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Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible


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MATTHIAS (‘gift of Jehovah’). The disciple who was nominated against Joseph Barsabbas (see Joseph [in NT], No. 6) and chosen to fill the place of Judas. Of his antecedents the NT records nothing beyond the fact that he had been a disciple from the beginning of the Lord’s ministry; and of his subsequent career it tells nothing whatsoever.

Tradition is more lavish of information. Matthias, it is said, had been one of the Seventy (cf. Luke 10:1 ), and he justified his election by evangelizing the savages of Ethiopia and writing two books a Gospel and a work entitled ‘Traditions’ ( Paradoseis ). From the latter Clement of Alexandria quotes two sayings: (1) ‘Wonder at the things before you’ (‘making this,’ he explains, ‘the first step to the knowledge beyond.’ Cf. Plato’s doctrine that wonder is the beginning of philosophy); (2) ‘If an elect man’s neighbour sin, the elect man has sinned.

It is thought by some that the election of Matthias was a blunder, due to the impetuosity of St. Peter; and there is reason for the opinion. (1) It was a hasty step. It was taken during the season when the disciples were waiting, according to the Lord’s command (Acts 1:4 ), for ‘the promise of the Father,’ the Baptism of the Spirit. (2) The method was objectionable. ( a ) The qualification required in the new Apostle was not a spiritual one: he must be a man who had been with Jesus all along. It was his lack of this qualification that made the Jewish Christians deny St. Paul’s Apostleship. ( b ) They prayed for guidance, and then, instead of trusting to Divine direction, they had recourse to the superstitious practice of casting lots a practice nowhere else observed in the Apostolic Church. Had they waited until they were endued with power from on high, they would have acted otherwise. As a matter of fact the election of Matthias was set aside by God. The true successor to the vacant office was St. Paul.

David Smith.

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Matthias'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. 1909.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, November 28th, 2020
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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