Judas' Apostatizing Fulfilled Part 1

by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)

May 23, 2013

Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles
By: Tom Lowe

Topic #I: Introduction to the Beginning of the Church, Acts 1.1-1.26
Subtopic B: The Lord Re-Establishes 12 Apostles (1:12-26)
Secondary Topic 2: The Motion of Peter to Choose Another Apostle

Lesson I.B.2.a: Judas' Apostatizing Fulfilled
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 1.15-20

Acts 1.15-20 (KJV)
15 And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,)
16 Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus.
17 For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry.
18 Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.
19 And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood.
20 For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take.

15 And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,)

And in those days
“In those days” refers here to the days between the ascension of Jesus and the day of Pentecost, when the disciples were waiting for the coming of the Holy Spirit. The Ethiopic version reads, "On that day,” which makes it sound as if it was the same day they came back to Jerusalem after watching Jesus ascend to heaven, and went into the upper room; and this is very likely since there was no time to be lost in choosing someone to replace Judas.

Peter stood up
“Peter stood up” means Peter standing up, or rising. This is a customary expression in the Scriptures when one begins to do something, “I will arise and go to my father…” (Luke 15:18; KJV). Peter, was respected as the chief apostle, since he was usually the first one to act in almost any situation, and he was willing to show his zeal for Christ, whom he had recently denied; he was the senior man in the company of apostles, as well as the principle minister to the Jews. He rises to his feet like people used to do when they were about to address an assembly; which was done to show respect and reverence to those they addressed. It was no surprise, then, when Peter stood up and introduced the business of electing a new apostle. Note: Teachers and those of superior rank were always seated when addressing a group, but Peter did not want to give that kind of impression; he only wanted to make a motion.

in the midst of the disciples,
“The disciples” was the name given to them because they were students in the school of Jesus Christ—“And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him” (Matt 5:1; NKJV). Again, among the Jews, the common position when teaching was for the teacher to set and the learners to stand. The Coptic, Ethiopic, Armenian, and Vulgate versions replace “disciples” with “brethren.” This seems to be the best rendering, because of what immediately follows, since he was not only among the twelve disciples when he stood-up, but among the whole company, which amounted to one hundred and twenty. It may only be a coincidence that this was the number which the Jews required to form a council (Sanhedrin) in any city; but it is more likely that the disciples had gathered together, with themselves, one hundred and twenty believers, chosen from the many who had been converted by the ministry of our Lord; it may have included the seventy-two whom he had sent forth to preach (See Luke 10:1); therefore they formed a complete council to conduct the important business of electing a person to replace Judas.

Peter takes a natural leadership role among the disciples. There is nothing wrong with him doing that, since he is the recognized leader of the twelve, and he was often the spokesman for the group during the earthly ministry of Jesus. However, the idea that the authority of Peter was supreme, and that he handed down commands in unbroken succession, is unbiblical and wrong.

and said,
Or better, “and he said” what is expressed in the following verses, which before Paul relates that information, he inserts in a parenthesis the following clause.

(the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,)
“The number of the names” is used here in lieu of “the number of the persons,” or “individuals.” The word “name” is often used to denote “the person,”—“Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy” (Rev 3:4; KJV). (Also see Acts 4:12; Acts 18:15; Ephesians 1:21.). This was the first assembly convened to transact the business of the church, and it is remarkable that the vote in so important a matter as electing an apostle was by what may have been the entire church. This settles the question that the election of a minister and pastor should be by the church and that a pastor should not be placed over a church by a benefactor, or by an ecclesiastical body. If a situation could ever occur where it would be right and proper for one to be selected to the position of a minister of Christ by ministers only, the election of one to fill the office of an apostle was such an occasion. And yet in this case the entire church had a voice. Whether this was the entire true church in existence at this time is not reflected in the history of the event. This expression cannot mean that there were no more Christians, but that one hundred and twenty was all that had convened in the upper room. It is undeniable that our Savior had, by his own ministry, brought many others into the fellowship of his true followers—“After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep” (1 Cor 15:6; NKJV). It is very likely that most of the disciples, who met our Lord in Galilee after his resurrection, lived either in Galilee, in the remotest parts of Judea, or in Samaria, and were not in Jerusalem at this time.

The death of Judas made a vacancy in the college of the apostles. There were twelve men ordained apostles, perhaps because there were twelve tribes of Israel, descended from the twelve patriarchs; they were the twelve stars that make up the church's crown (See Revelation 12:1), and for them twelve thrones were designated—“Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Matt 19:28; NKJV). Now, since they were twelve when they were learners, if they were only eleven when they became the teachers, everyone would want to know what had become of the twelfth, and their curiosity would tend to revive the remembrance of the scandal of their society, and therefore care was taken, before the descent of the Spirit, to fill the vacancy. Our Lord Jesus probably gave directions about this when He spoke to them about the kingdom of God.

This was the beginning of the Christian church: this hundred and twenty was the grain of mustard-seed that grew into a tree, the leaven that leavened the whole lump. The speaker was Peter, who had been and still was, the most prominent apostle and this shows that he had recovered the ground he lost by his denying his Master.

16 Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus.

Men and brethren,
Peter is not expressing his modesty, and humility, and his brotherly love, which he had for those he is speaking to, on account of the spiritual relationship that existed between him and them, when he addresses them with “Men and brethren,” since it was a customary mode of address, a Hebraism, which conveyed affection and respect—“Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent” (Acts 13:26; KJV); but it was also used by the cultured Greeks.

It seems that the women, were not included in the hundred and twenty referred to here; and the Syriac version calls that number, "the number of men.”

this scripture must needs have been fulfilled,
Our Lord declared, "The Scriptures cannot be broken" (John 10:35); and "all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me" (Luke 24.44; NKJV). It is vital to our integrity as Christians that we view the Scriptures in the same light as our Lord and his apostles, that they contain real prophecies, spoken by the Holy Ghost—“So when they did not agree among themselves, they departed after Paul had said one word: "The Holy Spirit spoke rightly through Isaiah the prophet to our fathers” (Acts 28:25; NKJV).

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