Matthias: the First Serious Error of the Early Church

The NT Office of Apostle: Synopsis

This series is Part 1 of a planned 3-part series on the Office of Apostle in the NT.

A common error of many Christians and "theologians" is the failure to recognize the difference between inspired history and inspired doctrine as it is used to establish "sound doctrine"; the Bible, of course, is filled with both. The distinction here is that there are many example in the Bible of genuine people of God doing stupid, silly or sometimes even evil things. A few, very well-known of the latter are:

  • Moses did not treat the Lord as Holy (OT: Deu 32.48-52)
  • Ancient King David committed rape and murder (OT: 2 Sam 11).
  • The Apostle Peter denied the Lord prior to the crucifixion (NT: Mat 26.69-75).
  • Ananias and Sapphira lied to the Holy Spirit (NT: Act 5.1-11).
  • The Apostle Peter acted hypocritically in Galatia and "was not straightforward about the truth of the gospel." (NT: Gal 2.11-14)

All are examples of what actually happened. 
None represent behavior that Christians of latter generations should emulate.

These accounts are historic, nothing more or less, recorded at least to warn future believers of what not to do.

There is, however, another example of what not to do that careless Christians have maintained for nearly two millenia: namely, to hold to the myth that the selection of Matthias by the remaining elevan apostles (Act 1.15-26) was legitimate. The resaon for this thoughtlessness is simply that "that is what the early Apostles did" so it must be OK.

While maintaining this typical error, Christians (astonishly!) fail to look at "the big picture" concerning the proper use of inspired history. Here are a few elements to consider:

  • Why does this event matter and was it binding?
  • Why did the Lord Christ not handle this personally while He was with those early disciple and Apostles for 6 weeks!?!?!
  • Why was the "criteria for Apostleship" so different for Matthias when compared to the original twelve?
  • Why was the selection of Matthias so careless when compared to the selection of the original twelve?
  • Why is the typical impetuous nature of Peter not considered an important facet of this historical event?
  • Why is Peter's citation from a pair of imprecatory Psalms not considered out-of-context by typical Christians?
  • Why are several early Christians (who were not part of the twelve) called "apostles"?

Simply stated: the error of the eleven was to assume for themselves an authority that the Lord Christ alone possesses: namely, to select His own apostles at the time and place and in the manner of His own choosing.

The purpose of this article (Part 1) is:

  • to demonstrate from the Scripture that the early Apostles acted impetuously and foolishly based on the fact of what the Bible teaches concerning the number of Apostles that was established for all time;
  • that their decision was wrong and therefore non-binding;
  • to establish the carelessness of those who maintain this error; 
  • to state the true qualification (singular, not plural!) for the office of Apostle. 

The series is presented in five chapters:

  1. Introduction
  2. The Verb and Noun Forms Used (ἀποστέλλωἀπόστολοςἀποστολή).
  3. A modern defense of Matthias as the replacement Apostle via the assertions of Dr. Wayne Grudem, “Systematic Theology”, Zondervan.
  4. The biblical rebuttal of Dr. Grudem’s assertions.
  5. The biblical statement of the single, biblical qualification for the Office of Apostle.