to go his own way.” They then drew straws. Matthias won and was counted in with the eleven apostles.

Peterson, Eugene H. The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2005. Print.

King James Version

12 Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day’s journey. 13 And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James. 14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.

15 And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,) 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.

The Holy Bible: King James Version. Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version. Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009. Print.

Sources: NIV, The Message, The NET Bible, King James Version, NET Bible Notes, Faithlife Study Bible, The Apologetics Study Bible, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Jamieson, Fausset, Brown Commentary, The Bible Reader’s Companion, Matthew Henry’s Commentary, Holman Concise Bible Commentary, The Bible Exposition Commentary, The Teacher’s Bible Commentary, The Teacher’s Commentary, The Bible Guide, Word Studies in the New Testament, Holman Bible Handbook, Calvin Commentaries, Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines, The New Manner and Customs of the Bible, Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, The Lexham Bible Dictionary, Easton’s Bible Dictionary, Harper’s Bible Dictionary, Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible, The Archaeological Encyclopedia, Biblical Archaeology Review, The New Bible Dictionary, The Lexham Analytical Lexicon, Glossary of Morpho-Syntactic Database
Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Advertisements
Advertisements