How did Judas die? Matthew 27:5 with Acts 1:18. Is there a contradiction?
How did Judas die? Matthew 27:5 with Acts 1:18. Is there a contradiction? No, of course not.
Matthew 27:4-5 -
4 "Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that.
5 And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and HANGED HIMSELF.”
Acts 1:16-19 -
16 "Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus.
17 For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry.
18 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.”
19 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."
Many atheists, scoffer and bible critics point to these two different accounts of the death of Judas Iscariot and tell us this is a contradiction in the Bible. Not just the King James Bible but in ALL Bibles. It is not. And many Bible commentators over the years have offered a very reasonable explanation that harmonizes these two narratives.
James Burton Coffman’s Commentary - “Matthew's account of this incident (Matthew 27:7f) has been alleged to contradict what Luke said here; but, in actuality, the two accounts are in perfect harmony. Judas hanged himself, as Matthew related; but his body also fell, as in Luke. We do not know whether the fall took place as a result of Judas' bungling efforts at suicide, or if his body hung until it fell of natural causes. Tradition says that he fell while in the process of hanging himself. Johnson says:
He probably hanged himself on a tree projecting over the precipices of the Valley of Hinnom, and afterward, on account of the rope or limb breaking, fell headlong with such force as to burst his body open on the jagged rocks. This is the traditional account of his death.
Such alleged "contradictions" as skeptics delight to point out from such variations in the holy gospels are called "pseudocons," which means sham-contradictions, being, in fact, not contradictions at all but variations expected from independent accounts of events in the New Testament.
Another pseudocon based upon this event appears in Matthew's statement that the priests bought the field of blood, whereas in Luke it is stated that Judas "obtained" the field. Judas provided the money, which remained his after his death; and therefore the field properly belonged to Judas, his estate, and his heirs (if any).
Certainly, the priests refused to accept the returned money, either for themselves or for the temple treasury. Thus it is exactly true that Judas "obtained" the field. His money bought it. The priests, however, actually did the purchasing, hence the statement that "they" bought the field.
The diligence of those who cavil at the sacred text is apparent in a third pseudocon based on this same transaction. It regards the two reasons given for the name of the field, Akeldema, the reason assigned for this name in Matthew being the fact that the money that bought it was "the price of blood," and the reason in Acts appearing to be derived from the bloody death of Judas. Both reasons are true, either one of them being sufficient to suggest the name. Matthew's mention of one reason does not deny the other, nor does Luke's mention of the other deny the one. For more on this, see my Commentary on Matthew, Matthew 27:10.”
Expository Notes by Dr. Thomas Constable - “This account of Judas' death differs from Matthew's who wrote that Judas hanged himself (Matthew 27:5). Undoubtedly both accounts were true. Perhaps Judas hanged himself and in the process also fell (lit. flat on his face) and tore open his abdomen. Perhaps the rope or branch with which he hanged himself broke. Perhaps when others cut his corpse down it fell and broke open as Luke described.”
Robert Hawker’s Poor Man’s Commentary - “In relation to what is said of Judas purchasing a field with the reward of iniquity, and falling headlong until his bowels gushed out: these things are not contrary to what is said of his hanging himself, Matthew 27:3-5.
For it was his ill-gotten money, with which the field was afterwards bought. And it is possible, that he might have fallen from the place to which he had hung himself, after he was dead, and perhaps hung long there, and such a consequence might have followed. But what an awful end! And what an awful character!”
Paul E. Kretzmann’s Popular Commentary - “It seems that after he hanged himself, the rope broke, and he pitched over backward down some declivity, with the result that his body burst open and all his intestines gushed forth. That was evidently the judgment of God upon this hardened sinner.”
Preacher’s Complete Homiletical Commentary - “ By his own hand, it being most likely that he hanged himself on a tree in his field, and that the rope breaking he fell heavily to the ground, with the consequence stated by Peter.”
Chuck Smith Bible Commentary - “There are those who find a discrepancy in the scriptures, because in one of the gospels we are told that when Judas came back and tried to return the money, and they said, "Hey, it"s your problem. We can"t take it." And put it back in the temple treasury. "It"s blood money." Then he threw it there on the floor of the temple and he went out and hung himself. Here Peter tells us that he fell headlong and just popped. And there are those who imagine a discrepancy. Very simple, he went up into the tree to hang himself, tied the rope around his neck and tied it to the limb and jumped. And the force of the fall either snapped the rope or his head, and he fell on down into the canyon and just as he said it here.”
Ray Stedman Expository Studies - “Then he went out and hanged himself. Hanging there, on the very ground that he had hoped to buy for his home, his body bloated and swelled till the rope broke and he fell headlong, as this Scripture says, and his bowels gushed out.”
The Biblical Illustrator - “He fell headlong, or, rather, flat on his face, a fact not contradictory, but additional, to the circumstances mentioned in Matthew 27:5. Theophylact explained that the rope broke, Judas having flung himself off some height.”
William Burkitt’s Expository Notes with Practical Observations - “It is added, that he burst asunder, and his bowels gushed out. The rope, or that to which it was fastened, breaking, he fell down headlong, and burst asunder, and his bowels gushed out. A just and suitable punishment for his want of bowels to his kind and innocent Master.”
Justin Edward’s Family Bible New Testament - “Falling headlong; he first hanged himself, Matthew 27:5, and then fell as here mentioned.”
William Godbey’s Commentary on the New Testament - “Amid this horrific and unbearable remorse, Judas, seeking in vain to rescind the contract, throws down the money in the temple and runs away off to a rugged precipice beyond the deep valley of Hinnom [pointed out to me by my guide when I was there in 1895] with furious expedition, gets hold of a rope too weak to bear his robust, corpulent, Jewish body, ties it round his neck, swings off from the precipice, the rope breaks, he falls precipitately on the great rocks beneath, bursting in twain, as the Greek says, with a great noise, all of his internal organs gushing out. Thus he dies a most horrible death, weltering in his own blood.”
Gary Hampton Commentary on Acts - “Having realized what he had done, Judas threw the thirty pieces of silver down in the temple and went out and hanged himself. From what Luke further reports, we conclude either the branch he used to hang himself on or the rope itself broke and Judas" body fell and burst open.”
Harry Ironside’s Notes on Acts - “Some think we have a contradiction here. The Gospel says Judas went out and hanged himself (Matthew 27:5). The book of Acts says, “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.”
There is no contradiction. Peter simply supplied further information. I think even as I read the words I can see the horrid picture. Judas, distracted by the awful sense of his guilt, driven by remorse for what he had done, rushes out. He sees a tree perhaps on the edge of a cliff, nooses himself to it and leaps into space. His body is torn asunder and the horribly sickening spectacle lies there for all to see-the end, so far as earth is concerned, of the man who sold the Savior for thirty pieces of silver!”
So, you see, saints. There IS no contradiction.
I think God deliberately put things like this in His Book so that the scoffers can feel justified in their basic unbelief and so as to exercise and strengthen the faith of His chosen people who humbly believe and submit to His infallible words.
Let the scoffers mock all they want. God’s words in the King James Bible are absolute, 100% inspired truth.
All of grace, believing The Book,
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