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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament


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Matthias (= Theodore, ‘God’s gift’) is only once mentioned in the NT, viz. Acts 1:23 ff., where his appointment by lot to fill the place of Judas among the Twelve Apostles is described. We there gather (1) that he was one of those who had ‘companied with’ the apostles ‘all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among’ them, ‘beginning from the baptism of John’ until the Ascension; (2) that he was antecedently the less prominent of the two put forward, his bare name only being given, while Joseph is further described by a patronymic ‘called Barsabbas,’ and also by a surname ‘Justus’ (δίκαιος); for, says Bengel, ‘eo cognomine videri poterat praeferri debere, nisi,’ as he justly adds ‘postea demum hoc cognomen nactus est ut agnosceret quamvis Matthias electus esset, ipsum tamen sua laude non excidisse’; and (3) that anyhow the Lord who is καρδιογνώστης unerringly declared him (ἀναδεῖξαι) the more suitable for the apostleship. In view of these considerations, it is a good illustration of Bible methods that no further mention of him occurs in its pages. Matthias is said by Eusebius (Historia Ecclesiastica (Eusebius, etc.) i. 12, ii. 1) and Epiphanius (Haer. i. 22) to have been one of the Seventy (Luke 10:1), and the former authority (Historia Ecclesiastica (Eusebius, etc.) iii. 25), as well as Origen (Hom. in Luc. i.), speaks of a spurious Gospel of Matthias, on which it seems likely that the Basilidian Gnostics based their teaching (Philos. vii. 20; Clem. Alex. Strom. iii. 4, vii. 13). One early tradition assigns Ethiopia as the scene of his apostolic labours, another Jerusalem; but of these the former is the better attested. There is little probability in the identification which has been suggested of Matthias with Nathanael (which means ‘God-given’). For a fuller discussion of this and other points the reader should refer to Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols) , s.v.

There can be little doubt that the exact method by which the lots were cast was the ancient one by which the two names were put into a vessel, which was shaken until one of them leapt out, and that was chosen: the idea of a ballot is of later date and not Scriptural (see Lots).

C. L. Feltoe.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Matthias'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. 1906-1918.

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Thursday, November 26th, 2020
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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