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THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 1 - Verse 25
Verse 25. That he may take part of this ministry. The word rendered —klhron—is the same which in the next verse is rendered lots. It properly means a lot, or portion; the portion divided to a man, or assigned to him by casting lots; and also the instrument or means by which the lot is made. The former is its meaning here; the office, or portion of apostolic work which would fall to him by taking the place of Judas.
Ministry and apostleship. This is an instance of the figure of speech hendiadys, when two words are used to express one thing. It means the apostolic ministry. See instances in Ga 1:14, "Let them be for signs, and for seasons," i.e., signs of seasons. Ac 23:6, "Hope and resurrection of the dead," i.e., hope of the resurrection of the dead.
That he might go to his own place. These words by different interpreters have been referred both to Matthias and Judas. Those who refer them to Matthias say that they mean, that Judas fell that Matthias might go to his own place, that is, to a place for which he was fitted, or well qualified. But to this there are many objections.
(1.) The apostolic office could with no propriety be called, in reference to Matthias, his own place, until it was actually conferred on him.
(2.) There is no instance m which the expression, to go to his own place, is applied to a successor in office.
(3.) It is not true that the design or reason why Judas fell was to make way for another. He fell by his crimes; his avarice, his voluntary and enormous wickedness.
(4.) The former part of the sentence contains this sentiment: "Another must be appointed to this office which the death of Judas has made vacant. "If this expression, "that he might go," etc., refers to the successor of Judas, it expresses the same sentiment, but more obscurely.
(5.) The obvious and natural meaning of the phrase is to refer it to Judas. But those who suppose it to refer to Judas differ greatly about its meaning. Some suppose it refers to his own house; that he left the apostolic office to return to his own house; and they appeal to Nu 24:25.
But it is not true that Judas did this; nor is there the least proof that it was his design. Others refer it to the grave, as the place of man, where all must lie; and particularly as an ignominious place where Judas should lie. But there is no example of the word place being used in this sense; nor is there an instance where a man by being buried is said to return to his own, or proper place. Others have supposed that the manner of his death, by hanging, is referred to, as his own or his proper place. But this interpretation is evidently an unnatural and forced one. The word place cannot be applied to an act of self-murder. It denotes habitation, abode, situation in which to remain; not an act. These are the only interpretations which can be suggested of the passage, except the common and obvious one of referring it to the future abode of Judas in the world of woe. This might be said to be his own, as it was adapted to him; as he had prepared himself for it; and as it was proper that he who had betrayed his Lord should remain there. This interpretation may be defended by the following considerations:
(1.) It is the obvious and natural meaning of the words. It commends itself by its simplicity, and its evident connexion with the context. It has in all ages been the common interpretation; nor has any other been adopted unless there was a theory to be defended about future punishment. Unless men had previously made up their minds not to believe in future punishment, no one would ever have thought of any other interpretation. This fact alone throws strong light on the meaning of the passage.
(2.) It accords with the crimes of Judas, and with all that we know of him. The future doom of Judas was not unknown to the apostles. Jesus Christ had expressly declared this: "it had been good for that man if he had not been born;" a declaration which could not be true if, after any limited period of suffering, he were at last admitted to eternal happiness. See Mt 26:24, and See Barnes "Mt 26:24.
This declaration was made in the presence of the eleven apostles, at the institution of the Lord's Supper, at a time when their attention was absorbed in deep interest in what Christ said; and it was therefore a declaration which they would not be likely to forget. As they knew the fate of Judas, nothing was more natural for them than to speak of it familiarly as a thing which had actually occurred when he betrayed his Lord, hung himself, and went to his own place.
(3.) The expression, to "go to his own place," is one which is used by the ancient writers to denote going to the eternal destiny. Thus the Jewish tract, Baal Turim, on Nu 24:25, says, "Balaam went to his own place, i.e., to Gehenna," to hell. Thus the Targum, or Chaldee Paraphrase on Ec 6:6, says, "Although the days of a man's life were two thousand years, and he did not study the law, and do justice, in the day of his death his soul shall descend to hell, to the one place where all sinners go." Thus Ignatius in the Epistle to the Magnesians says, "Because all things have an end, the two things death and life shall lie down together, and each one shall go to his own place." The phrase his own place, means the place or abode which is fitted for him, which is his appropriate home. Judas was not in a place which befitted his character when he was an apostle; he was not in such a place in the church; he would not be in heaven. Hell was the only place which was fitted to the man of avarice and of treason. And if this be the true interpretation of this passage, then it follows,
(1,) that there will be such a thing as future, eternal punishment. One such man there certainly is in hell, and ever will be. If there is one there, for the same reason there may be others. All objections to the doctrine are removed by this single fact; and it cannot be true that all men will be saved.
(2.) Each individual in eternity will find his own proper place. Hell is not an arbitrary appointment. Every man will go to the place for which his character is fitted. The hypocrite is not fitted for heaven. The man of pride, and avarice, and pollution, and falsehood, is not fitted for heaven. The place adapted to such men is hell; and the design of the judgment will be to assign to each individual his proper abode in the eternal world.
(3.) The design of the judgment of the great day will be to assign to all the inhabitants of this world their proper place. It would not be fit that the holy and pure should dwell for ever in the same place with the unholy and impure; and the Lord Jesus will come to assign to each his appropriate eternal habitation.
(4.) The sinner will have no cause of complaint. If he is assigned to his proper place, he cannot complain. If he is unfit for heaven, he cannot complain that he is excluded. And if his character and feelings are such as make it proper that he should find his eternal abode among the enemies of God, then he must expect that a God of justice and equity will assign him such a doom. But
(5) this will not alleviate his pain; it will deepen his woe. He will have the eternal consciousness that that, and that only, is his place—the doom for which he is fitted. The prison is no less dreadful because a man is conscious that he deserves it. The gallows is not the less terrible, because the man knows that he deserves to die. And the eternal consciousness of the sinner that he is unfit for heaven; that there is not a solitary soul there with whom he could have sympathy or friendship; that he is fit for hell, and hell only, will be an ingredient of eternal bitterness in the cup of woe that awaits him. Let not the sinner, then, hope to escape; for God will assuredly appoint his residence in that world to which his character here is adapted.
The character and end of Judas is one of the most important and instructive in history. It teaches us,
He does no violence to their freedom, suffers them to act as they please, but brings important ends out of their conduct. One of the most conclusive arguments for the pure character of Jesus Christ is drawn from the silent testimony of Judas.
(2.) The character of Judas was eminently base and wicked. He was influenced by one of the worst human passions; and yet he cloaked it from all the apostles. It was remarkable that any man should have thought of making money in such a band of men; but avarice will show itself everywhere.
(3.) We see the effects of avarice in the church. It led to the betraying of Jesus Christ, and to his death; and it has often betrayed the cause of pure religion since. There is no single human passion that has done so much evil in the church of God as this. It may be consistent with external decency and order; it is that on which the world acts, and which it approves; and it may therefore be indulged without disgrace, while open and acknowledged vices would expose their possessors to shame and ruin. And yet it paralyzes and betrays religion probably more than any single propensity, of man.
(4.) The character of an avaricious man in the church will be developed. Opportunities will occur when it will be seen and known by what principle the man is influenced. So it was with Achan, (Jos 7:21;) so it was with Judas; and so it will be with all. Occasions will occur which will test the character, and show what manner of spirit a man is of. Every appeal to a man's benevolence, every call upon his charity, shows what spirit influences him, and whether he is actuated by the love of gold, or by the love of Jesus Christ and his cause.
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