Replacing Judas

(Acts 1:15-26)

Judas betrayed Jesus. He was selected by The Lord as one of the twelve knowing full well that he would betray Jesus. That was why he was chosen for it was necessary to fulfil the scriptures and prophecy concerning the betrayal.

The Twelve Apostles
The Twelve Apostles

But in spite of this betrayal, the position Judas held as one of the twelve was an important role. The twelve did not simply become the eleven when Judas went out and killed himself. There were twelve positions appointed by The Lord and they needed to be filled for the purpose of the ongoing ministry that would soon follow.

To that end all of the disciples with the eleven met as a group, about 120 in all at that time, and they elected a replacement for Judas, a man by the name of Matthias. And as it says in these scriptures, Matthias was enrolled with the eleven to take his place as an apostle in the ministry.

The Twelve Apostles

It has often fascinated me and caused me to wonder about what happened to all of the twelve apostles. We have information about a number of them in the bible, but the vast majority of them we know nothing about other than their names.

What were their ministries? Where did they go? What did they do? What were they like?

There is information supposedly about each of them, but most of this is hearsay and not fact. And the question that stands in my head when I see these so called histories of these other apostles is…does it really matter anyway? In short, the answer is…No.

In fact what we know of the ones who are spoken of in the bible is not important either, other than the lessons we receive about them that we can learn from for our own growth and maturity. It is the message of Christ that is important, and it doesn’t matter whether it comes from one of the twelve or anyone else. The Christian message is what needs to be learned and our focus needs to be on Jesus, not worrying about who or what these early Christian men were.

As God the Father said at the transfiguration, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to Him!” And that is the key. We are to listen to Him. Not some other gospel, not the words of men but to the words of Jesus Christ who was and is the Son of God. The reason why is that God sees differently to men and His message is not what a man would teach.

Peter and Paul

Let me give an example. Peter is often depicted as a man who would shoot first and ask questions later. He seems to have often been beset with problems and he fell short on a number of occasions. His weaknesses were exposed several times and his mistakes provide us with great insight.

What we sometimes forget is that The Lord saw something in Peter that was much greater than the sum of his mistakes. It was Peter after all who was hand-picked by Jesus to carry the ministry forward after The Lord had been put to death. It was Peter at the end of the Gospel of John whom Jesus commissioned to teach, feed and pastor the flock of Jesus. And it was Peter who Paul recognised as being the apostle to the Jews.

Peter was not some bumbling fool always making mistakes and prone to errors. It was clear by The Lord’s decision that Peter was a great and mighty man of God. Strong in the faith and able to preach, teach and care for the people of The Lord.

Look also at Paul. Paul was totally opposed to The Lord and was wreaking havoc among the early church by imprisoning the disciples. And yet Jesus saw in Paul, despite his actions and opposition, a man whom He would entrust to pretty much write and record the workings of the New Covenant so that we could understand it today. Paul described himself as being the apostle to the Gentiles for it was through him mainly that the word of God was carried to the rest of the world outside of the Jews.

The Unknown Apostles

But what of the others? Whatever happened to Matthias and Nathaniel and Simon the Zealot and Andrew the brother of Peter? After they were named they seem to fade into obscurity. But they did not. As when Judas was replaced we learn that they ALL had a role to play and they ALL were allotted a share in the ministry and the work of The Lord.

All of them took the word to the world to teach and preach the gospel of the kingdom of God and the freedom that is in Christ Jesus. We know that as the church grew there were seven others appointed to assist with the more administrative type issues so that the twelve could focus their time and energies on teaching and preaching.

The twelve had a job to do, which was ordained by Jesus. And so the replacement of Judas was not just to keep the numbers up, it was for a very defined purpose to ensure that the message was fully and properly conveyed to the world.

And this is how the church should be structured. Christ at the head of the church and the body led by a group of elders who are all equals. There was no senior elder or senior apostle in the early church and there should not be today either. The work is shared between the eldership so that no one is overloaded and the church as a whole is protected. If you look at my last post you will gain a glimpse of what this protection entails so I will not cover that again at this time.

Yes replacing Judas was crucial to the early church and the operation of the spreading of the gospel. It tells us much that is important in the structure of Gods church when we look into it for the ministry of Judas still had to be done by someone for the benefit of the early church and for the benefit of all who were to follow including us today.

(Photo sourced from stock.xchng taken by Bill Clinton of Norway)

You might also like:

Call Of The Twelve
Jesus Sends Out The Twelve
Jesus Calls The First Disciples
The Other Disciples
Sharing The Load
The Disciples Commission And Earning Their Income
From Fishermen To Fishers Of Men
Team Jesus
Jesus Appears To The Disciples
The Lords Work Will Be Done
Wisdom Of Gamaliel
Spreading The Word


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