20 “For it is written in the Book of Psalms,

” ’May his camp become desolate,

and let there be no one to dwell in it’;

and

” ‘Let another take his office.’

21 So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.”

23 And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias. 24 And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen 25 to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.”

26 And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

Acts 1:20–26 ESV Read More

During this period of prayer between Jesus’ ascension and the day of Pentecost, Peter interpreted some Psalms to fit the situation with the loss of Judas. If you want to read the context of what Peter quotes, it’s in Psalm 109, and it’s a curse. I mean for real, curse. And like those curse-psalms, it ends in humility. It ends with the realization that we all need God’s mercy and are desperate for a savior.

So check out Psalm 109 from the perspective of Peter getting mercy from Jesus and cursing Judas in your prayer time sometime.

Then they bring about a replacement. Peter recognized the significance of there being 12 apostles. There were 12 tribes in Israel and Jesus was creating a new people from these new brothers. He also wants it to be someone that was around from the beginning.

Remember when more and more people were following Jesus and many people were getting healed? Remember when Jesus sent out 72 men to all of the cities and towns where He was about to go? Justus and Matthias were among that group. They were around from the beginning just like some of the other disciples.

So they picked those two guys, flipped a coin, and Matthias became an apostle.

Yep, apostolic decision-making without Jesus and before the Holy Spirit came down to flipping a coin after prayer.

It’s not as weird as it sounds. Not for these guys, anyway. For centuries the High Priest and the King of Israel made decisions using the Urim and Thummim and the priestly ephod (basically an apron-uniform with 12 precious gems on it.) Casting lots was the way most of the decisions were made in the book of Joshua and the way many court decisions were made in the book of Numbers.

The idea is that God directs an otherwise random choice and everyone recognizes it as the will of God. The Egyptian Coptic church even used this to pick their pope in 2012!

Was it a good idea? Historians and theologians argue about it a lot. Mostly because poor Matthias, the 13th apostle, doesn’t ever get mentioned again. That may be true, but the fact is that he was chosen that day.

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