The context of this post is a recent set of emails between myself and a friend who left the Lord some time back. He is, at the moment, reading Acts and reflecting on what is said in comparison with other matters in the New Testament. While he may have lost what he gained with his study of the New Testament, he is not uninformed and, consequently, not one to be lightly dismissed. I am glad for our connection one with another and, while I am convinced he is dead wrong, I am also glad he is calling on me to defend the faith. That measures me; I get the chance to see where I am at!
Here is his first email to me that started this conversation. “My New Years Resolution this year was to make a detailed study of Acts. Along those lines, I have a sincere question for you: How do you reconcile Acts 1:18 with Matthew 27:3-8? I don’t recollect ever analyzing these two contexts to the extent that I am now, and do not see how the two accounts can be reconciled. When you have time, please share your thoughts on this matter. “
I did, and he thought what I wrote was a stretch. So here we are. I wrote this based on that brief conversation.
ANALYSIS OF MATTHEW 27:3-8 and ACTS 1:18
- The money given Judas for his betrayal was returned (30 pieces of silver).
- The money Judas threw down was not received by the religious leaders.
- With that money, still belonging to Judas (as far as the “recipients” of the returned money was concerned) they purchased the potter’s field, also known as Field of Blood.
- Judas hanged himself.
- Judas purchased a field named Akel Dama (Field of Blood) with his wages in iniquity.
- Without mentioning how he died, he fell headlong, his torso exploded.
Dave thinks there is no apparent harmony. The text says that Judas purchased the field, but he could not do so because he was dead, as one reads in Matthew. In addition to this, if one did not have Matthew’s account, how could a common reader think anything but that Judas purchased the field as it is recorded in Acts? Thus, we have in Matthew, someone purchasing the field other than Judas, but in Acts, it was Judas who purchased the field.
Irreconcilable? Dave said: “Therefore, I do not see how these accounts can be reconciled without stretching one to accommodate the other.”
When analyzing pieces of information, it is crucial to honest handling to take all the data, spread it out (so to speak), and put the pieces back together. This is the nature of reconciliation. This method is utilized in all areas of life, even by atheists, agnostics, and skeptics (AAS). It seems, however, that AAS wants to do this in all areas, but one. That one, of course, is when one deals with matters pertaining to God. Such a desire exists on the part of AAS to show incompatibility; there is no amount of evidence, or no proper handling of the material allowed wherein one can reasonably reconcile the accounts. This is nothing but prejudicial handling and rejection for the sole reason to promote the ideology of AAS.
Judas betrays Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. With guilt, Judas returns the money to those who gave it to him. This money was not received because it was blood money. In the meantime, Judas went out and hung himself. The period of time that Judas was hanging suspended is not recorded. The money returned was not kept, thus it still belonged to Judas. With that money, a parcel of ground was purchased. This purchase was, therefore, made in the name of Judas (because it was still belonging to him, and the religious leaders had no knowledge, presumably, of Judas’ actions or whereabouts when he left). Matthew and Acts records what Judas did to himself (suicide – Matthew) and what ultimately happened to the body (decomposition – Acts).
According to ancient tradition, Judas hanged himself above the Valley of Hinnom on the edge of a cliff. Eventually the rope snapped (or was cut or untied), thus causing Judas to fall headfirst into the field below, as Luke described. Matthew does not deny that Judas fell and had his entrails gush out, and Luke does not deny that Judas hanged himself. In short, Matthew records the method in which Judas attempted his death. Luke records the end result (The Anvil Rings, p. 202, emphasis in original).
Where is the incompatibility, or irreconcilable nature of this?