Matthias, only a bishop?

This thread is to discuss whether Matthias is really an Apostle as some believe or if he is merely the first bishop created by the new church. Both Scripture and the Church teach that there are twelve Apostles. In fact it is accepted by all christianity that there are twelve Apostles. There is more agreement on that matter than there is on the Trinity.

I contend that there are twelve Apostles and they consist of the eleven original plus St. Paul. I contend the evidence from scripture is overwhelming in favor of Paul. I contend thast neither Judas nor Matthias were Apostles. Judas was called to be one but he washed out and never completed the training. He lacked the authority to consecrate the Eucharist as well as the authority to forgive sin as the authority to do these was not given until after Judas left the Last Supper and assumed his role as a traitor. If Matthias assumes Judas’ ministry he is berift of this essential authority. Also Peter in Acts 1 states that Judas’ line of succession is desolate and no one will occupy it. He also call for someone to fill the office of bishop that was to be Judas’ but because of his death is vacant. Scripture is very clear that this is the office of bishop and not that of Apostle by using the Greek word episkope and not some form of the word apostolos. Matthias is never called an apostle in scripture but Paul is called an apostle no less than 13 times.

So come on in and join the discussion.

Aren’t Barnabas and Timothy called Apostles? Wouldn’t that then make 14?

And when is Judas called “Apostle in Training”? I thought, prior to Jesus’ death and Resurrection, that Matthew and the Synoptics all list The Twelve as “Apostles”… not “Apostle Novitiates”, but “Apostles”.

Sorry, but I don’t have time right now to be online, brother. I will be able to pursue this later tonight, however.

There were 12 original Apostles. The Word apostle mean one who is sent out. in light of that, in additon to the 11 ( after Judas optided out) the 11 choose Matthis to replace him as a apostle and Christ choose Paul as well. A Bishop today is sucessor to the apostles and i guess could be called by that title as well

I am reminded of the famous Prof Joad ( who would have replied:
It all depends on what you mean by apostle.

Paul considered himself an apostle and in the basilica of St John Lateran there are statues of the 12 apostles including Peter and Paul.

When I was in school Matthias use to cause hilarity as the Bible read “and he lot fell on Matthias” and our class used to imagine a load of something being thrown over Matthias.

Acts 1:26 - ‘And they drew lots for them, and the lot fell to Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles.’

Catechism of the Catholic Church


857 The Church is apostolic because she is founded on the apostles, in three ways:

  • she was and remains built on "the foundation of the Apostles,"362 The witnesses chosen and sent on mission by Christ himself;363
  • with the help of the Spirit dwelling in her, the Church keeps and hands on the teaching,364 The “good deposit,” the salutary words she has heard from the apostles;365
  • she continues to be taught, sanctified, and guided by the apostles until Christ’s return, through their successors in pastoral office: the college of bishops, “assisted by priests, in union with the successor of Peter, the Church’s supreme pastor”

The church teaches there are only twelve apostles. Para 869 of the Catechism states:

“The Church is apostolic. She is built on a lasting foundation: “the twelve apostles of the Lamb” (Rev 21:14). She is indestructible (cf. Mt 16:18). She is upheld infallibly in the truth: Christ governs her through Peter and the other apostles, who are present in their successors, the Pope and the college of bishops.”

When used, the term Apostle can have two meanings. Literally it can mean anyone who is sent or in its specific meaning it means those twelve people picked by Jesus to be the heirarchy of the church. It is in the latter meaning that the church says there are only twelve apostles. But there are fourteen candidates. Eleven are not contested. Judas, Matthias and Paul are. I say the twelfth apostle is Paul. Paul is the only one that scripture calls an Apostle. Judas is mentioned as an apostle only once in the gospel of Matthew. [Mt 10] where the names of the twelve selected by Jesus are first mentioned. I call Judas an Apostle in training because the Apostles were not ‘‘sent’’ until Mt 28:19-20. But by then Judas was already dead. Judas was never sent as were the other eleven. He therefore withdraws himself from the apostleship that could have been his.

Please read the posts in the other thread entitled about the ECF’s. Also I have learned that I am apparently not alone in my position although I was not aware of it until now but I am told that Scott Hahn, professor of theology at Steubenville Franciscan University and also St. Vincent College and seminary has the same opinion. I will have to research that more.

The problem here is that scripture never calls Matthias an apostle. BUT scripture has no problem calling Paul an apostle as it does so no less than 13 times. Now since both scripture and the Church both state unequivically that there are only 12 apostles we got to decide who is and who is not an apostle. As for me I don’t have to be told twice, let alone thirteen times, I am going with scripture and saying Paul is that twelfth apostle not Matthias. Matthias is a bishop, nothing more. Peter himself calls for someone to fill the office that Judas vacated. That office was not of an Apostle. The Greek word that is translated as ‘office’ is the word episkope and that word is used elsewhere in scripture to mean the office of bishop [See 1Ti 3:1]. Peter never called for anyone to replace Judas as an Apostle. In fact Peter says Judas’ house or his line of succession would be desolate and no one would occupy it.

I find plenty of references to 12 apostles, but where do you see **ONLY **12 apostles?

Do you see any other number linked to apostles? The Catechism states in Para 191the following:

“191 These three parts are distinct although connected with one another. According to a comparison often used by the Fathers, we call them articles. Indeed, just as in our bodily members there are certain articulations which distinguish and separate them, so too in this profession of faith, the name articles has justly and rightly been given to the truths we must believe particularly and distinctly.” In accordance with an ancient tradition, already attested to by St. Ambrose, it is also customary to reckon the articles of the Creed as twelve, thus symbolizing the fullness of the apostolic faith by the number of the apostles.

Then there is para 865 which quotes Revelation 21:14:

"865 The Church is ultimately one, holy, catholic, and apostolic in her deepest and ultimate identity, because it is in her that “the Kingdom of heaven,” the “Reign of God,” already exists and will be fulfilled at the end of time. The kingdom has come in the person of Christ and grows mysteriously in the hearts of those incorporated into him, until its full eschatological manifestation. Then all those he has redeemed and made “holy and blameless before him in love,” will be gathered together as the one People of God, the “Bride of the Lamb,” “the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God.” For "the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb."

St. Paul calls himself an apostle, but nowhere does he claim to be one of the 12 or equal to the other Apostles.

P.S. - Acts 1:26 is Scripture. :wink:

I have followed your conversations on this matter with interest. I think that your arguments are solid at the very least…If you are correct, it would seem that apostles are chosen by Christ himself, whereas the bishops/successors are then chosen by the apostles.

Now the possible chink in this line of argumentation (and definition of apostle) is that the entire point of the twelve apostles was to bring about the end of the exile and reassemble the scattered tribes into a New Israel. I’m not entirely certain how rigidly Jesus followed this, but I am curious if he followed a tribe-to-tribe correspondence with each apostle. If he did, either Paul or Matthias would have to be the same tribe as Judas to be an apostle. Another problem is that if we follow the definition that an apostle has to be chosen by Christ, it could be argued that Matthias falls in that category due to the fact that the apostles did not lay hands on him for a succession, but rather drew lots and prayed for the Holy Spirit to aid in their decision. Also, the parallelism of the language stating that Judas was “numbered among us,” combined with saying Matthias was “numbered among the eleven” seems to imply apostleship, making Matthias’ future successor a bishop, not Matthias himself.

The apocryphal “Acts of Peter and the Twelve” implies that early Christian understanding is that Matthias is an apostle, for what that’s worth.

After reading the passage in Acts carefully, honestly I think either side can be right. Matthias may be a bishop, or he may be an apostle, because the wording of the passage allows either understanding. the “ministry of apostleship” can mean that he is becoming an apostle, or it could mean that as bishop he is taking that ministry up. I honestly don’t feel it can be stated definitively either way. Interesting topic though, you have me wanting to look more deeply into it, although based off my prior objections, I am leaning toward Matthias being an apostle. Perhaps you could elaborate how you feel that him being an apostle is detrimental to the belief in succesion?

The word apostle means one who is sent. Specifically it refers to those men selected and sent by Jesus. Judas was selected by Christ but he never lived to be sent. Matthias was neither selected nor sent. Paul was both selected and sent [See Acts 9:15]. As for today we don’t use the word apostle for those who are sent. Instead we use the word missionary which comes from the Latin word mittere meaning to emit, to send forth.

Also the apostles did not select Matthias to replace Judas as an apostle. Matthias was selected to be a bishop. That is abundantly clear in Peter’s words in Acts 1:20"

“For it is written in the book of Psalms, ‘Let his habitation become desolate, and let there be no one to live in it’; and **‘His office let another take.’” **
The word office there is the Greek word episkope and it means “office of bishop.” Older translations such as the KJV or Douay-Rheims are even clearer. They have that same verse as:

"For it is written in the book of Psalms: Let their habitation become desolate, and let there be none to dwell therein. And his bishopric let another take’’.

Matthias was elected to be a bishop and nothing more.

Can anyone tell me what “numbered among” something means? I always thought that it meant “is one of” a group.

Evidently, I’m wrong… unless someone can help clarify.

I think the clincher for me is that 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 says that Jesus appeared to the “twelve,” which did not include Judas. Bishopric is where the word bishop came from, but it still means exactly that: office, so I’m not sure that’s an incredibly strong argument.

  1. Acts 1:21-23 - ‘So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when He was taken up from us’

St. Paul does not fit this description.

  1. Acts 15:25 - St. Paul is not listed as an Apostle, nor is he treated as one during the Council of Jerusalem.

Well I don’t agree with you when you say, “… the entire point of the twelve apostles was to bring about the end of the exile and reassemble the scattered tribes into a New Israel.”
Like WOW where did that come forom??? All of the original apostles were from Galilee and apparently Matthias was too [See Acts 2:7]. In addition among the apostles were sibling brothers [James and John, Peter and Andrew]. Were these brothers from different tribes? How could that be? So I have to reject that novel argument.

As for being selected and sent by Jesus I don’t think Jesus needs any help in selecting and sending forth anyone. Read what Christ tells Anani’as in Acts 9:15:

"But the Lord said to him [Anani’as], "Go, for he [Paul] is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; [Acts 9:15 RSV]

Seems clear that Paul is selected and sent by Jesus to me.

Actually it’s not a novel argument at all, and I was careful to state that I was unaware whether Jesus followed a one-to-one correspondence, or took a more lax, symbolic route.
It could be he went through the mother’s lineage for one and the father’s lineage for another, wich would possibly cancel your objection anyway, although I am not too concerned with this particular issue of strict one-to-one tribal correspondence. For an excellent treatment of this, Read Dr. Brant Pitre’s Jesus and the Tribulation: the end of the exile and the origin of the atonement, or Dr. Scott Hahn’s treatment of the gospel of Luke.

If you read through the prophets, a major concern of the Messiah was to reunite the twelve tribes that had been scattered. If you don’t understand this Jewish background you will not understand the majority of what Jesus accomplishes in fulfilling prophecy. If we conclude that Paul is an apostle, however, 1 Corinthians 15, Paul’s own writing, makes clear that he does not number himself among the twelve. Since they are not the twelve bishops, but the twelve apostles, it would appear that you need to broaden your terms a bit.

It means something similar to saying what something appears to be not what it is. Notice verse 26 in Acts 1 where Matthias was numbered [enrolled or counted] with the eleven apostles. Why are there still eleven Apostles after Matthias is elected? If he is an apostle should there not be now twelve apostles. Notice also that at no time is the term “twelve Apostles” used after Pentecost. Instead the term “the twelve” is used [See Acts 6:2] or in Acts 2:14 we find:

"But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words.”

But at no time is the word apostles applied to the twelve.

Since there are at least two and possibly 3 sets of brothers among the Twelve (Peter and Andrew, James and John, and possibly James, Jude, Simon and Levi), I think it is safe to say that Jesus did not choose one Apostle from each of the 12 Tribes. (10 of the 12 had effectively vanished by the first century, anyway).

We now return you to your previously entered argument . . .

Yes, my only possible retort to this is that it is possible that Jesus was following the lineage of the mother for one and the father for the other. The twelve tribes were scattered, but the gospel of Luke makes reference to characters descended from lost tribes. At any rate, as stated before, I am not too worried about one-to-one correspondence, simply because there is absolutely no way to know, and I’m not fond of dogmatic over-speculation. Point duly noted, however.

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