THE BOOK OF ACTS
God Establishes His Church in the World
It Is Necessary to Have Qualified Leadership
Jerry A Collins
Why is it necessary to choose another apostle?
What role did Judas play while a disciple?
Why is prayer such a major part of this passage?
If you have a ministry it has been given to you by God. A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him by God (Jn 3:26) referring to John the Baptistís ministry. It is marvelous and reassuring that the Sovereign Lord works out His will through people. His providential control over events takes into account all the acts of human wills. Jesus equipped the apostles with the necessary resources to complete the work He had begun. That meant choosing the appropriate leadership essential to carry this ministry out. In this passage that leadership is put in place in preparation for that work to be completed.
1. MINISTRY INCLUDES WAITING ON GOD IN PRAYER 12-14
1) Jesus had instructed these disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the coming of the Holy Spirit and that is just what they are doing. This was necessary since Jesus had made clear that the Spirit could not be given until He returned to the Father (Jn 16:7). So they returned to Jerusalem vs. 12 from the Mt. Of Olives which overlooked it about a Sabbath days journey away. This was the maximum distance one permitted to travel on Sabbath. Fixed at 2000 cubits about one half mile or so. This distance apparently derived from wilderness wanderings where farthest tents were this distance from the tabernacle in the encampments there. Work was prohibited and farthest anyone could travel was distance to worship at Tabernacle. So the Sabbath days journey was this distance.
2) When they entered there they went to an upper room vs. 13 large enough to accommodate 120 people. A Sabbath days journey would have taken them just inside the city walls. The 11 are specifically named to be there along with the women, probable Mary Magdalene, Mary & Martha, Mary Jesus mother and Jesus brothers, James, Joses, Judas, Simon, James and Judas prominent because they James 1st head of Jerusalem Church and writer of James and Judas writer of Jude. From Skepticism to belief in few short months since Jn 7:5 says not even his brothers were believing in him just 8 mos before. This is last time Mary is mentioned in scripture. She has no prominence in rest of NT. All exaltation of her is fabrication.
3) With one mind expresses their spiritual unity here. Continually praying emphasizes their persistence in prayer. They were praying because they were physically separated from the ascended Lord and prayer was the only means of communicating messages to him. The emphasis is not on what they were praying but the fact that they prayed. Prayer is essential for ministry because God requires to depend upon Him to accomplish it. So instead of launching out on their own they patiently waited in prayer for the promise of the Spirit to come and give them the power they needed to accomplish the ministry God gave them. Whatever ministry you are given to do by God will require the power of God to do it and prayer makes us available to God for it. You just cannot do ministry on your own. It will only be a human, fleshly, earthly thing you do. I can give food to a hungry person and they will no longer be hungry. I can give the Word of God to another but it is God not me who works in their hearts to transform them. God invites us to participate in the work He is doing and waiting on God in prayer is necessary on our part if we are to do that.
2. MINISTRY INCLUDES CONFIRMING GODíS PLAN WITH GODíS WORD 15-20†
This whole scene is tempered by the tragic suicide of Judas. Peter took charge vs. 15 and explained how the defection of Judas fit into Godís plan by reciting OT scripture that prophesied about it. They had heard Jesus words in MT 19:28 stating that they would occupy 12 thrones judging† the† 12† tribes but There were now only 11. The Scripture Peter refers to that verifies this was foretold by the HS by mouth of David. Very clear affirmation of inspiration (2 PT 1:21) and so he reaaures that Judasí treachery in acting as a guide to those who arrested Jesus vs. 16 Gods word was being fulfilled and Godís plan was being accomplished. What God had said thru David about Davidís enemy was also true of Jesus enemy, Judas, since Jesus was Lordís anointed whom David Anticipated. Peter under inspiration of HS applied those passages to Judas. Peter held Davidís words as scripture. Jesus held Moses words as from God. While Judas was counted among the apostles he was never saved vs. 17. (Jn 6:64; 70-71) Judas was placed among them because he would betray Christ. God did not force him into that but Judas chose it. Jesus even said it would have been better for him had he never been born because of the choice he made (MT 26:24). Instead God used Judas evil intent to accomplish His own predestined purpose (Acts 2:23). It is 100% free will and 100% predestined. Judas free will and Godís sovereign choice. Lessons from Judas: (1) Proximity to Jesus no guarantee of relationship. (2) Rare privilege and wasted opportunity. (3) You cannot serve God and money. Either/or not both/and.
Vss 18-20 describe the terrible climax to his suicide. Land was purchased with the money paid to him and since it was blood money, the leaders who originally gave it to Judas for price of betrayal, hypocritically refused it when he returned it by, purchasing this field called by those in Jerusalem the field of blood. Judas hanged himself (MT 27:5) but Luke says he experienced a gruesome death as the weight of his body either broke the rope or the branch hanging on and he plunged to his death in some rocky gorge. This did fulfill OT prophecy (PS 55:12-15). The purpose of prophecy is not to predict the future but confirm the past. Prophecy confirms Godís word when it happens. Just like here. Now you can say more about God and His plan because fulfilled prophecy confirms that word as from God. So Peter reassures all present that† these events that have left a vacant position amongst them are ordered by God and they can pray to Him for direction.
3. MINISTRY MUST HAVE GODíS RESOURCES TO BE COMPLETED 16-21
Peter quotes Psa 109:8 as promising Judasí replacement. These quotes are in contexts of Messiahís death and HS affirms they speak Of Judas. Here are the requirements. (1) Witness of Jesus entire earthly ministry 21-22. (2) Witness of His resurrection 22. (3) Must be chosen by the Lord 23-25. Two men met these requirements, Joseph called Barsabbas and Matthias. They drew lots vs. 26 an accepted OT method for determining Godís will and this is the last occurrence of this practice since the Hs would make this unnecessary with inspiration, the God-breathed Word and will of God to us. Paul was not included† since his mission was to the gentiles and these were to the Jews. Paul had unique ministry and tho not inferior was not one of their number. Matthias was then chosen. (1) To be effective for the Lord I must believe my need is total and not partial (2) Gods plan for ministry includes my participation† (3) Godís work requires certain qualifications if His power is to work thru us in ministry