by Shawn Brasseaux
Strangely, there is a debate in Christendom regarding who replaced Judas Iscariot as the twelfth apostle. Were the eleven apostles wrong in selecting Matthias, as some claim? Should Paul have replaced Judas instead of Matthias, as others claim? Who should have been Judas Iscariot’s replacement? Why do we not look at the Scriptures, instead of relying on idle speculation? In this Bible study, we want to show from God’s Word who replaced Judas Iscariot.
1. QUALIFICATIONS FOR JUDAS’ BISHOPRICK
Let us begin by examining Acts chapter 1, where the eleven apostles are seeking Judas’ replacement:
“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.”
The Old Testament references Peter is quoting in verse 20 are Psalm 69:25 and Psalm 109:8, which prophesied Judas’ deeds. According to Psalm 109:8, another man must fill Judas’ “bishoprick” (office of apostleship).
Let us continue reading in Acts chapter 1: “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.”
In the above verses, we read the qualifications needed to be Judas’ successor. Firstly, this “twelfth apostle” must have been a follower of Jesus Christ from the beginning of John the Baptist’s ministry. Secondly, this man must have personally been with Jesus Christ after His resurrection until His ascension. Does Paul fit either of these qualifications? No, he does not. Paul was not saved until Acts chapter 9, a full year after Christ’s ascension. During Christ’s earthly ministry, Paul (then Saul of Tarsus) was an unsaved man headed for hell! Paul does not fit the qualifications needed to become Judas’ replacement.
By the way, were the eleven apostles wrong in choosing Matthias? In fact, the question itself is flawed. Notice again in Acts chapter 1:
“23 And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias.
24 And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew 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.”
26 And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.”
Of the 120 brethren there (verse 15), only two men fit the qualifications of verses 21 and 22: Matthias and Joseph (Barsabas) Justus. But, notice verse 24—who actually chose Judas’ replacement? It was not Peter and the eleven apostles. It was the Lord Himself! “Lord, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen.” Are we so bold as to say God was wrong to appoint Matthias instead of Paul? We had better not be so foolish. The apostles were not wrong in choosing Matthias, for they did not choose Matthias—God chose him! So, why did they cast lots? Proverbs 16:33 KJV tells us: “The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD.” The casting of lots was simply to reveal whom the Lord had already chosen. Jesus Christ had already chosen Matthias as Judas’ replacement, and the apostles just drew lots to learn what God already decided.
2. PAUL’S UNIQUE APOSTLESHIP
Here is the second reason why Matthias, not Paul, is the “twelfth apostle.” Asserting that Paul is Judas’ replacement is a blatant denial of Paul’s unique ministry as “the apostle of the Gentiles” (Romans 11:13); contrariwise, the twelve were Israel’s apostles (Matthew 10:5-7; Galatians 2:9).
Paul was “one born out of due time” (1 Corinthians 15:8). God saved Saul of Tarsus (Paul) apart from Israel’s program—God saving a Jew apart from Israel’s program had never happened up to that point. “But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen” (Galatians 1:15,16 KJV).
Jesus Christ told His twelve apostles to go to Jerusalem first, Judaea next, then Samaria, and finally the rest of the world (Luke 24:47-49; Acts 1:8). Jesus Christ commissioned Paul to go to Jew and Gentile, all at the same time (Acts 9:15,16). Obviously, Paul cannot be the “twelfth apostle.” Paul even wrote that Jesus Christ was “seen of the twelve… and last of all he was seen of me also” (1 Corinthians 15:5,8). Paul did not consider himself to be one of the twelve apostles.
Jesus sent His twelve apostles to “baptize [all nations] in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 28:19), yet Paul wrote, “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel” (1 Corinthians 1:17a). Obviously, Peter and the eleven were not preaching the same message as Paul was. Let us compare that to Galatians 2:7-9 KJV:
“7 But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter;
8 (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles🙂
9 And when James, Cephas [Peter], and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.”
Paul and Barnabas agreed to go to the Gentiles (which includes lost Jews); James, Peter, and John agreed to minister to believing Israel. Surely, Paul had a unique ministry and a unique gospel committed to his trust (verses 7 and 8). Paul cannot be confused with the twelve apostles.
3. PAUL CANNOT ENTER ISRAEL’S KINGDOM
Our third reason for rejecting Paul as Judas’ replacement is due to what Jesus said in Matthew 12:31,32 KJV: “Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come” (cf. Mark 3:29; Luke 12:10).
Israel obviously blasphemed against Jesus (“the Son of man”) by demanding His crucifixion, albeit God forgives them (Luke 23:34) because in Acts chapter 2, God pours out His Holy Spirit on the apostles in order to give Israel a renewed opportunity for repentance. If Israel rejects the apostles’ preaching in early Acts, they will blaspheme against the Holy Spirit (who is working in the apostles). In Acts chapter 7, Israel murders her prophet Stephen (who is filled with the Holy Ghost; verses 51,55).
Now, unbelieving Israel has nowhere to go (they have committed the “unpardonable sin” that Jesus predicted). According to the Old Testament, God’s wrath is nearing (cf. Acts 7:55,56; Psalm 110:1; cf. Psalm 68:1,2). One of those Holy Spirit blasphemers was Paul (Saul of Tarsus) (1 Timothy 1:13): Paul encouraged Stephen’s murder (Acts 7:58–8:3).
As a side note, what is the “world to come” of Matthew 12:32? It certainly is not purgatory, as the Roman Catholic Church claims! According to Hebrews 2:3-5 and Hebrews 6:4,5, the “world to come” is Israel’s coming kingdom (the millennial reign of Christ). The miracles that Christ and His apostles were performing were a preview/foretaste of the healing and deliverance during Israel’s kingdom.
Matthew 12:31,32 says the Apostle Paul cannot be forgiven in Israel’s program (dispensation). In order to save Paul, God postponed His wrath and created a new dispensation, our Dispensation of Grace (2 Peter 3:9,15,16). Jesus said the twelve apostles would rule in Israel’s earthly kingdom: “Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Matthew 19:27,28).
Yet, according to Matthew 12:31,32, Paul cannot enter Israel’s kingdom. Matthias, not Paul, will reign over Israel in Judas’ stead in Christ’s millennial kingdom (Matthew 19:27,28). God did not make Paul Judas’ replacement, for Paul served as God’s apostle of the Gentiles (Romans 11:13; Romans 15:16; 2 Timothy 1:11).
We dare not deem Paul as Judas Iscariot’s replacement for three reasons. Firstly, Paul does not qualify for Judas’ replacement (Acts 1:21,22). Secondly, asserting that Paul is Judas’ replacement is a blatant denial of Paul’s unique ministry as “the apostle of the Gentiles” (Romans 11:13), while Judas’ replacement is an apostle of Israel (Matthew 10:5-7; Galatians 2:9). Thirdly, Paul cannot enter Israel’s millennial kingdom (Matthew 19:27,28 says the twelve apostles will enter that kingdom).