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Paul:  Was he the rightful replacement for Judas Iscariot?

Gary Googe Jan 15

You may not think this is an important question, but it is.  That’s because the controversy over the correct answer has produced a lot of misunderstanding, confusion, and division in a variety of churches as well as denominational Christianity in general.  Yes, it is all about the misunderstanding of this one thing.  Was Saul of Tarsus who became the apostle Paul the rightful replacement for Judas Iscariot, making him one of the twelve apostles to Israel? That’s the question that when not answered correctly has led to a tremendous amount of confusion and division among many professed Christians.

After the death of Judas Iscariot, the other apostles decided that a replacement should be appointed.  The process in which they did that is recorded for us.

Acts 1:21-26

21 Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us,

22 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.

23 And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias.

24 And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen,

25 That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.

26 And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles. [Emphasis added]

The casting of lots for decision-making was a common practice for the people of Israel.  For instance, it was in this manner that men were chosen to be a part of an invading force [Judges 1:1-3; 20:9], the “Promised Land” was divided among the tribes of Israel by the casting of lots [Numbers 26:55; Joshua 18:10; Acts 13:19], and there were other things that were also decided that way.  This was known to be a perfectly acceptable procedure for such.

I remember many years ago I listened to reel-to-reel Bible study tapes by a pastor I respected then as I still do now, I just no longer agree with him on some things he taught.  From time to time, he’d rant and rave for several minutes on this one incident, claiming that Paul, not Matthias was the rightful replacement for Judas Iscariot.  But what do the Scriptures tell us about this?  I know there are many who don’t even realize that there’s Scripture rather than assumption that can settle this matter for us once and for all.  Note carefully what these verses we’ll note next tell us.  It is here that God speaks through the Scriptures, giving us a clear answer to this question.

Acts 1:26 again

26 And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles. [Emphasis added]

Then again, we have a second verse on this.

Acts 2:14

14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, [again not ten, but eleven] lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: [Emphasis added]

Who are “the eleven” spoken of here? Please notice that Peter is not including himself in this number, but he must be including Matthias because by this time Judas is no longer alive and a decision had already been made about who would replace him.  Otherwise, this would say ten, not eleven.  Here he speaks of eleven others beside himself.  Luke, our author of Acts, this great book of church history, is telling us that as far as God is concerned, Matthias WAS the rightful replacement for Judas Iscariot, not the apostle Paul

So, you may ask, what’s so important about this? What difference does it make? First, it separates Paul and his ministry from that of the Twelve.  They were not the same!  And when I say his ministry, I’m talking primarily about his message.  Contrary to popular opinion, Peter and Paul didn’t even proclaim the same gospel message for salvation.

Galatians 2:7

But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me [Paul], as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; [Emphasis added]

The fact that they didn’t preach the same gospel is also clear from what we see presented by Peter on the Day of Pentecost recorded in Acts.  Peter’s gospel required water baptism, but Paul’s does not.

Acts 2:37-38

37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?

38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. [Emphasis added]

Water baptism was required for salvation even as per their commission.

Mark 16:15-16

15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. [Emphasis added]

The apostle Paul on the other hand tells us his commission did not include water baptism.  That would include all the many forms [immersion, sprinkling, or whatever] of it that are practiced today.

1 Corinthians 1:17

17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. [Emphasis added]

What could be clearer than that? The apostle Paul’s message included only one baptism and it didn’t involve water.

Ephesians 4:5

One Lord, one faith, one baptism, [Emphasis added]

That one baptism is a dry baptism, the baptism of the Holy Spirit whereby we as believers are all placed into one body of believers.

1 Corinthians 12:13

13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. [Emphasis added]

Peter’s message still included the Mosaic Law, Paul’s does not.  As late as the time of Acts 10 Peter is still observing the dietary restrictions of the Mosaic Law and more.

Acts 10:13-15

13 And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat.

14 But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.

15 And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. [Emphasis added]

Furthermore, Peter’s message and ministry was prophesied whereas Paul’s was not, it had been a mystery, that is, a secret held in the mind of God until it was disclosed through the apostle Paul.  Many people assume the church of today began on the Day of Pentecost at the time of Acts 2.  But that’s not the case because all that happened on the Day of Pentecost had been prophesied.  It was not a mystery [MUSTERION = a secret] held in the mind of God.

Acts 2:14-16

14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:

15 For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.

16 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel [Joel 2:28-31]; [Emphasis added]

Yes, this was prophecy being fulfilled on that occasion.  But there’s a lot of Scripture that tells us our present time and the doctrine for our time was “a mystery,” that is, a secret known only to God until it was revealed through the apostle Paul.  This new period of history of which we are a part today began with his salvation that is recorded in Acts 9.  It was this man Paul who was the first member of this church of today called the Body of Christ.

1 Timothy 1:16

16 Howbeit for this cause I [Paul] obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting. [Emphasis added]

It was then through this man [Paul, not Peter] that revelation was given that introduced things for our time today.

Ephesians 3:2-8

If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me [Paul] to you-ward:

How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery [MUSTERION = secret]; (as I wrote afore in few words,

Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)

Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as [HOS = used to show contrast between the unknown and the known] it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;

That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:

Whereof I [Paul] was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.

Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable [ANEXERAUNETOS = untraceable (things nowhere found in the Old Testament)] riches of Christ; [Emphasis added]

These “unsearchable riches” of truth are nowhere to be found outside the special revelation given to the apostle Paul.  They were held by God as a secret [called a mystery] that was disclosed only by the apostle Paul.  For even more differences in these two messages and ministries you can view my other articles that relate to this on our website.  Here are the names of some of those articles. 

4Us2Us:  What does this mean?

Paul:  What is special about his teaching?

Church:  Did ours today begin at the time of Acts 2?

Bible:  What are the two programs?

Works:  What about verses that seem to demand them for salvation?

Gospels:  Did Peter & Paul preach the same gospel?

The apostle Paul clearly had a special calling and a special ministry.  To fail to see this and the various distinctions of it can do serious harm to one’s understanding of the Scripture and one’s spiritual growth.  It can even hinder people in understanding the message through which people are saved today.

Galatians 1:15-17

15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace,

16 To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen [speaking of unbelieving Gentiles]; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:

This tells us this was not a message he learned from the Twelve apostles, but a direct revelation from the Lord Himself.

17 Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. [Emphasis added]

If the churches of today realized this and its implications, what a wonderful difference it would make.  Most of the division and denominationalism would be abruptly ended.  What a glorious day that would be!

In conclusion, Matthias was the rightful replacement for Judas, not Paul.  To make Paul one of the Twelve draws him into their commission and their teaching.  For further study on the commission of the Twelve and that of the apostle Paul, go to my study entitled Commission:  Which one is ours? There you will see them laid out side by side.  By no means are they the same. 

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