Act 1:21-26 “Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 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. And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen, That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place. And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.”
The prophecy concerning Judas Iscariot included the injunction that another should take his office. With this clearly in view, Peter felt compelled that another disciple be chosen to take Judas’ place among the apostles. A disciple named Matthias was chosen. All the facts we know about Matthias appear in these verses of scripture.
It is obvious that Matthias was a faithful disciple of Jesus. By Peter’s testimony, we know that he was present at Jesus’ baptism. Many disciples were present the day that Jesus chose the original twelve from among them. Matthias could easily have been among them that day.
Matthias was a true follower of Jesus. He often accompanied the apostles the whole time that Jesus was among them. Although he is not named, Matthias could have been among the seventy that Jesus sent out to preach (Luke 10:1). We know that he remained faithful because he was present when Jesus ascended.
This was not something the apostles considered lightly. They understood that Matthias would be a witness with them of the resurrection of Jesus. Looking to God for guidance, they prayed that He would make known His choice. Then they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Matthias.
Some have said that Peter acted rashly, and that the apostle Paul was the only other true apostle. It has been said that the casting of lots was like playing a game of chance, such as throwing dice. We should note that the practice of casting lots was started in the Old Testament, and that God commanded the casting of lots. This was first mentioned in Leviticus 16:8 as the way Aaron would determine which of two goats would be the Lord’s and which would become the scapegoat.
Casting lots is mentioned seventy times in the Old Testament and seven times in the New Testament. While the scripture does not give a detailed account of how this was done, it seems clear that there is more to it than just a “roll of the dice.” In this instance the “lot fell upon Matthias.” It became his lot to be a witness of the resurrection of Jesus, and to suffer the persecution that was common to the apostles in that day.
Although the scripture tells us nothing more of Matthias, we know that he was “numbered” with the remaining eleven apostles. He was viewed in the same manner as Peter, James, John, and the others. Whether we think Peter acted according to the Spirit or not, Matthias bore a great responsibility as the result of the events of that day. He assumed the portion of ministry that had belonged to Judas.
May God be pleased to give us the courage to be faithful to Him from beginning to end, and if it falls our lot to be numbered among His disciples, may we discharge that duty faithfully regardless of whether men ever know anything more about us than that!