Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Manner the Twelve Choose Another Apostle in the New Testament


 Before the apostles do anything, Peter gives a little discourse about the need for a new apostle to replace Judas Iscariot and he ends with this:

21 Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us,
22 Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.
23 And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias.
24 And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen,
25 That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.
26 And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.  (Acts 1:21-26)

The lot process they used is an interesting one, as it gives us an indication of how the apostles operated. 

We might think this casting their lots was a matter of choosing a name out of a container, but that wasn’t it—that is chance.  What it was was every apostle gave a lot according to who he felt God had shown him was to be apostle.   (Everyone seems to think that the apostles “cast lots,” but the wording is very particular.  It is different from everywhere else.  It says “they gave forth their lots,” meaning they each had a choice and signified it with a token of some sort and “the lot fell upon Matthias” shows the unity of those choices.)

This wasn’t a situation where majority rules.  This was a case where unanimous rules.  They had to be united, just like their testimonies had to be united.  If it were merely a choice by man, there would be all sorts of opinions, but they needed God to show them, ALL of them, who God chose, therefore there could only be one answer.

I also notice they studied the matter out first, and they got their best options as far as that went.  Peter discussed the necessity of calling a new apostle and how it must be one who could be a witness of the resurrection and they chose two men who could fill that requirement.

Then they prayed for revelation to know which one of those two men God had chosen.  I suppose that if they got no answer either way, they would have gone back to considering candidates again.

The neat thing is that the Lord doesn’t confine this confirming testimony to just the apostles.  He will give it to other members as well.  We can receive it about prophets, apostles, other general authorities, stake presidents, bishops, and so on.  Just last year our stake had a new stake presidency appointed and during the meeting as the new stake president spoke, I received a confirming witness he was called of God.  It wasn’t a dramatic rushing wind, rather it was the Spirit saying at the back of my mind, “Yes, this is the new stake president.”