“New” Apostle Matthias: Proof of the infallibility of the Church


Acts 1: 20-26 (KJV) For it is written in the book of Psalms: “Let his habitation be deserted, and there be no one to dwell therein”; and “His office let another take.” ” [21] So one of the men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus came and went among us, [22] from the time of John’s baptism until the day he was taken from us, one of these men is to become with us a witness of his resurrection. [23] And they proposed two, Joseph called Barsab’bas, surnamed Justus, and Matthi’as. [24] And they prayed and said: “Lord, who knoweth the hearts of all men, show which of these two thou hast chosen. [25] to take the place in this ministry and apostolate from which Judas turned away, to go in his own place. [26] And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthi’as; and he was enlisted with the eleven apostles.

I have made many biblical arguments for apostolic succession (see the section on my Church webpage). The above passage is central to the Catholic (as well as traditional Orthodox and Anglican) argument for this concept. I was just “hanging out” today and the next, more specific, additional argument came to my mind (I love it when this happens!).

This is, in my opinion, a further argument for the infallible authority of the Church, which in turn becomes one of many biblical arguments against the man-made Protestant tradition which is its rule of faith: sola Scriptura, which denies the infallibility of the Church and of tradition and reserves it only to Scripture.

This argument has to do with How? ‘Or’ What Matthias was chosen. Now is the time to replace Judas as apostle, so what do the original eleven remaining disciples / apostles To do? Somehow they reduced the candidates to two men: Barsabbas and Matthias. So this “first step” procedure was a purely human selection, just as Catholics (through high-ranking cardinals) vote for a pope or how many Christian denominations have votes for the president and so on.

They then appeal directly to God, to make known his will for the person who He ” chose “. We assume in passing that the choice has already been made by God and that it is a function of his providence and the supreme and ultimate rule of his Church (Peter and the popes being the human rulers).

In fact, it was Peter above who initiated this process, and did so by quoting the Old Testament scriptures. But of course this scripture was of no use in choosing the man ordained by God for the job. It had to come from a direct word from God: an answer to prayer. Thus, by its very nature, this is an “unbiblical” procedure.

The process of choosing the “new” apostle was not obtained by applying sola Scriptura. He came, rather, by the authority of the Church and the direct direction of God (what we call special revelation). And such divine guidance, I submit, must be infallible by its very nature (God cannot be mistaken, in his providence and his omniscience). Moreover, they did not simply collectively discern what they believed to be God’s answer in prayer. they throw many, and this method selected Matthias, and was thought to reflect God’s infallible choice.

One article noted that the great Anglican evangelist John Wesley cast lots to make important decisions, and Baptists in particular were very uncomfortable with this. Ironically, he never mentions Acts 1:26, which is the explicitly biblical basis for this practice. Once again, therefore, without a doubt, these Baptist Protestants saw themselves as “biblical only” people, but seem to have overlooked the relevant biblical text.

The above passage in Acts 1 does not show the slightest disapproval of the lottery, through which the specific will of God would be known. Of course, if it was inherently wrong, the text would take note of it. Instead, we have eleven of Jesus’ original disciples, led by Peter, using this method to choose an apostle.

It was a God, after all, who struck Uzza on the spot for just trying to keep the ark of the covenant from falling to the ground. He reached out to stabilize him and was struck to death (2 Sam 6: 1-7; 1 Chr 13: 9-12). And in two incidents in the book of Acts, both involving Saint Peter, God or Peter speaking as a representative of Him, express divine disapproval without any ambiguity.

Acts 5: 1-11 tells the story of Ananias and Sapphira, who “sold an estate and…. . withdrew some of the produce, and brought back only a part, and laid it at the feet of the apostles ”(5: 1-2). Saint Peter described this as a “lie to the Holy Spirit” influenced by “Satan” (5: 3). Therefore, Ananias “fell and died” (5: 5), followed three hours later by his wife Sapphira (5: 7, 10).

The second incident involved Simon the ancient sorcerer, who wanted to pay the apostles money to receive the power to be able to lay hands on people so that they could receive the Holy Spirit (8: 9, 17-19). Saint Peter rebuked this in no uncertain terms:

Acts 8: 20-23 . . . “Your money perishes with you, because you thought you could get God’s gift with money! [21] You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. [22] Repent therefore of your wickedness and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intention of your heart will be forgiven you. [23] For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.

Both of these incidents involved false or unethical opinions or practices that were immediately judged: one of them with a judgment of death from God. Peter was at the center of the two. Therefore, it makes no sense to think that Peter would have missed something as inherently bad and mean as the Lost Cast: if indeed this has been a bad and inadmissible thing.

Peter does not show such awareness; nor was the larger account of Luke’s text, who had no qualms about condemning (through Peter’s words) the irregularities of Ananias, Sapphira and Simon. The Bible never shies away from exposing sinful actions, including, famously, Peter’s own error (three denials of the Lord). If Peter was wrong here, the inspired Bible certainly would. plain It was.

So we come back to the fundamental question of the lottery to determine who would replace Judas as the apostle. There are three choices to interpret it, at least it seems to me:

1) It was inherently bad. The argument I just made by analogy destroys that option, I think.

2) It was pure fluke or fluke. This is implausible because it goes against the expressed desire to make known the will of God and his providential control over the affairs of men. God has made his will known. Technically, in Christian theology it is nothing like a simple coincidence in the whole of things. I’m not saying God controls every roll of the dice in a Monopoly game, but in the “more important things”, He does.

3) It was a means for God to concretely express his will on the question of the choice of the replacement of Judas. This option alone makes sense, all things considered.

This being the case, it is also an infallible exercise of God-guided government in the Church. The apostles exercised infallible authority by casting lots, which revealed the infallible will of God. In a similar but not entirely analogous manner, the apostles and elders of the Council of Jerusalem exercised equally profound infallible and compelling authority and issued a decree that St. Paul proclaimed to everyone to keep (Acts 16: 4 ).

They had declared “that it has appeared good to the Holy Spirit and to us” (15:28), thus invoking a clearly infallible authority, for it came from the Holy Spirit, who is God.

The choice of Matthias is another example of infallible divine guidance, exercised by the authority of the Church and of those of authority in the Church, appointed by Jesus himself (the remaining eleven apostles) or by those eleven (Matthias ).

Anyway we look at it, it’s not a sola Scriptura rule of faith. It’s the furthest thing From this.


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Photo credit: Laurent OP (4-21-08). Stained glass window in St Mary’s Church in Buckland, depicting Matthias’ selection [Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license]


Summary: How the eleven apostles chose Judas’ successor, Matthias (by casting lots after asking for God’s guidance) provides a fascinating argument against sola Scriptura.



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