The Nicene Creed says the church is “apostolic.” This is an assertion about the church’s doctrine and authority. The church’s doctrine comes from Christ as delivered through His commissioned Apostles. They were His authorized messengers, responsible for laying the church’s doctrinal foundation.
Our passage today reveals the fate of Judas Iscariot and how the church selected his replacement. Judas was so overcome with remorse after he betrayed Jesus that he committed suicide. First he tried to return the thirty pieces of silver he was paid to hand Jesus over. But the religious leaders who had paid him viewed the money as tainted and refused to accept it. Instead, they used the money to purchase a field that could be used to bury the destitute (see Matt. 27:5–10).
Peter cited Psalms 69:25 and 109:8 in support of the decision to replace Judas: “May another take his place of leadership” (v. 20). These were probably quoted by way of example rather than as explicit predictions. Peter’s description of the kind of person who should succeed Judas highlights a unique qualification. The candidate must have seen the risen Christ.
Two candidates were identified and the disciples cast lots. The process for this is not entirely clear. The Jewish custom was to write names on a stone and put them in a jar. The first name to fall out when it was shaken was chosen, a little like picking a name out of a hat. Some scholars believe that disciples cast ballots, more akin to voting. Whichever method was used, Peter’s prayer in verse 24 indicates that they did not see this as a popular election but as divine selection. They were seeking divine guidance (Prov. 16:33), and Matthias was chosen by God.
The work of administrating the church might feel dull or difficult. Can business meetings or human resources issues be spiritual work? Peter’s words remind us of the spiritual importance of such decisions. God cares about the life of the church, and we must seek God’s guidance no matter how mundane the decision may seem to be.