Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen:
As we reach the day of the Ascension the apostles whom Jesus had chosen are standing with him. Now this becomes very interesting in light of Christian traditions verses God’s Word. Let’s begin with the apostles Jesus had chosen.
And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles;
After a night of prayer Jesus selected twelve of his disciples and named them apostles. The Greek word translated apostle is apostolos and literally means “a sent one”. It is made up of two Greek words, apo, which means ‘out from’ and stello, which means ‘to send’. These are the men that Jesus has chosen to send out to the nation of Israel. Not just to those who are in the land but also to the dispersia.
An interesting point that traditional Christianity has difficulty accepting is that on the day of the Ascension Judas Iscariot is standing with the other eleven apostles and Jesus Christ.
And Judas the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot, which also was the traitor.
Judas Iscariot is listed among those Jesus has chosen to be apostles. God in His foreknowledge knows that Judas will betray His son, here in Luke Judas is even identified as the traitor. Yet God still has Judas selected by Jesus to be an apostle which gives to Judas a much cherished position at the feet of Jesus.
Later, after Judas has taken his own life, he is replaced by a man who meets the standard Jesus declared was necessary to be one of these apostles.
And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.
In order to be the witness Jesus trained, an apostle was required to be with him from the beginning of his ministry. Why is this important to understand? This is important to us because it shows us that the apostles were trained by Jesus to minister to Israel. Jesus came to minister to Israel, to confirm the promises made unto their fathers and how to minister to Israel is what he taught his apostles.
Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 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. And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen, That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place. And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.
The twelve apostles needed to be with Jesus from the beginning of his ministry because the twelve apostles were being sent to the nation of Israel and ultimately would judge Israel.
And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
Sometime between the Ascension and the Day of Pentecost Peter stands up among the disciples to deal with replacing Judas and they choose Matthias. Why would they have waited so long to replace Judas if he had killed himself at the time of the crucifixion? If indeed Judas had died at the time of the crucifixion why wouldn’t Jesus have chosen the replacement for Judas during the forty days he was among the apostles and disciples? Jesus didn’t pick the replacement for Judas because Judas didn’t die until after the Ascension.
1 Corinthians 15:3-5
For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:
Tradition teaches us that Judas died before Jesus Christ was crucified but here in Corinthians we read that he appeared unto the twelve. How could he appear to the twelve if Judas is dead and Matthias isn’t selected to replace him until after the Ascension?
Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen.
Tradition also teaches us that there are only eleven here because Judas had already hanged himself. But again tradition and the words of God have a conflict.
But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.
It was Thomas that was missing when Jesus appeared to the eleven and that means that Judas was still there are after the resurrection of Jesus.
And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.
After the Ascension the apostles are standing there and two angels address them, “Ye men of Galilee”. At this point in time Judas has left, presumably to take his own life. We can tell this because Judas was the only apostle that was not from Galilee. Judas was from Kerioth which is east of the Jordan River.
In verse two the apostles Jesus had chosen where all there but by verse eleven only those who were from Galilee are present. Judas then has to walk away sometime between verse 2 and verse 11. Then the others replaced Judas within the ten days between the Ascension and Pentecost because Judas had just recently died. And how did Judas die? The traditional teaching is that he hanged himself.
Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.
This is not generally what happens to a person who has been hung. It is however what happens to a person that falls on a sword. Judas took his own life, after the Ascension of Jesus, by falling on a sword.
Surely after spending forty days with Jesus after his resurrection Judas should have seen the forgiveness of God that was available to him! Surely after spending forty days with Jesus after his resurrection Judas should have seen that God still loved him! Why then did he take his own life? It’s an answer that I cannot provide because I know of nowhere in God’s Word that gives this answer. And it’s not for me to guess at what Judas was thinking and feeling in his heart. I can imagine what Judas felt like but that is only my imagination.
There are those who like to say, “If it’s new, it ain’t true”. They use this saying concerning administrations, meaning that administrations are something that has only been seen by theologians for the last few hundred years. But Covenant Theology has been the focus of theologians and Bible scholars since the second or third century. Therefore Covenant Theology is right and administrations are a lie or a distortion of God’s Word.
Judas dying at the time of the crucifixion by hanging himself has been the traditional position of the Church just as long as the tradition of Covenant Theology. However tradition is no guarantee for Truth whether we are talking about Judas, or the Day of Pentecost, or Administrations.
As I’ve said before, you do not study to find the faults in another person’s doctrine or logic. You study so you can rightly divide the Word of God, so that you can know the heart of God concerning your own life. Putting forth a diligent effort to know and follow the accuracy of God’s Word isn’t a game. No points are scored, no score is even kept. It isn’t a matter of who saw what first, or who can claim a greater hold on the Truth.
We study the words of God so that we can know the heart and will of our Heavenly Father. If a child of God sees something in God’s Word today that hasn’t been seen before, then we should be thankful and apply our new knowledge of God’s Word to our lives. It was the Pharisees that refused to see God’s Word because it cut across their traditions.