Do the Accounts of Judas Iscariot conflict?
By Peter Salemi
I have seen video clips of Muslims asking Christians about what happened to Judas Iscariot, and asking them why the accounts of the Bible conflict. They think they found the loose brick on the wall of Christianity that causes the whole thing to tumble and fall so they can gain converts to Islam. Atheists also believe that the Bible contradicts in this point as well. Does the Bible contradict?
Atheists and others claim that the Bible says in Matthew the 27th chapter verse 7 that the chief priests bought the field where Judas hanged himself, yet Acts 1:18 says that Judas purchased that field. They also claim that the death of Judas also contradicts; did Judas die by hanging (Matthew 27:5) or by, “and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.” (Acts 1:18)? Do these accounts contradict?
The Bible does not contradict itself!
In God’s revelation to mankind, He promises that He will not lie, nor will Scripture be “broken” through contradiction or otherwise (Titus 1:2; John 10:35).
The Bible is written in such a way that it forces one to study and look into the word of God for the answers. On the face of it, it appears to contradict, but it really does not!
The scriptures say, “Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders,
“Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that.
“And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.
“And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood.
“And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in.
“Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day.” (Matthew 27:3-8).
Peter said, “Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.
“And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood.
“For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take.” (Acts 1:18-20). How is this reconciled?
People can’t see it!
Notice the differences? Do people not see it? There are two purchases here? The Greek words are different. The scriptures that are quoted in the Old Testament are different. It obvious-there is two purchases here. Actually, as we shall see, there is only one actual purchase!
Peter said Judas “purchased” a “field.” These words are completely different than the words used by Matthew. The words here used by Peter are, “ktaomai” “purchased” (Strong’s # 2932). The word for “field” is “chōrion” (Strong’s # 5564).
The words Matthew used were “agorazō” (Strongs #59) for “bought” and “agros” for “field.”(Strong’s #68).
Bullinger’s Companion Bible explains that, “The verbs also are different. In Matt 27:7 the verb is agorazo = to buy in the open market (from agora = a market place); while in Acts 1:18, the verb is ktaomai = to acquire possession of (See Luke 18:12; Luke 21:19; Acts 22:28), and is rendered ‘provide’ in Matt 10:9. Its noun, ktema = a possession (Occ. Matt 19:22. Mark 10:22. Acts 2:45; Acts 5:1).” (Appendix 161, p.185, emphasis his and mine).
The Cambridge Bible says the same, that, Judas, “Rather, acquired, which probably was the sense intended by the A. V.,” (emphasis theirs).
Judas “acquired possession” of this “field” illegally by deceit as Peter said, “with the reward of iniquity.” In 2 Peter 2:13, and 15 the same words are used and they are called the “reward” or “wages of unrighteousness” In these scriptures it speaks of many sins, but one sticks out when it comes to acquiring this possession by deceit and it’s in verse 15, “… an heart they have exercised with covetous practices;…” If it meant his betrayal of Jesus, the Lord and Savior, Peter would have stated it outright be he did not; instead he just called it, “the reward of iniquity;” nothing about the 30 pieces of silver is mentioned as well.
The Two fields were Different
The two “field [s],” the one was “bought” by the priests, the other “acquired” by Judas illegally by deceit were two different plots of land! “What the chief priests bought was ‘a field’ (Gr. agros).What Judas had acquired (see 3, below) was what in English we call a ‘Place’ (Gr.chorion = a farm, or small property.) The two are quite distinct, and the difference is preserved both in the Greek text and in the Syriac version (See note 3, p. 136).” (ibid, p.185, emphasis added).
The two places also had different names and purposes. The one the chief priests bought was a “potter’s field, to bury strangers in.” (Matt 27:7). Judas’ property was a private property, not “a public possession for a burial ground” (Cambridge Bible) as Matthew points out.
Both were called the “Field of Blood.” However, “The two places had different names. The ‘field’ purchased by the chief priests was originally known as ‘the potter’s field,’ but was afterward called ‘agros haimatos’ = the field of blood; i.e. a field bought with the price of blood (‘blood’ being put by the Fig. Metonymy (of the Subject), Ap. 6, for murder or blood-guiltiness).
“The ‘possession’ which Judas had acquired bore an Aramaic name, ‘Hakal dema’ (see Ap. 94. (III.) 3, p. 135), which is transliterated Akeldama, or according to some Akeldamach, or Hacheldamach = ‘place’ (Gr. chorion) of blood’: a similar meaning but from a different reason: viz. Judas’ suicide.” (ibid, Appendix 161, p.185, emphasis his and mine).
This source says the same, “St. Luke’s account rather suggests that it was Judas’ own blood shed in his fall which gave the name” (Pulpit Commentary).
Notice the context of the two accounts. In Matthew’s Gospel, it is obvious that there are speaking of the innocent blood of Christ. In Acts however, the blood of Christ is not mentioned. The only blood spilt that Peter is speaking of is Judas, “and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out….And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood.” Judas’ blood, not the blood of Christ!
Also, Judas’ field was known as the field of blood “unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem;” This was publically known!
In Matthew’s account, “And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in.
“Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day.” (Matthew 27:7, 8). Called by whom? The chief priests! They secretly called this plot of land the “field of blood” not the public. They would not advertise what they did, of being part of a plot putting to death a fellow Jew. Matthew found out probably because of Nicodemus and others, who were believers in Christ, (see John 3:1-2; Acts 15:5).
And finally, two different scriptures are quoted from the Old Testament.
Peter quotes, “the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein…” (Acts 1:20). He did not quote the Targum of Matthew that says, “Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value;
“And gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord appointed me.” (27:9-10). If these two fields and purchases were the same Peter would have quoted it verbatim, be he did not! Two entirely different prophecies were quoted about Judas and the chief priests because these were two different fields and purchases.
Now, when were these purchases made? “The purchase of Judas was made some time before that of the chief priests; for there would have been no time to arrange and carry this out between the betrayal and the condemnation. The purchase of the chief priests was made after Judas had returned the money.” (ibid, Appendix 161, p.185, emphasis added).
How did Judas Die?
“And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself…. and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.” (Matthew 27: 5; Acts 1:18).
So which was it? Did Judas hang himself, or did he fall headlong, and all his bowels gush out? The answer is BOTH occurred. No headlong fall causes a human’s bowels to “gush out.”
But when a corpse has hung for a long time, the body bloats to unimaginable proportions, as putrefaction sets in. Ultimately, the rope broke, and Judas’ body did indeed fall headlong, and his bowels gushed out! There is no contradiction here!
Clearly the Bible does not contradict in any way. The Bible is written in a certain way that makes people study so they become skilled in the word of God, and be able to teach others the truths of the Bible, “Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine?...For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:” (Isa 28:9-10).
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