Saint Matthias

From Academic Kids

In the New Testament Acts of the Apostles, the author of Luke records that Matthias was the Apostle chosen by the remaining eleven apostles to replace Judas Iscariot, following Judas' betrayal of Jesus and his suicide (Acts 1:21 - 26). Saint Matthias is venerated with a feast day in the Roman Catholic Church that was February 24, until it was moved in the 20th century to May 14, and in the Eastern Orthodox Church with a feast celebrated on August 9.

Though there is no mention of a Matthias among the lists of disciples in the three synoptic gospels, according to Acts i, in the days following the Ascension of Jesus, Peter proposed to the assembled disciples, who numbered about one hundred and twenty, that they choose one to fill the place of the traitor Judas in the Apostolate:

23.So they proposed two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. 24.Then they prayed, "Lord, you know everyone's heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs." 26.Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles."

Zeller declared this narrative inconsistent with the history of the Apostles' movements, in that the Apostles were in Galilee after the Crucifixion. The Acts of the Apostles clearly states (i.12) that they returned to Jerusalem.

Clement of Alexandria observed:

Not that they became apostles through being chosen for some distinguished peculiarity of nature, since also Judas was chosen along with them. But they were capable of becoming apostles on being chosen by Him who foresees even ultimate issues. Matthias, accordingly, who was not chosen along with them, on showing himself worthy of becoming an apostle, is substituted for Judas. —Stromateis vi.13.

No further information about Matthias is to be found in the canonical New Testament. Even his name is variable: the Syriac version of Eusebius calls him throughout not Matthias but "Tolmai", i.e. Bartholomew, without confusing him with the Bartholomew who was originally one of the twelve Apostles; Matthias is often identified with the Nathanael mentioned in the Gospel of John; Clement of Alexandria says some identified him with Zacchaeus; the Clementine Recognitions identify him with Barnabas; Hilgenfeld thinks he is the same as Nathanael.

According to Nicephorus (Historia eccl., 2, 40), Matthias first preached the Gospel in Judea, then in Ethiopia (made out to be a synonym for the geographically quite separate Colchis (now Caucasian Georgia) and was crucified in Colchis.

The Synopsis of Dorotheus contains this tradition:

Matthias in interiore thiopia, ubi Hyssus maris portus et Phasis fluvius est, hominibus barbaris et carnivoris praedicavit Evangelium. Mortuus est autem in Sebastopoli, ibique prope templum Solis sepultus ("Matthias preached the Gospel to barbarians and meat-eaters in the interior of Ethiopia, where the sea harbor of Hyssus is, at the mouth of the river Phasis. He died at Sebastopolis, and was buried there, near the Temple of the Sun"). An extant Coptic Acts of Andrew and Matthias, places his activity similarly in "the city of the cannibals" in Ethiopia.

Alternately, another tradition maintains that Matthias was stoned at Jerusalem by the Jews, and then beheaded (cf. Tillemont, Mmoires pour servir l'histoire ecclesiastique des six premiers sicles, I, 406-7).

It is said that Helena, mother of Constantine the Great brought the relics of St. Matthias to Rome, and that a portion of them was at Trier. The Bollandists (Acta Sanctorum, May, III) doubts whether the relics that are in Rome are not rather those of the St Matthias who was Bishop of Jerusalem about the year 120, and whose history would seem to have been confounded with that of the Apostle.

'Gospel of Matthias'

This work is lost, but Clement of Alexandria (Stromateis, III, 4) records a sentence that the Nicolaitans ascribe to Matthias: "we must combat our flesh, set no value upon it, and concede to it nothing that can flatter it, but rather increase the growth of our soul by faith and knowledge". The Gospel of Matthias was mentioned by Origen (Homily upon Luke. i); by Eusebius (Hist. eccl., III, 25), who attributes it to heretics; by Jerome (Praef. in Matth.), and in the Decree of Gelasius (VI, 8) which declares it apocryphal. It comes at the end of the list of the Codex Barroccianus (206).

This lost gospel is probably the document whence Clement of Alexandria quoted several passages, saying that they were borrowed from the traditions of Matthias, Paradoseis ("Paradoxes"), the testimony of which he claimed to have been invoked by the heretics Valentinus, Marcion, and Basilides (Stromateis, VII.17). According to Philosophoumena, VII.20, Basilides quoted apocryphal discourses that he attributed to Matthias. These three writings: the gospel, the Traditions, and the Apocryphal Discourses were identified by Zahn (Gesch. des N. T. Kanon, II, 751), but Harnack (Chron. der altchrist. Litteratur, 597) denies this identification.

Tischendorf (Acta apostolorum apocrypha, Leipzig, 1851) published after Thilo, 1846, Acta Andreae et Matthiae in urbe anthropophagarum , which, according to Lipsius, belonged to the middle of the 2nd century. This apocrypha relates that Matthias went among the cannibals and, being cast into prison, was delivered by Andrew. Needless to say, the entire narrative is without historical value. Moreover, it should be remembered that, in the apocryphal writings, Matthew and Matthias have sometimes been confounded.

External link

Text partly adapted from the Catholic Encyclopediade:Matthias (Apostel) ru:Матфий (апостол)


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