Wednesday, 20 October 2021
to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.” Acts 1:25
Note: You can listen to today’s introduction courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen)
In the previous verse, the apostles prayed that the Lord would reveal which of the two candidates to replace Judas was to be chosen. That prayer continues with the words, “to take part in this ministry.”
Here, the same word as was used in 1:17, kléros, or “lot,” is used again (although some texts use the word “place” instead of “lot”). This word signifies the casting of the lot. The Lord is the director of the lot (see the commentary on 1:17). As such, Jesus’ decision concerning apostolic appointment was authoritative because He is the Lord.
Having rightly interpreted the Scriptures concerning what happened to Judas (as noted in verses 20 and 21), Peter and those with him are clearly directed to replace him with a suitable candidate in order to further the ministry, which is – as the prayer next states – “an apostleship.”
Not only were they to fill a void in the ministry, but they were to do so in accord with the apostolic ministry. The term “apostle” signifies one who is sent. There is a close connection between the two. Just as an ambassador personally represents the nation or leader of a nation, so the apostle is personally sent and bears the name (and/or title) of the one who sends him.
In this case, it is the apostleship “from which Judas by transgression fell.” In other words, due to his transgression, the apostleship was lost to him. Being dead, that is obvious, but it is specifically noted that the events which brought that about were because of transgression.
The word, translated as “transgression,” is a verb now used for the last of three times. It is a compound word, parabainó, coming from words signifying “beside” and “go.” Hence, it signifies willful, defiant stepping over a set line. A more literal and correct translation would be to simply say, “from which Judas fell away.”
The only other two uses of this word are found in Matthew 15 –
“Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying, 2 ‘Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.’
3 He answered and said to them, ‘Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition?’” Matthew 15:1-3
Judas’ actions caused him to fall away from his part (his allotted portion) in the ministry, so “that he might go to his own place.” The verb “go” is an infinitive. A more literal rendering would be, “fell away Judas to go to the place his own.” It’s not that he “might” go there. It is that his actions resulted in going there.
Further, the way the Greek words are stated, translated as “his own,” it is more intensive than simply saying “his.” It signifies that he is specifically designated for this place. This is reflected in the Lord’s words in John 17 –
“While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.” John 17:12
This explains the words “his own place.” The word “perdition” signifies destruction or cutting off. Judas is set to never receive an inheritance with those saved through the blood of Christ. Instead, he is forever cut off from such a hope.
This is the prayer that has been set forth by those gathered. Judas has lost his allotted portion due to his falling away. This must be corrected according to Scripture. Therefore, the apostles rightly take action to do so, first by praying, and next by doing what was the set custom in Israel for handling such matters. That will be seen in the coming verse.
Life application: It is a common teaching that the actions of the apostles are unsanctioned, and that the apostle to be chosen is not legitimate. This is because Paul clearly becomes an apostle of Jesus. The logic is that if this apostle is the twelfth, and there are supposed to be only twelve apostles, then it is Paul who is the rightful twelfth. Thus, this is an illegitimate appointment.
The reason this is accepted as such is because of what is stated in Revelation concerning the foundation stones of New Jerusalem –
“Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” Revelation 21:14
It is an incorrect analysis, and it bears the exact same problem as the twelve gates of New Jerusalem –
“Also she had a great and high wall with twelve gates, and twelve angels at the gates, and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: 13 three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west.” Revelation 21:12, 13
The “twelve tribes” of Israel as noted in Revelation 7 are not the same as the twelve sons born to Jacob. Manasseh is listed along with Joseph, while Ephraim and Dan are not named. The pattern of the fourteen names was described in a previous commentary, and it explains the pattern set forth for the “tribes (sons) of Israel” and the “twelve (fourteen) apostles.”
The question of which tribes of Israel will be inscribed on the gates, and which apostles will be named on the foundations, is an incorrect way of looking at what is said in Revelation.
The point of the symbolism given there is that of the unity of government (the number twelve). Just as there were actually fourteen sons of Israel (Jacob adopted Ephraim and Manasseh for inheritance purposes), and as those sons are variously listed in the rest of Scripture, there are fourteen named apostles (Judas, Matthias, and Paul all reckoned in this). Thus, the “names” of the sons of Israel on the gates, and the “names” of the apostles on the foundation, do not have to be their actual names at all. Rather, this is simply a way of saying that the proclamation of these is united. That proclamation is JESUS!
He is the focus of everything going on in Scripture. The tribes of Israel anticipated Messiah, and the apostles proclaimed Messiah that had come. This is actually seen in Paul’s words of 1 Corinthians 3:11 –
“For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”
When we lose our focus on what the Bible is pointing to, we make the error of inserting our own presuppositions into what is being conveyed. When the apostles gathered together in Acts 1 to choose a successor for Judas, they did not err. Rather, they have been obedient to Scripture in choosing a replacement for the one who fell away.
Let each of us likewise be obedient to the word as it is set before us, taking it in context and applying its precepts to our own lives.
Lord God, Your word often has difficulties in it that arise in what is said. And yet, if we take the word as a whole, we can often find out the resolution to the difficulty. It just takes study, contemplation, and setting aside our own presuppositions. So, Lord, help us to be faithful in pursuing Your word all our days. Amen.