“At this time Peter stood up in the midst of the brethren (a gathering of about one hundred and twenty persons was there together), and said, “Brethren, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit foretold by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. For he was counted among us and received his share in this ministry.” (Now this man acquired a field with the price of his wickedness, and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his intestines gushed out. And it became known to all who were living in Jerusalem; so that in their own language that field was called Hakeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) “For it is written in the book of Psalms, ‘Let his homestead be made desolate, and let no one dwell in it’; and, ‘Let another man take his office’” (Acts 1:15-20).
“Peter stood up in the midst of the brethren,” not as sovereign over the rest, but as a fellow servant, a brother in Christ, who, like the rest, had been contemplating the meaning of those recent events. He stood, not to assume a mantle of authority, but to minister to the church he loved. It’s a beautiful thing to see a genuine disciple of Christ Jesus stand to serve, with no thought of self-promotion or recognition or reward.
We may assume that everyone was wondering how Judas could’ve done what he did to Jesus. Many questions must’ve swirled about the church: What did Judas have against Jesus? What did he hope to gain by betraying him? Really, Judas, 30 pieces of silver?
Peter addressed the preceding events of the Judas saga in the light of an important biblical principle: “the Scripture had to be fulfilled.” Judas’ betrayal of Jesus and subsequent demise was not the product of an individual exercising his free will. Nor was the prophetic revelation of the occurrences simply the result of God having peeked ahead to see how things would turn out. Not only was the salvation of countless people from every nation and generation on the line, but God’s very glory was at stake. Therefore, “the Scripture had to be fulfilled.”
The decretive will of God refers to those things that the Bible records as God has decreed them. In other words, God didn’t simply give us advance notice of what He learned would take place. The events occurred because God had decreed that they would; and they unfolded just as He’d said they would.
The principle of the necessity of Scripture’s fulfillment is found in Isaiah:
For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
And do not return there without watering the earth
And making it bear and sprout,
And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater;
So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth;
It will not return to Me empty,
Without accomplishing what I desire,
And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it (Isa. 55:10-11).
Jesus agreed with the principle on the night of His betrayal: “For I tell you that this which is written must be fulfilled in Me, ‘And He was numbered with transgressors’; for that which refers to Me has its fulfillment” (Lk. 22:37). He repeated the principle to the disciples He encountered on the road to Emmaus following His resurrection: “And He said to them, ‘O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?’” (Lk. 24:25-26). He asserted the principle again to the rest of His disciples: “Now He said to them, ‘These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled’” (Lk. 24:44).
God’s Word is true and reliable, not because it makes sense to us or because we can find external evidence to corroborate it, but because God Himself has ordained it to be so. All of Scripture is written for the glory of God. When the Word is fulfilled, it reveals God’s glory to us. God’s people, in turn, render Him praise for He alone is worthy.