As the author of 13 of the 27 books in the New Testament, Paul is arguably the most influential apostle in Christianity. Interestingly, Paul never met Jesus when the latter lived on earth. He also has a history of viciously persecuting the followers of Jesus. It was only after an alleged encounter with Jesus during a journey that Paul changed his ways and started proclaiming himself as an apostle of Jesus. Whether or not Paul was speaking the truth is a separate matter and will be addressed in later videos, God willing. But in this video we will examine if it was even possible for there to be a 13th apostle.
According to the gospel account, there were 12 apostles. After Judas killed himself, 2 candidates were shortlisted to be the replacement for Judas. They were Matthias and Barsabbas. Peter prayed and cast lots. The lot fell on Matthias, who then joined the disciples. This account appears in Acts 1:12-26. Note that the number of Apostles was fixed at 12. Peter did not enlist both Matthias and Barsabbas because there was no room for a 13th apostle.
Peter’s criteria for selecting an apostle was that candidates had to have been with them since the time Jesus was baptised.
"Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us, beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection” (Acts 1:20-22)
Thus, the criteria that an apostle candidate had to meet was that he should have been with the apostles from the time of the baptism of Jesus until the time of Jesus' ascension. Peter was simply following what he heard from Jesus. In John 15, Jesus said the following:
He said to them: “You also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning” (John 15:27)
Furthermore, Jesus said there are only 12 apostles.
“Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of his glory, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Matthew 19:28)
The book of Revelation also says there are only 12 apostles.
“And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God… The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb” (Revelation 21:10, 14)
As we have seen, twelve thrones, twelve tribes, twelve foundations and twelve apostles. The number of apostles was fixed at 12.
If Paul was indeed a true apostle, then there would have been 13 thrones and 13 foundations with the names of the 13 apostles (that is, the original 11, Matthias and Paul). We have no reason to think Paul was among the 12, as Judas was replaced by Matthias long before Paul’s conversion. If it was even possible for there to be a 13th apostle, Peter would have selected both Matthias and Barsabbas instead of drawing lots to choose one of them.
Since there could have only been 12 apostles, Paul simply could not have been an apostle.