During this time, when about 120 believers were together in one place, Peter stood up and addressed them. “Brothers,” He said, “the Scriptures had to be fulfilled concerning Judas, who guided those who arrested Jesus. This was predicted long ago by the Holy Spirit, speaking through King David. Judas was one of us and shared in the ministry with us.”
(Judas had bought a field with the money he received for his treachery. Falling headfirst there, his body split open, spilling out all his intestines. The news of his death spread to all the people of Jerusalem, and they gave the place the Aramaic name Akeldama, which means “Field of Blood.”)
Peter continued, “This was written in the book of Psalms, where it says, ‘Let his home become desolate, with no one living in it.’ It also says, ‘Let someone else take his position.’ So now we must choose a replacement for Judas from among the men who were with us the entire time we were traveling with the Lord Jesus from the time He was baptized by John until the day He was taken from us. Whoever is chosen will join us as a witness of Jesus’ resurrection.” So they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. Then they all prayed, “O Lord, You know every heart. Show us which of these men You have chosen as an apostle to replace Judas in this ministry, for he has deserted us and gone where he belongs.” Then they cast lots, and Matthias was selected to become an apostle with the other eleven.Acts 1:15-26
Now let’s turn our attention to the matters concerning Judas’ death. Numbers of you have picked up a seeming discrepancy in the account of Judas death:
- What is the relationship between the “Field of Blood” Judas bought and the Potter’s Field?
- But didn’t Judas throw the money for betrayal into the temple, not buying a field?
- Did Judas hang himself or did he fall and split open? Which story is correct? Isn’t there a problem with these two accounts?
Then when Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that He had been condemned, he felt remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, Saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” But they said, “What is that to us? See to that yourself!” And he threw the pieces of silver into the sanctuary and departed; and he went away and hanged himself. And the chief priests took the pieces of silver and said, “It is not lawful to put them into the temple treasury, since it is the price of blood.” And they counseled together and with the money bought the Potter’s Field as a burial place for strangers. For this reason that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day.Matthew 27:3-8
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… (Now this man acquired a field with the price of his wickedness; and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out…)Acts 1:16-19
There is no contradiction here at all because both are true and neither one event necessarily contradicts the other. They don’t have to be mutually exclusive events. It is perfectly possible for both of these statements to be true. Luke does not tell us that Judas was running and fell, which would negate the idea of him committing suicide. AlsoLuke does not tell us that falling headlong was the cause of Judas’ death, whereas Matthew makes it clear that Judas’ death was caused by hanging. Therefore there are two possibilities which come to my mind:
- that Judas fell from a great height in the midst of hanging himself or immediately afterward.
- that after the hanging and his subsequent death, the body was left to rot and either when they took it down it fell and split the stomach, or that it just disintegrated and fell apart on hitting the ground.
All pretty gruesome I will admit but I am simply suggesting some alternatives which would accommodate what both Matthew and Luke have recorded.
We have a second problem in interpretation to deal with in the descriptions of the events surrounding Judas.
- Was the field purchased called The Potters’ Field or was its name The Field of Blood?
- Furthermore, was it Judas himself who bought the field or was it the Chief Priests who were responsible for purchasing the field?
I think it is all these things together. The details of both Matthew and Luke again are not in contradiction, but are possible to harmonise. We are not told that Judas actively purchased the field himself. We are told that he threw the coins into the sanctuary. Notice that It is not an active verb that Luke used but rather a passive. The meaning is more , “a field was acquired with the price of his wickedness” in contrast with Judas actively going out and buying a field and then killing himself. That to me does not make sense. A man who is about to kill himself does not go out and purchase a field. From the Scriptural description above, it is clear what happened. Judas threw the money into the temple court and went off and hanged himself. Those chief priests in the temple at the time wouldn’t touch the money because it was blood money. Neither would they acquire anything in their name or for the temple with blood money. Rather, they arranged for a field to be purchased for the potters guild in the temple court.
As a result of this action, the field becomes known by two different names – The Potters’ Field on account of the purchase being made in the name of the Temple Potters. Because the field was used for that purpose, it would be only natural that it would become known as The Potters Field. However, note also the number of times “blood” is mentioned in the story. The blood of Jesus’ is on Judas’ hands. Judas was culpable in the betrayal of the Messiah, so figuratively speaking, “His blood was on Judas’ hands”. It is also possible to interpret the meaning to be that the field in question was previously named “the field of blood”. However, Matthew makes it clear that it was Judas’ actions and the subsequent death of Jesus that caused the field to be named the Field of Blood. Not only that but also the gruesome description of Judas’ death and subsequent demise is bloody, to say the least. Little wonder that all of these events result in the field ending up having two names: The Potters’ Field or The Field of Blood.
These events are what caused people to attribute the purchasing of the field to Judas, despite the fact that Judas himself likely had no active part in the transaction at all. Thus, it is possible to see how the account of Matthew and Luke can be harmonised without compromising the Biblical text.
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It is often the vocal few, that misrepresent the silent majority.Anon
I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘don’t quit, suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.’Muhammad Ali
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Hard work spotlights the character of people. Some turn up their sleeves, some their noses, and some don’t turn up at all!A R Bernard