Rev 21:14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
This statement of John in the book of Revelation begs the question: who are the twelve apostles of the Lamb? But this question is misleading, for hardly anyone would argue over the names of eleven of the apostles. So, the real question becomes: who takes Judas Iscariot’s place among “the twelve”?
This question begs yet another question: do we have sufficient evidence to conclude that those considered “among the twelve” by the inspired writers of the books of our New Testament are the same as the “twelve apostles of the Lamb” of Rev 21:14?
In this article I hope to convince you, firstly, that Matthias replaced Judas “among the twelve”, and NOT Paul. And secondly, I will make an attempt to answer the question of whether Matthias, as opposed to Paul, should be considered as one of “the twelve apostles OF THE LAMB”.
The view I am most confronted with says that Paul was the replacement of Judas. The justification for this varies from one person to another. Some say that there are only twelve apostles ALTOGETHER, and thus, Matthias couldn’t be one, because Paul’s apostleship is undeniable. Some say that Matthias was chosen by man, and Paul was chosen by God.
Keep in mind, that, before one can argue that Paul IS Judas’ replacement, one must FIRST explain why Matthias IS NOT. If no reasonable explanation can be made for WHY we should reject Matthias, then all further discussion of Paul as Judas’ replacement is moot.
So, again, the question is: Is Matthias God’s replacement for Judas as “one of the twelve”? Before we consider this, let’s consider what the Holy Spirit inspired scribes of our New Testament had to say about Matthias’ appointment “among the twelve”.
LUKE AFFIRMS MATTHIAS’ APPOINTMENT
Acts 6:2 Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables.
This is the first mention of “the twelve” in Scripture after the resurrection of Christ. Please note that at this time, Paul was not yet converted. The only way this verse makes any sense is if Matthias is counted as “one of the twelve.” Do YOU believe that Luke was inspired when he wrote this? Not only this, but throughout the entire book of Acts, and a few places in the epistles, reference is made to “the twelve”. These all considered Matthias and not Paul, as “one of the twelve”.
Consider also that scholars place the writing of this book at least sometime after the last events recorded in the book of Acts. Therefore, here we have the Holy Spirit testifying by Luke, many years later, of the appointment and acceptance of Matthias “among the twelve”. Bear in mind also that there is not a single note or sidebar comment by the writer that the appointment of Matthias was ever reversed, or that Matthias came short of fulfilling his calling as an apostle. Consider that Matthew, Mark, Luke AND John ALL made parenthetical comments regarding Judas being the “traitor” of Christ, almost every time his name is mentioned. One could logically conclude that Luke would have done the same regarding Matthias, had he turned out to be a phony, or even less than the other apostles. At least he would have acknowledged their error, would he have not?
Acts 2:14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them….
There are some that suggest that “the twelve” is merely a formal title for the group of apostles; saying that the people habitually called Jesus’ closest group of disciples, “the twelve “, and therefore the other references to “the twelve” were formal, and not actual references to the number of the apostles. But in the above verse, Luke writes “the eleven”, referring to the ACTUAL number of “The Twelve” that were present. This verse, along with verses in the Gospels of Mark (16:14) and Luke (24:9), prove that the Scriptures refer to “twelve” when there were twelve, and eleven when there were eleven.
If this evidence alone is not enough, we have even stronger evidence by the irrefutable fact that…….
PAUL EXCLUDES HIMSELF
1 Cor 15:3-8 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: 5 And that he was seen of Cephas, thenof the twelve: 6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. 7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. 8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.
First, let me point out that in the text quoted above, we find Paul recounting a succession of events. I must say this because some have misunderstood Paul when he says “and last of all”. They have taken this to mean that Paul was the LAST of the apostles, i.e. that there would be no more apostles of Christ after him. When considered in the context, we can see that Paul was saying, “the last of all these things that happened was that he was seen by me. ” His “last of all” sits opposing his “first of all”.
In verse 5, Paul says that Peter, and then “the twelve” saw Jesus before he himself ever saw Him. He affirms, by the Holy Ghost, that “the twelve” had already been re-established BEFORE his own conversion. What more evidence is necessary than hearing Paul’s exclusion of himself from the twelve from HIS OWN MOUTH?
For some, though, this evidence is not enough. It is difficult to understand how that, in spite of the fact that all the inspired writers of the New Testament that refer to this subject, emphatically say, or imply that Matthias was counted as “among the twelve”, some still insist that GOD chose Paul, whereas man chose Matthias.
“MATTHIAS’ WAS APPOINTED BY MAN, AND NOT GOD”
One of the chief arguments against Matthias’ appointment among the twelve is that Matthias was CHOSEN by men, i.e. through the casting of lots by the apostles, and not God; whereas, Paul, they say, was chosen by Jesus Himself to be an apostle.
Acts 1:24-25 And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, show 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.
Some who believe Paul has replaced Judas, suggest that this was pure presumption on the parts of all present, to present to God to select from the two, when they themselves had no idea whether God chose EITHER of the men. There was no possibility that the lot could have fallen to NEITHER of them, otherwise, there would be no reason for this article, because a vote of “neither ” from God would have left the door open for another (Paul). Suffice it to say that no one overturned the selection of these two, and especially, the selection of Matthias.
Again, some say that the apostles employing the casting of lots (which among the heathen is a form of divination) as a way of determining whom God had chosen, is proof that the apostles were “in the flesh”. However, the use of casting lots to make such decisions is not without precedent in the scriptures.
Aaron cast lots to determine which of two goats would be the LORD’s and which would be the scapegoat (Lev 16:8). Joshua divided the land for the inheritance of the seven tribes who had not yet received it, by casting lots “before the LORD”. There are at least as many negative references to the casting of lots, in the scriptures, but the scripture no where condemns the practice, but rather:
Prov 16:33 The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD.
Therefore, the apostles (yes, even all that were gathered) cannot be condemned as being “in the flesh” on the basis of casting the lots, alone.
Acts 1:26 And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.
Here we have the witness of all present, including the apostles, Luke, the Holy Spirit, Paul, and the lack of any contrary testimony that Matthias was “numbered with the eleven”.
Some have objected that these events took place prior to the baptism of the Holy Ghost, and thus, were done in the flesh. This is by far the worst stretch of imagination. Consider that Jesus trusted the apostles’ judgment enough to send them out preaching during His ministry (Mat 10:5, Luke 10:10). And Jesus said to them: “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; 17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth WITH YOU, and shall be in you ” (John 14:16-17). It is simply not true that the apostles were without the guidance of the Holy Spirit as these suggest. Consider that at this moment, the Holy Spirit was “with them” in the same way that the Holy Spirit was with all of the Old Testament prophets, including Moses, for the Holy Spirit was not yet “sent” that He might be “in them”. Therefore, if they want to say that the apostles were yet “in the flesh” because they hadn’t been baptized by the Holy Ghost, then they must also say that all of the Old Testament prophets were “in the flesh” as well. I don’t think they would suggest that, do you?
PAUL ONE OF THE TWELVE APOSTLES OF THE LAMB?
Gal 1:1 Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)
We have already shown you that Matthias was counted as one of the twelve apostles. But one question remains: are these twelve the same as the “Twelve Apostles of the Lamb” in Revelation 21:14?
Only one point suggests that Paul will be counted as one of the apostles of the Lamb. And that point is: Paul and the eleven were all PERSONALLY, physically called by Jesus himself.
Some might argue that Paul should be one of the apostles of the Lamb because of the great works he did for the Kingdom, or because of how many and the significance of the books of the Bible he wrote. However, these are all external successes, but God looks at the heart.
Eph 4:11-13 And he gave some, apostles; … Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
Now that we’ve concluded that Matthias is Judas’ replacement, another question arises: If Paul is not Judas’ replacement, and Rev 21:14 refers to only TWELVE “apostles of the Lamb”, then what is Paul? I conclude that the term “the twelve apostles of the Lamb” is an honorary title given by Jesus to refer to those twelve who “continued with him in his temptations” upon whom he will adorn the greatest honor in His Kingdom, and “those twelve” are THE TWELVE as understood by Luke, and all the other New Testament writers, as argued above. And therefore, it logically follows that Paul was simply an apostle in the continuation of the office (along with James the Lord’s Brother, Gal 1:19, and Barnabas, Acts 14:14), see Eph 4:11.
Now, seeing that Paul, Barnabas, and James, the Lord’s Brother are all apostles NOT among “the twelve”, but in the continuation of the office, and we are given no indication that the need for this office has been fulfilled, it logically follows that this office, yes, even all the offices of Eph 4:11 are still in existence today.