Matthias: the First Serious Error of the Apostles
The Biblical Statement of the Single Qualification for the Office of Apostle.
If you've stayed with this series this far, this point will be anticlimactic. You should already know the single qualification:
An “Apostle of Jesus Christ” is one who has been called to that office by the Lord Christ without intermediary.
In inspired biblical history, this has happened to exactly twelve men for all time.
And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
[In the wisdom of divine providence, there were to be exactly twelve who could legitimately and permanently carry the designation “Apostle of Jesus Christ”; in the group of the original twelve, this included Judas Iscariot. However, the Lord Christ also knew that Judas would turn to evil (thereby temporarily leaving eleven apostles):
Jesus answered them, “Did I Myself not choose you, the twelve, and yet one of you is a devil?” Now He meant Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the twelve, was going to betray Him.
I’m not going to speculate here on why it was necessary for the Lord Christ to appoint a man who would betray Him. I am, however, going to maintain that the Lord Christ knew exactly what He was doing: the selection of Judas Iscariot was deliberate and just as careful as the choice of the other eleven.
Likewise, His choice of Saul of Tarsus was equally deliberate and careful.
Moreover, this betrayal did not change the fact that there were to be exactly twelve Apostles; it only meant that the Lord would choose another after Judas and thereby establish and maintain the eternal truth of Rev 21.14.]
So, consider this simple, single qualification and the historical facts presented in the NT: exactly twelve men were called directly, personally by the Lord Christ to be "Apostles of Jesus Christ" for all time: first the eleven and then Saul of Tarsus.
It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God. And when day came, He called His disciples to Him and chose twelve of them, whom He also named as apostles:
As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, but get up and enter the city, and it will be told you what you must do.”
Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and the Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” And the Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him, so that he might regain his sight.” But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he did to Your saints at Jerusalem; and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.”
Paul, an apostle (not sent from men nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead)
That’s it, that’s all that is needed! Both events are identical in their manner and demonstrate beyond doubt that the Lord Christ chooses His own Apostles without intermediary!
Theologians, both ancient and modern, want to complicate this but its simplicity is binding and final.
Because Rev 21.14 tells us that the foundation stones of the New Jerusalem are represented by the twelve “Apostles of the Lamb”, there will be twelve Apostles for all time—unless someone is going to recklessly assert that the Lord will re-architect the foundation of His city and change the Scripture in Rev 21 to match! (And, that must include changing the count of the tribes of Israel as well!)
That assertion—that "twelve" is not really "twelve"—is the definition of a "fool's errand". All the "theological word games" careless "expositors" (such as Dr. Grudem) tend to play do not change this majestic truth:
The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.
Peter and the other ten acted irresponsibly and “theologians” need to wake up and use both historical and didactic Scripture correctly. The Lord Christ, at a time and place He would choose, selected His own replacement for Judas in spite of the actions of the early Apostles.