The book of Acts is one of the most action-packed books in the New Testament. It records the beginning of the church as the Holy Spirit works powerfully through followers of Jesus to be his witnesses to the ends of the earth.

These followers of Jesus who once abandoned him at the cross, argued among themselves about who would sit at Jesus’ right hand in eternity, and often failed to listen when Jesus spoke, these guys will now be the very people through whom God will establish his church at the very gates of hell as the visible and active Kingdom of Heaven on earth (Matt. 26:56, 69 – 75; 20:20 – 28; 16:18).

Yet, for all its fast-paced action, the text in front of us today may feel a little boring or a little mundane; maybe because it seems to lack anything shocking or maybe because the main content of the story at this point seems to revolve around the selection and installation of a leader named Matthias to replace the traitor named Judas. Selection and installation of leaders in the church community seems far less exciting than preaching the gospel in unknown languages or healing lame men or facing off against enemies of the gospel in public (Acts 2 – 4).

Nevertheless, the text in front of us is still a remarkably exciting part of the entire story because it gives us a bird’s eye view into the obedience of the disciples, the devotion and unity in the early church, the transformation that took place in Peter, and the provision of new leadership for the newly forming church. Look at the text with me…

12Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away. 13And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. 14All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.

15In those days Peter stood up among the brothers (the company of persons was in all about 120) and said, 16“Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. 17For he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.” 18(Now this man acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness, and falling headlong he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. 19And it became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their own language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) 20“For it is written in the Book of Psalms, ‘May his camp become desolate, and let there be no one to dwell in it’; and ‘Let another take his office.’

21So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us – one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.” 23And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias. 24And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen 25to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” 26And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.


The obedience of the disciples may not immediately jump off the page at us, but it is important to note that Jesus has just returned to heaven after promising to pour out his Spirit upon his disciples so that they may receive power to be witnesses of the crucified, risen, and returning Christ to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). And just before Jesus ascends into heaven, he instructs his disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the Spirit to come and baptize them for the work ahead.

In verses 12 – 13, Luke tells us that the disciples do return obediently to an upper room in Jerusalem, and he is careful to note that all eleven remaining disciples are present in that upper room. This is significant because prior to this it seems like Jesus was constantly dealing with the disciples’ lack of obedience as they argued among themselves, fell asleep when they should have been awake and praying, and abandoning him at the cross when they should have remained faithful until the very end. But here they are, together, making the short two-thirds-of-a-mile journey back to Jerusalem to wait for the Holy Spirit in obedience and expectation of the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise. Obedience to God is always preceded by believing in his promises.


As I have already mentioned, a cursory reading of any of the gospel accounts (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) will reveal a band of disciples who are not always on the same page and are often fighting and arguing among each other. But in verse 14 Luke tells us that the disciples were all together “in one accord” or unified, and that they “were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.”

So here, we see that the eleven disciples with Jesus’ mom and his brothers were all together, unified, and devoted or committed to praying together. I do not know what your experience with church gatherings has been, but in my experience, prayer gatherings are typically the least attended. The act of gathering together for the sole purpose of praying as a unified family is not the most appealing for the average American church attender.

But here, we see the early church doing just what we often struggle to do as they gather together out of a deep sense of devotion to uniting in prayer. Lots of amazing things are about to happen in the story of Acts, but nothing miraculous is going to happen if it is not preceded by the church gathering to pray in unified expectation of what is to come.


You may remember Peter as the one who often questioned Jesus’ authority, tried to take matters into his own hands, sometimes operated in his own fleshly understanding and strength as he went off half-cocked instead of searching the scriptures for direction, and ultimately denied Christ three times (Matt. 16:22; 26:50 – 57, 69 – 75). Suffice it to say, Peter was a hardheaded dude with a thick skull!

But here in verses 15 – 20 we meet an entirely different Peter who stands up among the growing band of disciples who had grown from eleven to one-hundred-and-twenty and he leads them forward with the authority of the Scriptures. Peter, the Rock, is no longer a stubborn hard-headed man, he is a man who has been humbled by his own sin in light of the love of his crucified, risen, and returning Savior and he is now standing on the power of the rock which is Christ revealed in the Scriptures. Peter is not waving his sword around, bullying people into obedience, he is humbly wielding the sword of the Spirit from the book of Psalms as he leads the young infant church forward.

The highlights of what Peter says, in his newly transformed frame of mind, remind us that even when we experience the pain and the horror of fake friends who once walked with us, even then in those painful moments, we must remember that God has a plan, no one is irreplaceable, and though you may feel alone in your abandonment, it is highly likely that God has already raised up someone new to walk with you as you witness to the power of Jesus wherever you are called to go. Whatever your situation is, real transformation will always include a new love and devotion for God’s Word.


As I said earlier, this part of the text may not seem very exciting or spiritual, but I would argue that this is actually one of the most exciting and spiritual things the Holy Spirit does in a church family outside of bringing people to salvation in Christ. It should not be a surprise to anyone that God values leadership and that he does set very high standards for the selection and qualifications of leaders in the church. The church has been tasked with representing the name of Christ to the ends of the earth, therefore, her leaders must be qualified according to biblical standards and selected from among the church family, prayerfully.

In verses 21 – 26 we get to see the process for selecting someone who is biblically qualified to replace Judas so that the core leadership of the church is restored to twelve apostles who continue to reflect the ongoing work of God among his people similar to his work among the twelve tribes of Israel.2 In this case, the disciples chose two men whose qualifications were summed up as being men who had witnessed everything from the time of Jesus’ baptism to his ascension and then they prayed for God to reveal whom he would chose as they cast lots (which is a form of voting by rolling the dice) to see whom God had chosen.3

At the end of the story, a man named Matthias is chosen and the number of the apostles is restored to twelve, once again, mirroring the twelve tribes of Israel. At the end of the day, whom God chose is relatively unimportant to us. But how Matthias was identified and chosen, that is a matter of great importance for us. Leaders should never be chosen because of popularity, business skill, or resources that they give to the church. Leaders are chosen in the church based upon spiritual qualifications that include character, competence, chemistry, and calling and the process of choosing them must be bathed in prayer (1 Tim. 3; Titus 1).


In conclusion, some of the first things the Holy Spirit chose to reveal about his work in and through the early church, revolved around some of what may appear to be mundane. But when you really think about it, there is nothing mundane about disciples obeying God even in the smallest of things. There is nothing mundane about gathering for the purpose of uniting in prayer. There is nothing mundane about witnessing the transformation of a sister or a brother like Peter. There is nothing mundane about choosing new leaders to fill vacant positions of leadership.

When it comes to obedience: Obedience to God is always preceded by believing in his promises.

When it comes to prayer: Nothing miraculous will happen if it is not preceded by the church gathering to pray in unified expectation of what is to come.

When it comes to transformation: Whatever your situation is, real transformation will always include a new love and devotion for God’s Word.

When it comes to choosing leaders: Leaders are chosen in the church based upon spiritual qualifications that include character, competence, chemistry, and calling and the process of choosing them must be bathed in prayer.

I do not know where God is calling you to increased levels of obedience. I do not know where the Spirit is convicting you of your need to be devoted and united with the church in prayer. I am not sure what the Lord is wanting to transform in you as he renews your passion for his Word. I have no idea what the Lord is speaking to you right now about your qualifications to be a leader in this church.

But I do know this, Jesus promised to give his followers his very own Spirit who will lead us to the truth, who will give comfort in times of difficulty, and who will give supernatural power in times of weakness so that we can all together, give witness to the power of our crucified, risen, and returning Savior.

Maybe it is your marriage that is not reflecting the gospel of Jesus right now. Maybe it is the way that you have handled your money that does not reflect Christ right now. Maybe it is some deep root of sin or addiction that is present in your life. Maybe you are experiencing the anxiety and worry of knowing that you need step it up and share the gospel with someone that you know is lost right now. Whatever the circumstances are, in your life right now and whatever God is calling you to do in terms of obedience, prayer, transformation, and leadership, the Spirit of God is available to you right now.

If you are a believer, then all you need to do is humbly admit that you are unable to follow through in your own strength and then ask God to give you, his Spirit; and God will gladly answer that prayer. If you are an unbeliever, then the pathway is basically the same for you. All you need to do is confess and admit your inability to do anything that would please God and ask him to help you trust in the work of Jesus at the cross, the empty tomb, and in his promised return and then ask him to give you his Spirit so that you may have the power to be his witness to the ends of the earth. I assure you, there is nothing mundane about any of this! Amen!

Unless otherwise specified, all Bible references in this paper are to the English Standard Version Bible, The New Classic Reference Edition (ESV) (Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, 2001).

2 Derek W. H. Thomas, Acts, (Phillipsburg, New Jersey: P&R Publishing, 2011), 23.

3 R. Kent Hughes, Acts: The Church Afire, (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 1996), 27.