Online Bible Commentary
Scripture Had to be Fulfilled
Acts 1:15 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, 16 "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 Jesus; 17 for he was numbered with us and obtained a part in this ministry." 18 (Now this man purchased a field with the wages of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his entrails gushed out. 19 And it became known to all those dwelling in Jerusalem; so that field is called in their own language, Akel Dama, that is, Field of Blood.) 20 "For it is written in the book of Psalms: 'Let his dwelling place be desolate, And let no one live in it'; and, 'Let another take his office.' 21 "Therefore, of these men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 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." 23 And they proposed two: Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. 24 And they prayed and said, "You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen 25 to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place." 26 And they cast their lots, and the lot fell on Matthias. And he was numbered with the eleven apostles. (NKJV)
"In those days” (v. 15a) is a reference to the ten days between the ascension of Jesus and the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit would come upon them, as had been promised by Jesus. Peter appears to have already taken a leadership role (v. 15b). The disciples, numbering “about a hundred and twenty” (v. 15c) met in the upper room in Jerusalem. They were united in fellowship and prayer.
Peter proposes to fulfill Scripture from the Psalms in regards to replacing Judas (vv. 16-17). He reminds the disciples of the fate of Judas, the betrayer of Jesus. Judas, after betraying Jesus for thirty pieces of silver, was overcome with guilt and hung himself after returning the silver (Mt. 27:3-10).
After Judas’ body had decayed enough it fell from the hangman’s noose and burst open when it hit the ground (v. 18b). The chief priests then took the money Judas had returned and, acting as Judas’ agent, purchased a potter’s field for his burial (v. 18a). The field became known in Aramaic as “Akel Dama, that is, Field of Blood” (v. 19). It is located on the south face of the Valley of Hinnon near Old Jerusalem and is marked today by a large, square, tomb. A Greek Orthodox monastery is also located on the field.
Peter, citing Psalm 109:8, proposed that a replacement for Judas should be named (v. 20). The replacement would need to be someone who had witnessed the ministry of Jesus, from His “baptism” to His ascension (vv. 21-22). “Matthias” and “Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus” were nominated by the disciples (v. 23).
After prayer and casting “their lots”, Matthias was chosen to replace Judas (vv. 24-26). The disciples had consulted Scripture, prayed, and cast lots. God’s will had been done, as supported by Scripture: “The lot is cast into the lap, But its every decision is from the Lord” (Prov. 16:33).
Casting of lots was the method of ascertaining God’s will prior to the coming of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. The selection of Matthias was confirmed by the later Biblical reference to “the twelve” (Acts 6:2).
In this first official act of the disciples they gave us the model that Christians should follow in making important decisions. Our decisions should be bathed in Scripture, prayer, and listening to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This is our method of knowing God’s will. When making important decisions the disciples knew that “Scripture had to be fulfilled”, and so should we.