Episco-Fact #129
February 21, 2019


Since we hear about the twelve Apostles, was there someone who replaced Judas, Iscariot?  Was it, Paul?


An interesting thing about the Bible is that there are any number of people who respond to God's call, positively or negatively, who are mentioned once, or maybe a couple of times, and then, we hear nothing further from them. This seems one of the positively real aspects of Biblical stories, much like historical accounts. We read a great deal about the big personalities, and many other contributors are minor.


One such character is Judas Iscariot's replacement among the "Twelve." After Judas' betrayal, Matthew tells us: he repented of his actions, returned the thirty pieces of silver, and then he hanged himself (Mt. 27.5), and Luke tells us he bought a filed with the money and he then met his end by having his bowels explode (Acts 1.18). Therefore, unlike Peter, Judas was not able to be forgiven and his membership in the twelve cannot continue.


The account of the twelve replacing one of their own is given in Acts 1.22 ff. They wanted to choose from someone who had traveled with them from the baptism of Jesus by John until the ascension. Two candidates were proposed, Joseph called Barsabbas (aka Justus) and Matthias. The disciples prayed to the Lord for guidance, threw lots, and the lots fell on Matthias. And that is all we know, Biblically. Stories do grow up around his ministry after the Biblical accounts, but they are unverifiable. He is remembered for having been a replacement and then his name disappears from the accounts. We remember him annually on the twenty-fourth of February.


It should not be surprising that this sort of thing happens, either historically or Biblically. Many names pass through our written memory, and most of those names are lost to history, but for one notable moment. Think of the names we can read in the cemeteries of Normandy, or even at our local Arnon Cemetery.


The Bible is replete with stories of one hit wonders. Beside Matthias and Justus, among the Apostles, we know only the names of Thaddeus, Bartholomew, and Simon the Canaanite. When Paul needs to recover from his meeting of Jesus on the road to Damascus, he is sent to the home of Ananias (Acts 9.10), who becomes the agent of his healing. After the healing happens, we never read about Ananias again. There is also the strange tale of Joseph of Arimathea who is mentioned in all four Gospels in regard to providing a burial place for Jesus. Then, The Da Vinci Code and Glastonbury Tales aside, he disappears from the Bible narrative and nothing historical is known.


Our glory in service may not be known to history, but it is known to God. Thank you Matthias.