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New King James
Acts 1:26

And they cast their lots, and the lot fell on Matthias. And he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

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- Nave's Topical Bible - Apostles;   Church;   Lot, the;   Matthias;   Minister, Christian;   Scofield Reference Index - Bible Prayers;   Thompson Chain Reference - Apostles;   Casting Lots;   Christ;   Disciples;   Leaders;   Lots, Casting;   Matthias;   Religious;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Ministers;   Providence of God, the;  


- American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Apostle;   Barsabas;   Lots;   Matthias;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Elder;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Apostle;   Elect, Election;   Magic;   Mission;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Commentary;   Ministerial Call;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Divination;   Lot;   Peter;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Lot (2);   Matthias;   Urim and Thummim;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Acts;   Barnabas;   Church;   Disciples;   Lots;   Matthias;   Ordination, Ordain;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Decision;   Mark, Gospel According to;   Peter;   Prayer;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Apostles;   Atonement (2);   Joseph ;   Lots;   Ordination;   Seventy (2);   Surname;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Lots, Casting;   Matthias ;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Matthias;   Theophilus;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Apostle;   Chief parables and miracles in the bible;   Lot;   Matthew;   Matthias;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Matthi'as;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Apostle;   Lot;   Synods;  


- International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Apostle;   Augury;   Bishop;   Church Government;   Decision;   Divide;   Eleven, the;   Joseph Barsabbas;   Matthias;   Peter, Simon;   Thessalonica;   Kitto Biblical Cyclopedia - Apostle;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Lots;  

Parallel Translations

The Amplified Bible
And they drew lots [between the two], and the lot fell on Matthias; and he was added to and counted with the eleven apostles (special messengers).

The Complete Jewish Bible
Then they drew lots to decide between the two, and the lot fell to Mattityahu. So he was added to the eleven emissaries.

American Standard Version
And they gave lots for them; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

Bible in Basic English
And they put it to the decision of chance, and the decision was given for Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven Apostles.

English Revised Version
And they gave lots for them; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

Contemporary English Version
They drew names, and Matthias was chosen to join the group of the eleven apostles.

English Standard Version
And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

Easy-to-Read Version
Then the apostles used lots to choose one of the two men. The lots showed that Matthias was the one that the Lord wanted. So he became an apostle with the other eleven.

The Geneva Bible (1587)
Then they gaue foorth their lottes: and the lotte fell on Matthias, and hee was by a common consent counted with the eleuen Apostles.

George Lamsa Translation of the Peshitta
Then they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Mat-thi'as; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

The Bishop's Bible (1568)
And they gaue foorth their lottes, & the lot fell vpon Matthias, and he was counted with the eleuen Apostles.

Darby's Translation
And they gave lots on them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

King James Version (1611)
And they gaue foorth their lots, and the lot fell vpon Matthias, and hee was numbred with the eleuen Apostles.

New Revised Standard
And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles.

Douay-Rheims Bible
And they gave them lot, and the lot fell upon Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

New Century Version
Then they used lots to choose between them, and the lots showed that Matthias was the one. So he became an apostle with the other eleven.

James Murdock Translation of the Peshitta
And they cast lots, and it came upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven legates.

Wesley's New Testament (1755)
And they gave forth their lots, and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

Good News Translation
Then they drew lots to choose between the two men, and the one chosen was Matthias, who was added to the group of eleven apostles.

Holman Christian Standard
Then they cast lots for them, and the lot fell to Matthias. So he was numbered with the 11 apostles.

Miles Coverdale Bible (1535)
And they gaue forth the lottes ouer them, and the lot fell vpon Mathias. And he was counted with the eleuen Apostles.

Mace New Testament (1729)
and having drawn lots; the lot fell upon Matthias, who was added to the eleven apostles.

J.P. Green Literal Translation
And they gave their lots. And the lot fell on Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

New Living Translation
Then they cast lots, and in this way Matthias was chosen and became an apostle with the other eleven.

New International Version
Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.

King James Version
And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

New American Standard Version
And they drew lots for them, and the lot fell to Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles.

New Life Version
Then they drew names and the name of Matthias was chosen. He became one with the eleven missionaries.

Hebrew Names Version
They drew lots for them, and the lot fell on Mattityah, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

International Standard Version
So they drew lots for them, and when the lot fell on Matthias, he was added to the eleven apostles.

John Etheridge Translation of the Peshitta
And they cast the lots, and it came up unto Mathia; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

The Emphasised Bible
And they gave lots for them; and the lot fell upon Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

Revised Standard Version
And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthi'as; and he was enrolled with the eleven apostles.

Tyndale Bible
And they gave forthe their lottes and the lot fell on Mathias and he was counted with the eleven Apostles.

Updated Bible Version 1.9
And they gave lots for them; and the lot fell on Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

The Webster Bible
And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

World English Bible
They drew lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

Weymouth New Testament
Then they drew lots between them. The lot fell on Matthias, and a place among the eleven Apostles was voted to him.

The Wycliffe Bible (1395)
And thei yauen lottis to hem, and the lot felde on Mathie; and he was noumbrid with enleuen apostlis.

Young's Literal Translation
and they gave their lots, and the lot fell upon Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

The Message
They then drew straws. Matthias won and was counted in with the eleven apostles.

Lexham English Bible
And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was added to serve´╗┐*The words "to serve" are not in the Greek text, but are implied with the eleven apostles.

Contextual Overview

15And 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; 17for 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. 19And 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, 22beginning 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." 23And they proposed two: Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. 24And they prayed and said, "You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen

Verse Review

Treasury of Scripure Knowledge

And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.
13:19; Leviticus 16:8; Joshua 18:10; 1 Samuel 14:41,42; 1 Chronicles 24:5; Proverbs 16:22; Jonah 1:7


Genesis 1:2
The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

Genesis 1:4
And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness.

Genesis 1:6
Then God said, "Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters."

Genesis 1:8
And God called the firmament Heaven. So the evening and the morning were the second day.

Genesis 1:9
Then God said, "Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear"; and it was so.

Genesis 1:20
Then God said, "Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens."

Genesis 1:24
Then God said, "Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth, each according to its kind"; and it was so.

Genesis 1:28
Then God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth."

Genesis 1:29
And God said, "See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food.

Genesis 3:22
Then the LORD God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever"--

Gill's Notes on the Bible

And they gave forth their lots,.... Or "gave forth lots for them", as the Vulgate Latin and Ethiopic versions; for Joseph and Matthias; some for one, and some for another; and which were cast into a man's lap, or into a vessel, and was no other than balloting for them; and so he that had the majority upon casting them up, when taken out, was declared the person chosen; or "they cast their lots"; that is, into an urn, or vessel; which lots had the names of the two persons on them; and into another vessel, as is thought, were put two other lots; the one had the name of "apostle" upon it, and the other nothing; and these being taken out by persons appointed for that purpose, the lot with Matthias's name on it, was taken out against that which had the name of apostle on it, upon which he was declared to be the apostle: it may be that this was done in the same manner, as the goats on the day of atonement had lots cast on them, Leviticus 16:8 which the Jews say was thus performed: there was a vessel which they call "Kalphi", set in the court, into which two lots, which were made of wood, or stone, or metal, were put; the one had written on it, for Jehovah, and on the other was written, "for the scapegoat"; the two goats being, the one at the right hand of the priest, and the other at the left; the priest shook the vessel, and with his two hands took out the two lots, and laid the lots on the two goats; the right on that which was at his right hand, and the left on that which was at his left; and so the goat which had the lot put upon him, on which was written, "for the Lord", was killed; and that which had the other lot, on which was written, for the scapegoat, was presented alive; so the lot here is said to fall upon Matthias: or the lots being cast into the vessel, as above related, these two drew them out themselves; and Matthias taking out that which had the word apostle on it, the lot fell on him: the manner of Moses's choosing the seventy elders, is said to be this:

"Moses took seventy two papers, and on seventy of them he wrote, זקן, "an elder"; and upon two, חלק, "a part"; and he chose six out of every tribe, and there were seventy two; he said unto them, take your papers out of the vessel; he into whose hand came up "an elder" (i.e. the paper on which it was so written) he was sanctified (or set apart to the office); and he, in whose hand came up "a part" (the paper that had that on it), to him he said, the Lord does not delight in thee.

And the lot fell upon Matthias; that is, either he had the largest number for him, their minds being so disposed by the providence of God; and it may be, contrary to the first thoughts and general sense of the body; since Joseph is mentioned first, and was a man of great character, and of many names and titles; but God, who knows the hearts: of men, and can turn them as he pleases, and to whom they sought for direction, inclined their minds to vote for the latter; or it was so ordered by divine providence, that in the casting or drawing the lots, the lot of the apostleship should fall on him:

and he was numbered with the eleven apostles; either chosen by the common suffrages of the people, as the word used signifies; or rather, he took his place among the apostles; he was registered among them, and ever after was reckoned one of them; Beza's ancient copy reads, "with the twelve apostles", their number being now complete,

Barnes' Notes on the Bible

And they gave forth their lots - Some have supposed that this means they voted. But to this interpretation there are insuperable objections:

1.The word “lots,” κλήρους klērousis not used to express votes, or suffrage.

2.The expression “the lot fell upon” is not consistent with the notion of voting. It is commonly expressive of casting lots.

3.Casting lots was common among the Jews on important and difficult occasions, and it was natural that the apostles should resort to it in this.

Thus, David divided the priests by lot, 1 Chronicles 24:5. The land of Canaan was divided by lot, Numbers 26:55; Joshua 16:1-10; 1 Samuel 14:41-42. Achan was detected by lot, Joshua 7:16-18. In these instances the use of the lot was regarded as a solemn appeal to God for his direct interference in cases which they could not themselves decide. Proverbs 16:33, “the lot is cast into the lap, but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord.” The choice of an apostle was an event of the same kind, and was regarded as a solemn appeal to God for his direction and guidance in a case which the apostles could not determine. The manner in which this was done is not certainly known. The common mode of casting lots was to write the names of the persons on pieces of stone, wood, etc., and put them in one urn, and the name of the office, portion, etc., on others.

These were then placed in an urn with other pieces of stone, etc., which were blank. The names were then drawn at random, and also the other pieces, and this settled the case. The casting of a lot is determined by laws of nature as regularly as anything else. There is properly no chance in it. We do not know how a die may turn up; but this does not imply that it will turn up without any regard to rule, or at haphazard. We cannot trace the influences which may determine either this or that side to come up; but it is done by regular and proper laws, and according to the circumstances of position, force, etc., in which it is cast. Still, although it does not imply any special or miraculous interposition of Providence; though it may not be absolutely wrong, in cases which cannot otherwise be determined, to use the lot, yet it does not follow that it is proper often to make this appeal.

Almost all cases of doubt can be determined more satisfactorily in some other way than by the lot. The habit of appealing to it engenders the love of hazards and of games; leads to heart-burnings, to jealousies, to envy, to strife, and to dishonesty. Still less does the example of the apostles authorize games of hazard, or lotteries, which are positively evil, and attended with ruinous consequences, apart from any inquiry about the lawfulness of the lot. They either originate in, or promote covetousness, neglect of regular industry, envy, jealousy, disappointment, dissipation, bankruptcy, falsehood, and despair. What is gained by one is lost by another, and both the gain and the loss promote some of the worst passions of man boasting, triumph, self-confidence, indolence, dissipation, on the one hand; and envy, disappointment, sullenness, desire of revenge, remorse, and ruin on the other. God intended that man should live by sober toil. All departures from this great law of our social existence lead to ruin.

Their lots - The lots which were to decide their case. They are called theirs, because they were to determine which of them should be called to the apostolic office.

The lot fell - This is an expression applicable to casting lots, not to voting.

He was numbered - By the casting of the lot, συγκατεψηφίζη sugkatepsēphisthēThis word is from ψῆφος psēphos- a calculus, or pebble, by which votes were given or lots were cast. It means, that by the result of the lot he was reckoned as an apostle. Nothing further is related of Matthias in the New Testament. Where he labored, and when and where he died, is unknown; nor is there any tradition on which reliance is to be placed. The election of Matthias, however, throws some light on the organization of the church.

1. He was chosen to fill the place vacated by Judas, and for a specific purpose, to be a witness of the resurrection of Christ. There is no mention of any other design. It was not to ordain men exclusively, or to rule over the churches, but to be a witness to an important fact.

2. There is no intimation that it was designed that there should be successors to the apostles in the special duties of the apostolic office. The election was for a definite object, and was therefore temporary. It was to fill up the number originally appointed by Christ. When the purpose for which he was appointed was accomplished, the special part of the apostolic work ceased of course.

3. There could be no succession in future ages to the special apostolic office. They were to be witnesses of the work of Christ, and when the desired effect resulting from such a witnessing was accomplished, the office itself would cease. Hence, there is no record that after this the church even pretended to appoint successors to the apostles, and hence, no ministers of the gospel can now pretend to be their successors in the unique and original design of the appointment of the apostles.

4. The only other apostle mentioned in the New Testament is the apostle Paul, not appointed as the successor of the others, not with any special design except to be an apostle to the Gentiles, as the others were to the Jews, and appointed for the same end, to testify that Jesus Christ was alive, and that he had seen him after he rose, 1 Corinthians 15:8; 1 Corinthians 9:1, 1 Corinthians 9:15; Acts 22:8-9, Acts 22:14-15; Acts 26:17-18. The ministers of religion, therefore, are successors of the apostles, not in their special office as witnesses, but as preachers of the Word, and as appointed to establish, to organize, to edify, and to rule the churches. The unique work of the apostleship ceased with their death. The ordinary work of the ministry, which they held in common with all others who preach the gospel, will continue to the end of time.

Clarke's Notes on the Bible

They gave forth their lots - In what manner this or any other question was decided by lot, we cannot precisely say. The most simple form was to put two stones, pieces of board, metal, or slips of parchment, with the names of the persons inscribed on them, into an urn; and after prayer, sacrifice, etc., to put in the hand and draw out one of the lots, and then the case was decided. I have considered this subject at large on Leviticus 16:8, Leviticus 16:9; and Joshua 14:2.

He was numbered with the eleven apostles - The word συγκατεψηφισθη, comes from συν, together with, κατα, according to, and ψηφος, a pebble or small stone, used for lots, and as a means of enumeration among the Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians; hence the words calculate, calculation, etc., from calculus, a small stone or pebble. From this use of the word, though it signifies in general to sum up, associate, etc., we may conjecture that the calculus or pebble was used on this occasion. The brethren agreed that the matter should be determined by lot; the lots were cast into the urn; God was entreated to direct the choice; one drew out a lot; the person whose name was inscribed on it was thereby declared to be the object of God's choice, and accordingly associated with the disciples. But it is possible that the whole was decided by what we commonly call ballot, God inclining the hearts of the majority to ballot for Matthias. Nothing certain can, however, be stated on this head. Thus the number twelve was made up, that these might be the fountains under God of the whole Christian Church, as the twelve sons of Jacob had been of the Jewish Church. For it has already been remarked that our Lord formed his Church on the model of the Jewish. See the notes on John 17:1, etc. As the Holy Ghost, on the day of pentecost, was to descend upon them and endue them with power from on high, it was necessary that the number twelve should be filled up previously, that the newly elected person might also be made partaker of the heavenly gift. How long it was found necessary to keep up the number twelve, we are not informed: the original number was soon broken by persecution and death.

On the death of Judas there is a great diversity of opinion among learned men and divines.

  1. It is supposed, following the bare letter of the text, that Judas hanged himself, and that, the rope breaking, he fell down, was burst with the fall, and thus his bowels gushed out.
  • That, having hanged himself, he was thrown on the dunghill, and, the carcass becoming putrid, the abdomen, which soonest yields to putrefaction burst, and the bowels were thus shed from the body, and possibly torn out by dogs.
  • That, being filled with horror and despair, he went to the top of the house, or to some eminences and threw himself down; and thus, failing headlong, his body was broken by the fall, and his bowels gushed out.
  • That Satan, having entered into him, caught him up in the air, and thence precipitated him to the earth; and thus, his body being broken to pieces, his bowels gushed out. This is Dr. Lightfoot's opinion, and has been noticed on Matthew 27:5.
  • Others think that he died or was suffocated through excessive grief; and that thus the terms in the text, and in Matthew 27:5, are to be understood. The late Mr. Wakefield defends this meaning with great learning and ingenuity.
  • Others suppose the expressions to be figurative: Judas having been highly exalted, in being an apostle, and even the purse-bearer to his Lord and brother disciples, by his treason forfeited this honor, and is represented as falling from a state of the highest dignity into the lowest infamy, and then dying through excessive grief. The Rev. John Jones, in his Illustrations of the four Gospels, sums up this opinion thus: "So sensible became the traitor of the distinguished rank which he forfeited, and of the deep disgrace into which he precipitated himself, by betraying his Master, that he was seized with such violent grief as occasioned the rupture of his bowels, and ended in suffocation and death." P. 571.
  • After the most mature consideration of this subject, on which I hesitated to form an opinion in the note on Matthew 27:5, I think the following observations may lead to a proper knowledge of the most probable state of the case.
    1. Judas, like many others, thought that the kingdom of the Messiah would be a secular kingdom; and that his own secular interests must be promoted by his attachment to Christ. Of this mind all the disciples seem to have been, previously to the resurrection of Christ.
  • From long observation of his Master's conduct, he was now convinced that he intended to erect no such kingdom; and that consequently the expectations which he had built on the contrary supposition must be ultimately disappointed.
  • Being poor and covetous, and finding there was no likelihood of his profiting by being a disciple of Christ, he formed the resolution (probably at the instigation of the chief priests) of betraying him for a sum of money sufficient to purchase a small inheritance, on which he had already cast his eye.
  • Well knowing the uncontrollable power of his Master, he might take it for granted that, though betrayed, he would extricate himself from their hands; and that they would not be capable of putting him either to pain or death.
  • That having betrayed him, and finding that he did not exert his power to deliver himself out of the hands of the Jews, and seeing, from their implacable malice, that the murder of his most innocent Master was likely to be the consequence, he was struck with deep compunction at his own conduct, went to the chief priests, confessed his own profligacy, proclaimed the innocence of his Master, and returned the money for which he had betrayed him; probably hoping that they might be thus influenced to proceed no farther in this unprincipled business, and immediately dismiss Christ.
  • Finding that this made no impression upon them, from their own words, What is that to us? See thou to that, and that they were determined to put Jesus to death, seized with horror at his crime and its consequences, the remorse and agitation of his mind produced a violent dysentery, attended with powerful inflammation; (which, in a great variety of cases, has been brought on by strong mental agitation); and while the distressful irritation of his bowels obliged him to withdraw for relief, he was overwhelmed with grief and affliction, and, having fallen from the seat, his bowels were found to have gushed out, through the strong spasmodic affections with which the disease was accompanied. I have known cases of this kind, where the bowels appeared to come literally away by piece meal.
  • Now; when we consider that the word απηγξατο, Matthew 27:5, which we translate hanged himself, is by the very best critics thus rendered, was choked, and that the words of the sacred historian in this place, falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out, may be no other than a delicate mode of expressing the circumstance to which I have alluded under observation 6, perhaps this way of reconciling and explaining the evangelist and historian will appear, not only probable, but the most likely. To strengthen this interpretation, a few facts may be adduced of deaths brought about in the same way with that in which I suppose Judas to have perished. The death of Jehoram is thus related, 2 Chronicles 21:18, 2 Chronicles 21:19; : And after all this, the Lord smote him in his bowels with an incurable disease: and it came to pass that, after the end of two years, His Bowels Fell Out, by reason of his sickness; so he died of sore diseases; בתחלאים bethachaluim, with inflammations, or ulcers. The death of Herod was probably of the same kind, Acts 12:23. That of Aristobulus, as described by Josephus, War, book i. chap. 3, is of a similar nature. Having murdered his mother and brother, his mind was greatly terrified, and his bowels being torn with excruciating torments, he voided much blood, and died in miserable agonies. Again, in his Antiq. book xv. chap. 10., sect. 3, he thus describes the death of Zenodorus: "His bowels bursting, and his strength exhausted by the loss of much blood, he died at Antioch in Syria."

    Taking it for granted that the death of Judas was probably such as related above, collating all the facts and evidences together, can any hope be formed that he died within the reach of mercy? Let us review the whole of these transactions.

      I. It must be allowed that his crime was one of the most inexcusable ever committed by man: nevertheless, it has some alleviations.

  • It is possible that he did not think his Master could be hurt by the Jews.
  • When he found that he did not use his power to extricate himself from their hands, he deeply relented that he had betrayed him.
  • He gave every evidence of the sincerity of his repentance, by going openly to the Jewish rulers:
  • (1.) Confessing his own guilt;

    (2.) asserting the innocence of Christ;

    (3.) returning the money which he had received from them; and there

    (4.) the genuineness of his regret was proved by its being the cause of his death. But,

      II. Judas might have acted a much worse part than he did:

  • By persisting in his wickedness.
  • By slandering the character of our Lord both to the Jewish rulers and to the Romans; and, had he done so, his testimony would have been credited, and our Lord would then have been put to death as a malefactor, on the testimony of one of his own disciples; and thus the character of Christ and his Gospel must have suffered extremely in the sight of the world, and these very circumstances would have been pleaded against the authenticity of the Christian religion by every infidel in all succeeding ages. And,
  • Had he persisted in his evil way, he might have lighted such a flame of persecution against the infant cause of Christianity as must, without the intervention of God, have ended in its total destruction: now, he neither did, nor endeavored to do, any of these things. In other cases these would be powerful pleadings.
  • Judas was indisputably a bad man; but he might have been worse: we may plainly see that there were depths of wickedness to which he might have proceeded, and which were prevented by his repentance. Thus things appear to stand previously to his end. But is there any room for hope in his death? In answer to this it must be understood,
    1. That there is presumptive evidence that he did not destroy himself; and,
  • That his repentance was sincere.
  • If so, was it not possible for the mercy of God to extend even to his case? It did so to the murderers of the Son of God; and they were certainly worse men (strange as this assertion may appear) than Judas. Even he gave them the fullest proof of Christ's innocence: their buying the field with the money Judas threw down was the full proof of it; and yet, with every convincing evidence before them, they crucified our Lord. They excited Judas to betray his Master, and crucified him when they had got him into their power; and therefore St. Stephen calls them both the betrayers and murderers of that Just One, Acts 7:52; : in these respects they were more deeply criminal than Judas himself; yet even to those very betrayers and murderers Peter preaches repentance, with the promise of remission of sins, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, Acts 3:12-26.

    If, then, these were within the reach of mercy, and we are informed that a great company of the priests became obedient to the faith, Acts 6:7, then certainly Judas was not in such a state as precluded the possibility of his salvation. Surely the blood of the covenant could wash out even his stain, as it did that more deeply engrained one of the other betrayers and murderers of the Lord Jesus.

    Should the 25th verse be urged against this possibility, because it is there said that Judas fell from his ministry and apostleship, that he might go to his own place, and that this place is hell; I answer,

    1. It remains to be proved that this place means hell; and,
  • It is not clear that the words are spoken of Judas at all, but of Matthias: his own place meaning that vacancy in the apostolate to which he was then elected. See the note on Acts 1:25.
  • To say that the repentance of Judas was merely the effect of his horror; that it did not spring from compunction of heart; that it was legal, and not evangelical, etc., etc., is saying what none can with propriety say, but God himself, who searches the heart. What renders his case most desperate are the words of our Lord, Matthew 26:24; : Wo unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! It had been good for that man if he had not been born! I have considered this saying in a general point of view in my note on Matthew 26:24; and, were it not a proverbial form of speech among the Jews, to express the state of any flagrant transgressor, I should be led to apply it in all its literal import to the case of Judas, as I have done, in the above note, to the case of any damned soul; but when I find that it was a proverbial saying, and that it has been used in many cases where the fixing of the irreversible doom of a sinner is not implied, it may be capable of a more favorable interpretation than what is generally given to it. I shall produce a few of those examples from Schoettgen, to which I have referred in my note on Matthew 26:24.

    In Chagigah, fol. ii. 2, it is said: "Whoever considers these four things, it would have been better for him had he never come into the world, viz. That which is above - that which is below - that which is before - and that which is behind; and whosoever does not attend to the honor of his Creator, it were better for him had he never been born."

    In Shemoth Rabba, sect. 40, fol. 135, 1, 2, it is said: "Whosoever knows the law, and does not do it, it had been better for him had he never come into the world."

    In Viyikra Rabba, sect. 36, fol. 179, 4, and Midrash Coheleth, fol. 91, 4, it is thus expressed: "It were better for him had he never been created; and it would have been better for him had he been strangled in the womb, and never have seen the light of this world."

    In Sohar Genes. fol. 71, col. 282, it is said: "If any man be parsimonious towards the poor, it had been better for him had he never came into the world." Ibid. fol. 84, col. 333: "If any performs the law, not for the sake of the law, it were good for that man had he never been created." These examples sufficiently prove that this was a common proverb, and is used with a great variety and latitude of meaning, and seems intended to show that the case of such and such persons was not only very deplorable, but extremely dangerous; but does not imply the positive impossibility either of their repentance or salvation.

    The utmost that can be said for the case of Judas is this he committed a heinous act of sin and ingratitude; but he repented, and did what he could to undo his wicked act: he had committed the sin unto death, i.e. a sin that involves the death of the body; but who can say (if mercy was offered to Christ's murderers, and the Gospel was first to be preached at Jerusalem that these very murderers might have the first offer of salvation through him whom they had pierced) that the same mercy could not be extended to the wretched Judas? I contend that the chief priests, etc., who instigated Judas to deliver up his Master, and who crucified him - and who crucified him too as a malefactor - having at the same time the most indubitable evidence of his innocence, were worse men than Judas Iscariot himself; and that, if mercy was extended to those, the wretched penitent traitor did not die out of the reach of the yearning of its bowels. And I contend, farther, that there is no positive evidence of the final damnation of Judas in the sacred text.

    I hope it will not displease the humane reader that I have entered so deeply into the consideration of this most deplorable case. I would not set up knowingly any plea against the claims of justice; and God forbid that a sinner should be found capable of pleading against the cries of mercy in behalf of a fellow culprit! Daily, innumerable cases occur of persons who are betraying the cause of God, and selling, in effect, Christ and their souls for money. Every covetous man, who is living for this world alone, is of this stamp. And yet, while they live, we do not despair of their salvation, though they are continually repeating the sin of Judas, with all its guilt and punishment before their eyes! Reader! learn from thy Lord this lesson, Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. The case is before the Judge, and the Judge of all the earth will do right.

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    Lectionary Calendar
    Monday, September 16th, 2019
    the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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