Death of Judas

One apparent New Testament contradiction has arisen concerning the means by which Judas Iscariot, the betrayer of the innocent blood, died. In Matthew 27:5, the scripture says of Judas, “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.”  

However, Acts 1:18-19 records the same event in a different manner, “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.” 

The first passage reports that Judas hanged himself, the latter concludes that the betrayer of Jesus fell and “burst asunder in the midst.” Which of these is correct? Did Judas Iscariot hang himself, or did he die as a result of a fall? Through careful consideration of Scripture (Isaiah 28:10), one might see that both accounts could be correct. 

Immediately following the account of Judas’s death in Matthew 27, Jesus Christ is tried for the last time. Pontius Pilate allows the Son of God to be delivered into the hands of wicked men and crucified. Jesus bore the cross to Golgotha, and there He hung for six agonizing hours, suspended between Heaven and earth. Jesus cried with a loud voice, and yielded His spirit to His Father. As the last breath escaped the lips of the precious Son of God, “. . .the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom, and the Earth did quake, and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened, and many bodies of the saints which slept arose” (Matthew 27:51-52).  

The exact time between verse 5 and verses 51 and 52 is not known, but approximately six to nine hours had elapsed. It was during this time that Judas hanged himself. The Bible relates that when Jesus died, there was an earthquake so mighty that rocks were broken and graves were opened. One may assuredly presume that an earthquake strong enough to rend a rock might also be powerful enough to break a rope or cord, specifically the rope from which Judas was hanging. Consequently, it follows, that while Judas did in fact hang himself, the cord from which he was suspended, broke, and he fell headlong, burst asunder, and his bowels gushed out.  

While the supposed contradictions mentioned here represent only two of the plethora of attacks imposed on the Holy Bible, one can see that many things that appear to our finite minds as discrepancies are merely a lack of understanding on our part. The Bible commands us to seek wisdom and understanding; however, when worldly learning contradicts the Word, we must as the Apostle Paul declares, “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ” Philippians 3:8.

Eric J. Nafziger

Daily Proverb

Proverbs 20:12

The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the LORD hath made even both of them.