Acts 1:23

23 So they proposed two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias.

Acts 1:23 Meaning and Commentary

Acts 1:23

And they appointed two
The motion made by Peter was attended to by the whole company; they approved of it, and accordingly proposed two persons by name; one of which was to be chosen, not by the apostles, but by the whole assembly. The Arabic version reads, "he appointed two", as if Peter singly did this: contrary to all copies, and other versions, and to the context; which shows, that the whole body of the people were concerned in this affair, who prayed and gave forth their lots and suffrages: the persons nominated were,

Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias.
The former of these has three names; in one ancient copy of Beza's he is called Joses; and by some thought to be the same with Joses, surnamed Barnabas, in ( Acts 4:36 ) partly because in one copy, and in the Syriac version there, that Joses is called Joseph; and partly, because of the nearness in sound between Barsabas and Barnabas: hence the Ethiopic version here reads, "Joseph, who was called Barnabas", and so Beza's most ancient copy; but though Joses is here meant for Jose, or Joses is, with the Jews, an abbreviation of Joseph; yet not Joses the Levite, who was of the country of Cyprus, but Joses of Galilee, the son of Alphaeus and Mary; and who had two brothers, James and Jude, already apostles; see ( Matthew 13:55 ) ( Mark 15:40 ) . Moreover, though the two names, Barnabas and Barsabas, differ little in sound, yet much in sense: the former is interpreted "the son of consolation", ( Acts 4:36 ) but the latter signifies much the same with Bathsheba; as that may be interpreted "the daughter", this "the son of an oath"; or as others, "a son of wisdom"; and by others, "the son of fulness"; I should choose to take it to be the same name with (abo rb) , and interpret it, "the son of an old man"; as Alphaeus might be, when Joses, or Joseph was born, and he be the younger brother of James and Jude; as for his surname Justus, this was a name not only in use among the Grecians and Romans, especially the latter, but among the Jews: hence we often read of Rabbi (ajowy) , "Justa", and sometimes, (yjowy) , "Justi", and at other times, (yajowy) "Justai" F24 whether he had this surname from his being a very just man, as Aristides was called Aristides the just; and so Simeon the high priest, the last of Ezra's great synagogue, was called Simeon the just F25; and so James the brother of this Joseph, or Joses, was called by the Jews F26; and it may be, that he himself might have his name from the patriarch Joseph, who used to be called by them, Joseph, (qyduh) , "the just" F1: for Matthias, his name is Jewish, and he was no doubt a Jew; hence we read (aytm ybr) , "Rabbi Matthia ben Charash" F2; his name signifying the same as Nathanael does, namely, the gift of God, made Dr. Lightfoot conjecture they might be the same; but this agrees not with another conjecture that learned man, who elsewhere thinks, that Bartholomew and Nathanael were the same; and if so, he must have been an apostle already; Clemens of Alexandria was of opinion, that this Matthias was Zacchaeus F3.


F24 T. Hieros. Beracot, fol. 12. 3. & Trumot. fol. 48. 1. & Erubin, fol. 19. 3. & 23. 3. T. Bab. Zebachim, fol. 99. 1. & Juchasin, fol. 95. 2. & 96. 1. Shirhashirim Rabba, fol. 17. 4.
F25 Pirke Abot, c. 1. sect. 2.
F26 Euseb. Eccl. Hist. l. 2. c. 23.
F1 Zohar in Exod. fol. 104. 1.
F2 T. Bab. Yebamot, fol. 61. 2. & Juchasin, fol. 108. 1.
F3 Stromat, l. 4. p. 488.

Acts 1:23 In-Context

21 So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us,
22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these must become a witness with us to his resurrection."
23 So they proposed two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias.
24 Then they prayed and said, "Lord, you know everyone's heart. Show us which one of these two you have chosen
25 to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place."
New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.