Who was the 12th Apostle?
There are only twelve
Many Christians believe that Paul was God's chosen replacement for Judas Iscariot who betrayed Yeshua and fell from his office as one of the twelve apostles. Some even teach that Peter was wrong to call the Messianic believers together to choose a replacement for Judas. This they support with the argument that Peter did it before Pentecost. They assert that Peter was "in the flesh", out of line, and without the authority to do such a thing. Some have even tried to compare Peter to Abraham, and his choice for a replacement apostle to Ishmael, whom God likewise rejected and instead chose Paul for the job. Naturally, when it comes to accusing Peter of error, these teachers who are willing to say Peter was wrong in choosing a replacement for Judas, never consider the possibility that Peter was wrong about Paul in the passage we dealt with in the last chapter!
The title of "apostle", as it is used in the NT, has been redefined and broadened exclusively by Paul and Luke to include anyone who believes they are a divinely appointed messenger sent out into the world. No other writers in the NT ever refer to anyone other than the twelve as "apostles". Whether one believes that the office of apostle extends beyond the original twelve and Judas' replacement or not... it is apparent from the book of Revelation and Yeshua's own words that there are a specific twelve who are also referred to as "the apostles of the Lamb".
Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. Revelation 21:14
And here is something important to note that Yeshua said to his followers.
"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. Matthew 19:28
Bear in mind that there were over a hundred others besides the twelve "apostles" who followed Yeshua and were called "disciples". Many of them were there and heard these words when Yeshua spoke them to the twelve. Paul was not one of them! So, if Judas Iscariot's name is not one of the twelve whose names are on the foundations of the city and will judge a tribe of Israel, and Paul is a false apostle who presumptuously took the title "apostle" to himself... the question remains, who is number twelve?
Peter calls for a replacement for Judas
To answer that question we need to take a close look at the meeting where Peter calls for a replacement for Judas. Again, notice that this event is deemed necessary precisely because it was understood that there must be twelve apostles, no more, and no less.
And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples (altogether the number of names was about a hundred and twenty), and said, "Men and brethren, this Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Yeshua; for he was numbered with us and obtained a part in this ministry." ... "For it is written in the book of Psalms; 'Let his habitation be desolate, and let no one live it'; and, 'Let another take his office.' "Therefore, of these men who have accompanied us all the time that the Master, Yeshua, went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection." Acts 1;15-17, 20-22
Peter is very serious about filling the office with a qualified person. In a detailed manner he lays out exactly what the replacement's qualifications must be. The prospective apostle had to have accompanied the other apostles the entire time, from the time that John baptized Yeshua, all the way through to Yeshua's ascension. He had to have been there, and seen and heard everything they saw and heard. This was the minimum criteria that Peter insisted be met by a prospect. If a prospect who met these requirements had more knowledge of Yeshua , like from before His baptism, this would no doubt have been considered a bonus. We must also keep in mind that Peter was looking for someone who would be a good witness. It would be pointless to choose someone to be witness who wouldn't tell! This would require that a prospect demonstrate having a propensity to tell of what he had seen and heard, and the more willing the better. So it would not be out of the question for a replacement to be more qualified in this regard than some of the remaining eleven!
The fact that Peter required the would-be apostle to have been there also fits with what Yeshua had said in Matthew 19:28 as quoted above. He said, "You who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones..." The hard fact of the matter is that Paul had not been there. He didn't walk with Yeshua those three and a half years and therefore could not be considered a legitimate candidate to replace Judas as one of the twelve by either Peter's or Yeshua's criterion. The replacement had to have been there.
The scene in Acts continues.
And they proposed two: Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias, And they prayed and said, "You , O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place." And they cast their lots, and the lot fell on Matthias. And he was numbered with the eleven apostles. Acts 1:23-26
Out of all those present, they had reduced the number of possible prospects to two. These were considered the very best candidates. Both were well qualified in the eyes of the eleven. They could have made the choice between the two themselves and I believe their choice would have been recognized in heaven. Yeshua had given Peter and the other apostles that much authority when He said to them;
"Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there in the midst of them." Matthew 18:18-20
But they desired that the Lord make the final choice between the two. The casting of lots to discern God's will is also not without precedence. They were very familiar with the priest's use of Urim and Thummim to determine God's will... as well as the story of Jonah and the terrified sailors who cast the lot which God caused to indicate Jonah as the source of their problem. On an issue as important as determining who the twelfth apostle should be, their desire to seek God's opinion would not have gone unnoticed in heaven. They prayed and cast lots and the lot fell on Matthias. The answer to the question of who is the twelfth apostle... is Matthias!
Who was Matthias?
Virtually nothing is known about Matthias. Aside from the fact that he must have fit Peter's criterion, (been there) we know only one thing.... his name. But I have a pet theory about Matthias, which, if it were true, would answer many perplexing questions dogging scholars today. It is only a theory. The fact that it is very plausible, and would answer many questions is the best evidence in itself.
The author of the mysterious Q source?!
If I were a betting man, I would lay odds that Matthias is the author of the renowned "Q source" for a number of reasons. "Q" is the label scholars have given to a single written text from which the synoptic gospel writers gleaned a large portion of their information. The books of Matthew, Mark and Luke are called the "synoptic" gospels because they are a condensed outline of the events surrounding Yeshua's ministry, and they are similar in so many ways it appears clear that each was condensed from the same larger written source. A perfect example of this is the story of the Rich Young Ruler. This story is found in all three synoptic gospels. Each one contains information that the others leave out. We determine from all three that this person was rich. Matthew is the only one to tell us that he was "young". And Luke is the only gospel to tell us he was a "ruler". But no matter from which gospel it is read, it is still known as the "rich young ruler" account. To see a parallel comparison of the three accounts of the rich young ruler and how the original account in "Q" might have looked see The Rich Young Ruler Synoptic Parallel in the appendix.
Let's take a hypothetical look at what might have
happened at the time Peter called for a replacement for Judas.
Remember, these are real people who act and think like we do. What if during all
the time that Yeshua walked with and taught the twelve, there was among the others who followed, a man gifted in writing who faithfully recorded most
everything that happened and what was said? Picture him sitting in the
background writing in some form of short-hand Aramaic like a news reporter.
Then, when Peter calls for a replacement for Judas, his requirements
are that the replacement had to both be there and be willing to tell (report)
what he had seen and heard. Now as they consider the candidates and are about to
make some nominations they realize that they have in their midst a man
with an accurate written diary/record of all that was said and done. Isn't this exactly what they
would be looking for?
I think that Matthias, the one on whom God caused the lot to fall, was just such a person. This may sound like a plausible, but quaint theory to some at this point, but there is one more interesting bit of evidence to add to this picture. The name "Matthias" is the Greek version of the name "Matthew"! They are identical... one and the same! There were two Matthews, just as there were two apostles named Simon and two apostles named James. Matthew the tax-collector is generally considered to be the author of the gospel of Matthew, but this is only tradition. We really don't know for sure who wrote the book because the book doesn't say. The name Matthew was loosely associated with the earliest copies of the Gospel, and since a tax-collector would have to have been literate, it is assumed that Matthew the tax-collector was its author.
Here is what I think happened. Matthias was a gifted writer who faithfully documented the words and events surrounding Yeshua's ministry. Unlike Paul, he was there! When Peter called for a replacement for Judas, Matthias' name came up as a perfect candidate because he had the written record. God caused the lot to fall on him and he became the true replacement for Judas. His written record was the source that was used by the writers of the synoptic gospels... Marcus (Mark) and Luke. Some anonymous person also used Matthias' record to compose what is known as the Gospel of Matthew. As a scribe of sorts, he translated and condensed it, much the way Mark and Luke did, into the parts he deemed important. He also added a little of his own insight... as did the others. In his case, he regularly tried to associate events in Yeshua's life with prophecies from the Hebrew Scriptures. Sometimes he made good connections, other times he made some serious blunders. But this scribe didn't sign his name to it or identify himself in any way. The book was left to others known only as being taken from Mathias' (Matthew's) record. Over time the tradition continued and somewhere along the line it became assumed that it was written by Matthew the tax-collector.
It is interesting to note that the synoptic gospels were written
from the perspective of being on the outside looking in as opposed to being from the
perspective of one of the twelve. In the gospel of Matthew itself,
Matthew the tax collector isn't even mentioned or called until chapter 9. The writer
of the gospel even appears to go out of his way to distance himself from this Matthew
by saying that Yeshua, "saw a man named Matthew...". It would be a bit
unusual for someone to refer to themselves this way. But if it were
written by someone else with the same name, on the outside looking in, it would
make perfect sense.
Whether Matthias is the author of
"Q" or not, he is without question the only plausible 12th apostle,
because he was there... thus fulfilling the requirements of both Yeshua and Peter. He is, in all probability, also the author of "Q", the source
from which the three synoptic gospel writers obtained most of their
information. If he is, he is not just an insignificant number filling a vacant
spot, but truly one of the greatest apostles when one considers his witness
is responsible for most of the information contained in the Synoptic Gospels. If
we were to compile from Paul's letters every quote of Yeshua he used, and every
event in Yeshua's ministry that he referenced, we would know virtually nothing
about what he said or did! Every single chapter in the Synoptic Gospels contains
many times more information about Yeshua than do all of Paul's writings put
together. It shouldn't be hard to
understand why Paul quotes Yeshua so very little. He wasn't there!
"Where possible, he (Paul) avoids quoting the teaching of Jesus, in fact
even mentioning it. If we had to rely on Paul, we should not know that Jesus
taught in parables, had delivered the sermon on the mount, and had taught His
disciples the 'Our Father.' Even where they are specially relevant, Paul passes
over the words of the Lord."
"What kind of authority can there be for an
"apostle" who, unlike the other apostles, had never been prepared for
the apostolic office in Jesus' own school but had only later dared to claim the
apostolic office on the basis of his own authority? The only question comes to
be how the apostle Paul appears in his Epistles to be so indifferent to the
historical facts of the life of Jesus... He bears himself but little like a
disciple who has received the doctrines and the principles which he preaches
from the Master whose name he bears."
Ferdinand Christian Baur The eminent theologian, in his 'Church History of the First Three Centuries',
"... Paul is in effect the first Christian heretic, and his teachings, which become the foundation of later Christianity, are a flagrant deviation from the 'Original' or 'pure' form extolled by the leadership. Whether James, the 'Lord's brother,' was literally Jesus' blood kin or not (and everything suggests he was), it is clear that he knew Jesus...personally. So did most of the other members of the community or 'early Church,' in Jerusalem, including of course, Peter. When they spoke, they did so with first hand authority. Paul had never had such personal acquaintance with the figure he'd begun to regard as his 'Savior.' He had only his quasi-mystical experience in the desert and the sound of a disembodied voice. For him to arrogate authority to himself on this basis is, to say the least, presumptuous. It also leads him to distort Jesus' teachings beyond recognition, to formulate, in fact, his own highly individual and idiosyncratic theology, and then to legitimize it by spuriously ascribing it to Jesus."
"As things transpired, however, the mainstream of the new movement gradually coalesced, during the next three centuries, around Paul and his teachings. Thus, to the undoubted posthumous horror of James and his associates, an entirely new religion was indeed born, a religion that came to have less and less to do with its supposed founder."
From the book, "The Dead Sea Scrolls Deception" by Michael Bajgent and Richard Leigh (Corgi Books, London, 1991)
"Paul hardly ever allows the real Jesus of Nazareth to get a word in."
Carl Jung (Psychologist) (U.S. News and World Report, April 22, 1991, p. 55)
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