Judas' Demise: Not a Contradiction

Jason Dulle

Mt 27: 3-8  Now when Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus had been condemned, he regretted what he had done and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders, 4 saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood!” But they said, “What is that to us? You take care of it yourself!” 5 So Judas threw the silver coins into the temple and left. Then he went out and hanged himself. 6 The chief priests took the silver and said, “It is not lawful to put this into the temple treasury, since it is blood money.” 7 After consulting together they bought the Potter’s Field with it, as a burial place for foreigners. 8 For this reason that field has been called the “Field of Blood” to this day. (NET)

Acts 1:18  Now this man Judas acquired a field with the reward of his unjust deed, and falling headfirst he burst open in the middle and all his intestines gushed out. (NET)

On the face of it these verses appear to contradict one another, and thus are a favorite “contradiction” appealed to by skeptics to demonstrate the unreliability of the Bible.  But are these two passages really contradicting one another?  After all, it’s not as though Matthew tells us Judas hanged himself, and Luke says he didn’t hang himself.  In fact, Luke doesn’t even tell us how he died.  He only tells us that he fell headfirst and his guts gushed out.  Clearly this cannot be referring to the mode of his death because falling down, in and of itself, cannot cause someone’s belly to burst open and expose his intestines!  Falling from a distance, however, could.  If Judas was hanged as Matthew tells us, it would provide the fall-distance necessary to explain the phenomenon Luke records for us.  Indeed, if Judas hanged himself and his body was left on the tree rather than being removed, his body would have begun to decay, and his belly would have swollen.  Once he was caused to fall (for whatever reason: the rope giving way, his head slipping out of the noose, etc.), his belly would have easily burst open and his guts gushed out.  Matthew’s account and Luke’s account are harmonious, not contradictory.

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