Matthias in the Bible
Do you know what happened to Matthias in the Bible? The 13th apostle, no?
Well, don’t feel bad. He’s a pretty minor character. But his story is interesting nonetheless. In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at Matthias’ life and what he represents in the Bible. Join us as we explore his story and find out what became of him.
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He seems to disappear after his appointment by the apostles to replace Judas Iscariot. Some theologians argue he died soon afterward while others say he may have traveled and preached the gospel. Let’s explore some of the theories!
Story of Saint Mathias
Saint Matthias is not mentioned among Jesus’ disciples or followers in the three synoptic gospels, yet he was with Jesus from his baptism by John until his ascension, according to Acts. In the days that followed, Peter proposed to the gathering disciples, who numbered around 120, that they designate two persons to take Judas’ place.
They chose Matthias and Joseph called Barsabas (whose surname was Justus). “Thou, the Lord, who knowest all [men’s] hearts, search whether of these two thou hast chosen, that he may take share in this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he may go to his place,” they prayed. (Acts 1:24; Acts 1:25)
Then they drew lots, and Matthias’ lot fell to him, thus he was counted among the eleven apostles.
The canonical New Testament contains no further information concerning Matthias.
Even his name is ambiguous: the Syriac version of Eusebius refers to him everywhere as “Tolmai,” never to be confused with Bartholomew (which means Son of Tolmai), one of the twelve original Apostles; Clement of Alexandria mentions Zacchaeus once in a way that could be interpreted as implying that some identified him with Matthias; the Clementine Recognitions identify him with Barnabas; Adolf Bernhard Christoph Hilgenfeld believes
Life as a Disciple
One of the benefits of being a disciple of a well-known rabbi was that one might learn not only from his words but also from his way of life. Matthias was moved by the Master’s message and his compassion for people seeking recovery.
Many of the masses left when the message became contentious, returning to their villages, but Matthias stayed with him, admitting that no other teacher had a better grasp of the truth than the Nazarene.
As “the Twelve” had time alone with the Master, he may have gone home to see his family at times, but he was committed to the Master wherever he led.
One of the most difficult times in his life occurred just over three years after he first met Jesus.
The Master had enraged the Jewish leaders by proclaiming himself to be the “Son of God” and disobeying the Sabbath laws. As a result, Jesus was captured and put to death as a heretic and seditionist.
Matthias, along with the majority of the disciples, fled from the Jews, terrified that the Master’s followers would be the next to perish.
However, news from the eleven reached the others on the first day of the week following the execution. Jesus had risen from the dead, precisely as he had predicted.
For the next forty days, he joined the small audience of roughly 120 people who had assembled to listen to the Master once more. Three years of study were recapped in six weeks at the seminars in the Judean hills, which were jam-packed with wise words.
After forty days, Jesus instructed them to go forth into the world, far beyond Judea, and tell people about what God had done and was doing. Then Jesus told them to stay in Jerusalem for ten days to receive a special anointing.
While little is known about Matthias, he was there throughout Jesus’ ministry, from his baptism by John the Baptist to the Resurrection and Ascension. Matthias was a firsthand witness to these events, and as a result, he was qualified for candidacy as an Apostle.
Selected as an Apostle
While they were waiting for the Feast of Weeks to arrive, Simon Peter proposed the core group. The head Apostle was concerned about the odd number of apostles present. There needed to be twelve unique leaders since Jesus had prophesied that the Kingdom would have “twelve thrones.”
Peter talked about how long ago David predicted the one who would become Judas. He reminded them of a passage from the Book of Psalms in which they would require a replacement.
Matthias was proposed for the role, along with Joseph Justus, whom they dubbed Barsabbas. He recalled that another man, well-known for his family (he was the son of Tsabas), had given up all to follow Jesus.
They had both joined the disciples at around the same time. These two men were equally qualified out of over a hundred disciples. It came down to a secret ballot called the “lot” to decide the winner (Aramaic: Purim).
Everyone voting had a black and a white stone, similar to the Urim and Thummim used by the high priest to determine God’s will. Each candidate was given a color and was instructed to put one of their stones into the box after praying. Then, with the light-to-dark ratio undetermined, someone reached inside the box and pulled out a single stone.
Matthias and Barsabas held their breath as the chosen mediator between God and man were employed to disclose God’s will, possibly each hoping the other would get the job. Matthias’ stone was taken out and displayed to the rest of the party. Matthias was now a member of the Apostles’ Council.
Matthias is said to have ministered and propagated the Gospel with the other apostles in Jerusalem and Judaea after the Descent of the Holy Spirit, according to tradition.
He traveled from Jerusalem to Syria’s Antioch, where he was prominent in Tianium and Sinope. Saint Matthias was imprisoned during his time here but was miraculously released by Saint Andrew the First-Called. After that, he proceeded to Amasea, which was located on the Caspian Sea’s shore.
He traveled with Apostle Andrew for three years and was present at Edessa and Sebaste. He is said to have preached in Pontine Ethiopia (now Western Georgia) and Macedonia, according to legend. The people there persecuted him frequently, yet he continued to preach the Gospel to them.
The Pontine Ethiopians were thought to be pagans and barbarians in one version of the narrative, and they compelled the saint to swallow poison.
But, since he was protected by the Lord, he was unharmed, and he even treated other inmates who had been blinded by the poison.
The pagans were outraged when Saint Matthias escaped from prison, and they continued to look for him in vain.
They planned to assassinate the saint, but the earth opened up and swallowed them all, according to legend.
He then went to Judaea and began to educate his people about Christ’s teachings.
He also told them about how he was able to accomplish miracles in the name of the Lord Jesus, which inspired many others to believe in him.
This incensed Ananias, the Jewish High Priest, who despised Christ. He had already ordered the assassination of Apostle James and had now decided to detain Matthias.
The saint was brought before the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem for judgment. During the hearing, High Priest Ananias made a profane speech against the Lord.
However, Apostle Matthias argued that Jesus Christ is “the True God, the prophesied Messiah, the Son of God, Consubstantial and Coeternal with God the Father,” citing Old Testament predictions.
In the 11th century, the feast of Saint Matthias was added to the Roman Calendar and is commemorated on the sixth day of March (24 February usually, but 25 February in leap years).
Matthias’ feast was moved to 14 May after the revision of the General Roman Calendar in 1969, so that it would not be celebrated during Lent but rather during Eastertide, close to the Solemnity of the Ascension, the event after which the Acts of the Apostles recounts Matthias’ selection to be ranked among the Twelve Apostles.
On August 9, the Eastern Rites of the Eastern Orthodox Church commemorate his feast.
However, the Orthodox Church’s Western Rite parishes continue to celebrate the ancient Roman Rite on February 24 and 25.
Matthias is commemorated on February 24th in the Church of England’s Book of Common Prayer, as well as other older Anglican Communion common prayer books.
Matthias is commemorated in the Church of England with a Festival on 14 May, according to the modern Common Worship liturgy, though he can also be commemorated on 24 February if preferred.
His feast day is February 24 in the Episcopal Church and various Lutheran churches, including the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod and the Lutheran Church–Canada. Matthias’ feast day is 14 May in Evangelical Lutheran Worship, which is used by both the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.
Empress Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine I (the Great), is said to have carried St Matthias the Apostle’s relics to Italy; part of the relics would be placed in the Abbey of Santa Giustina, Padua, and the rest in the Abbey of St. Matthias, Trier, Germany. According to Greek sources, the apostle’s remains are buried at Georgia’s Gonio-Apsaros fortress.
How Did Matthias Die, his Death & Legacy
Saint Matthias was stoned to death in Ethiopia, according to Nicephorus (modern-day Georgia). This narrative is supported by an existent Coptic “Acts of Andrew and Matthias.”
According to a plaque built on the remnants of the Roman fortification at Gonia, the saint is buried there. A similar story is also mentioned in Dorotheus’ Synopsis.
It reports that Matthias was preaching the Gospel near Hyssus’ sea harbor and at the Phasis River’s mouth.
He died near the Temple of the Sun in Sebastopolis and was buried there.
According to another legend, the inhabitants of Jerusalem stoned Saint Matthias after he offended Ananias.
To hide their crime, the Jews decapitated him after his death.
His assassins then labeled him Caesar’s foe.
The saint died in old age in Jerusalem, according to Hippolytus of Rome. Empress Helena, Emperor Constantine I’s mother, is supposed to have taken the saint’s remains to Italy.
The Abbey of Santa Giustina received a portion of the relics, while the Abbey of St. Matthias received the remainder.
The feast of Saint Matthias is observed on the 14th of May in the Latin Church and on the 9th of August in the Greek Church.
Matthias, which signifies the “gift of God,” was chosen as one of the twelve Apostles to replace Judas. According to the Acts of the Apostles, he was also one of the 72 disciples sent out by Jesus to proclaim the gospel.
According to St. Peter in Acts, Matthias had been with the Lord since His baptism and was “a witness to Christ’s Resurrection.” He stayed by Jesus’ side till His Ascension.
Matthias evangelized at Cappadocia, Jerusalem, the Caspian Sea coasts (modern-day Turkey), and Ethiopia, according to several stories. He is reported to have been crucified in Colchis or stoned to death in Jerusalem.
There are indications among some early Christians that a Gospel according to Matthias was in circulation, but it has since been lost, and Pope Gelasius considered it apocryphal.