Lesson 3: Matthias Numbered With the Eleven Apostles/ Suddenly. . .A Sound from Heaven
Now get your eye on the text quickly and let's begin with verse 15 of Acts 1:
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,)
Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples and did some teaching while they were waiting. Now I've already mentioned the parenthesis in verse 15. What Peter said begins in verse 16. He said it to about 120 people. I would assume the whole pack came from there in Jerusalem. I would assume that everyone knows the distinction between a disciple and an apostle. A disciple was any believer or follower of Jesus. The apostles were appointees that Jesus selected to be the leaders of his disciples. The 120 were all disciples, but the apostles were the 11 persons named in verse 13. The apostles were special disciples. You might notice it was the apostles in verse 2 that Jesus talked to pertaining to the kingdom. The apostles were the ones with Jesus when he ascended from Mt. Olivet, so keep this distinction clearly in mind.
Peter was one of the apostles. Now this apostle must have had some depressing moments when we consider that it had been only about a month and a half since he cursed and denied Jesus in the halls of Pilate. What a humble soul it must have taken to swallow his pride, repent and forget the past. Verses 16-22 is a seven verse quotation and at least part of Peter's lesson to his brethren while they were waiting. Now imagine that you'd hear Peter make this speech. Now we don't know where the 120 were assembled together - it could have been in the upper room, the temple, or some place else. Are you ready? Here's Peter:
16 Men am/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
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
Can you see, Peter's speech was really an item of business that needed to be accomplished before the apostles were endowed with power at the coming of the kingdom as Jesus had promised. Judas had committed suicide. Peter said there was instruction in the book of Psalms, an Old Testament book, to pick a replacement for Judas. He quotes in verse 20, and that's from the 69th Psalm. Now he chose this as a text to teach a general principle from, not that this scripture mentioned Judas. In verses 21 and 22, he lays down some requirements for selecting Judas' replacement. First he says "Wherefore of these men," implying that the replacement should come from one of the 120 disciples camping together there in Jerusalem. Secondly, the replacement was to be a man; a man that had been with them all the time they had been with Jesus - he specifies from the day that Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River until that day on Mt. Olivet when Jesus ascended into heaven. The fact that Peter does not mention or cite authority from Jesus here to select another apostle to take Judas' bishoprick or office does not necessarily imply that Jesus had not given that authority. We learn also in verse 22 that one of the duties of an apostle was to be a witness of Jesus' resurrection. Thus, those people today who claim to be apostles are either awfully old - that's over 1900 years old - or they are false apostles - one or the other.
Apparently after a little survey had been made it was determined that only two in their camp had the qualifications that Peter had laid down. Verse 23 gives us their names -Joseph called Barsabas Justus and Matthias. Now, I'm surprised that they found that many but I'm glad they did. Undoubtedly, the qualifications of Joseph and Matthias were so close that a clear choice was not evident. Thus, in keeping with verse 14, they prayed about the matter. Verses 24 and 25 record that prayer:
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.
They simply asked the Lord to take care of the matter. Now we should take a lesson from this - do as much as you can yourself and then ask the Lord to take it from there. We learn a lot about how to pray from these verses. They really laid it on the line. Now the word "lots" in verse 26 indicates that they used a dice, a coin, or some other instrument of chance to settle the matter. The Lord's choice was Matthias, so Matthias became the successor of Judas and took part in the "apostleship". Now that word is used in verse 25. He took part in the ministry assigned to these apostles. He was numbered with the 11 per verse 26 and again the number of apostles was restored to 12. Now this is not a precedent for selecting officers in the church today for you have to remember that the church was not established at that time. We might also observe that when the Lord's choice was indicated, they never gave a second thought to their own opinions. If this attitude prevailed today, there would not be hundreds of splinter groups called "churches". Everyone would be a member of that one church or kingdom that the apostles waited for here in Acts, Chapter 1.
Verse 26 concludes Chapter 1 and I hope you're enjoying your study. Now please keep your eye on the text and hang in there. The book of Acts is a big book, but we'll make it. I hope you're getting the knack of following the text with your eyes. Don't forget to flip off the tape player just a minute or two when you need to catch up on your reading. As I said before, never go on until you understand the passage at hand.
Now Acts, Chapter 2, is one of the most exciting events in the whole Bible. Luke used Chapter 1 to set the stage for Chapter 2 and it's very important that you see this event in its proper prospective. Now if you've read the Bible, you know that the book of Genesis begins with Adam and Eve in the garden. You know that as a result of their sin, they were thrown out of the garden and their descendants began to populate the earth. After something like 1600 years, the world became so wicked that God brought a flood upon the earth and destroyed mankind with the exception of Noah and his family. Now starting with these eight people, the earth was repopulated. About 400 years later, after nine generations, God selected one of Noah's descendants through his son, Shem, named Abraham. God told Abraham in Genesis, Chapter 12, at the very beginning of the Bible, that the world would be blessed through his seed. The Jewish nation descended from Abraham. They were known as the Hebrews. There were divided into 12 tribes. God chose these people, made Moses their leader, gave them the 10 Commandment law on Mt. Sinai. Then after about 1500 years, Jesus was born. Now he was a Jew. He was the son of God, born without an earthly father. According to Galatians 3:16, he was the seed that was promised to Abraham and thus the blessings of the world that God had promised hundreds of years before. Now the Jews had understood for hundreds of years that this Messiah would come. It had been prophesied in the Old Testament that he would be a man like Moses. Daniel 2:44 says this kingdom "shall stand forever". Luke records in the first volume - Luke 1:32-33- the angel told Mary before Jesus was born that:
32 and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne
of his father David:
And he shall reign over the house of Jacob
forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no
Jesus said himself that his kingdom was not of this world -John 18:36 - and we've already looked at that verse. So after hundreds of years of anticipation, after hundreds of years of promise and preparation, God sent his son, Jesus, to establish this kingdom. Now Jesus, with the wisdom of God, selected 12 men - mostly fishermen - to open this kingdom. Now one of these 12 was a traitor. We've seen in Acts, Chapter 1, how he was replaced with Matthias. Jesus gave these men the equivalent of a college education - about three and a half years of intensive training. In Matt. 16:19, Jesus promised them:
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.
Now if you'll take the time to turn to that scripture - Matt. 16 - please note that in verse 18 the word "church" is used and in verse 19 that we just read, the word "kingdom" is used synonymously with the word "church" in verse 18. Then at the end of Jesus' earthly ministry he promised these apostles sufficient power to carry out the establishment of this church and then Jesus returned to heaven to sit on his throne - to be the king of his kingdom. Now Acts, Chapter 1, ends during this transition. Jesus had returned to heaven, but the apostles had not yet received the power they had been promised, but they were waiting for it. God does things at the right and proper time as we shall see.
Now I doubt if anything has ever been more misunderstood than this spiritual kingdom established in Acts 2. Some today even teach that Jesus failed and that the kingdom was not established. Some say it was established at a later time in the 1800s. Some think the kingdom has not been established yet and they're still looking. As I said before, it's important to see these events recorded in Acts 2 in their proper prospective. Now Jesus said in Mark 9:1:
And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power.
Notice that the kingdom was to come with power - while the apostles were still living. Now we've already seen in Acts 1:8 how that Jesus reassured the apostles by saying "ye shall receive power". We saw in verse 3 the thing that Jesus discussed with the apostles during the 40 days was the kingdom of God. He told them they would be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. Now I don't see how it could be plainer. Every scripture in the Bible that mentions the kingdom or church before Acts 2 mentions it as future - being in the future. Every scripture in the Bible that mentions the kingdom or church after Acts 2 mentions it as present and established. I challenge you to find an exception. How can it be plainer? Let's read Acts 2 verse-by-verse - examine it verse-by-verse -just as we did in Chapter 1. Luke continues:
1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
Notice first of all the context is about the apostles. The apostles are referred to by the pronoun "they". Take just a minute to see how this connects up with verse 26, Chapter 1, and remember when Luke was writing, he didn't put in these chapter and verse numbers - they were put in centuries later. "They" in verse 1 refers to the 11 apostles plus Matthias - that is, 12 apostles. It does not refer to the 120 disciples in Chapter 1 that were abiding with the apostles in Jerusalem. Look at it closely - satisfy yourself on this because it's a premise on which a lot of false doctrine is built. Ok. Now after you've satisfied yourself on that, it takes some familiarity with the Jewish religion with the Old Testament to understand the day of Pentecost. Now this day was a Sunday. The Jews observed a number of feast days and holidays. One of those days was the feast of the Passover. That day was observed annually. It commemorated the time in Exodus 12, during the Egyptian bondage, when God had instructed them to prepare a lamb and use the blood on the door posts and lintels. Every first-born of all Egypt was smitten that night where this instruction was not followed. It was during this week of unleavened bread — the Passover week - that Jesus had been crucified. Jews had returned to Jerusalem that week from all over the known world. It was an annual event. You see, not all the Jews lived in Palestine. Some lived in Rome, some in Egypt, some in Asia, some in other places. They came from everywhere to Jerusalem on these feast days. This feast lasted a week. Jesus was put in the grave on Friday of Passover week and arose from the tomb early Sunday morning, the first day of the week, according to Matt. 28:1. Pentecost was another of these annual feasts observed seven weeks after the Passover Feast. In Leviticus 23:15-16 they were told:
Ye shall count from the morrow after the sabbath ... seven sabbaths shall be complete: Even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number fifty days.
Now the sabbath day was Saturday. Therefore, the morrow after the sabbath day would have been Sunday. So they counted from the Sunday following the Passover feast 50 days
- seven weeks, beginning on a Sunday and ending on a Sunday
- actually eight Sundays were involved. So the day of
Pentecost in Acts. 2:1 was a Sunday - 50 days after the
Sunday on which Jesus arose victorious from the grave. Now
you recall that Jesus had been seen with the apostles 40 days
and apparently ascended from Mt. Olivet on the 40th day. So
you see by a little arithmetic we find that they had been waiting
in Jerusalem ten days. Now it was on this tenth day - the day
of Pentecost - that the apostles were with one accord in one
place, according to verse 1. Now the day of Pentecost had
fully come. By this I assume it meant it was after daylight on
that day. Now verse 2 begins "And suddenly". Ok. They had
been waiting ten days patiently and then "suddenly" it
happened. Now let's read verse 2:
2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven
as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the
house where they were sitting.
A sound came from heaven. From where? Just where you would expect it to come from. Notice that the sound was "as of a rushing mighty wind. Our text does not say that it was a rushing mighty wind. This is a description of the sound - a rushing sound - as of a mighty wind. Now if you've ever experienced a real tornado or a hurricane, you know just how mighty it can be. It filled all the house. Now I get the impression that the sound was supernatural enough that they knew this was it. They had been told it would happen with power. Now verse 3 relates the visual part of it:
3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues
like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
It sat upon who? Yes. Even Matthias. Cloven tongues! Now what in the world is that? You'll have to use your own imagination on this one. A tongue is one of the dumbest looking things in the world! Have you ever looked at your tongue in a mirror? Look at it sometime! Was it a human tongue, a chicken tongue, an elephant tongue, or what? You have the whole range to choose from. The word "cloven" means split - like the hoof of a cow. Snakes have a split tongue. Now your guess is as good as mine as to what this phenomenon must have been like. Now it was not fire. It was "like as of fire". It resembled fire in some way, but it was not fire. It certainly must have been impressive. Can you imagine something like this sitting on you?!
I hope you'll not feel that I'm belittling in any way. It's just that I can't identify with what they saw. The only association I can make with the symbolism here is that they were going to have to communicate with persons of all languages - or tongues as they called it - and again possibly it meant something to them that doesn't even come through to us. Now it's not clear how long this phenomenon persisted. I get the impression the apostles were alone when this first appeared, perhaps some room of the temple. It continued to persist as witnesses gathered - this may account for some of the amazement and why the crowd gathered so rapidly. Ok. We'll begin with verse 4 in our next lesson.