Tom: In this, our Understanding the Scriptures segment, we’re in the Book of Acts, we’re at Acts:1:12. “Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a Sabbath day’s journey. And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.”
Now, Dave, I can’t let that go by. Jesus had brethren? Growing up Roman Catholic, I was taught that Mary was a—not only a virgin, when she had Jesus, but she was a perpetual virgin. This doesn’t seem to….
Dave: Never had any more children.
Tom: Right. This doesn’t seem to square with that.
Dave: However, Matthew 1 says, “She brought forth her first-born.” So that’s ridiculous to say, to call Jesus the first born, unless there were others. If He were her only child, then you wouldn’t have to say that.
Also, you know, several times in the Scriptures it talks about His brethren. The Catholic Church tries to say they were cousins, but there is a Greek word for cousins and that’s not the one that’s used. This is the one for brethren. Why Mary must continue to be a virgin, that’s beyond my comprehension, because it simply is not in the Bible.
Tom: Well, they were all gathered together for a prayer meeting. That’s good.
Dave: Right. They’re out on the Mount of Olives, Jesus is taken up from them, and they see Him go. And the Scripture says, “This same Jesus, (we read that last week) that you’ve seen go into heaven shall so come in like manner.”
So, that means this is a visible return to the Mount of Olives, that’s the Second Coming. So they are encouraged. They probably think it’s going to be tomorrow, or the next day, and they don’t know what they are going endure. They will all be martyred for Christ’s sake as witnesses. And, so, “They return from the Mount of Olives to Jerusalem a Sabbath day’s journey.” I’m not sure why it says that. Was it on a Sabbath? I don’t know; we don’t have any dates given for us. But, it’s interesting that in Israel, today, although 30 percent of them claim to be atheists, they still somewhat follow the Sabbath. You know, Tom, in every hotel they have a Shabbat elevator where you don’t have to push any buttons even, it stops at every floor. The door opens automatically; you can walk out. So, you could walk a little bit. You could walk from Jerusalem up to the Mount of Olives, but no farther than that. And here we have the disciples now. They are waiting in prayer for the Holy Spirit to come upon them as Christ promised, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and some other women are there along with the brethren of Jesus.
Remember, in John 7, they’re going to the feast and His brethren, again, His brothers. Half-brothers, actually, say, “Well aren’t you going?” and it says, “They didn’t believe on Him.” Not at that point. And they said, “Come on, show them the miracles you can do.” But they have considerably more understanding now. They’re the true followers of Christ. But they’re not the apostles. And here they are.
“And in those days Peter (verse 15) stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of the names together were about an hundred and twenty,)…”
That’s kind of a little bit discouraging, isn’t it? I mean, you’ve got a hundred and twenty after Jesus has been on this earth for a number of years. He has not adopted church growth principles, apparently. He said He would build His church, but it’s only 120 faithful ones? After all the time and energy He has put into it?
Tom: And, Dave, even appearing to…doesn’t the Scripture say 500 or more?
Dave: That’s right. And some of them doubted. They didn’t even believe when He appeared. Remember in Matthew 7 and other places, the disciples ask Jesus, “Are there many? Is this going to be a popular movement, Lord? Are we going to have huge churches and it’s going to take over the world?”
And Jesus said, “Strive to enter in at the strait gate. Strait is the gate, narrow is the way that leadeth unto life, few there be that find it. Broad is the road that leads to destruction. Many there be that go in thereat.”
Tom: Dave, sometimes, as I thought about that verse, I was under the mistaken impression that maybe because, you know, there was some secret knowledge…or you know…so on. I’m talking about as a very young believer. But this is because few are willing.
Dave: Mmhmm. It’s up to the human being to receive or reject Christ. “As many as received him, to them he gave the authority to be the sons of God, even to those who believe on his name.”
So, it was not exactly a popular movement to begin with, and when you consider the persecution that followed, it wasn’t terribly popular.
“Men and brethren, (Peter is speaking) this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus. For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry.”
And he goes on, and talks about, “Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.”
Tom: Of course, this is Judas.
Dave: This is Judas. And it goes on to say, “And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood. For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick (that is his office, his position) let another take.”
So Peter is referring to the Scriptures, and he’s saying, “This is exactly what happened to Judas. It was all fulfilled in him.” He was the one who betrayed the Lord, and you read of that of course, as foretold in Zechariah, as well as elsewhere. And then he says, “Wherefore of these men which have companied with us 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.”
Rather interesting. Someone has to replace him. The way they went about it: “They appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias.”
Tom: Verse 24, “And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, show whether of these two thou has chosen. That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.”
Now, Dave, there’s a controversy around this.
Tom: Some say they missed it with their two candidates. That Paul should have been the guy. What do you think?
Dave: Well, of course, Paul was not a Christian yet. He was persecuting them and I think there could be more than twelve apostles, although it talks about the twelve apostles. They also say, “Well, wait a minute, this is rather strange, ‘They gave forth their lots.’” Now, I don’t know what that means. Did they vote? I don’t understand it. Did they roll the dice? I don’t think so. Did they draw straws? I don’t know. But it says the lot fell upon Matthias and he was numbered with the eleven apostles. So, whatever method they used for pointing out which one it would be, they trusted God that He would cause it to turn out. Now, some people say, well, they chose two guys Barsabas and Matthias, and Matthias was chosen. We never hear another word about Barsabas. Well, we don’t hear anything about Matthias either, very little. So, you can’t go by that. But anyway, he replaced Judas.
Tom: And, Dave, and to finish off this chapter, “And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.”
Dave: You know, the Bible doesn’t give us all the details of every apostle. We are told that Thomas, for example, went to India. And there are people down there who claim; you know, that their ancestors were converted through Thomas. I don’t know. We don’t know what happened to Matthias, what he did. I’m sure that all the apostles, they all died as martyrs. They all went forth to preach the gospel, and I’m sure they all had fruitful ministries, but the Bible follows a thread through only certain ones. Peter, we know much about him. Paul, we know the most about him. We know that Paul wrote most of the New Testament. The Book of Acts is basically more about Paul than about Peter.