Acts

1:15-26

1. The early church in Jerusalem, 1:1-5:42

iii] The restoration of the twelve

Synopsis

At this point in his account, Luke records what was the first official act of the Christian community in Jerusalem, namely, the appointment of a new apostle to replace Judas. There were not many who were eyewitnesses of Jesus' ministry from the beginning, but from this group two were proposed and Matthias elected. The issue is managed by Peter who has obviously taken on a leadership role in the church. Luke also, in an aside, gives an account of Judas' demise.

 
Teaching

The appointment of a replacement for Judas reinforces the truth that the community of the way is the new Israel of God.

 
Issues

i] Context: See 1:1-11. A second scene separating Christ's ascension and the coming of the Holy Spirit.

 

ii] Structure: This passage, The restoration of the twelve, presents as follows:

Setting, v15;

Peter addresses "the believers", v16-17;

Editorial comment, v18-19:

The betrayal of Judas.

Peter continues his address, v20-22;

The election of Matthias, v23-26.

 

iii] Interpretation:

Luke's intentions are best discerned by asking a number of salient questions. Why has Luke bothered to record this rather insignificant event? Why did the apostles replace Judas; they never replaced James when he was executed? If they were going to fill such a vacancy, wouldn't they have been better advised to wait for God's man, Paul? How can two seemingly unrelated verses from the Psalms authorize this new appointment?

What we have in this passage is big-picture theology. The twelve apostles represent the twelve tribes of Israel, the remnant gathered from all Israel by God's Messiah Jesus; a people saved by grace through faith. Like Esau, Judas gave up his heritage and so he must be replaced, for the new age has dawned and the mission to all Israel and beyond now proceeds with urgency. <

 

"The Scriptures had to be fulfilled", v16: The events around the messiah's life, his sacrifice and glorification, are the subject of fulfilled Biblical prophecy. It seems that early in the life of the apostolic church, Old Testament texts were assembled as testimonies to Jesus' fulfillment of prophecy. Texts concerning Judas' betrayal are part of this proof-texting process. The mention of David as the source of some inspired texts is simply a reference to the Psalms, whose author, it was believed, was David. Verses about persecution, betrayal etc. of the psalmist were inevitably applied to Jesus and so used of Judas' betrayal, eg. Ps.41:9 in John 13:18. Texts supporting the necessity of twelve apostles and therefore the necessary replacement of Judas are less easy to identify. Yet, neither Jesus nor the apostles were really into proof-texting. The messiah's ministry sits firmly on the Biblical theology of the kingdom of God and scriptural texts or testimonies are but pointers to this theology. This is why they are at times less than convincing. So, Jesus is the long awaited savior of the house of Israel, and that to all Israel, to the twelve tribes of Israel. The apostolic band now represents this new Israel, the whole twelve tribes of Israel, and since Jesus has ascended to glory, the mission to all Israel must continue, the mission to save a people unto the Lord. So, the one who sold his birthright for a mess of pottage must be replaced.

 

The difference in the Acts account of Judas' betrayal and that of Matthew, v18-19. The account here of the demise of Judas does not fit well with what Matthew says. Matthew says that Judas regretted his betrayal of Jesus, returned the money to the Jewish authorities and went and hanged himself. As the money was blood money, the authorities purchased the potter's field as a cemetery for aliens. Luke says that Judas purchased the field and came to grief on it somehow. We are actually not quite sure what the Greek word prhnhV, translated in the NIV as "[fell] headlong", actually means. In the first centuries of the Christian church it was understood as "swelled up". So, it was commonly believed that Judas' stomach swelled up and burst open. Not a nice image! Christian scholars down the ages have tried to align the two stories. For example, many have suggested that the authorities purchased the field in Judas' name, so it was his, although he didn't sign the papers. Augustine suggested that when Judas hung himself, the rope broke and he fell headlong, bursting open his stomach in the fall.

What we actually have in the two stories is a generous description of Judas' end and a less generous description. Is Luke keeping in with the leaders of the Jerusalem church by playing down the more generous aspects of Judas' end in Matthew's account? Even so, Luke records Peter's (the apostles?) words that "Judas left to go where he belongs." Some suggest that Peter is implying the place of weeping and gnashing of teeth, but that's not what Peter says. He is non committal, for he doesn't know where Judas has ended up, either heaven or hell, for that is between the Lord and Judas. Yes, it is true that Judas is called "the son of perdition", and that the word perdition is used of the Antichrist, but the word means loss, destruction, or ruin and that well describes the end of the Antichrist as it does of Judas, but it does not say whether he is in heaven or hell.

Even more fascinating is the use of a word metamelhqeiV, "having repented", in Matthew's description of Judas' end, translated in the NIV as "was seized with remorse." The word means to change one's mind for the better. Again, some will counter with the reference to his suicide and argue that a person who commits suicide cannot be forgiven and share in eternity, but there is no scripture to support this argument.

So, was Judas saved? There is little evidence that the apostles forgave him, but then Jesus has a bigger heart than his disciples; his grace is boundless; his forgiveness beyond measure. If Judas did actually repent, did turn to God and ask for forgiveness, then he is surely forgiven, since betraying Jesus is not an unforgivable sin, cf., Matt.12:31. Beware! "The last will be first and the first will be last", Matt.20:16

This article serves as the basis for the sample sermon on forgiveness.

 

iv] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.

 
Text - 1:15

The restoration of the twelve, v15-26: i] Setting, v15. Luke tells us that the Christian community in Jerusalem (or possibly all believers) numbered around one hundred and twenty. At a gathering of the disciples, Peter takes the lead and calls for the replacement of Judas the betrayer.

en + dat. "in [those days]" - Temporal use of the preposition; "at that time", Barclay.

anastaV (anisthmi) aor. part. "stood up" - having arisen. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "said"; "Peter stood up .... and said."

twn adelfwn (oV) gen. "the believers" - of the brothers. Partitive genitive after the adjective mesoV, serving as a preposition + gen.; "middle of." Although masculine, the term is used collectively of men and women. The use of "brothers" for a group of men and women is acceptable, but causes a problem today, since we do try to avoid language that is gender specific. "Brethren", "fellow Christians."

te "-" - The conjunction here is used to introduce an parenthesis, so bracketed as NIV.

onomatwn (a atoV) gen. "[a group]" - [a crowd] of names. An example of a metonymy where a word is replaced by another linked word, so "names" = "persons"; "the company of persons", ESV. The genitive is adjectival, of definition, epexegetic; "a company consisting of persons"; "there was a crowd", Moffatt.

epi + acc. "-" - Spacial; "in [that place]. Often epi to auto takes the idiomatic sense "altogether", Culy, possibly "in church fellowship", Omanson, although Culy is not convinced; "the company of persons assembled there numbered about one hundred and twenty."

wJsei "about" - like, as / about. Here expressing an approximation, as NIV. Luke regularly tells us that his head counting is approximate. Here the count is approximately 120. Is this the whole number of believers, or is it only the Jerusalem community? The count may not include those in Galilee or the countryside of Judea, or possibly women and children. At any rate, Jesus' church is a small one, which should encourage ministers today who are serving in small congregations.

 
v16

ii] Peter proposes the replacement of Judas, v16-17. Peter argues that the betrayal of the messiah was all part of God's plan, long revealed in the scriptures. Sadly, Judas, one of the twelve apostles, had chosen to play the part. Peter mentions the Psalms as the main source of the testimonies concerning Jesus' betrayal.

andreV adelfoi "brothers" - men brothers. "Brothers" stands in apposition to "men". Is Luke being gender specific making the point that only men were present, or is Peter being typically Jewish in only addressing the men?

thn grafhn (h) "the Scripture" - the writing. Accusative subject of the infinitive "to be fulfilled"; "the scripture to be fulfilled was necessary" = "the scripture had to be fulfilled."

edei (dei) imperf. "had" - it was necessary, inevitable. The Western reading has "is necessary", but a past tense is better attested. The word is often used of divine necessity. Both the betrayal of Judas (or more properly the betrayal of one of his own; Judas chose to play the part) and the appointment of someone to replace him, was necessary because it was subject to the overarching theology of the kingdom of God, as detailed in Old Testament prophecy. Note how Peter is the one who knows what "was necessary" and how he identifies the supporting scripture. Peter is simply following Jesus' lead. Jesus used the Old Testament messianic testimonies to both shape and explain his ministry and then opened the minds of his disciples to the messianic prophecies in the scriptures, Lk.24:44-45

plhrwqhnai (plhrow) aor. pas. inf. "to be fulfilled" - The infinitive serves as the subject of the verb "was necessary", although Culy suggests are more appropriate classification is complementary.

proeipen (prolegw) aor. "spoke long ago" - spoke before, said beforehand, foretold. "My friends, long ago by the Holy Spirit, David said", CEV.

dia + gen. "through" - through, by means of. Instrumental, agency (intermediate agency, ie. "by the mouth"); "by the lips of David", Moffatt.

oJdhgou (oV) "guide" - a leader, guide. "He brought the mob to arrest Jesus", CEV.

peri + gen. "concerning [Judas]" - Expressing reference / respect; "with respect to, about, concerning Judas."

tou genomenou (ginomai) gen. aor. part. "who served [as guide]" - the one having become [a guide]. The participle is adjectival, attributive, genitive in agreement with Judas.

toiV sullabousin (sullambanw) aor. dat. part. "for those who arrested" - [Judas, the one having become a guide] to the ones having seized, arrested [Jesus]. The participle serves as a substantive, dative of interest, advantage.

 
v17

oJti "-" - that, because, since. Here probably expressing cause / reason; introducing a causal clause explaining why the vacancy occurred, "because" Judas, who was one of the 12 apostles, had abdicated his position. The NIV has taken oJti here as recitative, ie., serving to express what the Holy Spirit said, so Barrett.

en + dat. "one [of our]" - in [us]. Here expressing association, accompaniment; "with us" = "one of us" - ie., included in the group.

kathriqmhmenoV h\n perf. pas. part. "number" - being numbered [among us]. The participle with the imperfect verb to-be forms a periphrastic pluperfect construction, probably emphasizing durative aspect; "he had been all along one with us."

elacen ton klhron "shared" - obtained, received, assigned by lot a portion. Here "appointed to the rank of apostle to share in our ministry."

thV diakoniaV (a) gen. "in [this] ministry" - of [this] service, ministration. The genitive is adjectival, partitive; "one of this ministry." In the narrow sense, "waiting on tables", although clearly here apostolic ministry is intended - apostleship in service. Jesus set the pattern of leadership in the Christian fellowship by describing it as "like one who serves", Lk.22:26. Waiting on tables was a menial task in the first century and was performed by servants and women. The English word "ministry" has long lost this impact, in fact the word is often used now in the sense of authority rather than service.

 
v18

iii] The fate of Judas, v18-19. "The risen Lord is not frustrated by human rebellion and will not allow even apostasy to hinder the fulfillment of his saving purpose", Peterson.

men oun "-" - Normally inferential, Luke will often used this construction to introduce an explanatory statement. Here best expresses as a parenthesis and so v18-19 are usually bracketed.

ek + gen. "with" - out of, from. Expressing source/origin. "From the reward of his betrayal of Jesus, Judas purchased a field."

misqou (oV) "the reward / payment" - wages, pay. "The pay his villainy had earned for him", Barclay.

thV adikiaV (a) gen. "for his wickedness" - of unrighteousness. The genitive is probably adjectival, attributive, limiting "reward"; "his unrighteous reward", Bruce. Interestingly, Matthew says that Judas metamelhqeiV "was seized with remorse" or better, "repented." In the NT the word for "repentance", of turning back to God", is metanoia, but one wonders if Matthew is leaving the issue of Judas' salvation up in the air somewhat by his choice of metamelhqeiV. If his repentance was genuine then his betrayal of Jesus' falls within the mercy of God. Judas' wickedness is repeatedly condemned in the scriptures, but if his repentance was genuine, is he not forgiven? If Judas can be forgiven then there is hope for all of us!!!! "His unrighteous act."

ekthsato (ktaomai) aor. "bought [a field]" - acquired, bought, got for oneself. Matthew has the Chief Priests and Elders buying the field with the money Judas gave back to them. Possibly they bought the field in Judas' name.

genomenoV (ginomai) aor. mid. part. "there he fell [headlong]" - [head first] having become. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "burst open." Possibly adverbial, temporal; "when he fell over" / "after becoming prostrate", Culy. There is some debate over the meaning of this phrase. Initially it was thought to mean "become swollen or inflamed." In early Christian tradition, eg. Papias, it was believed that Judas swelled up and burst open, but probably this was based on a later understanding of the word. Research favors a meaning of "forward / prostrate / headlong", possibly related to hanging himself as recorded in Matthew, so "there he hung himself." Barrett is unconvinced, opting for lit. "having come to be prone", so, "he fell flat on his face", Barrett.

elakhsen (lakew) aor. "his body burst open" - he burst open.

mesoV "-" - middle. Judas burst open in the middle, that is, his stomach, or more likely his bowels, burst open and his intestines came out.

execuqh (ekcew) aor. pas. "spilled out" - poured out

 
v19

oJ kai "-" - and which [became known]. The relative pronoun is only found in some manuscripts, so "and it became known."

pasi dat. adj. "everyone" - [it became known] to all, every. Dative of indirect object. Obviously not "everyone", but the news would have got around.

toiV katoikousin (katoikew) dat. pres. part. "-" - The participle may be classified as a substantive, or if the adjective pasi, "every, is read as a substantive, "everyone", then the participle is taken as adjectival, attributive; "everyone who dwelt in Jerusalem."

Ierousalhm "in Jerusalem" - The usual place identification introduced by the prepositions eiV or en is expressed here by the accusative.

wJste + inf. "so [they called that field]" - This construction forms either a final clause expressing purpose (rare), or a consecutive clause expressing result.

th/ idia/ dialektw/ "in [their] language" - in [their] own dialect. Dative of reference / respect, "with respect to their own Aramaic dialect."

autwn gen. pro. "their" - of them. Probably adjectival, possessive, ie., in the their language, the language that belonged to Israel, or possibly verbal, subjective / ablative, source, "from them" = "the language they speak."

Akeldamac "Akeldama" - The meaning of this Aramaic word is disputed. It is suggested by some that it means "field of sleep" ie., "field of the dead" = "cemetery".

ai{matoV (a atoV) gen. "[field] of blood" - The genitive is adjectival, probably attributive; "the bloody field", Culy.

 
v20

iv] Peter continues his address, v20-22. Either the editorial comment continues in v20, or Luke picks up on Peter's address again. Obviously, in his address Peter quotes scripture to support his argument. The testimonies come from Psalm 69:25 and 109:8. The point is that because of his wickedness, Judas rightly has no place numbered among the apostles and his position of authority should now be offered to another. Peter goes on in v21-22 to outline the qualifications and job description for the new apostle. He must be someone who has journeyed with Jesus from the time when John the Baptist was preaching and all the way through to the resurrection. The idea of traveling with Jesus implies that the candidate has been taught by Jesus. The job description defines an apostle as a "witness" to the "resurrection." Not just an eye witness, but someone who declares the truth of the resurrection - the message of new life in Christ, the gospel. An apostle is a preacher of the resurrection.

gegraptai (grafw) perf. pas. "it is written" - it has been written. The perfect tense indicating a past act with ongoing consequences, namely, the scriptures' ongoing authority.

hJ epauliV (iV ewV) "[his] place" - the dwelling, property, estate, homestead, residence. The reference may be to the property of Judas, or the field of blood / the dead. The psalmist is certainly praying that the dwelling-place of his enemies becomes desolate, Psalm 69:25. Yet, Peter is probably quoting the text to support the desolation of Judas, not just his property. The idea is similar to the old First World War saying, "he aught to be shot and his cloths burnt" - all memory removed. For his wickedness, Judas loses his place of honour and is left with nothing other than a stained reputation.

thn episkophn (h) "place of leadership" - the oversight, supervision, office. In Psalm 109:8 the psalmist prays that his enemy be no more and that his now vacant position be given to someone else. As noted above, such testimonies are not proof-texts, but take on a prophetic nature through the theology of the kingdom of God. It is through the Biblical theology of messiah's mission to all Israel, represented by the twelve, that the psalmist's vacant position becomes the apostles' vacant position.

 
v21

oun "therefore" - Drawing a logical conclusion.

dei "it is necessary" - it is now necessary. Present tense this time, cf. v16. When James was executed some years later, it was not deemed necessary to fill the apostolic vacancy. See above for the theology.

genesqai (ginomai) aor. inf. "to choose" - to happen, become, born [one of these]. The sentence actually spreads out over two verses with this infinitive appearing at the end of v22; "it is necessary of the men journeying with us ..... to become a witness with us of his resurrection." The infinitival phrase formed by the infinitive stands as the subject of the verb "is necessary." For the sake of a clear reading the NIV has moved this infinitive with its accusative subject e{na, "one [of these (partitive genitive)]", to the beginning of v 21, "one of these to become = to choose one of the men", and has also repeated it in v22 with "for one of these must become". See Barclay, NJB, for a translation that follows the Greek order. "So we need someone else to help us tell others that Jesus has been raised from death. He must also be one of the men who was with us from the very beginning", CEV.

twn ..... andrwn (hr roV) gen. "of the men" - The genitive here could be taken as adjectival, partitive, but e{na, "one", does not syntactically belong here, so the genitive is actually ablative, expressing source / origin; "therefore, it is necessary from the men having accompanied us ......

sunelqontwn (sunercomai) gen. aor. part. "who has been with us" - [the men] having accompanied, gone together with. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "men", genitive in agreement. The new apostle must be someone who journeyed with Jesus, ie. sat under his instruction from the time of the preaching of John the Baptist through to the resurrection.

en + dat. "[the whole time]" - in [all time]. Temporal used of the preposition; "during the time."

w|/ dat. pro. "-" - in which. The dative is local, expressing space / sphere.

eishlqen kai exhlqen aor. "went in and out" - went in and went out. The aorist is a strange choice of tense for what is obviously repeated action, unless we have an ellipsis here, a shorthand way of saying "during the whole time that Jesus came to be with us and then later left us."

ef (epi) acc. "among us" - Spacial; "among us."

 
v22

arxamenoV (arcw) aor. part. "beginning" - having begun. This participle is probably best taken as "a nominative absolute that has become adverbial", Begs. Defining the actual commencement of an apostles' witness during the time of Jesus' going "in and out among us", ie. while "Jesus lived his life with us", Phillips.

apo + gen. "from" - Expressing separation.

tou baptismatoV Iwannou "the baptism of John" - Obviously not referring to the time when John was baptized, possibly when John baptized Jesus, but more likely to John's baptismal ministry and therefore his preaching ministry; "beginning with the preaching ministry of John the Baptist."

eJwV + gen. "to" - [having begun ......] until [the day]. Temporal preposition.

hJV gen. rel. pro. "when" - which. Probably a genitive of time, as NIV.

toutwn gen. pro. "[for one] of these" - The genitive is adjectival, partitive.

martura (uV uroV) "witness" - a witness, one who testifies. Defining the function of an apostle, and therefore Christian ministry in general.

thV anastasewV (iV ewV) gen. "of [his] resurrection" - The genitive is usually classified as verbal, objective.

 
v23

v] The election of Matthias by lot, v23-26. Two candidates are put forward: Joseph, whose surname is "son of the Sabbath" and who also has a Roman name, and Matthias whom Eusebius says was one of the seventy disciples. In tradition, Matthias was the missionary apostle to the Ethiopians. Having selected the two candidates, the gathering prays, places the names in a hat and draws out Matthias. Judas had abandoned his apostolic authority, sold it as it were, and left this life for a place known only to God. The twelve are again restored to head messiah's mission to all the tribes of Israel and beyond.

esthsan (iJsthmi) aor. "they proposed" - they put forward, stood up, set up. Augustine has "he proposed", "he" probably meaning Peter. The subject is most probably the apostles, but possibly the whole congregation; "they nominated."

ton kaloumenon (kalew) pres. pas. part. "called" - the one being called. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "Joseph"; "Joseph who was called Barsabbas."

Barsabban "Barsabbas" - the one born on the Sabbath.

oJV epeklhqh (epikalew) aor. pas. "also known as [Justus]" - who was called [Justus]. Obviously "Justus" was his Roman name. "Known as", CEV.

 
v24

proseuxamenoi (proseucomai) aor. part. "then they prayed" - having prayed [they said]. The participle is adverbial, probably forming a temporal clause, as NIV.

kardiognwsta (hV ou) voc."[you] know [everyone's] heart" - knows, understands the inner life, the heart, the center of being. "O Lord (probably Jesus), the one who knows the innermost secrets of us all."

anadeixon (anadeiknumi) aor. imp. "show" - show clearly, show forth. "Declare which of these two you have chosen", REB.

oJn exelexw (eklegomai) aor. "whom you have chosen" - whom you chose, picked out. Jesus is doing the choosing. The use of a method of chance has Old Testament precedence and followed careful selection and prayer. Remember, "an is is not an aught". Just because they did it at that time doesn't mean we should do it now, although having witnessed numerous ecclesiastical appointments one wonders if it wouldn't be worth a try!!!!

ek + gen. "of [these]" - The preposition here serves instead of a partitive genitive.

 
v25

labein (lambanw) aor. inf. "to take over" - to take, receive . The infinitive probably forms a purpose clause, "in order to take over." "To fill the place of this apostolic ministry", Moffatt.

ton topon (oV) + gen. "-" - the place, position. Fill the vacancy of the apostolic office, not so much replace the person.

thV diakoniaV tauthV kai apostolhV gen. "this apostolic ministry" - of this ministry and apostleship. The genitive is adjectival, of definition, making specific (epexegetic) the "vacancy"; "take up the vacancy in this ministry." It is usually held that kai here forms a hendiadys where a single idea is expressed in the Greek through two words joined by kai, so NIV, although Culy suggests that kai here is epexegetic, "even apostleship."

parebh (parabainw) aor. "left" - deviated, transgressed, went aside from, turned aside.

poreuqhnai (poreuomai) aor. pas. inf. "to go [where he belongs]" - to go, depart, travel, journey to [his own place]. The infinitive probably introduces a purpose clause, "in order to go." The phrase is meant to be indefinite and does not specifically say that Judas went to a place apart from God, the place of weeping and gnashing of teeth. Still, the disciples probably believed that Judas was indeed eternally damned. Where Judas ended up is in God's hands. Possibly just describing Judas' rebellion rather than his end; "Judas left to go the way he had chosen for himself", Barclay.

 
v26

edwkan (didwmi) aor. "they cast" - they gave. We would expect the verb "throw, cast" rather than "give". The lot is "cast" by placing the selected names on stones in a jar and throwing it about until one flies out. It is possible that "gave" here means "gave votes for them" = "and they voted for them and Matthias won."

klhrouV (oV) "lots" - a specially marked pebble, piece of pottery, or stick employed in making decisions based upon chance*.

autoiV dat. pro. "-" - for them. Dative of interest, advantage.

epi + acc. "to [Matthias]" - Spacial.

sugkateyhfisqh (sugkatayhfizw) aor. pas. "added" - join in a vote. pas. = voted in / numbered [with the eleven apostles]. As a hapax legomenon, a once only use in the New Testament, it is difficult to work out the meaning of this word. BAGD records only one other use outside the NT where it is mid. "join in a vote of condemnation". This further supports the possibility that here "gave lots" means "gave votes."

meta + gen. "to [the eleven apostles]" - [he was numbered] with [the eleven apostles]. Expressing association.

 

Acts Introduction

Exposition

 

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