Friday, 8 April 2016

Acts 1:15-26

File:St. Peter Preaching 02.jpg
Acts 1, as we've seen:

  •  opens (verses 1-2) with a brief introduction from the human author (St Luke);
  •   Verses 3-8 describe the forty days after the Resurrection; 
  • verses 9-11 focus on the Ascension, and verses 12-14 on the return to the Upper Room thereafter.

Today's section of the chapter (verses 15-26) deals with the election of St Matthias as the twelfth apostle to replace Judas.

Acts 1 continued:

15 At this time, Peter stood up and spoke before all the brethren; a company of about a hundred and twenty were gathered there. 16 Brethren, he said, there is a prophecy in scripture that must needs be fulfilled; that which the Holy Spirit made, by the lips of David, about Judas, who shewed the way to the men that arrested Jesus. 17 Judas was counted among our number, and had been given a share in this ministry of ours. 18 (With the price of his treachery, this man came into possession of a field; and afterwards, when he fell from a height, and his belly burst open, so that he was disembowelled, 19 all Jerusalem heard of it, and the field came to be called, in their language, Haceldama, that is, the Field of Blood.) 20 Well, in the book of Psalms the words are written, Let their camping-place be deserted, and let no man be found to dwell in it. And again, Let another take over his office. 21 There are men who have walked in our company all through the time when the Lord Jesus came and went among us, 22 from the time when John used to baptize to the day when he, Jesus, was taken from us. One of these ought to be added to our number as a witness of his resurrection. 23 So they named two of them, Joseph called Barsabas, who had been given the fresh name of Justus, and Matthias. 24 And they offered this prayer, Lord, who knowest the hearts of all men, shew us which of these two thou hast chosen 25 to take his place in this work of apostleship, from which Judas has fallen away, and gone to the place which belonged to him. 26 They gave them lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias, and he took rank with the eleven apostles.
15 In diebus illis, exsurgens Petrus in medio fratrum, dixit (erat autem turba hominum simul, fere centum viginti): 16 Viri fratres, oportet impleri Scripturam quam prædixit Spiritus Sanctus per os David de Juda, qui fuit dux eorum qui comprehenderunt Jesum: 17 qui connumeratus erat in nobis, et sortitus est sortem ministerii hujus. 18 Et hic quidem possedit agrum de mercede iniquitatis, et suspensus crepuit medius: et diffusa sunt omnia viscera ejus. 19 Et notum factum est omnibus habitantibus Jerusalem, ita ut appellaretur ager ille, lingua eorum, Haceldama, hoc est, ager sanguinis. 20 Scriptum est enim in libro Psalmorum: Fiat commoratio eorum deserta, et non sit qui inhabitet in ea: et episcopatum ejus accipiat alter. 21 Oportet ergo ex his viris qui nobiscum sunt congregati in omni tempore quo intravit et exivit inter nos Dominus Jesus, 22 incipiens a baptismate Joannis usque in diem qua assumptus est a nobis, testem resurrectionis ejus nobiscum fieri unum ex istis. 23 Et statuerunt duos, Joseph, qui vocabatur Barsabas, qui cognominatus est Justus, et Mathiam. 24 Et orantes dixerunt: Tu Domine, qui corda nosti omnium, ostende quem elegeris ex his duobus unum, 25 accipere locum ministerii hujus et apostolatus, de quo prævaricatus est Judas ut abiret in locum suum. 26 Et dederunt sortes eis, et cecidit sors super Mathiam: et annumeratus est cum undecim Apostolis.

St John Chrysostom:

...This Scripture, says he, must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost spoke before. Always he comforts them by the prophecies. So does Christ on all occasions. In the very same way, he shows here that no strange thing had happened, but what had already been foretold. This Scripture must needs have been fulfilled, he says, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spoke before. He does not say, David, but the Spirit through him.

See what kind of doctrine the writer has at the very outset of the book. Do you see, that it was not for nothing that I said in the beginning of this work, that this book is the Polity of the Holy Spirit? Which the Holy Ghost spoke before by the mouth of David. Observe how he appropriates (οἰκειοὕται) him; and that it is an advantage to them, that this was spoken by David, and not by some other Prophet...

...And his bishopric let another take; that is, his office, his priesthood. So that this, he says, is not my counsel, but His who has foretold these things. For, that he may not seem to be undertaking a great thing, and just such as Christ had done, he adduces the Prophet as a witness. Wherefore it behooves of these men which have companied with us all the time. Acts 1:21

Why does he make it their business too? That the matter might not become an object of strife, and they might not fall into contention about it. For if the Apostles themselves once did this, much more might those. This he ever avoids. Wherefore at the beginning he said, Men and brethren. It behooves to choose from among you. He defers the decision to the whole body, thereby both making the elected objects of reverence and himself keeping clear of all invidiousness with regard to the rest. For such occasions always give rise to great evils. Now that some one must needs be appointed, he adduces the prophet as witness: but from among what persons: Of these, he says, which have companied with us all the time.

To have said, the worthy must present themselves, would have been to insult the others; but now he refers the matter to length of time; for he says not simply, These who have companied with us, but, all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 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 Acts 1:22: that their college (ὁ χορὸς) might not be left mutilated.

Then why did it not rest with Peter to make the election himself: what was the motive? This; that he might not seem to bestow it of favor. And besides, he was not yet endowed with the spirit. And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabus, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. Acts 1:23 Not he appointed them: but it was he that introduced the proposition to that effect, at the same time pointing out that even this was not his own, but from old time by prophecy; so that he acted as expositor, not as preceptor. Joseph called Barsabus, who was surnamed Justus...

They were about an hundred and twenty, it says. The seventy perhaps whom Christ Himself had chosen, and other of the more earnest-minded disciples, as Joseph and Matthias. Acts 1:14 There were women, he says, many, who followed Him. Mark 15:41 [The number of the names together.] Together  they were on all occasions...

Wherefore of these men which have companied with us, continues Peter. Observe how desirous he is they should be eye-witnesses. It is true indeed that the Spirit would shortly come; and yet great care is shown with regard to this circumstance. Of these men, he says, which have companied with us, all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us.

He shows that they had dwelt with Christ, not simply been present as disciples. In fact, from the very beginning there were many that then followed Him. Observe, for instance, how this appears in these words: One of the two which heard John speak, and followed Jesus.— All the time, he says, that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John. John 1:40 True! For no one knew what preceded that event, though they did learn it by the Spirit. Unto that same day that He was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of His resurrection.

He said not, a witness of the rest of his actions, but a witness of the resurrection alone. For indeed that witness had a better right to be believed, who was able to declare, that He Who ate and drank, and was crucified, the same rose again. Wherefore it was needed that he should be a witness, not only of the time preceding this event, nor only of what followed it, and of the miracles; the thing required was, the resurrection. For the other matters were manifest and acknowledged, but the resurrection took place in secret, and was manifest to these only. And they do not say, Angels have told us; but, We have seen. For this it was that was most needful at that time: that they should be men having a right to be believed, because they had seen...

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