Matthias One Of The Twelve Apostles

Matthias One Of The Twelve Apostles
Matthias One Of The Twelve Apostles

Matthias one of the Twelve Apostles

Matthias is traditionally counted as one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ, chosen to replace Judas Iscariot after Judas’ betrayal of Jesus and subsequent death. His selection is documented in the Acts of the Apostles in the New Testament. According to Acts 1:15-26, the early Christians, led by Peter, decided to select a new apostle from among those who had followed Jesus throughout his ministry, from the baptism by John until the Ascension. Matthias was chosen by casting lots, fulfilling the number of the Twelve Apostles once again.

The background and further activities of Matthias are not extensively detailed in the Bible, and much of what is known about him comes from Christian tradition and apocryphal texts. According to various traditions, Matthias preached the Gospel for the most part in Judea and in Cappadocia (modern-day Turkey), and possibly as far afield as Ethiopia. There are also traditions claiming he faced martyrdom, although the details of his death vary, with some saying he was stoned, while others claim he was beheaded.

Saint Matthias’s feast day varies among Christian denominations. In the Roman Catholic Church, his feast day was traditionally observed on February 24, but it was moved to May 14 to separate it from the season of Lent. The Eastern Orthodox Church commemorates him on August 9. Matthias is considered the patron saint of alcoholics and carpenters, among others.

Biblical references 

Saint Matthias is mentioned specifically in the Book of Acts in the New Testament. Here is the key passage from the King James Bible that details the selection of Matthias as an apostle:

Acts 1:15-26 (KJV)

  • Acts 1:15: “And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,)
  • Acts 1:16: “Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus.
  • Acts 1:17: “For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry.
  • Acts 1:21-22: “Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.
  • Acts 1:23: “And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias.”
  • Acts 1:24-25: “And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen, That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.”
  • Acts 1:26: “And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.”

These verses describe the process by which Matthias was selected to replace Judas Iscariot among the Twelve Apostles. This passage highlights the early Christian community’s emphasis on divine guidance and the continuity of the apostolic witness to Jesus Christ.

An illustration

Matthias One Of The Twelve Apostles
Matthias One Of The Twelve Apostles

An illustration depicting the biblical scene from the Book of Acts, where the Apostles gather to select Matthias as an apostle to replace Judas Iscariot. This serene religious painting captures Peter addressing the early Christians and the moment of casting lots in a contemplative and solemn atmosphere.

Apostolic activities and traditions surrounding his martyrdom

Saint Matthias’s apostolic activities and the traditions surrounding his martyrdom are not extensively detailed in the canonical texts of the New Testament, and much of the information comes from various Christian traditions and apocryphal writings. Here are some key aspects from these sources:

Missionary Work

According to tradition, Matthias ministered in Judea and then traveled further afield to spread Christianity. One tradition holds that he preached in Cappadocia and along the coasts of the Caspian Sea, which would involve regions in modern-day Turkey, Iran, and perhaps parts of Southern Russia.

Another tradition suggests he also traveled to Ethiopia (not the modern country but an area closer to the Black Sea and the Caucasus). However, details about his activities there are scarce and largely unconfirmed.

Teachings and Writings

While Matthias is not known to have authored any canonical New Testament writings, some apocryphal texts are attributed to him. For instance, the “Gospel of Matthias” is an early Christian document mentioned by several Church Fathers as heretical; it is now lost, with only references to it remaining.

He is sometimes associated with the teachings found in apocryphal texts that promote ascetic practices and deeper spiritual insights, although direct links to Matthias are speculative.


The details of Matthias’s martyrdom are subject to various accounts, with no universally accepted version. Some traditions hold that he died by stoning in Jerusalem, while others suggest he was beheaded.

An alternative tradition claims that Matthias died of old age, not martyrdom. This is less common but reflects the varied and often contradictory nature of apocryphal and traditional narratives.

Relics and Veneration

The relics of Matthias were reportedly moved to Trier, Germany, in the 4th century, where they are enshrined in the Abbey of St. Matthias. This site has become a pilgrimage destination and claims to be the only apostolic tomb north of the Alps.

His veneration is widespread, with his feast day celebrated differently across various Christian denominations, reflecting the global respect and admiration for his role as an apostle.

These traditions illustrate how the figure of Matthias is viewed within various Christian communities, reflecting both his historical role and spiritual significance. The lack of concrete historical details allows for a rich tapestry of legends and teachings that surround his apostolic life and death.

Ethiopian Christian traditions

There are some intriguing aspects of Saint Matthias’s life and ministry found in Ethiopian Christian traditions, though these are less commonly known outside of Ethiopia. The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, which has a rich tradition of biblical and extra-biblical writings, includes some unique perspectives on Matthias:

Ethiopian Synaxarium

Matthias’s activities are mentioned in the Ethiopian Synaxarium, which is the Ethiopian church’s book of saints and their acts. This text provides details on his missionary work and his martyrdom, although it might mix historical elements with hagiographical embellishments typical of such texts.

Missionary Work

Ethiopian tradition often extends the geographical and spiritual reach of biblical figures more broadly than other traditions might. For Matthias, there are stories that suggest he preached not only in the areas around Judea and the Mediterranean but also ventured into more remote areas, possibly including regions that correspond to modern-day Ethiopia or its surroundings. This aligns with a broader Ethiopian Christian narrative that sees their land as historically connected to the early Christian movement.

Spiritual Influence

Matthias is regarded with great reverence in Ethiopian Christianity, which often emphasizes the mystical and spiritual contributions of its saints. His teachings, though not directly preserved in the form of written texts attributed to him, are considered to have influenced the spiritual practices and doctrinal developments within the Ethiopian Church.

Feast Days and Veneration

Like other apostles, Matthias is celebrated with specific feast days in the Ethiopian liturgical calendar. His veneration is marked by liturgical hymns, prayers, and readings that reflect on his life and apostolic mission.

Artistic Representations

In Ethiopian art, Matthias, like other apostles, is often depicted in icons and church murals, which are vibrant and colorful, showcasing distinctive Ethiopian Christian artistic styles.

These aspects highlight the integration of Matthias into the spiritual and cultural milieu of Ethiopia, illustrating how local traditions can shape the understanding and veneration of biblical figures. This connection serves not only as a religious expression but also as a cultural bridge linking the biblical apostolic age with Ethiopian Christian identity.


Ethipian book of the saints

Saints of the day GPT

Adapts daily to celebrate saints and virtuous individuals.

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