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Galatians 5:16-23 teaches that at any moment we are either walking by the Holy Spirit or according to the sin nature. Walking by the Spirit, enjoying fellowship with God, walking in the light are virtually synonymous. During these times, the Holy Spirit is working in us to illuminate our minds to the truth of Scripture and to challenge us to apply what we learn. But when we sin, we begin to live based on the sin nature. Our works do not count for eternity. The only way to recover is to confess (admit, acknowledge) our sin to God the Father and we are instantly forgiven, cleansed, and recover our spiritual walk (1 John 1:9). Please make sure you are walking by the Spirit before you begin your Bible study, so it will be spiritually profitable.

Acts 1:12-16 by Robert Dean
Duration:1 hr 7 mins 1 sec

What to do about Judas.  Acts 1:12-16


This next section all covers one basic event having to do with thedisciplesin going to the upper room and organizing themselves.There is a prelude to that in vv. 12-14 where we are told that they went to the upper room, which is where they had celebrated the last supper or Passover meal the night before Jesus went to the cross, and they were reminded of who the eleven are that are left now that Judas has beenremoved. Luke tells us, v. 14, "These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer…" That prayer and supplication is related to what Jesus just told them, that they are to wait in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit has come upon them. It is not just the eleven who are meeting together for prayer but also "Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers."

Then there are verses 15-26 that are focused on one event. The reason for pointing this out is that there is a certain amount of discussion over whether or not this selection of Matthias to replace Judas was a legitimate decision on the part of Peter. The question we always have to ask when we are reading or studying any portion of Scripture is: why did the Holy Spirit tell us about this? Because when we look at the Old Testament, for example, and we look at all of the different events that are described for us over a period of 4000 years we are told about very few things that happened during those years. The Holy Spirit under inspiration is very economic in His use of Words and His selection of episodes to tell us about; it is a highly selective divine viewpoint editorial of history to make God's point. He doesn't tell us everything about what Abraham did, He starts off with Abraham when he was about 75 years of age and then up to the time of the death of Sarah when he was about 120 or so we are not told about ten or twelve different episodes during that 45 or 50-year period. Then when we take it out to the end of Abraham's life we are not told about too much that happens after the time that he took Isaac up to Mount Moriah to sacrifice him. There is a lot that is left out. When we look at the life of Moses there are huge periods of time that are left out. We are told just enough information so that the story makes sense and the application and implications that God wants us to understand are made clear. So whenever God the Holy Spirit does pick and episode anywhere in history and spends 15 verses describing it there is a reason for it and we have to be able to address that reason within the flow of the argument of the book. That is where a lot of exposition breaks down because a lot of people just do an "ink blot test" (use their imagination about what they think that blot looks like) and automatically say what it is. They never really go through the passage to understand it within its immediate context or within the message, the argument, the structure of the book.

The basic message that we see in the book of Acts has to do with the origin of the church under the apostles and its spread throughout the Roman empire. That is why only two of the original twelve apostles are emphasized in the book of Acts: John and Peter. James is mentioned once and starting in chapter 9 we begin to get a transition from Peter to the newly-saved Paul. We don't here about any of the other disciples, where they went, what they did or what their ministries were because it doesn't fit the message, the theme of what God the Holy Spirit wanted Luke to communicate. When all is said and done if we can't answer the question why did God the Holy Spirit tell us this then we haven't studied the passage and haven't figured it out. And we can't make application from anything if we don't know why it is there.

The other thing we have to understand is how Peter goes about making this decision, which is very interesting and consistent with how the apostles in Acts 4 & 5 go about their decision making. This is important because in the course of our lives we have to make decisions on a lot of different things, and we have to do something very similar to what Peter is doing here and what Peter and John do in Acts 4 and other places. We have to be able to go to the Scriptures and study them and derive from them the patterns and the principles and the promises that we take and apply to our life so that we can make wise decisions. That forces us to study how these Old Testament passages are used in the New Testament. That seems to be a rather abstract idea for a lot of people but this is a crucially important topic and a lot of error is made because people don't understand how the Old Testament is used in the New Testament and the way this is handled by a lot of our contemporary theologians and pastors has led to a lot of confusion.

Acts 1:12 NASB "Then they [the eleven] returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day's journey away." The eleven are consistently referred to in this section by the second person plural pronoun. That is important because when we get down to 2:1 NASB "When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place." The "they" here are the ones who are going to speak in unlearned languages, and if the "they" refers to the 120 then we have 120 people speaking in tongues/unlearned languages. If the "they" only refers to the eleven then we have a different group: only the apostles speaking in languages on the day of Pentecost. This is very important to understand when we get into some of the issues that have been raised by the modern charismatic movement and some of their positions.

The Mount of Olives is very close to Jerusalem and it doesn't take very long to go from Jerusalem.  Acts 1:13 NASB "When they had entered {the city,} they went up to the upper room where they were staying; that is, 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." All of the eleven had been staying there since the time of the resurrection. Then Luke tells us Acts 1:14 NASB "These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with {the} women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers." That gives us the introduction to this section, the cast of characters, and focuses us on the location of the decision making process.

Acts 1:15 NASB "At this time Peter stood up in the midst of the brethren (a gathering of about one hundred and twenty persons was there together), and said, [16] 'Brethren, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit foretold by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. [17] For he was counted among us and received his share in this ministry.'" This is an allusion to Psalm 41:9 NASB "Even my close friend in whom I trusted, Who ate my bread, Has lifted up his heel against me." He is applying that passage to the current circumstances and to the betrayal of Jesus by Judas. Then Acts 1:18 NASB "(Now this man acquired a field with the price of his wickedness, and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his intestines gushed out. [19] And it became known to all who were living in Jerusalem; so that in their own language that field was called Hakeldama, that is, Field of Blood.)" This is application or direct reference to a prophecy in Zechariah 11:12, 13 NASB "I said to them, 'If it is good in your sight, give {me} my wages; but if not, never mind!" So they weighed out thirty {shekels} of silver as my wages.' [13] Then the LORD said to me, 'Throw it to the potter, {that} magnificent price at which I was valued by them.' So I took the thirty {shekels} of silver and threw them to the potter in the house of the LORD." This prophecy was fulfilled in Judas who betrayed the Lord for thirty pieces of silver, and then when he tried to return it the Sanhedrin would not accept it and so he threw it into the temple and it was then used to buy the potter's field, a place for his grave. He doesn't directly buy it, which is how Peter puts it in verse 18.

Quoting Scripture again: Acts 1:20 NASB "For it is written in the book of Psalms, 'LET HIS HOMESTEAD BE MADE DESOLATE, AND LET NO ONE DWELL IN IT'; and, 'LET ANOTHER MAN TAKE HIS OFFICE.'" What we have to realize here is Peter is building a biblical rationale for choosing a replacement for Judas. He starts off by talking about the fact that Judas's betrayal is based on biblical prophecy, then he goes to other biblical prophecy to talk about Judas and the need to replace him, quoting from Psalm 69:25; 109:8. One the basis of the last line of Psalm 109:8, "Let another take his office," he is arguing that it is important to replace Judas with another disciple. Part of the reason for this is that twelve is a very important number in Israel. To have only eleven you would have an incomplete group or number. Peter goes to a number of passages in order to justify making the choice that they are going to make. So if we are going to evaluate his decision we need to at least understand his decision making before we jump to any conclusions as to whether it is right or wrong.

It is important to ask the question related to the Old Testament and the New Testament: how do the apostles use and quote the Old Testament? Many times when we go back and look at the original quote in the Old Testament we say, well that's not what the writer was talking about. How did Peter get this out of, for example, Psalm 41? If we look at Psalm 41:9 it is not a prophecy. David isn't talking about Judas at all; he is talking about his friend Ahithophel who has betrayed him. So how can Peter say that David is talking about Judas? When Dr Robert Thomas came to the pastor's conference several years ago he talked about the fact that the apostles in the New Testament often quote from the Old Testament in ways that go beyond the literal understanding/meaning of the Old Testament passage and its context. In his language he calls that an "inspired, plenary usage of the passage," and the writers of the New Testament can do this because they are writing or speaking under inspiration of Scripture. We can't do that—go back and add to or re-apply new information to an Old Testament passage—because we are not doing it under the ministry of God the Holy Spirit. The New Testament writers, the apostles, could do that.

Dr Fruchtenbaum and some others have done a better job of breaking down the usage of the Old Testament. He had two categories. One of his categories is subdivided into three categories by those who have studied this in the context of how Jewish rabbis at the time were quoting the Old Testament.

The first usage is where the Old Testament passage is a literal prophecy that is fulfilled in a literal manner in the New Testament. In Matthew 2:5, 6 the context is where the Magi have come to Herod and said they had seen the star of the King of the Jews in the east and have followed it. Herod calls in the religious leaders and asks where the Messiah is supposed to be born. Matt 2:5 NASB 'They said to him, "In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet: [6] 'AND YOU, BETHLEHEM, LAND OF JUDAH, ARE BY NO MEANS LEAST AMONG THE LEADERS OF JUDAH; FOR OUT OF YOU SHALL COME FORTH A RULER WHO WILL SHEPHERD MY PEOPLE ISRAEL.'" The original is in Micah 5:2, and it reads NASB "But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, {Too} little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity." Micah 5:2 is a literal prophecy: the Messiah is going to be born in Bethlehem. Matthew 2:5, 6 says this is literally fulfilled when the Messiah is born in Bethlehem.

When most of us read a passage in the Scripture, like Acts 1:16, "this Scripture had to be fulfilled," we think this is the kind of fulfilment it is talking about. The point is, fulfilment language is used four different ways in the Scripture and this was typical of rabbinical usage at the time. In Acts 2:16 Peter is going to stand up after all of the things that have occurred on the day of Pentecost and say, "This is what was spoken by the prophet Joel." A lot of people want to take that as a literal fulfilment. If we do that then we are living in the Millennial kingdom under the new covenant! Because if what Joel said was the literal fulfilment then either we are in the Millennium or we have to have some kind of partial fulfilment where it is said that it started then and it finishes when Jesus comes back, and so we are in this already-not yet kind of kingdom, which really doesn't make a lot of sense. So we have to understand how in the time in which the Bible was written they used this fulfilment terminology.

The next passage points this out a little more. In Matthew 2:15 we have another statement about fulfilment. NASB "He remained there until the death of Herod. {This was} to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: "OUT OF EGYPT I CALLED MY SON." That phrase, "Out of Egypt I called my Son," is found in Hosea 11:1 where it is not a prophecy. Micah 5:2 was a prophecy but Hosea 11:1 is not a prophecy, it is reviewing the history of the nation Israel and Israel was called the firstborn son of God. Hosea 11:1 is talking about literal Israel when God rescued them from slavery in Egypt, and God is saying that when Israel was a child (1446 BC) "I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son." It is not a prophecy, it is not a messianic passage; it is a historical passage, but it has a typological fulfilment. "Type" means a shadow or a pattern. So there is a shadow or pattern of Israel coming up out of Egypt to the land that foreshadowed what would happen with the Messiah: that He would also go to Egypt and follow that same pattern and come back from Egypt. So this is called a literal plus typical fulfilment. There are a number of other different passages that fit this same category. For example, Isaiah 29:13 is quoted in Matthew 15:7-9 and is a similar type use of a literal event that occurred that is applied typologically to the Messiah. Also Psalm 118:22, 23—the rejected stone—is quoted in Matthew 21:42 as a type of the rejection of the Messiah, the foundation stone that would become a stone of stumbling. 

A third usage is seen in Matthew 2:17, 18 NASB "Then what had been spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: 'A VOICE WAS HEARD IN RAMAH, WEEPING AND GREAT MOURNING, RACHEL WEEPING FOR HER CHILDREN; AND SHE REFUSED TO BE COMFORTED, BECAUSE THEY WERE NO MORE.'" This is also referring to a literal event that is described in Jeremiah 31:15. It is describing the wailing of the mothers as their sons were being taken off in deportation by the Babylonians back to Babylon. They would never see their children again. Ramah is north of Jerusalem; Bethlehem is south of Jerusalem. Matthew is applying this to the weeping of the mothers in Bethlehem after their infant sons were murdered by the soldiers of Herod. In the Jeremiah passage the children aren't being killed, they are being deported to Babylon. But in the Matthew passage the children that Rachel (wife of Jacob, standing for the mothers of Israel) are being murdered. So there is no similarity. Jeremiah 31:15 is talking about a historical incident that happened so this is being used as a literal event that is being applied to a situation in the times of the New Testament. It is similar of parallel to that event. It is not typological but the situation in the Old Testament is like this situation that is occurring in the New Testament and so it is compared to that. It is a historical event in the Old Testament with an application: "this is like that." That is what we find in Acts 2:16.

The fourth usage is in Matthew 2:23 NASB "and came and lived in a city called Nazareth. {This was} to fulfill what was spoken through the prophets: 'He shall be called a Nazarene.'" This is a summary. We can search our Bibles from cover to cover and we will never find a verse in the Old Testament that says, "He shall be called a Nazarene." It is not there. What we have in passages again and again in passages such as Psalm 69 and Isaiah 53 is that the Messiah will be rejected, looked down upon. There will be no respect for the Messiah whatsoever. In the first century in Israel, just like the modern world, there was always some local geographical history that people make fun of. If you were a Nazarene nothing good could come from Nazareth. So what this is is a summary statement of various passages in the Old Testament that talk about the fact that there would be no respect for the Messiah—Isaiah 49:1-13; Isaiah 53; 52:13ff; Psalm 69. That is what Matthew 2:23 is talking about: the Messiah would be a reproach.

The other alternative is this is what the Lord taught. Remember that on the road to Emmaus the Lord, who had cloaked His identity, is talking to those two disciples and He goes through the Old Testament from the beginning to the end giving them an extended discourse on all of the messianic passages, allusions, applications and direct prophecies that pointed to Him as the Messiah.