1:15 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,)
And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples- that is, the days between the ascension of Christ and the descent of the Holy Spirit, a period of ten days. On the Day of Pentecost, Peter “stood up with the eleven”, in public and united testimony. Here, the matter in hand is the making up of the number of the apostles.
And said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,) This shows that it is possible for a large company to meet in a large room, without the necessity of an expensive building. We should be more concerned about the quality of the assembly that meets in a building, that we are about the building itself, although it is important that the building commend the testimony. It can do this without being extravagant.
1:16 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.
Men and brethren- Peter has been restored to his place of leadership, and so takes the initiative here. He is confident that the others have realised that the Lord has reinstated him. We sometimes say that his boldness on the Day of Pentecost, (as opposed to his cowardice in the High Priest’s palace), was because of the coming of the Spirit. It was this, but we should remember the Lord breathed on the ten disciples in the upper room on the day of His resurrection, thus giving them power for the interval between His ascension and the coming of the Spirit.
This scripture must needs have been fulfilled- Peter will quote from two psalms in verse 20. To Peter the Scriptures are integrated and united in their testimony. The Lord said, “the Scripture cannot be broken”, John 10:35. The Scripture needs to be fulfilled to vindicate the honour of the Spirit who gave the word. it also needs to be fulfilled because prophecy is history written beforehand.
Which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas- it was the Holy Spirit who spake, but it was David who spoke the words and then wrote the words. The Lord Jesus also referred to this when He spoke of David and Psalm 110, that “he said by the Holy Spirit”, Mark 12:36, whereas in Luke it is “David himself said”, Luke 20:42, and in Matthew 22:43 the question is, “How then doth David in spirit call Him Lord?”. So David spoke, and he did so from the depths of his spirit, and it was David himself who was consciously speaking, yet he did so by the Holy Spirit’s prompting and energy. Then he wrote it down, by the same Holy Spirit. Thus there is the infallible communication of the mind of the Spirit of God, but without the exclusion of the exercises of David.
Note that it is the Holy Spirit who speaks before, because David could not prophesy on his own. It is one of the great mysteries of the workings of God that the Lord Jesus deliberately chose Judas, knowing what he would do, but who also did all He could to cause him to change his mind. This shows that the choice of Judas was not a plot to try to fulfil prophecy. We should bear in mind that Judas was not a traitor when he was chosen to be an apostle. He fell by transgression from apostleship, verse 25, not by foreordination. None of the Old Testament scriptures name Judas, nor are they worded so as to identify him. The Traitor psalms are written against the background of Ahithophel’s treachery, not Judas’. The betrayal could have been done by any who knew enough about Christ’s movements.
Which was guide to them that took Jesus- note that Peter shows no malice towards Judas, perhaps because by his own denial he went half-way to betraying the Lord. “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall”, 1 Corinthians 10:12. Peter uses the word “guide”, for Judas, and this is an allusion to Psalm 55:13, where David says, “For it was not an enemy that reproached me; then I could have borne it: neither was it he that hated me that did magnify himself against me; then I would have hid myself from him: but it was thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and my acquaintance”. The reference is to Ahithophel, who was David’s counsellor, but who changed sides to support Absalom in his rebellion. This is a foreshadowing of Judas’ treachery, but we cannot say that Judas was guide or teacher to Christ, but Peter does say he was guide to the search party that arrested Christ in the garden, and who taught them where to find Him.
1:17 For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry.
For he was numbered with us- is this why Luke highlights the number of those to whom Peter is speaking, to show that they were counted amongst the loyal ones who had not defected with Judas? But he has been of the twelve, and they did not suspect he was false, although the Lord was not deceived. “Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he is was that should betray Him, being one of the twelve”, John 6:70,71. It is noticeable that when the Lord told the disciples that one of them would betray Him, “they began to be sorrowful, and to say unto Him one by one, “Is it I?” Perhaps Peter remembers this, and thinks how close he came to being like Judas.
And had obtained part of this ministry- the disciples were sent out two by two, so Judas must have gone in partnership with one of the others. No doubt too he could work miracles. The ministry Peter refers to is being an apostle, and witnessing the life and work of Christ so as to bear testimony afterwards. It was no doubt allowed of God that Judas committed suicide immediately, for it he had continued as if he were an apostle, he could have done much damage to the testimony.
1:18 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.
Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity- verses 18 and 19 are best thought of as a parenthesis, being Luke’s comment on the death of Judas. It is only Matthew that details it in the gospels. Judas had been filled with remorse over his action, when he saw that Christ had been condemned by the High Priest. He no doubt thought that the Lord would escape the situation in some way, just as on other occasions He had walked away when men were determined to kill Him. When He did not, Judas went to the priests, who refused to take the money back, so he flung it into the innermost part of the temple, and went and hanged himself. The Jews had laws for this sort of situation, for by what is known as a legal fiction, or a situation where something that is not true is reckoned to be true for practical purposes, Judas’ silver still belonged to him, but money unlawfully gained must be restored to the donor. But if the recipient insisted on giving it back, it had to be spent on something for the public good.
Peter, however, regarded the money as the reward of iniquity, not money lawfully gained. Judas sinned by taking the money, the priests sinned by giving it. This is why the Stephen accused the authorities of betraying Christ, Acts 7:52, for they were complicit. Because the money was Judas’, and the priests had refused to take it back, they were actually spending Judas’ money when the bought the field. Matthew tells us it was the potter’s field.
And falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out- Matthew tells us he hanged himself, and so joins that line of enemies of God who died hanging on a tree. Kings of Canaan, Joshua 10:26; Absalom, 2 Samuel 18:9,10; Haman, Esther 7:9,10; Haman’s sons, Esther 9:14, all died hanging on a tree of some sort. These were all hanged by others, or by accident, but Ahithophel, the initial traitor, was the one who hanged himself. It seems that the rope broke, and Judas fell on some jagged rocks, with the consequences Luke graphically describes.
1:19 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.
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- in reference to Judas’ manner of death in one sense, but also because the priests referred to the thirty pieces of silver as the price of blood, and Judas said, “I have sinned, in that I have betrayed the innocent blood”, Matthew 27:4. The field in question was the potter’s field, hence Judas, by what is known in Jewish law as a fiction of law, was still reckoned to be the possessor of the money. If money was unlawfully gained, it must be restored to the donor. If the one who gave the money refused to take it back, then it was to be devoted to the common good. This is why in this the silver could not be put in the treasury, even though it had been paid out of the treasury. In this way Judas is said to have bought the potter’s field, verse 18. He did it posthumously.
1:20 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.
For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein- this is a reference to psalm 69:25. Luke now resumes from verse 17 his account of Peter’s address. The account of Judas’ suicide shows that the psalm has come to pass and his habitation is desolate, but the other statement was yet to be fulfilled. In Psalm 69 the words are in the plural, “let their habitation…their tents”, because there is an application to the nation of Israel, as Paul shows when he quotes Psalm 69:22,23 in Romans 11:9,10. So Judas and his end becomes a foretaste of the experience of the nation in AD 70.
And his bishoprick let another take- this is a quotation from Psalm 109:8. Judas’ office of overseeing is to be taken by another. We see from verse 21 that what Judas was overseeing was the life of Christ, or as John puts it, “that which we have seen and heard”. Judas was clearly disqualified from being a fair witness of what he had seen and heard.
The word for “another” means “another of a different sort”, so someone far different to Judas must be chosen. His predicted actions have taken place, and now the number of the twelve can be made up of those who are all true to Christ. Peter is saying let no-one like him be found to take his place, and let the one who does take his place be completely different in character.
1:21 Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us,
Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us- it is important that the apostles should all be able to personally testify of things they had seen and heard, so that that which they had seen and heard might be passed on to those who did not have this privilege. Going in an out was a way of saying, “with us all the time”; see, for example, Acts 9:28.
1:22 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.
Beginning from the baptism of John- the baptism of the Lord Jesus by John marked the beginning of Christ’s manifestation to Israel, amongst other things. But this one who is chosen must also have been baptised of John himself, and shown himself to be truly repentant, and eagerly expecting the Messiah to come.
Unto that same day that He was taken up from us- so from when He appeared on the scene, until when He went back to heaven.
Must one be ordained to be a witness with us of His resurrection- so it is not so much His ministry, although that is involved, but they must have been with Him for the period before and the period after His resurrection, so as to testify to the truth that He who had been with them, and had been crucified, was really the same one who was raised from the dead.
This is the primary qualification for apostleship, and shows that there are no apostles today.
1:23 And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias.
And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias- the Lord Jesus did not need to cast lots, for He was in touch with His Father, and spent the night previous to His choice of the twelve in prayer, Luke 6:12-16. Because the apostles will need to work in harmony with the one who is eventually chosen, it was important that the eleven apostles be happy with the shortlist of candidates. A similar situation arose with the choice of deacons in Acts 6:1-6, for it was left to the multitude, who used sanctified common sense to pick those who were spiritual, and those in whom they had confidence. Having done this, the apostles prayed, and laid hands on them, thus endorsing the choice that had been made. Again, when money was to be conveyed to Jerusalem, Paul did it through believers that the Corinthians had approved on by letters; in other words, in writing. The money had been given by the believers, so they were to be happy about those who were handling it.
1:24 And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two Thou hast chosen,
And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two Thou hast chosen- so it is not their personal preference that decides, nor the enthusiasm of those who are available, but the Lord knowledge of the hearts of the two they have chosen.. They choose two, and the Lord chooses one of the two they have chosen. They seemed to have prayed for guidance, for surely these were not the only two that had been with the Lord for the time specified. They will have to work with these men, so the Lord allows them to choose the two.
1:25 That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.
That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship- the ministry was testifying to what he had seen as he companied with the Lord. The apostleship was the place of privilege and authority that supported the preaching and teaching he would engage in, since he was witness to the resurrection of Christ. He would be one of those the ascended Christ would give to the church, Ephesians 4:7-11.
From which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place- to be an apostle was a high honour, but Judas showed himself unworthy of it. It was necessary for him to fall, so that he is off the scene by the time of the descent of the Spirit. The manner of his death, involving a fall that he had probably not planned, is a metaphor for his moral fall, just as his going out of the upper room into the night is a sign of his eternal place in the blackness of darkness for ever. If he had not killed himself immediately, he might have barged into the upper room, and been there when the Spirit descended and filled all of them. This was unthinkable, so it was necessary for him to fall immediately from office. Because he was indwelt, at the last, by Satan himself, perdition is his proper place. He is called the son of perdition by the Lord Jesus, John 17:12, perdition being destruction and loss, and that for ever.
Clearly Peter does not think that when Judas “repented himself”, Matthew 27:3, he was truly repenting of his sin, but was merely a change of mind brought about by the way circumstances had worked out. He does not go on to godly repentance unto salvation.
1:26 And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.
And they gave forth their lots- whilst they agreed on the choice of two, as those they could work with, the choice of Matthias was entirely out of their hands. Proverbs 18:18 says, “The lot causeth contentions to cease”, because it is entirely the Lord’s decision, and no-one can reasonably argue with it.
In verse 17 Peter was speaking in particular to the apostles, for he says Judas was “numbered with us”, so it seems that the eleven apostles cast lots. Or was it one who cast as their representative? The Scripture says, “The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord”, Proverbs 16:33.
There have been those who have criticised Peter for this process, and that on two grounds. First, that he should have waited for the descent of the Holy Spirit, and then he would have known the mind of God better, and not needed to adopt the Old Testament way of finding out the will of the Lord. But this is to forget that the Lord had breathed on them and said, “receive ye the Holy Spirit”, John 20:22, so they had the Spirit, yet still cast lots.
Second, there are those who reject the idea that there needed to be a twelfth chosen, so that Paul could take his place among them eventually. But this would have meant that Peter, instead of “standing up with the eleven”, Acts 2:14, would have stood up with an incomplete company, with all the implications that men of evil intent would draw. The apostleship of Paul, real and genuine as it is, is of a different character, for whereas the twelve bore testimony to the life of Christ on earth, Paul was able to bear testimony to His presence in heaven.
And the lot fell upon Matthias- this man was in a unique position, for he had not been chosen personally by the Lord, and whilst he was with the Lord, he was not aware of what would happen to him. There is a lesson here, for we know not what we shall be called to do in the future for the Lord, so it behoves us to keep close to Him meanwhile, so that we are in a fit state to do something different for Him should He choose it.
And he was numbered with the eleven apostles- they did not think him to be inferior because he had not been recognised as an apostle before.