The First Reading for the seventh Sunday of Easter is written in the Acts of the Apostles and provides us with the most information on the fate of Judas Iscariot who must now be replaced. Time wise, this takes place between the Ascension and the Day of Pentecost. Peter is the speaker beginning in verse 16 and he uses the Psalms to make his case for adding another one to the rank of Apostle. Verses 16-17 are referencing Psalm 41:9 which has been quoted earlier by Jesus (John 13:18) and verse 20 quotes Psalm 69:25 and Psalm 109:8. Obviously, the Apostles considered the Psalms to be inspired Scripture and authoritative.

Again, the focus of the text is the replacing of Judas. It is interesting to note the qualifications: One who was with Jesus and the Apostles since His baptism through the Ascension and who was a witness to the Resurrection. Basically, the same three year training program as the rest of the Apostles. But why is there a need to replace Judas? The reason revolves around the number twelve.

Twelve is the symbolic number of the Church in both the Old Testament and the New. In the Old Testament we see this represented by the twelve tribes of Israel—the Covenantal people of God. Notice that when one of the original twelve tribes was lost due to being absorbed into Judah (Simeon) the two half tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim became full tribes and thus we maintain the number twelve. Now, with the loss of Judas the Apostles feel the duty to maintain the number because twelve is the number for the New Testament Church. When we read Revelation, we see the totality of the faithful as numbered by 24 elders—combined Old and New Testament Churches—and the number of the saints being listed as 144,000—12(000) times 12(000); the whole Church throughout all time.

An interesting question to consider: Did the Apostles act too soon? Later, the LORD chooses His own 12th Apostle—Saint Paul. Note how Paul spent three years in the wilderness being taught by the Risen and Ascended Christ. He then met the qualifications. Certainly, the Apostles are motivated by good and right intentions and there is never any indication they have done the wrong thing. So, Paul is known as the Apostle “untimely born” as well as the Apostle to the Gentiles.

A few other things to note. First, a Sabbath day journey is 2,000 paces. This is the equivalent of ½ to ¾ mile (the journey appears to take place on Ascension Day, Thursday), so there is no question as if they have broken the Sabbath here. Second, verse 14 speaks of the “brothers” of Jesus. The Greek allows for brothers and sisters, and, it could also be a reference to cousins, or perhaps the brother believers.

1:12 ὑπέστρεψαν from: ὑποστρέφω Aorist: “to return”

Ἐλαιῶνος “olive grove; Olivet”

1:13 ὑπερῷον “upstairs room; upper room”

ἀνέβησαν from: ἀναβαίνω Aorist: “to go up; to rise up”

καταμένοντες from: καταμένω Present, participle: “to remain”

1:14 προσκαρτεροῦντες from: προσκαρτερέω Present, participle: “to be steadfast; to be strong; to be devoted”

ὁμοθυμαδὸν “together; with one mind; with one accord”

*This gives us the only mention of Mary, the mother of Jesus, outside of the Gospels.

1:15 ἀναστὰς from: ἀνίστημι Aorist, participle: “to arise”

1:16 ἔδει from: δει Imperfect: “it is necessary”

πληρωθῆναι from: πληρόω Aorist, passive infinitive: “to fulfill”

προεῖπεν from: προλέγω Aorist: “to say beforehand”

συλλαβοῦσιν from: συλλαμβάνω Aorist, participle: “to lay hold of; to arrest”

1:17 κατηριθμημένος from: καταριθμέω Perfect, passive participle: “to number”

ἔλαχεν from: λαγχάνω Aorist: “to obtain by lot”

1:18 ἀδικίας “wickedness; unrighteousness”

ἐλάκησεν from: λακέω Aorist: “to crack; to burst; to break open”

ἐξεχύθη from: ἐκχέω Aorist, passive: “to pour out”

1:19 κληθῆναι from: καλέω Aorist, passive infinitive: “to call”

1:20 Γέγραπται from: γράφω Perfect, passive: “to write”

ἔπαυλις “camp; cabin”

1:22 ἀρξάμενος from: ἄρχω Aorist, middle participle: “to begin”

ἀνελήμφθη from: ἀναλαμβάνω Aorist, passive: “to take up”

1:23 ἔστησαν from: ἵστημι Aorist: “to set up”

ἐπεκλήθη from: ἐπικαλέω Aorist, passive: “to call; to name; to give a name”

1:24 προσευξάμενοι from: προσεύχομαι Aorist, middle participle: “to pray”

καρδιογνῶστα “heart knower; knower of the heart”

ἀνάδειξον from: ἀναδείκνυμι Aorist, imperative: “to show”

ἐξελέξω from: ἐκλέγομαι Aorist, middle subjunctive: “to select; to choose”

1:25 λαβεῖν from: λαμβάνω Aorist, infinitive: “to take”

παρέβη from: παραβαίνω Aorist: “to turn aside; to go aside”

1:26 ἔπεσεν from: πίπτω Aorist: “to fall”

συγκατεψηφίσθη from: συγκαταψηφίζω Aorist, passive: “to be chosen (by a vote/by casting lots)”


Additional Resources:

Concordia Theology-Various helps from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO to assist you in preaching Acts 1:12-26.

Text Week-A treasury of resources from various traditions to help you preach Acts 1:15-26.