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.
Christ chose the original 12 apostles from among His close disciples (Luke 6:13), so it was necessary that Judas’ replacement be one of those who knew Christ and was His disciple from the beginning. The apostles had to be with Him before they were sent to preach about Him (Mark 3:14).
The replacement had to also be a witness of Christ’s resurrection.
Two men met the requirements.
Joseph (v.23) — Joseph (Jewish name) — Barsabbas (son of Sabba) — Justus (Latin — “just” or “righteous”). There is no other mention of him in Scripture, although C.R. Stam wonders if he might be Barnabas, Paul’s companion in ministry.
Matthais (v.23) — “gift of God.” This is also his only mention in Scripture. He is numbered (although not mentioned) with the twelve in Acts 2:14 and 6:2.
knowest the hearts (v.24) — only God knows a man’s spiritual condition
ministry (v.25) — service of a general character
apostleship (v.25) — a more technical term for the special service of Christ’s apostles
Judas (v.25) — He turned from his place as an apostle of Christ to go to his own place.
casting lots (v.26) — Proverbs 16:33; Leviticus 16:8; Numbers 26:55 — never used again in Scripture (after the Holy Spirit came)
Peter and the gathered company did not make a mistake. He acted by inspiration and what they did was not only according to the mind of the risen Christ, according to the Word of God, but it was a manifestation of Christ in their midst. It was the Lord who added Matthias to the twelve. To say that Paul was meant to be the twelfth apostle is a great blunder. Paul’s apostleship is entirely different from that of the men, who were called to this office by our Lord, in connection with His earthly ministry. Paul is the apostle of the Gentiles and received from the risen and glorified Christ the double ministry, that of the Gospel, which he called “my Gospel” and the ministry of the Church. Not till Israel’s failure had been fully demonstrated in the stoning of Stephen, was Saul of Tarsus called to his apostleship. Furthermore, twelve apostles were necessary. Twelve is the number denoting earthly government. Inasmuch as there was to be given another witness to Jerusalem after the ascension of our Lord, a national witness, a second offer of the Kingdom (Acts 3:19-20) twelve apostles were necessary as a body of witnesses to the nation. If only eleven apostles had stood up on the day of Pentecost, it would not have been in harmony with the divine plan and order … Twelve had to stand up on Pentecost to bear witness to the resurrection of Jesus Christ, therefore another one had to be added before that day. Besides this, there is positive proof that the Holy Spirit endorsed the action of the disciples in the upper room. In 1 Corinthians 15:5 the Holy Spirit mentions the twelve, who saw the Lord, to whom He appeared. Paul then is mentioned apart from the twelve; he saw the Lord in glory as one born out of due season (verse 8).
A closer examination of the record of their action shows that the Lord guided them in this matter. Peter begins by quoting Scripture. He does it in a way which clearly proves that he was guided by the Lord. “the Scriptures should be fulfilled” is what Peter said. How different from the Peter in Matthew 16 when he took the Lord aside and said after He had announced His coming death, “far be it from Thee.” He had then no knowledge of the Scriptures. Repeatedly it is said that they knew not the Scriptures and that their eyes were holden. Here, however, he begins with the Scriptures. Surely this was the right starting point, and thus ordered by the Lord. He quotes from the Psalms. Part of Psalm 69:25 and Psalm 109:8 are given by him as the foundation of the purposed action. These Psalms are prophetic of the events, which had taken place. The Lord Himself had opened his understanding as well as that of the other disciples. In Luke 24 we read that He spoke of what was written in the law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms. “Then He opened their understanding to understand the Scripture” (Luke 24:46). It was a gift of the risen Lord and here Peter guided by the Spirit of God uses the prophetic Word. All the company is one with Him in the undertaking. It must be done. The Lord moved them in this matter.
Here [verses 21-22] he defines the qualifications of an apostle. He must be a witness o the resurrection of Christ as well as of what He said and did in His earthly ministry … How can anyone say that they erred in this action! Two are selected. Then they prayed; no doubt Peter led in audible prayer. And the prayer is a model of directness and simplicity. They address the Lord and believe that He had made a choice already. What they pray for is that the one chosen by Him may now be made known by Himself. The lot was perfectly legitimate for them to use. The Scriptures speak of it. “the lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord” (Proverbs 16:33). As they were still on Old Testament ground, it was perfectly right for them to resort to the lot. It, however, would be wrong for us to do it now. We have His complete Word, and the Holy Spirit to reveal His will. The Lord selects Matthias. His name means “the gift of the Lord.” Thus the Lord gave him his place. The apostolate complete, all was in readiness for the great day of Pentecost. — The Acts of the Apostles, by Arno C. Gaebelein, pages 25-27.