In the very first verse of Romans Paul identifies himself as an Apostle. Throughout his letters he re-iterates and supports his claim to Apostleship.
If Paul was an Apostle, what does that make Matthias, who was chosen by the other eleven Apostles as the Apostle to replace Judas (before Paul’s conversion)? There are two choices:
1) Matthias was indeed the chosen replacement for Judas, or
2) Paul was the chosen replacement and not Matthias.
Perspective One: Matthias was the chosen replacement:
When Judas Iscariot defected and died unfaithfully, the twelve apostles became eleven. During the forty days time from Jesus resurrection until his ascension to heaven, Jesus did not appoint another apostle to fill the vacancy left by Judas. We read about it in Acts 1:1-13
(Act 1:1) The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach,
(Act 1:2) until the day when He was taken up to heaven, after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen.
(Act 1:3) To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God.
(Act 1:4) Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me;
(Act 1:5) for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
(Act 1:9) And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.
(Act 1:12) Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away.
(Act 1:13) When they had entered the city, they went up to the upper room where they were staying; that is, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas the son of James.
Starting in Acts 2:1 the account of the Holy Spirit being given to the disciples at Pentecost is recorded. During the ten days between the ascension (Acts 1:3) and Pentecost (Acts 2:1), Peter concludes based on two OT scripture sets that another be selected to fill Judas’ place because of Judas’ defection:
(Act 1:20) “For it is written in the book of Psalms, ‘LET HIS HOMESTEAD BE MADE DESOLATE, AND LET NO ONE DWELL IN IT’; and, ‘LET ANOTHER MAN TAKE HIS OFFICE.’
The words are a combination of Psa. 69:25 and Psa. 109:8; in which the apostle discerns a greater than David, and a worse than Ahithophel and his fellow conspirators against David.
(Psa 69:25) May their camp be desolate; May none dwell in their tents.
(Psa 109:8) Let his days be few; Let another take his office.
Acts 1:11 lists 11 Apostles, Judas not being named among them. In vs 15-26, Peter presents the argument for filling Judas’ position with another choice, Barsabas or Matthias. The two criterion Peter identifies they must look for is that:
• He must have been personally conversant with Jesus from John the Baptist onward, (by implication an eye witness of his works and miracles and a knowledge of his teachings)
• He must have been an eyewitness of Jesus’ resurrection,
After specifically asking the Lord to direct the decision Matthias was chosen. (Act 1:24-26)
(Act 1:24) And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all men, show which one of these two You have chosen
(Act 1:25) to occupy this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.”
(Act 1:26) And they drew lots for them, and the lot fell to Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles.
Matthias is included with the other eleven and received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost along with the other apostles and the many others. He was involved with the appointment of the seven deacons in Acts 6:1-3.
(Act 6:1) Now at this time while the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint arose on the part of the Hellenistic Jews against the native Hebrews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily serving of food.
(Act 6:2) So the twelve summoned the congregation of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables.
(Act 6:3) “Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task.
And Matthias was counted in the twelve by Paul and Matthias witnessed the Lord Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances. I Cor. 15:3-8
(1Co 15:3) For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
(1Co 15:4) and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,
(1Co 15:5) and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.
(Technically, this event happened before Matthias was chosen; which means that the phrase, “The twelve” was a name they called the collection of the Apostles and not referring to a literal number of twelve.)
Judas Iscariot was dead, so who are the twelve? Paul has to be referring to Matthias. Paul can’t be referring to himself because he wasn’t even chosen yet. Paul confirms this as we keep reading…
(1Co 15:6) After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep;
(1Co 15:7) then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles;
(1Co 15:8) and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.
Why does Paul make a distinction between “the twelve” in vs 5 and “the apostles” in vs. 7?
Paul uses the term “apostles” more broadly than just the original twelve and himself. We read in
(Rom 16:7) Greet Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners, who are outstanding among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.
So Matthias became the twelfth. Quoting from “Aid to Bible Understanding” we read, “After his selection he was reckoned along with the other eleven apostles by the congregation and when Acts immediately thereafter speaks of ‘the apostles’ or ‘the twelve,’ Matthias was included. Acts 2:37, 43: 4:33, 36; 5:12, 29; 6:2, 6; 8:1, 14; 9:27”
Perspective Two: Paul was the chosen replacement
In Luke chapter six (6) we have the account of the Lord Jesus choosing the twelve. It is important to note that Jesus made the choice and not the twelve. They did not nominate or appoint themselves as his apostles.
(Lk 6:12) It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God.
(Lk 6:13) And when day came, He called His disciples to Him and chose twelve of them, whom He also named as apostles:
(Lk 6:14) Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James and John; and Philip and Bartholomew;
(Lk 6:15) and Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot;
(Luk 6:16) Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.
We are told elsewhere that it was Jesus’ choice.
(Joh 6:70) Jesus answered them, “Did I Myself not choose you, the twelve, and yet one of you is a devil?”
(Joh 15:16) “You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.
(Act 1:1) The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach
(Act 1:2) until the day when He was taken up to heaven, after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen.
Jesus quietly ignored the vote of the eleven and made his own choice for the successor of Judas; Jesus chose Paul. How do we know this?
Paul’s Calling / Choosing
Starting in Acts 9 we have the account of Paul’s:
• pursuit of Christians to bring them to trial in Jerusalem,
• encounter with the Lord,
• loss of his vision,
• encounter with Ananias,
• witnessing to his Jewish brethren about Christ causing him to be persecuted,
• fleeing to Jerusalem and being rejected out of fear by the Christian believers there,
• how Barnabas intercedes on Paul’s behalf,
• run-in wtith the Jerusalem Jews and their desire to kill him, and
• being sent to Tarsus by his Christian Brethren.
In the account of Ananias’s encounter with Paul we read how Ananias feared Paul, and rightly so. But notice what the Lord Jesus said to Ananias to settle his fear. (Act 9:15-16)
(Act 9:15) But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel;
(Act 9:16) for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.”
So after the Book of Acts, which records the conversion of Paul, we come, in our Scriptures to the very next book, the book of Romans, written by Paul. We know Paul wrote the book by the introduction of his letter to the Roman brethren. Romans 1:1-7
While we know that Paul was the author of Romans, technically, he did not write it himself, but it was scribed for him by Tertius. We know this because Tertius himself, tells us in (Rom 16:22) I, Tertius, who write this letter, greet you in the Lord.
So, in the first book by Paul in our canon of Scripture Paul confirms the Lord Jesus’ choice and states three times he is an apostle. (Rom. 1:1; 1:5; 11:13)
(Rom 1:1) Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,
(Rom 1:5) through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake,
(Rom 11:13) But I am speaking to you who are Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle of Gentiles, I magnify my ministry,
Paul elsewhere in three separate letters states that he was called by Christ to be an apostle. (I Tim. 2:5-7; 2 Tim. 1:10-12; and 1 Cor. 1:1; 9:1)
I Tim. 2:5-7
(1Ti 2:5) For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,
(1Ti 2:6) who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time.
(1Ti 2:7) For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying) as a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.
2 Tim. 1:10-12
(2Ti 1:10) but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,
(2Ti 1:11) for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher.
(2Ti 1:12) For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.
1 Cor. 1:1; 9:1
(1Co 1:1) Paul, called as an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,
(1Co 9:1) Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord?
Remember in Acts 1:16-22 the two criterion Peter identifies they must look for in their replacement choice was that:
1. He must have been personally conversant with Jesus from John the Baptist onward, (by implication an eye witness of his works and miracles and a knowledge of his teachings)
Paul met this criteria. He was an eye witness of the works of Jesus. He was a first hand witness of the transforming work of Christ in a life and the miracle of the fruitage such a life bears. (Jn. 15: 4,5,8)
(Joh 15:4) “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.
(Joh 15:5) “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.
(Joh 15:8) “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.
He witnessed firsthand and participated in the martyrdom of Stephen the deacon. This witness of Stephen, the fruitage of Stephen’s association with Christ, so affected Paul that he would later write (1Co 15:9) “For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.”
The very thing that Stephen saw, exclaimed, and was killed for,
(Act 7:56) and he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
Paul saw himself and it was to this visible presence and audible voice Paul, ever afterward, bore witness.
As to having a firsthand knowledge of Jesus’ teachings Paul would later write:
(Gal 1:1) Paul, an apostle (not sent from men nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead),
(Gal 1:11) For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man.
(Gal 1:12) For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.
As to the second criteria Peter identified…
2. He must be an eyewitness of his resurrection,
Paul states in (1Co 9:1) Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord?
Paul did indeed meet the criterion outlined by Peter.
1) Paul repeatedly made the point that he was chosen by the Lord Jesus on the road to Damascus. Three times his conversion is recorded in the scriptures:
a) The original account by Luke in Acts 9
b) His defense before the crowd at Jerusalem in Acts 22:6-16
c) His defense before King Agrippa in Caesarea in Acts 26:10-18
2) The testimony of Paul’s life indicates that he was not only one of the twelve apostles, but that he was preeminent to God’s honor and glory.
Paul never doubted his apostleship, made clear his claim to it, and asserted it when his apostleship was challenged. Nineteen times Paul calls himself an apostle and asserts his claim as such. Paul, a devout Jew who once vehemently opposed and persecuted Christians, was chosen by the very Leader of the ones he persecuted. He now became vehemently opposed by his own people, the Jews, and he worked diligently the rest of his life to support and strengthen the Christians and convert the Jews.
So, now it is up to you to search the scriptures and determine in your own mind whether it will be Matthias’ name or Paul’s name on the twelfth foundation stone in the holy New Jerusalem as stated in
(Rev 21:14) And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
I personally conclude that the Lord Jesus chose Paul and not Matthias.