Lord’s Library contributor Lonetta Key wrote this concise Scripture-based resource that highlights Matthias’ Bible Meaning with commentary. Check out Lonetta’s blog: Living Before God’s Face.
I want to visit with you today about this passage in the Bible I have rarely heard discussed. It comes from Acts 1:21-26. This is a very brief but extremely significant narrative: “Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 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. And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen, That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place. And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.”
After Jesus’ ascension, He instructed the apostles to return to Jerusalem. So shortly thereafter they assembled with other followers of the Lord—a total of 120—for the primary purpose of selecting a 12th Apostle. The position had been vacated by Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus. This was an extremely momentous meeting for a crucial decision.
Verse 21 states that the one chosen to take Judas’ place had to be someone who had accompanied Jesus and the other apostles during the entire time Jesus was on earth. Beginning from His baptism by John through His ascension, this individual was required to have been present at all times along with the original 12 disciples.
Matthias Bible Meaning
Two men were selected who met the overall qualifications. Joseph called Barsabbas, whose last name was Justus, and Matthias. But the determining factor is stated in verse 24 in the context of a prayer: “And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen,”
They prayed as a congregation for God’s guidance in their selection. The method chosen for the verdict was to cast lots. Then with no fanfare and in a very simple statement, Luke records that the lot fell on Mathias. Wow—what a pivotal moment for a heretofore obscure man.
I am compelled to some surmising on the rejection of poor Joseph. Obviously, something was not copasetic. He met the initial prerequisite but God perceived something in his character that resulted in a veto. I cannot help but have my heart go out to the man. This must have been at the very least somewhat disappointing. But I would think it might have been a bit humiliating as well especially considering the specific attributes outlined in the preceding prayer.
It does cause one to wonder if he enthusiastically took the walk of shame across the room and with great gusto shook Mathias’ hand in a congratulatory gesture. Or was there a slight pause of embarrassing silence on the part of both men while they adjusted to what had just occurred? I can visualize the two of them scratching their heads.
On newly elected Apostle Matthias: Even though we know from Acts 1:21 that he was indeed present from the beginning to the end of Christ’s earthly sojourn, his presence was certainly not notable. He definitely was not renowned for any special act. In fact, he was never even mentioned prior to the Scripture of our consideration today.
Just think about this: When Matthias was consistently faithfully accompanying the Lord without visible recognition, he had no idea what the result would be. In his wildest dreams, he could have never imagined the important role to which he would be elevated—being chosen to be one of the apostles. There could have been no higher earthly reward God could have bestowed upon him.
Perhaps you might feel you have been relegated to serve in the background. Your current contribution to the Kingdom of God may not be dazzling. But take encouragement dear friend from the example of Matthias. We never know when persisting in being a devoted follower of the Lord and our dedicated endurance will propel us to receive the nod from Him for a special position and service in His work.
As an aside recall this: Samuel was instructed to select David, a mere shepherd boy, and least of his brothers to be king no less. And what an outstanding ruler he was.
Verse 24 has great application to all of us as well. Remember the content of that prayer: “And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen,” Let us never forget that nothing is hidden from the Father—all is laid bare before God. The condition of our hearts, what we meditate on, what occupies preeminence in our lives—everything.
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