I recently saw someone post this question on Facebook and I have always wondered about that as well. Up to this point I have never taken the time to find a suitable answer. So I spent some time studying the issue and here are the results. Let’s explain the background of the question and then address the answer.
“Please explain which of these two accounts are accurate I’m stumped, MATTHEW 27:3-5 = Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, 4 Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What [is that] to us? see thou [to that]. 5 And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.
“ACTS 1:16-20 = Men [and] brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus. 17 For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry. 18 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. 19 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. 20 For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take.”
The point at issue is that there appear to be two contradictions.
- Judas hanged himself in Matthew 27 and in Acts 1 that he fell forward and his bowels burst open.
- Judas gave the silver back to the priests and he bought a field with the money from the priests.
When we find apparent contradictions in the Bible we have to remember that these two accounts are written by two different men. They are writing from different perspectives and using their own particular expressions. God intended this in his Word. It is called organic inspiration. It is not mechanic inspiration, that is, like a machine. The people pick up their pen and God causes them to write things. This is called mechanic inspiration. Organic speaks of the organisms that God makes. They are not machines, but have variances in each unique case. The Scriptures are equally the words of God and the words of men. God took into account and made use of the personalities, cultures and experiences of the writers of the Bible. So consider this as we examine this issue.
In Matthew 27:5, we have the word hanged used, but the word actually means “suffocate” or “choke.” It does not necessarily signify suicide. Read this about the death of Jehoram.
And after all this the LORD smote him in his bowels with an incurable disease. And it came to pass, that in process of time, after the end of two years, his bowels fell out by reason of his sickness: so he died of sore diseases. And his people made no burning for him, like the burning of his fathers.
(2 Chronicles 21:18-19)
Jehoram got sick and his bowels fell out from his sickness. So, in the case of Judas, it is possible he was seized with a powerful sickness as a result of his grief. As a result of the sickness he choked or suffocated, then he fell from his bed or chair and his bowels gushed out. “Falling headlong” the word headlong simply means “forward.” So he fell forward and his bowels came out.
Regarding the money, it shows the priests did not want to take the blood money back into the treasury so they bought a field in his name. Or it could mean Judas intended to buy it. It was in process, then the money went back to the priests and they completed the purchase in his name.
We don’t have a contradiction in the Scriptures, but rather a completed story. With just one part of the story we don’t get the full picture. Instead, God placed within the Scriptures two different perspectives that comple