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.

Two passages:

Matthew 27:3-10

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.” [1]

Acts 1:16-19

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.)[2]

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

Questions:

  1. Why does Matthew say the chief priests and elders bought the field but Luke in Acts states Judas did?
  2. Why are there two different versions of Judas’ death? Is it hanging as Matthew states or falling as in Acts.
  3. Why does the prophecy call it the “potter’s field” when both Matthew and Luke call it “field of blood”?
  4. 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?

Proposed answers:

  1. 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.[3]
    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.” [4]See also Broadus’ work. [5]
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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. [6]
    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.

 


[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Mt 27:3–10). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Ac 1:16–19). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[3] 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.

[4] The Expositor’s Bible Commentary. Matthew by D.A. Carson 1984. Grand Rapids MI, P. 564.

[5] http://www.amazon.com/Commentary-Matthew-John-A-Broadus/dp/0825422833

[6] The Expositor’s Bible Commentary. Matthew by D.A. Carson 1984. Grand Rapids MI, P. 562-566..

During Pastor Kevin’s sermon, “Blessed to Be a Blessing”  given on Sunday, October 19th 2014,  Pastor Kevin mentioned the different examples of giving.   For those who are interested in more detail,  this is an additional explanation about Storehouse Giving vs. Giving to Need.

Summary:

This document is intended to concisely summarize what each position states and then look at relevant Biblical precedent pointing to a balanced approach.

Storehouse giving can be described as view that emphasizes the leadership function in allocating resources to needs and opportunity based on the best information at the time. The spiritual leaders of a church prayerfully and mindfully consider the opportunities and the needs and then call people to give as a lifestyle and or spiritual discipline. The giving appeals are not tied specifically to needs, but rather are “laid at the apostle’s feet” (Acts 4:37, 5:2). The spiritual leaders make the decisions regarding where the funds are used. Storehouse giving would see these instances in Acts as normative for the church today. Likewise, this view emphasizes that the local church should receive these funds, not parachurch ministries. Many combine the storehouse view with the idea of tithing. A tithe goes to the storehouse/church while offerings (over and above) go to parachurch ministries (Malachi 3:10).

Need-based giving is a response often motivated by some apparent need. To pretend that responding to need is not a part of the giving decision is a fiction. Even when giving is done out of discipline and habit, there is nevertheless some aspect of responding to need. In fact, compassion is a response to need. Mercy is a response to need. To ask people to give without this fails to cultivate these essential outworkings of the Holy Spirit.

Major cultural factors that influence the conversation:

  • IRS laws that state a 501c3 “shall demonstrate control of the funds.” That is, when funds are given to a church or a non-profit, that group must demonstrate control of those funds and where they are allocated. The donor cannot exercise exact control over how those funds are spent. The donor might think of their gift as doing this or that but in financial terms, if the linkage is very direct this is seen as outside the bounds of what the organization can receive. Grey areas include: benevolence, targeted giving and very specific projects.
  • Sometimes organizations will demonstrate the power of a dollar, but these are not to be taken as a promise to use the funds exactly that way. Example: “For only $10 you can send fifty Bibles to Africa”. Your $10 donation might actually buy an appetizer to take out a million dollar donor to lunch. Now that doesn’t sell, so they don’t present it that way. People often confuse “power of a dollar” statements with a promise to use the funds for only that purpose.
  • Massive culture of marketing – We are bombarded with thousands of images every day designed to produce a response. We become resistant to this, which requires more and more imaginative ways to get around our defenses. Over time this produces a group of cynical individuals who are accustomed to see things as “marketing” and therefore readily ignore them without much thought.
  • Desired control – One way to control an organization is to control its money. We vote as consumers with our dollars. Many feel that voting politically is a waste of time, whereas voting with our feet and with our dollars almost always produces results. Some may desire to control systems through the introduction or withholding of resources.

Biblical precedent for giving based on discipline:

• The OT tithe is based on a discipline which had little to do with how the resources would be used. It is considered irrelevant if the individual identified with the end use or not. This concept of giving is taught as a duty rather than an emotional appeal to do the right thing. Basing spiritual disciplines solely on feelings is a dangerous thing and has eroded a principled-duty-based decision-making framework. The Bible strongly advocates a duty-based system which also connects to the heart.
• Not giving as we ought is described as robbing God (Malachi 1). The rationale is that God is owed our giving. If the appeal is primarily to give in response to need, then it could be argued that when we fail to give, we are not robbing God, and that what we do choose to give is “extra.” We may prefer to think of things this way, but if God sees it as robbing Him, who is right?
• Train the heart by calling for the action, and your heart will follow. The Biblical model is calling for the behavior and the heart will follow. Basing giving only on the need asks for the effect prior to the cause. Jesus says that where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. By giving our treasure to God we move our heart in the process. The emotional basis assumes a set of values that is so often not present.
• Giving is a way to honor God which is not based on need. (Genesis 14:20)
• Giving confirms the idea that we are not our own; we are purchased at a price. This has nothing to do with need. (Numbers 3:51, I Corinthians 6:20)

Biblical precedent for giving as response to need:

  • People gave as a response to a need for building the tabernacle and the temple. This was a willing response that greatly edified everyone.
  • Giving to a need allows someone to feel personally connected to something in ways that “laying it at the Apostles feet” doesn’t. There was a higher level of investment and identification when they gave to a specific need. (Exodus 25:1-8, 36:2-6)
  • Paul repeatedly raised money for relief and support efforts on behalf of the believers in Jerusalem. (I Corinthians 16:1-3, Romans 15:26-28, Acts 15, Gal 2:10)
  • From everything we can tell of these efforts, they were very need-focused. In one case, there was a famine that was predicted and that occurred during Cladius’ reign. (Acts 11:18)

Key Passage: Paul uses need as a motivator in presenting a giving opportunity. (II Corinthinans 8:7-15) Even in this presentation of need, Paul calls for regular and systematic giving.

  • The early church based allocation of funds on need. (Acts 2:45)

A balanced approach:

Acts 4:34-35 — “For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales and lay them at the apostles’ feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need.”

I think it is ironic that even in the passages which use the phrase “lay them at the apostle’s feet” also say the word “need(y)” twice. This verse itself points to a middle way. (cf Acts 2:45, which also uses “need.”) God has given both forms of giving for specific reasons, one of which is regular and predictable, protecting us from excessive preoccupations with our giving motivations. This form reminds us that we owe God honor when that motivates us and when it doesn’t. We are not our own and giving is an act of worship which is due God no matter how He or others might use those funds. God has also given us a form of giving to a known need. This allows us to grow in expressing compassion as we respond to needs. Even in this response to need we give systematically.

God’s word calls us to lay resources into the hands of spiritual leaders entrusted with the stewardship of faithfully using these funds to meet the most pressing needs. Determining what the most pressing needs are should be a collaborative process. Presenting needs and allowing needs to motivate giving is appropriate, but if that is the only motivation for giving, then this represents a problem. Our goal is more than fundraising. Our task as spiritual leaders is to grow the whole body into the full stature and measure of Christ. Enabling immature desire to control systems through targeted giving may be an effective fundraising strategy and yet fail to advance people into God’s vision for Christ-like character.

Conclusion:

God has given both regular/systematic forms of giving, and special response-to-needs forms of giving to help us accomplish all that God desires in our lives. Both forms are necessary and have their place. The primary form in Scripture seems to be regular giving, yet giving to need is never absent.

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