During Pastor Kevin’s sermon, “Waiting on God” based on the Acts 1:12-26 passage, given on Sunday, January 18th, Pastor Kevin mentioned the different biblical accounts of how Judas died. For those who are interested in more detail, this is an additional explanation about Judas’ death and the related problems.
3 Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, 4 saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” 5 And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself. 6 But the chief priests, taking the pieces of silver, said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since it is blood money.” 7 So they took counsel and bought with them the potter’s field as a burial place for strangers. 8 Therefore that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. 9 Then was fulfilled what had been spoken by the prophet Jeremiah, saying, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him on whom a price had been set by some of the sons of Israel, 10 and they gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord directed me.” 
16 “Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. 17 For he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.” 18 (Now this man acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness, and falling headlong he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. 19 And it became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their own language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.)
|Main idea in Matthew||Main idea in Acts|
|Who bought the field? V.7 “they” = chief priests and elders v.3.||Judas 1:18|
|Who did Judas die? Judas hung himself 5b||Judas fell and his bowls broken open 1:18|
|What was the field called? “field of blood”v8||Field of blood 1:19|
- Why does Matthew say the chief priests and elders bought the field but Luke in Acts states Judas did?
- Why are there two different versions of Judas’ death? Is it hanging as Matthew states or falling as in Acts.
- Why does the prophecy call it the “potter’s field” when both Matthew and Luke call it “field of blood”?
- What prophecy is Matthew quoting? Many study Bibles have Zachariah as the foot note, but Matthew mentions the prophet Jerimiah. If it is Zachariah than why does Mathew mention Jeremiah? Is this an error?
- This might appear to be a discrepancy at first glance but looking deeper the verbs used in each passage are more nuanced. They are not the same words and each carries with it a different meaning.
The summary: Judas provided the funding for the purchase of a plot of land when he threw the money into the Temple, however the actual transaction was effected by the chief priests and elders.
As this money was blood money it could not be included in the normal Temple treasure as is stated in Matthew 27:6.
The verb in Matthew 27:7 translated “bought” (ἀγοράζω.) means to effect a financial transaction. Also From ἀγορά, “market,” this means “to buy,” and is often used in the NT in relation to commercial life.
Where as in Luke’s description in Acts the verb he uses in 1:18 translated by ESV “acquired” is more particular, it can mean to gain through another. However for Luke the emphasis is not on how the transaction took place, rather the focus is on what it accomplished. Dr. Carson’s explanation is helpful: “The money bought him a burial place; that was to him the sole financial outcome of the iniquitous transaction.” See also Broadus’ work. 
- The most likely answer extends all the way back to Augustine and it simply says both are true. That is Judas hung himself using a dead tree branch reaching over a ravine. He died in that act of hanging and then his body fell as the branch broke, at which point his bowls gushed out. It should be noted that many such ravines have been found in the area.
- Potter’s field seems to be the proper name most likely because it was a field which was used for clay. Once the clay was used up the field would be sold. The subsequent naming of the field – “field of blood” was connected to Judas’ death. Matthew’s statement “to this day” indicates the label stuck. Locals often do name things based on memorable events. This does not change the official name or a name by which it was known prior to the traumatic event. There is no contradiction here.
- Who Matthew is quoting is a much harder question. At first glance it appears to be a quotation of Zechariah 11:13. However a careful examination of the passages relative to the quote produces some differences. If this is a quote from Zechariah how could Matthew have made such a mistake? Wouldn’t his own familiarity with the prophets and he keen interest in fulfilled prophecy have prevented such a mistake, not to mention the dual authorship of the Holy Spirit? This question force us back to the prophet Jerimiah and search for a passage there. Dr. Carson suggest there is a good fit for Matthew’s point in Jeremiah 19:1-13. This seems for fit for several reasons the Potter’s field connection is strong. In 19:6 an additional connection is made as a burial grounds which fits the context with Judas’ death and using the field for burying foreigners. 
For these reasons it is better to see Matthew as making an allusion to Zechariah while directly appeal to the prophet Jeremiah. This sort of treatment is far from uncommon among rabbinic sources.
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Mt 27:3–10). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Ac 1:16–19). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
 Kittel, G., Bromiley, G. W., & Friedrich, G. (Eds.). (1964–). Theological dictionary of the New Testament (electronic ed., Vol. 1, p. 125). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.
 The Expositor’s Bible Commentary. Matthew by D.A. Carson 1984. Grand Rapids MI, P. 564.
 The Expositor’s Bible Commentary. Matthew by D.A. Carson 1984. Grand Rapids MI, P. 562-566..