Thursday, August 16, 2012

Story from church history: Matthias refuses to deny Christ (AD 70)

Matthias was the alternate apostle. He was chosen to fill the vacancy among the Twelve created by Judas’s betrayal and abrupt departure (Acts 1:23-26).

Based on the requirement that each of the candidates had to meet – a long association with Jesus as a disciple – it is almost certain that Matthias was one of the seventy evangelists the Lord sent out (Luke 10:1). He was a witness to the full scope of Jesus’ ministry.

After his appointment in the first chapter of Acts, Matthias is not mentioned by name again in the New Testament. But neither are most of the original twelve disciples. Luke based his account in Acts of the development of the early church primarily on the ministry of Peter and then Paul.

For Matthias’s role, we rely on the general participation by the Twelve in the affairs of the church in Jerusalem, and we also turn to the various accounts from tradition that include Matthias. As one of the apostles, he was under the public pressure of persecution that broke out when Saul and others decided they needed to stamp out the followers of Jesus.

Matthias was one of those apostles whose missionary assignment took him north. Even Sebastopol (present day Sevastopol) on the northern side of the Black Sea is frequently mentioned as one of his destinations.

Eventually, Matthias appears to have made his way back to Jerusalem, where he was stoned to death. Some say he would not sacrifice to the god Jupiter. Others state he was hung on a cross, stoned and then beheaded with an ax for the blasphemy he had committed against God, Moses and the law.

When Matthias would not deny Christ, he is believed to have said, “Thy blood be upon thy head, for thine own mouth hath spoken against thee.”

Excerpted from Foxe: Voices of the Martyrs, written by John Foxe and The Voice of the Martyrs. In Canada, you can order a copy of this book from our online catalogue.

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