on Acts 1 :25
That he may take part of this ministry, etc. - Instead of τον κληρον, the lot, which we translate part, τον τοπον, the place, is the reading of ABC*, Coptic, Vulgate, and the Itala in the Codex Bezae, and from them the verse may be read thus, That he may take the place of this ministry and apostleship, (from which Judas fell) and go to his own place; but instead of ιδιον, own, the Codex Alexandrinus, and one of Matthai's MSS., read δικαιον, just - that he might go to his just or proper place.
This verse has been variously expounded:
1. Some suppose that the words, that he might go to his own place, are spoken of Judas, and his punishment in hell, which they say must be the own place of such a person as Judas.
2. Others refer them to the purchase of the field, made by the thirty pieces of silver for which he had sold our Lord. So he abandoned the ministry and apostolate, that he might go to his own place, viz. that which he had purchased.
3. Others, with more seeming propriety, state that his own place means his own house, or former occupation; he left this ministry and apostleship that he might resume his former employment in conjunction with his family, etc. This is primarily the meaning of it in Numbers 24:25 : And Balaam returned to His Own Place, i.e. to his own country, friends, and employment.
4. Others think it simply means the state of the dead in general, independently of either rewards or punishments; as is probably meant by Ecclesiastes 3:20 : All go unto One Place: all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again. But,
5. Some of the best critics assert that the words (as before hinted) belong to Matthias - his own place being the office to which he was about to be elected. Should any object, this could not be called his own place, because he was not yet appointed to it, but hell might be properly called Judas's own place, because, by treason and covetousness, he was fully prepared for that place of torment, it may be answered, that the own or proper place of a man is that for which he is eligible from being qualified for it, though he may not yet possess such a place: so St. Paul, Every man shall receive His Own reward, τον ιδιον μισθον, called there his own, not from his having it already in possession, for that was not to take place until the resurrection of the just; but from his being qualified in this life for the state of glory in the other. See the observations at the end of the chapter.
on Acts 1 :25
That he may take part of this ministry - The word rendered "part" - κλῆρον klēron - is the same which in the next verse is rendered lots. It properly means a lot or portion the portion divided to a man, or assigned to him by casting lots; and also the instrument or means by which the lot is determined. The former is its meaning here; the office, or portion of apostolic work, which would fall to him by taking the place of Judas.
Ministry and apostleship - This is an instance of the figure of speech hendiadys, when two words are used to express one thing. It means the apostolic ministry. See instances in Genesis 1:14, "Let them be for signs and for seasons," that is, signs of seasons; Acts 23:6, "Hope and resurrection of the dead," that is, hope of the resurrection of the dead.
From which Judas by transgression fell - Literally, went aside - παρέβη parebē - "as opposed to the idea of adhering faithfully to the character and service which his apostleship required of him" (Prof. Hackett). The transgression referred to was his treason and suicide.
That he might go to his own place - These words by different interpreters have been referred both to Matthias and Judas. Those who refer them to Matthias say that they mean that Judas fell that Matthias might go to his own place, that is, to a place for which he was suited, or well qualified. But to this there are many objections:
1. The apostolic office could with no propriety be called, in reference to Matthias, his own place, until it was actually conferred upon him.
2. There is no instance in which the expression to go to his own place is applied to a successor in office.
3. It is not true that the design or reason why Judas fell was to make way for another. He fell by his crimes; his avarice, his voluntary and enormous wickedness.
4. The former part of the sentence contains this sentiment: "Another must be appointed to this office which the death of Judas has made vacant." If this expression, "that he might go," etc., refers to the successor of Judas, it expresses the same sentiment, but more obscurely.
5. The obvious and natural meaning of the phrase is to refer it to Judas. But those who suppose that it refers to Judas differ greatly about its meaning. Some suppose that it refers to his own house, and that the meaning is, that he left the apostolic office to return to his own house; and they appeal to Numbers 24:25. But it is not true that Judas did this; nor is there the least proof that it was his design. Others refer it to the grave, as the place of man, where all must lie; and particularly as an ignominious place where it was proper that a traitor like Judas should lie. But there is no example where the word "place" is used in this sense, nor is there an instance where a man, by being buried, is said to return to his own or proper place. Others have supposed that the manner of his death by hanging is referred to as his own or his proper place. But this interpretation is evidently an unnatural and forced one. The word "place" cannot be applied to an act of self-murder. It denotes "habitation, abode, situation in which to remain"; not an act. These are the only interpretations of the passage which can be suggested, except the common one of referring it to the abode of Judas in the world of woe. This might be said to be his own, as he had prepared himself for it, and as it was proper that he who betrayed his Lord should dwell there. This interpretation may be defended by the following considerations:
1. It is the obvious and natural meaning of the words. It commends itself by its simplicity and its evident connection with the context. It has in all ages been the common interpretation; nor has any other been adopted, except in cases where there was a theory to be defended about future punishment. Unless people had previously made up their minds not to believe in future punishment, no one would ever have thought of any other interpretation. This fact alone throws strong light on the meaning of the passage.
2. It accords with the crimes of Judas, and with all that we know of him. What the future doom of Judas would be was not unknown to the apostles. Jesus Christ had expressly declared this - "it had been good for that man if he had not been born"; a declaration which could not be true if, after any limited period of suffering, he was at last admitted to eternal happiness. See Matthew 26:24, and the notes on that place. This declaration was made in the presence of the eleven apostles, at the institution of the Lord's Supper, and at a time when their attention was absorbed with deep interest in what Christ said; and it was therefore a declaration which they would not be likely to forget. As they knew the fate of Judas beforehand, nothing was more natural for them than to speak of it familiarly as a thing which had actually occurred when he betrayed his Lord and hung himself.
3. The expression "to go to his own place" is one which is used by the ancient writers to denote "going to an eternal destiny." Thus, the Jewish Tract, Baal Turim, on Numbers 24:25, says, "Balaam went to his own place, that is, to Gehenna," to hell. Thus, the Targum, or Chaldee Paraphrase on Ecclesiastes 6:6, says," Although the days of a man's life were two thousand years, and he did not study the Law, and do justice, in the day of his death his soul shall descend to hell, to the one place where all sinners go." Thus, Ignatius in the Epistle to the Magnesians says, "Because all things have an end, the two things death and life shall lie down together, and each one shall go to his own place." The phrase his own place means the place or abode which was suited for him, which was his appropriate home.
Judas was not in a place which befitted his character when he was an apostle; he was not in such a place in the church; he would not be in heaven. Hell was the only place which was suited to the man of avarice and of treason. And if this be the true interpretation of this passage, then it follows:
1. That there will be such a thing as future, eternal punishment. There is certainly one man in hell, and ever will be. If there is one there, for the same reason there may be others. All objections to the doctrine are removed by this single fact; and it cannot be true that all people will be saved.
on Acts 1 :25
1:25 Fell - By his transgression - Some time before his death: to go to his own place - That which his crimes had deserved, and which he had chosen for himself, far from the other apostles, in the region of death.