20 “For it is written in the book of Psalms, ‘Let (Judas’) homestead be made desolate,
And let no one dwell in it’; and ‘Let another man take his office.’ 21 Therefore it is necessary that of the men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us— 22 beginning with the baptism of John until the day that He was taken up from us—one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.” 23 So they put forward two men, Joseph called Barsabbas (who was also called Justus), and Matthias. 24 And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all men, show which one of these two You have chosen 25 to occupy this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” 26 And they drew lots for them, and the lot fell to Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles. (Acts1:20-26NASB]
Jesus had called twelve men to the apostolate, partly for symbolic reasons:
And Jesus said to (His disciples), “Truly I say to you who have followed Me, in the Regeneration when the Son of Man will sit down on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Mt19:28)
The symbolism pertained to the reconstitution of God’s chosen people: the twelve tribes, only two of which had survived at this point. But as our feature passage from Acts affirms, Judas was replaced by Matthias who was added to the eleven faithful apostles to witness to Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. Saul of Tarsus on the other hand was appointed out of due time (1Cor15:8) having been commissioned by the risen and ascended Christ as the thirteenth faithful apostle now that gospel salvation was to be made available to the Gentile nations. As will be considered in later posts It will become evident that in spite of the Great Commission to baptize and make disciples of all nations, it is not until events recorded in the eleventh chapter of Acts that any of the original twelve fully grasped that anyone who was not a Jew, Samaritan or proselyte could be granted the same gift of salvation as that intended for the Jews.
Paul’s appointment as 13th apostle to the Gentiles is yet another pointer to the fact that God’s salvific Plan for the world as decreed by the Old Testament and initially pursued even by Jesus Himself was that the “Kingdom of God” and gospel salvation as we understand it was destined for the Jews alone in the current age. The original twelve were appointed as apostles to the Jews and were sent to preach to them exclusively (Mt10:5,6 and especially Mt15:24 – note Jesus is telling His disciples that He had been sent by the Father to minister only to the Jews – He was not addressing the Canaanite woman “to test her faith” as some try to interpret it)
As for #13 being regarded as “unlucky” I will quote from my first book to close:
– O blessed number, for it signified that Gentiles, against all prophetic predictions were to be granted “eternal life” and have equal status with elect Jews as joint-heirs with Christ in His Kingdom. Paul had indeed been appointed “as a priest in the Good News of God that the offering up of the Gentiles might become acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit” (Rom15:16 Young’s Literal). – Quote from Fellowship of the Secret chapter one
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Paul God’s athlete Paul and homosexuality Paul’s letter to Corinthians
Paul’s theology of glory Paul’s Jewish critique Paul’s vision
Paul affirms need to keep the law Paul affirms universal sinfulness
Paul exhorts gospel Paul in Rome Paul in Malta Paul & civic authorities
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