June 3, 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 (Acts 1:12-26)                   
         Secondary Topic 2: The Motion of Peter to Choose Another Apostle (Acts 1.15-26)                     

Lesson I.B.2.b: The Criteria for an Apostolic Replacement
 Scripture: Acts 1.21, 22

Acts 1.21, 22 (KJV)

21 Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us,
22 Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.



21 Therefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us,

It is believed by some Bible scholars that the election to choose a successor for Judas Iscariot was conducted by Peter without the presence and guidance of the Holy Spirit, since the Holy Spirit had not yet been given. Matthias (see Acts 1.26) was evidently a good man. He met the requirements of an apostle, which meant he must have been with the Lord from His baptism by John until His ascension; and, more importantly, he must have been a witness of the resurrection, as the others were.

“Therefore of these men” is a reference to the small group of men who had witnessed the life and works of Christ, and who were therefore qualified to discharge the duties of the office formerly held by Judas. Peter is probably designating the seventy disciples mentioned in Luke’s gospel—“After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go. Then He said to them, "The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Luke 10:1-2; NKJV).
“Which have companied with us” means that the apostles thought it was important that they fill the blank spot in their ranks with a person who had been an eye witness of the acts of our Lord.

“Went in and out” is a phrase which includes all the actions of life.

This is the only occasion mentioned in the New Testament where a successor to an apostle is selected. That means this is our only scriptural guide on the subject, and therefore, it is unscriptural for any man to lay claim to the office of Apostle of Jesus Christ who has not been a companion of Jesus and a witness of his resurrection. The reason for confining the selection to those who had accompanied Jesus from the beginning is because such a person would be the most reliable witnesses to His identity after the resurrection. A person less familiar with Him would be more likely to be fooled by an imposter. Peter here, like Paul does in 1 Cor 15, makes the whole value of apostolic testimony depend upon the ability to prove the resurrection of Jesus. 

I am disturbed by those modern day preachers who call themselves apostles, when they cannot meet the qualifications. It seems that many preachers attempt to appear holy by calling themselves apostle, dressing in black, and wearing a white collar.

22 Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.

It is important to bear in mind that Peter is not talking about the original appointment of an apostle, but to the selection of a successor to an apostle.

“Beginning from the baptism of John” points to the time that Christ was baptized by John in the Jordan River; because that was the time that his public ministry actually began. It was also the first time He was identified as the Messiah and the first time He was introduced to the men who would become His disciples. At that time they were John the Baptist’s disciples, but shortly after that they left him for the company of Jesus. They stayed with Him for three and a half years, preaching and working miracles, until He was crucified.

 “Unto that same day when he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection” The office of the apostles is clearly expressed here. The objective of the apostle was twofold:
1 To testify, from personal observation, to the one great fact of "the resurrection of the Lord Jesus"
2 To show how the resurrection glorified His whole previous life, of which they were constant observers, and to confirm His claims of divinity.

Must one be ordained (or appointed) means it was fitting and proper that someone should be ordained for the office of Apostle of Jesus Christ. The reason being, that Jesus had originally chosen twelve men for this work, and since one of them was deceased, it was proper to fill the breach with someone equally qualified for the office. The reason why it was proper that he should be taken from the seventy disciples was, that they had been particularly singled out by Jesus himself, and commanded to preach, and endowed with various powers, and had been witnesses of most of his public life (see Luke 10:1-16). The word ordained, as applied to the Christian religion, has a definite meaning. It signifies the process whereby one is set apart for a sacred office by observing the proper procedure and ritual, such as laying on of hands. But this is not necessarily the meaning of this passage. This translation misleads every reader who cannot examine the original text. There is no term for ordained in the Greek. The New Testament printed in London, by Robert Barker, the king's printer, in 1615, renders this and the preceding verse more faithfully and more clearly than our common version: “Wherefore of these men who have companied with us, all the time that the Lord Jesus was conversant among us, beginning from the baptism of John, unto the day he was taken up from us, must one of them BE MADE a witness with us of his resurrection.” The word ordained would naturally lead most readers to suppose that some ecclesiastical rite was used on the occasion, such as laying on of hands, etc., although nothing of the kind appears to have been employed. The Greek word usually denoting ordination is not used here. The expression is, literally, “must one be, or become a witness with us of his resurrection." The expression does not imply that he must be set apart in any particular manner, but simply that one should be designated, or appointed for this specific purpose, to be a witness of the resurrection of Christ.

“unto that same day that he was taken up from us.” Those that have been diligent, faithful, and constant, in the discharge of their duty in a lower station, are to be preferred for promotion to a higher station; those that have been faithful in a little shall be entrusted with more. And no one should be employed as ministers of Christ, preachers of His gospel, and leaders in His church, except those that are well acquainted with his doctrine and actions, from first to last. No one can be an apostle unless he has been constantly with the apostles, for the entire three and a half years that he taught them.

What work would this new apostle be called to perform? He must be a witness with the original apostles of His resurrection. From this it appears that there were other disciples that were with the eleven when Christ appeared to them, otherwise, they could not have been competent witnesses of his resurrection. The great thing which the apostles were to tell the world about was Christ’s resurrection, because this was the greatest proof of His being the Messiah, and the foundation of our hope in Him. Do you see what the apostles were ordained to be, not men of dignity and power, but to preach Christ, and the power of His resurrection?