A MAN NAMED MATTHIAS
Mentioned specifically by name only twice in scripture, Matthias was nonetheless very important to the work of the early church. He was chosen by the Holy Spirit to take the place of Judas. His name means “gift of God,” quite a mantle of responsibility to wear. Profane history says that he evangelized north Africa and was put to death in Ethiopia. Of his specific works of ministry, as much is said of his apostolic work as that of Bartholomew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot. Yet, we know that he was qualified to be an apostle since he was so chosen. To be qualified, Matthias had to have accompanied the apostles since the public ministry of Christ around the time of His baptism (Acts 1:21) and witnessed His resurrection (Acts 1:22). Though we no nothing more of him than the briefest of mention in scripture and the scantest of anecdotal evidence from secular historians, we can draw some conclusions about the man named Matthias.
He believed in Jesus. Many disciples left Him when His teaching got difficult (cf. John 6:66ff). Matthias was able to endure the test of His death, and he was there after the resurrection.
His faith was rewarded. Surely being appointed an apostle had its share of burdens, including probable martyrdom. Yet, is it not implied that he would be among the honored and exalted for his work (cf. Matthew 19:28; Revelation 21:14—who would think that Christ would predict a throne of judgment for or John figuratively describe as on the wall of the heavenly city the name of Judas Iscariot?)? Faithful followers are assured a crown (cf. 2 Timothy 4:8; Revelation 2:10).
He was willing to serve. Scripture would have recorded it if Matthias had declined the apostolic appointment. The next verse (Acts 2:1) finds him with the other eleven in the place where the Holy Spirit descended upon them. He was preaching on Pentecost, too (cf. Acts 2:6,7,8), and helped those needed to know how to become Christians (Acts 2:37). He was imparting doctrine, being an apostle (Acts 2:42). He did wonders and signs (Acts 2:43). On an on, the book of Acts repeatedly and implicitly documents his activity as a special servant of Christ.
He was no less an apostle than the others. Sure, he was the last appointed. Obviously, no record of his specific works is contained in Scripture. Yet, as an apostle, he had an apostle’s authority (Acts 4:33; cf. Matthew 18:18), ability (Acts 5:12; 6:6), and adversity (Acts 5:17,40). Certainly, Paul, Peter, and John receive far more inspired notice, yet from that we should avoid a wrong conclusion. Every child of God who faithfully serves is as valuable to God as the most notable brothers and sisters among us! True Christians do not desire earthly status. As Paul points out, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men; knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve” (Colossians 3:23-24).
Let us appreciate the value of Matthias, and the Matthias’ who serve the Lord today, laboring unnoticed by and large, yet filled with faith and some day to be rewarded for their service.