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Ask the Pastor

† Theological musings and answers to selected questions by a confessional Lutheran pastor.






21 August 2005

Twelve Apostles and Twelve Foundations


Q: Revelation 21:14 says the names of the twelve apostles will be written on the foundations of the twelve walls. Acts 1:26 says that Matthias replaced Judas. I like to picture scenes described in the Bible and wonder whose name will I see on that one foundation: Will it be Judas or Matthias? I know the other eleven names that will be there.

The Bride of ChristA: You may not find any names. Revelation uses visionary language: A literal understanding of the text drives us to a figurative interpretation. Christians know the dragon is Satan, not an actual monster crawling over the earth. The two beasts are normally seen to be government (the creature with heads and horns in Rev 13:1-10) and an antichrist — or The Antichrist — evil within the Church (the creature in 13:11-18 who morphs into the great prostitute in chapter 17).

Similarly, the “foundation” mentioned in Revelation 21 is that of “the Bride, the wife of the Lamb. (v. 9)” The “holy city” in verse ten is a visionary depiction of this Bride. The twelve gates named for the 12 tribes of Israel and the twelve foundations named for the 12 apostles show that the Bride is the fulness of the faithful from Old and New Testament — the sum total of all believers.

That the foundation of the Church is the apostles shouldn’t surprise us. The Nicene Creed has us confess “one holy catholic (or Christian) and apostolic Church.” The true Church is built upon the testimony of the apostles.

Besides all this, you’ve missed an apostle: True, Matthias became Judas’s replacement according to the casting of lots. However, Paul was specially chosen by Christ to be His apostle later in Acts. If I were anticipating a literal foundation (and I’m not) I’d be stuck choosing between Paul and Matthias, not Matthias and Judas.

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version™, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles.

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Walter Snyder is the pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Emma, Missouri and coauthor of the book What Do Lutherans Believe.

2 Comments:

Blogger The Terrible Swede said...

Thanks for the post Kung Fu Master Snyder.

Do you know the artwork's title and artist? Appreciate it.

26 August, 2005 05:56  
Blogger Xrysostom said...

The artist is Julius Schnorr von Karolsfeld. This is one of the illustrations from Das Buch der Bücher in Bilden. I don't know its original title but since it's based on Rev. 21, probably something along the lines of "New Jerusalem" or "Bride of Christ." I shrank and colored this image. The best single resource for his Bible illustrations is through the Wisconsin Synod's World Missions Collection Clipart Graphics.

wps +

26 August, 2005 10:45  

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