Acts 1:17
For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry.
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(17) For he was numbered with us.—Literally, he had been numbered.

Had obtained part of this ministry.—Better, the portion, or inheritance. The Greek has the article, and the noun (cleros) is one which afterwards acquired a special half-technical sense in the words, clerus, clericus, “clerk,” “clergy.” In 1Peter 5:3, as being “lords over the heritage,” we find it in a transition sense. (See Note on Acts 1:25.)

1:15-26 The great thing the apostles were to attest to the world, was, Christ's resurrection; for that was the great proof of his being the Messiah, and the foundation of our hope in him. The apostles were ordained, not to wordly dignity and dominion, but to preach Christ, and the power of his resurrection. An appeal was made to God; Thou, Lord, who knowest the hearts of all men, which we do not; and better than they know their own. It is fit that God should choose his own servants; and so far as he, by the disposals of his providence, or the gifts of his Spirit, shows whom he was chosen, or what he has chosen for us, we ought to fall in with his will. Let us own his hand in the determining everything which befalls us, especially in those by which any trust may be committed to us.He was numbered with us - He was chosen as an apostle by the Lord Jesus, Luke 6:13-16. This does not mean that he was a true Christian, but that he was reckoned among the apostles. Long before he betrayed him, Jesus declared that he was a devil, John 6:70. He knew his whole character when he chose him, John 2:25. If it be asked why he chose such a man to be an apostle; why he was made the treasurer of the apostles, and was admitted to the fullest confidence; we may reply, that a most important object was gained in having such a man - a spy - among them. It might be pretended, when the apostles bore testimony to the purity of life, of doctrine, and of purpose of the Lord Jesus, that they were interested and partial friends; that they might be disposed to suppress some of his real sentiments, and represent him in a light more favorable than the truth. Hence, the testimony of such a man as Judas, if favorable, must be invaluable.

It would be free from the charge of partiality. If Judas knew anything unfavorable to the character of Jesus, he would have communicated it to the Sanhedrin. If he knew of any secret plot against the government, or seditious purpose, he had every inducement to declare it. He had every opportunity to know it; he was with him; heard him converse; was a member of his family, and admitted to terms of familiarity. Yet even Judas could not be bought or bribed, to testify against the moral character of the Saviour. If he had done it, or could have done it, it would have preserved him from the charge of treason; would have entitled him to the reputation of a public benefactor in discovering secret sedition; and would have saved him from the pangs of remorse, and from self-murder. Judas would have done it if he could. But he alleged no such charge; he did not even dare to lisp a word against the pure designs of the Lord Jesus; and his own reproofs of conscience Matthew 27:4, and his voluntary death Matthew 27:5, furnish the highest proof that can be desired of his conviction that the betrayed Redeemer was innocent.

Judas would have been just the witness which the Jews desired of the treasonable purposes of Jesus. But that could not be procured, even by gold; and they wore compelled to suborn other men to testify against the Son of God, Matthew 26:60. We may add here, that the introduction of such a character as that of Judas Iscariot into the number of the apostles, and the use to be made of his testimony, would never have occurred to the author of a forged book. He would have said that they were all the true friends of the Lord Jesus. To have invented such a character as that of Judas, and to make him perform such a part in the plan as the sacred writers do, would have required too much art and cunning - was too refined and subtle a device, to have been thought of unless it had actually occurred.

15-26. in those days—of expectant prayer, and probably towards the close of them, when the nature of their future work began more clearly to dawn upon them, and the Holy Ghost, already "breathed" on the Eleven (Joh 20:22), was stirring in Peter, who was to be the leading spirit of the infant community (Mt 16:19).

the number … about an hundred and twenty—Many, therefore, of the "five hundred brethren" who saw their risen Lord "at once" (1Co 15:6), must have remained in Galilee.

Numbered with us; being one of the twelve apostles.

Had obtained, elace; not as if Judas was made an apostle by lot, as Matthias afterwards; but by the providence of God, by which every lot and casual matter is governed: and to show that the dignity did not befall him, or any of the other apostles, because of their descent, (from Aaron), or from nature, or from any desert whatsoever, but merely from God’s good will and pleasure.

Part of this ministry; then the apostles office is ministerial, and they were not lords over God’s heritage. For he was numbered with us,.... He was chosen an apostle with: the rest, and was ordained into that office when they were, and was always reckoned one of the twelve, and stands in the catalogue when they are mentioned:

and had obtained part of this ministry; by lot, as the word signifies; the providence of God so ordering it, according to his eternal purpose and decree, that he was not only called an apostle, and enrolled among them, but he really had a part in that ministry; he preached, and baptized, and wrought miracles; and besides all this, carried the bag, was the treasurer, and a sort of a steward in Christ's family, and provided for it.

For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry.
Acts 1:17. ὅτι κατηριθμημένος ἦν κ.τ.λ. For the construction see Acts 1:10. ὅτι introduces the ground upon which the Scripture to be cited, which speaks of the vacancy in the Apostolic office, found its fulfilment in Judas; “he was numbered,” “triste est numerari non manere,” Bengel.—καὶ ἔλαχεν τὸν κλῆρον: lit[106], “and obtained by lot the lot”: κλῆρος, a lot, that which is assigned by lot, the portion or share so assigned; so amongst the Greeks, and somewhat similarly in English, cf. in LXX Wis 2:9; Wis 5:5, Sir 25:19. The word is used elsewhere in Acts three times, Acts 1:26, Acts 8:21, Acts 26:18; cf. with the last passage its use by St. Paul elsewhere, Colossians 1:12. Here the word no doubt may be used by St. Peter with reference to the actual selection by lot which was about to follow. The same word is used elsewhere by the same Apostle, 1 Peter 5:3, “neither as lording it over the charge allotted to you,” τῶν κλήρων. Tyndale and Cranmer render the word here “parishes,” which really gives a good interpretation of it = the “lots” assigned to the elders as their portions in God’s heritage; and so we have by an easy transition clerici = clergy, those to whom such “lots” are assigned: Humphry, Commentary on R. V., p. 446, Lightfoot, Philippians, p. 246 ff.—ἔλαχεν: here and in 2 Peter 1:1 with an accusative, as in classical Greek, “received his portion” R.V. On the construction of the verb with the genitive, cf. Blass, Grammatik des N. G., pp. 100, 230, and Plummer’s St. Luke, p. 11; with Luke 1:9, cf. 1 Samuel 14:47. In classical Greek it is used as the opposite of χειροτονηθῆναι, to be elected, more commonly with the infinitive.—διακονίας: “Apostleship the highest form of ministration is repeatedly designated thus,” Hort, Ecclesia, p. 204, e.g., Acts 1:25, Acts 20:24, Acts 21:19, 2 Corinthians 4:1; 2 Corinthians 5:18; 2 Corinthians 6:3, Romans 11:13, and see further on the word, chap. 6. below. It would be difficult to find in such a general term, or in any part of the speech, any reference to a hierarchical constitution of the Church (Zeller, Overbeck). Jüngst cannot derive any such view from this verse, although he sees in the description of διακονία as ἀποστολή, Acts 1:25, the mark of a later period than that of the delivery of the speech (so too Wendt).

[106] literal, literally.17. For he was numbered with [among] us, and had obtained part of this ministry] Literally, had received the lot of, &c. Judas fulfils the conditions of the prophecy (Psalm 109:2-5). His was the mouth of the deceitful, the lying tongue, the groundless enmity, the requital of evil for good. But though numbered among the twelve that was not his true place.Acts 1:17. Ὄτι, because) This expresses the reason for which Judas is here mentioned, because he had held an office.—κατηριθμημένος, numbered with us) It is sad to be numbered, and yet not continue.—κλῆρον, [‘part’] the allotment) Lot or allotment is said of whatever falls to the share of one without any exertion on his part.—τῆς διακονίας, the ministry) So most frequently, in this and the following books, the ministry of the New Testament is termed: but in the Old Testament the LXX. translators for the most part use λειτουργεῖν for שרת, to attend on the service of the sanctuary; an expression which of itself conveys to the mind the idea of something rather magnificent: whereas the apostles followed (adopted) an easy humility.[6]—ταύτης, of this) viz. our.

[6] “Expeditam humilitatem,” a lowliness unencumbered by the state and magnificence which marked the Aaronic priesthood.—E. and T.Verse 17. - Among for with, A.V. ; received his portion in for had obtained part of, A.V. For he was numbered, etc. This is said in order to show that the passage in the Psalms applied strictly to Judas, seeing he had held his portion in the ministry and office of an apostle (see John 6:71). His portion; literally, his lot; i.e. the portion which fell to him by lot. The language is taken from the Old Testament (see e.g. Joshua 18:10, 11; Joshua 19:1, 10, etc.). Those who received such a portion (κλῆρον) were clergy. Numbered (κατηριθμημένος)

Only here in New Testament

With (σύν)

The best texts read ἐν, among. So Rev.

Obtained (ἔλαχε)

Strictly, "received by lot." Rev., better, received. Compare Luke 1:9. In classical Greek, of receiving public magistracies.

Part (τὸν κλῆρον)

The A. V. does not give the force of the article, the lot which was his. So Rev., "his portion:" lit., lot.


See on minister, Matthew 20:26. Compare bishopric, Acts 1:20.

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