Acts 1:26
And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.
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(26) And they gave forth their lots.—As interpreted by the prayer of Acts 1:24, and by the word “fell” here, there can be no doubt that the passage speaks of “lots” and not “votes.” The two men were chosen by the disciples as standing, as far as they could see, on the same level. It was left for the Searcher of hearts to show, by the exclusion of human will, which of the two He had chosen. The most usual way of casting lots in such cases was to write each name on a tablet, place them in an urn, and then shake the urn till one came out. A like custom prevailed among the Greeks, as in the well-known story of the stratagem of Cresphontes in the division of territory after the Doriar invasion (Sophocles, Aias. 1285; comp. Proverbs 16:33). The practice was recognised, it may be noted, in the Law (Leviticus 16:8).

He was numbered with the eleven apostles.—The Greek word is not the same as in Acts 1:17, and implies that Matthias was “voted in,” the suffrage of the Church unanimously confirming the indication of the divine will which had been given by the lot. It may be that the new Apostle took the place which Judas had left vacant, and was the last of the Twelve.

Acts 1:26. And they gave forth their lots — That is, saith Grotius, they put two lots into two urns, the one containing the two names of Joseph and Matthias, the other a blank and the word apostle: and then drawing forth the name of Joseph and the blank, they knew that the lot containing the name of an apostle belonged to Matthias. This being in answer to their prayers, they concluded that Matthias was the man whom the Lord had chosen to the apostleship. The honour God had conferred on inquiries by lot, (Joshua 7:14-15; 1 Samuel 10:20-21,) and the custom of fixing the offices of the priests in the temple, while in waiting there, by lot, (1 Chronicles 24:5; Luke 1:9,) might lead them to take this method of knowing the will of God. Here, therefore, commenced in the Christian Church the proper use of the lot, whereby a matter of importance, which cannot be determined by any ordinary method, is committed to the divine decision. And he was numbered with the eleven apostles — The rest of the apostles gave him the right hand of fellowship, so that for the future he made the twelfth of that venerable society of men.

1:15-26 The great thing the apostles were to attest to the world, was, Christ's resurrection; for that was the great proof of his being the Messiah, and the foundation of our hope in him. The apostles were ordained, not to wordly dignity and dominion, but to preach Christ, and the power of his resurrection. An appeal was made to God; Thou, Lord, who knowest the hearts of all men, which we do not; and better than they know their own. It is fit that God should choose his own servants; and so far as he, by the disposals of his providence, or the gifts of his Spirit, shows whom he was chosen, or what he has chosen for us, we ought to fall in with his will. Let us own his hand in the determining everything which befalls us, especially in those by which any trust may be committed to us.And they gave forth their lots - Some have supposed that this means they voted. But to this interpretation there are insuperable objections:

1. The word "lots," κλήρους klērous, is not used to express votes, or suffrage.

2. The expression "the lot fell upon" is not consistent with the notion of voting. It is commonly expressive of casting lots.

3. Casting lots was common among the Jews on important and difficult occasions, and it was natural that the apostles should resort to it in this.

Thus, David divided the priests by lot, 1 Chronicles 24:5. The land of Canaan was divided by lot, Numbers 26:55; Joshua 15; Joshua 16:1-10; Joshua 17; etc. Jonathan, son of Saul, was detected as having violated his father's command. and as bringing calamity on the Israelites by lot, 1 Samuel 14:41-42. Achan was detected by lot, Joshua 7:16-18. In these instances the use of the lot was regarded as a solemn appeal to God for his direct interference in cases which they could not themselves decide. Proverbs 16:33, "the lot is cast into the lap, but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord." The choice of an apostle was an event of the same kind, and was regarded as a solemn appeal to God for his direction and guidance in a case which the apostles could not determine. The manner in which this was done is not certainly known. The common mode of casting lots was to write the names of the persons on pieces of stone, wood, etc., and put them in one urn, and the name of the office, portion, etc., on others.

These were then placed in an urn with other pieces of stone, etc., which were blank. The names were then drawn at random, and also the other pieces, and this settled the case. The casting of a lot is determined by laws of nature as regularly as anything else. There is properly no chance in it. We do not know how a die may turn up; but this does not imply that it will turn up without any regard to rule, or at haphazard. We cannot trace the influences which may determine either this or that side to come up; but it is done by regular and proper laws, and according to the circumstances of position, force, etc., in which it is cast. Still, although it does not imply any special or miraculous interposition of Providence; though it may not be absolutely wrong, in cases which cannot otherwise be determined, to use the lot, yet it does not follow that it is proper often to make this appeal.

Almost all cases of doubt can be determined more satisfactorily in some other way than by the lot. The habit of appealing to it engenders the love of hazards and of games; leads to heart-burnings, to jealousies, to envy, to strife, and to dishonesty. Still less does the example of the apostles authorize games of hazard, or lotteries, which are positively evil, and attended with ruinous consequences, apart from any inquiry about the lawfulness of the lot. They either originate in, or promote covetousness, neglect of regular industry, envy, jealousy, disappointment, dissipation, bankruptcy, falsehood, and despair. What is gained by one is lost by another, and both the gain and the loss promote some of the worst passions of man boasting, triumph, self-confidence, indolence, dissipation, on the one hand; and envy, disappointment, sullenness, desire of revenge, remorse, and ruin on the other. God intended that man should live by sober toil. All departures from this great law of our social existence lead to ruin.

Their lots - The lots which were to decide their case. They are called theirs, because they were to determine which of them should be called to the apostolic office.

The lot fell - This is an expression applicable to casting lots, not to voting.

He was numbered - By the casting of the lot, συγκατεψηφίζη sugkatepsēphisthē. This word is from ψῆφος psēphos - a calculus, or pebble, by which votes were given or lots were cast. It means, that by the result of the lot he was reckoned as an apostle. Nothing further is related of Matthias in the New Testament. Where he labored, and when and where he died, is unknown; nor is there any tradition on which reliance is to be placed. The election of Matthias, however, throws some light on the organization of the church.

1. He was chosen to fill the place vacated by Judas, and for a specific purpose, to be a witness of the resurrection of Christ. There is no mention of any other design. It was not to ordain men exclusively, or to rule over the churches, but to be a witness to an important fact.

2. There is no intimation that it was designed that there should be successors to the apostles in the special duties of the apostolic office. The election was for a definite object, and was therefore temporary. It was to fill up the number originally appointed by Christ. When the purpose for which he was appointed was accomplished, the special part of the apostolic work ceased of course.

3. There could be no succession in future ages to the special apostolic office. They were to be witnesses of the work of Christ, and when the desired effect resulting from such a witnessing was accomplished, the office itself would cease. Hence, there is no record that after this the church even pretended to appoint successors to the apostles, and hence, no ministers of the gospel can now pretend to be their successors in the unique and original design of the appointment of the apostles.

4. The only other apostle mentioned in the New Testament is the apostle Paul, not appointed as the successor of the others, not with any special design except to be an apostle to the Gentiles, as the others were to the Jews, and appointed for the same end, to testify that Jesus Christ was alive, and that he had seen him after he rose, 1 Corinthians 15:8; 1 Corinthians 9:1, 1 Corinthians 9:15; Acts 22:8-9, Acts 22:14-15; Acts 26:17-18. The ministers of religion, therefore, are successors of the apostles, not in their special office as witnesses, but as preachers of the Word, and as appointed to establish, to organize, to edify, and to rule the churches. The unique work of the apostleship ceased with their death. The ordinary work of the ministry, which they held in common with all others who preach the gospel, will continue to the end of time.

26. was numbered—"voted in" by general suffrage.

with the eleven apostles—completing the broken Twelve.

They gave forth their lots; the manner is not so certain, nor necessary to be known; but the whole disposing of the lot being from the Lord, as Proverbs 16:33, they were thus as it were immediately chosen by God, and were consecrated by Christ himself; no apostle ordaining another, but all of them being called and ordained by Christ.

He was numbered with the eleven apostles; the rest of the apostles, and the whole church, agreeing with that Divine choice which was made.

And they gave forth their lots,.... Or "gave forth lots for them", as the Vulgate Latin and Ethiopic versions; for Joseph and Matthias; some for one, and some for another; and which were cast into a man's lap, or into a vessel, and was no other than balloting for them; and so he that had the majority upon casting them up, when taken out, was declared the person chosen; or "they cast their lots"; that is, into an urn, or vessel; which lots had the names of the two persons on them; and into another vessel, as is thought, were put two other lots; the one had the name of "apostle" upon it, and the other nothing; and these being taken out by persons appointed for that purpose, the lot with Matthias's name on it, was taken out against that which had the name of apostle on it, upon which he was declared to be the apostle: it may be that this was done in the same manner, as the goats on the day of atonement had lots cast on them, Leviticus 16:8 which the Jews say was thus performed: there was a vessel which they call "Kalphi", set in the court, into which two lots, which were made of wood, or stone, or metal, were put; the one had written on it, for Jehovah, and on the other was written, "for the scapegoat"; the two goats being, the one at the right hand of the priest, and the other at the left; the priest shook the vessel, and with his two hands took out the two lots, and laid the lots on the two goats; the right on that which was at his right hand, and the left on that which was at his left (i); and so the goat which had the lot put upon him, on which was written, "for the Lord", was killed; and that which had the other lot, on which was written, for the scapegoat, was presented alive; so the lot here is said to fall upon Matthias: or the lots being cast into the vessel, as above related, these two drew them out themselves; and Matthias taking out that which had the word apostle on it, the lot fell on him: the manner of Moses's choosing the seventy elders, is said to be this (k):

"Moses took seventy two papers, and on seventy of them he wrote, "an elder"; and upon two, "a part"; and he chose six out of every tribe, and there were seventy two; he said unto them, take your papers out of the vessel; he into whose hand came up "an elder" (i.e. the paper on which it was so written) he was sanctified (or set apart to the office); and he, in whose hand came up "a part" (the paper that had that on it), to him he said, the Lord does not delight in thee.

And the lot fell upon Matthias; that is, either he had the largest number for him, their minds being so disposed by the providence of God; and it may be, contrary to the first thoughts and general sense of the body; since Joseph is mentioned first, and was a man of great character, and of many names and titles; but God, who knows the hearts: of men, and can turn them as he pleases, and to whom they sought for direction, inclined their minds to vote for the latter; or it was so ordered by divine providence, that in the casting or drawing the lots, the lot of the apostleship should fall on him:

and he was numbered with the eleven apostles; either chosen by the common suffrages of the people, as the word used signifies; or rather, he took his place among the apostles; he was registered among them, and ever after was reckoned one of them; Beza's ancient copy reads, "with the twelve apostles", their number being now complete,

(i) Maimon. Hilchot Yom Hacippurim, c. 3. sect. 1, 2, 3. Misn. Yoma, c. 4. 1. & Bartenora in ib. (k) Jarchi in Numb. xi. 26. Bemidbar Rabba, sect. 15. fol. 218. 3.

And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.
Acts 1:26. And they (namely, those assembled) gave for them (αὐτοῖς, see the critical notes) lots—i.e. tablets, which were respectively inscribed with one of the two names of those proposed for election—namely, into the vessel in which the lots were collected, Leviticus 16:8. The expression ἔδωκαν is opposed to the idea of casting lots; comp. Luke 23:34 and parallels.

ἔπεσεν ὁ κλῆρος] the lot (giving the decision by its falling out) fell (by the shaking of the vessel, πάλλειν; comp. Hom. Il. iii. 316. 324, vii. 181, Od. xi. 206, al.).

ἐπὶ Ματθ.] on Matthias, according to the figurative conception of the lot being shaken over both (Hom. Od. xiv. 209; Psalm 22:19, al.). Comp. LXX. Ezekiel 24:6; John 1:7.

This decision by the θεία τύχη (Plat. Legg. 6:759 C; comp. Proverbs 16:33) of the lot is an Old Testament practice (Numbers 26:52 ff.; Joshua 7:14; 1 Samuel 10:20; 1 Chronicles 24:5; 1 Chronicles 25:8; Proverbs 16:33; comp. also Luke 1:9), suitable for the time before the effusion of the Spirit, but not recurring afterwards, and therefore not to be justified in the Christian congregational life by our passage.

συγκατεψηφ. μετὰ τ. ἕνδ. ἀπ.] he was numbered along with[108] the eleven apostles, so that, in consequence of that decision by lot, he was declared by those assembled to be the twelfth apostle. Bengel correctly adds the remark: “Non dicuntur manus novo apostolo impositae, erat enim prorsus immediate constitutus.” It is otherwise at Acts 6:6.

The view which doubts the historical character of the supplementary election at all (see especially Zeller), and assumes that Matthias was only elected at a later period after the gradual consolidation of the church, rests on presuppositions (it is thought that the event of Pentecost must have found the number of the apostles complete) which break down in presence of the naturalness of the occurrence, and of the artless simplicity of its description.

[108] συγκαταψηφίζεσθαι in this sense, thus equivalent to συμψηφίζεσθαι (Acts 19:19), is not elsewhere found; D actually has συνεψηφίσθη as the result of a correct explanation. The word is, altogether, very rare; in Plut. Them. 21 it signifies to condemn with. Frequently, and quite in the sense of συγκαταψηφ. here, συγκαταριθμεῖσθαι is found. א* has only κατεψηφίσθη. So also Constitt. ap. vi.12.1.

Acts 1:26. καὶ ἔδωκαν κλήρους αὐτῶν, “they gave forth their lots,” A.V. But R.V. reads αὐτοῖς, “they gave lots for them”. R.V. margin, “unto them”. It is difficult to decide whether the expression means that they gave lots unto the candidates themselves or whether they cast lots for them—i.e., on their behalf, or to see which of the two would be selected. How the lot was decided we cannot positively say. According to Hamburger (Real-Encyclopädie des Judentums, i., 5, p. 723) the Bible does not tell us, as the expressions used point sometimes to a casting, sometimes to a drawing out, of the lots; cf. Proverbs 16:33 : “Quo modo et ratione uti sunt Apostoli incertum est. Certum est Deum per earn declarasse Mathiam tum dirigendo sortem ut caderet in Mathiam juxta illud Proverbs 16:33” (Corn. à Lapide). For the expression cf. Leviticus 16:8. Hebraismus (Wetstein), so Blass. καὶ ἔπεσεν, i.e., through shaking the vessel, Jonah 1:7; cf. Livy, xxiii., 3; so in Homer and Sophocles πάλλειν, cf. Josephus, Ant., vi., 5.—συγκατεψηφίσθη: only here in N.T. “he was numbered with the eleven Apostles,” i.e., as the twelfth. The verb is used in the middle voice for condemning with others, Plut., Them., 21, but as it occurs nowhere else we have no parallels to its use here. Grimm explains it “deponendo (κατά) in urnam calculo, i.e., suffragando assigno (alicui) locum inter (σύν)”. But here it is used rather as an equivalent of συγκαταριθμεῖσθαι; cf. Acts 1:17 (and also Acts 19:19), (Blass and Wendt, in loco) = ἐναρίθμιος, συμψηφισθείς, καταριθμηθείς, Hesychius. Wendt as against Meyer maintains that it is not proved that recourse was never again had to lots, because no other instance of such an appeal is recorded in Acts. But it is most significant that this one instance should be recorded between the departure of the Lord and the outpouring of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, and that after Pentecost no further reference is made to such a mode of decision. Cf., e.g., Acts 10:19, Acts 16:6. With regard to the historical character of the election of Matthias, Wendt sees no ground to doubt it in the main, although he is not prepared to vouch for all the details, but he finds no reason to place such an event at a later date of the Church’s history, as Zeller proposed. To question the validity of the appointment is quite unreasonable, as not only is it presupposed in Acts 2:14, Acts 6:2, but even the way in which both St. Paul (1 Corinthians 15:5) and the Apocalypse (Acts 21:14) employ the number twelve in a technical sense of the Twelve Apostles, makes the after choice of Matthias as here described very probable (so Overbeck, in loco). No mention is made of the laying on of hands, but “non dicuntur manus novo Apostolo impositæ; erat enim prorsus immediate constitutus,” Bengel. See also on Acts 1:25, and Acts 13:3.

Ascension of our Lord.—Friedrich in his Das Lucasevangelium, p. 47 ff., discusses not only similarity of words and phrases, but similarity of contents in St. Luke’s writings. With reference to the latter, he examines the two accounts of the Ascension as given in St. Luke’s Gospel and in the Acts. There are, he notes, four points of difference (the same four in fact as are mentioned by Zeller, Acts of the Apostles, i., 166, E. T.): (1) Bethany as the place of the Ascension, Luke 24:30; Acts 1:12, the Mount of Olives; (2) the time of the Ascension; according to Acts the event falls on the fortieth day after the Resurrection, Acts 1:3; according to the Gospel on the Resurrection day itself; (3) the words of Jesus before the Ascension are not quite the same in the two narratives; (4) in the Gospel the words appear to be spoken in Jerusalem, in the Acts at the place of the Ascension. Friedrich points out what Zeller fully admitted, that (1) has no importance, for Bethany lay on the Mount of Olives, and the neighbourhood of Bethany might be described quite correctly as ὄρος ἐλαιῶνος; (3) is not of any great importance (as Zeller also admitted), since Luke 24:47-49 and Acts 1:4-8 agree in the main. With regard to (4), Friedrich is again in agreement with Zeller in holding that the difficulty might easily be solved by supposing some slight inaccuracy, or that the words in question were uttered on the way from Jerusalem to the Mount of Olives; but he agrees also with Zeller in maintaining that the time of the Ascension as given in Luke’s Gospel and in Acts constitutes the only definite contradiction between the two writings. But even this difficulty presents itself to Friedrich as by no means insuperable, since the author has not attempted to avoid apparent contradictions in other places in the Acts, and therefore he need not have felt himself called upon to do so in the passage before us, where the book seems at variance with his Gospel (see pp. 48, 49).

But Friedrich proceeds to emphasise the many points in which the history of the Ascension in Acts reminds us of the close of the Gospel (see also Zeller, u. s., ii., pp. 226, 227, E.T., and also Feine). Only St. Luke knows of the command of Jesus, that the Apostles should not leave Jerusalem, and of the promise of the Holy Spirit associated with it, Luke 24:49, and Acts 1:4-8. So also Luke 24:47 reminds us unmistakably of Acts 1:8; also Luke 24:52 and Acts 1:12, Luke 24:53 and Acts 1:14 (Acts 2:14) (cf. also Acts 1:5 and Luke 3:16). But there is no need to adopt Friedrich’s defence of the supposed contradiction with regard to the time of the Ascension. Certainly in the Gospel of St. Luke nothing is said of any interval between the Resurrection and the Ascension, but it is incredible that “the author can mean that late at night, Luke 3:29; Luke 3:33, Jesus led the disciples out to Bethany and ascended in the dark!” Plummer, St. Luke, p. 569, see also Felten, Apostelgeschichte, p. 59, and Blass, Acta Apostolorum, p. 44. It is of course possible that St. Luke may have gained his information as to the interval of the forty days between the writing of his two works, but however this may be (cf. Plummer, but against this view Zöckler, Apostelgeschichte, p. 173), it becomes very improbable that even if a tradition existed that the Ascension took place on the evening of the Resurrection, and that Luke afterwards in Acts followed a new and more trustworthy account (so Wendt), that the Evangelist, the disciple of St. Paul, who must have been acquainted with the continuous series of the appearances of the Risen Christ in 1 Corinthians 15, should have favoured such a tradition for a moment (see Zöckler, u. s.). On the undue stress laid by Harnack upon the famous passage in Barnabas, Epist., xv., see Dr. Swete, The Apostle’s Creed, p. 68, Plummer, u. s., p. 564, and on this point and also the later tradition of a lengthy interval, Zöckler, u. s. For the early testimony to the fact of the Ascension in the Apostolic writings, and for the impossibility of accounting for the belief in the fact either from O.T. precedents or from pagan myths, see Zahn, Das Apostolische Symbolum, pp. 76–78, and Witness of the Epistles (Longmans), p. 400 ff. The view of Steinneyer that St. Luke gives us a full account of the Ascension in the Acts rather than in his Gospel, because he felt that the true position of such an event was to emphasise it more as the beginning of a new period than as a conclusion of the Gospel history, Die Auferstehungsgeschichte des Herrn, pp. 226, 227, deserves attention, and may be fitly compared with W.H[113], Notes on Select Readings, p. 73.

[113] Westcott and Hort’s The New Testament in Greek: Critical Text and Notes.

26. And they gave forth their lots] Better, And they gave lots for them, in accordance with MSS. The process probably was that each member of the company wrote on a tablet or ticket the name of one of the chosen two; the whole were then placed in some vessel and shaken together, and that tablet which was first drawn out decided the election. The casting of lots, though not now permitted to the Jews (see Shulkhan Aruch Joreh Deah par. 179. 1), was used by a provision of the Mosaic Law (Leviticus 16:8) for the selection of one out of the two goats for the Lord. “The goat upon which the Lord’s lot fell” was offered for a sin offering. The Apostles had not yet received the Spirit which was to “guide them into all truth.” When the Holy Ghost had been given, they, as St Chrysostom notices (In Act. Ap. Hom. III.), used no more casting of lots.

Acts 1:26. Ἔδωκαν, they gave forth) They cast.—κλήρους αὐτῶν, their lots) the lots of Joseph and Matthias [not their own lots]. [With prudent consideration they had brought forward two out of the whole multitude, for the purpose of making choice between them: but there remained now no other way of deciding between these two, save that of casting lots.—V. g.] Whilst the apostles had the Lord with them, they had no recourse to lots; nor did they employ them after the coming of the Paraclete, ch. Acts 10:19, Acts 16:6, etc. [The Holy Spirit guided them]: but at this intermediate time alone, and in the case of this one business, they employed them most appropriately.—συγκατεψηφίσθη, he was numbered among) All acquiesced in the showing (the direction) of the Divine choice. Hands are not said to have been laid on the new apostle; for he was ordained by an altogether immediate call.

Verse 26. - They gave lots for them for they gave forth their lots, A.V. and T.R. (αὐτοῖς for αὐτῶν); but the T.R. gives the easiest sense. The exact mode of taking the lot does not appear. Some think the name of each candidate was written on a tablet, and that the first name which fell out of the urn after it had been shaken was the one chosen. Some think the lot was taken by dice. But however the taking of the lot was managed, the effect was to leave the choice to God in answer to prayer.

Acts 1:26He was numbered (συγκατεψηφίσθη)

Only here in New Testament. See on counteth, Luke 14:28.

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