Are there two contradictory stories about Judas Iscariot?

The two references about the death of Judas Iscariot

“Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself” (Matthew 27:5). This he must have done almost immediately, for those conducting Jesus to Calvary discovered the mangled body of Judas by the roadside as they left the city (Acts 1:18).

“Now this man purchased a field with the wages of iniquity; and falling headlong he burst open in the middle and all his entrails gushed out” (Acts 1:18). Judas was probably the most ambitious among Jesus’ disciples, and he desired to achieve worldly heights of worldly power. Instead of the heights to which he desired he perished by, “falling headlong.” Judas horrible sin and then death revealed the tragic results of such ambition.

Some critics claim that the Bible is giving contradictory reports in the story of Judah’s death. But  the truth is that these two accounts are one and the same. Judas hanged himself first and then fell on the ground causing his body to burst open. Luke, being a doctor, gives us a more graphic description of what occurred following the hanging. There is no contradiction about Judas’ death only two descriptions given by two different writers from two different perspectives.

The life of Judas Iscariot

Judas Iscariot was one of the twelve disciples of Jesus Christ. He was the son of Simon (John 6:71). The name Iscariot, means “man of Kerioth” which was a village in southern Judea near Idumaea (Joshua 15:25; Mark 3:8).

Jesus did not ask this disciple to join the group of disciples as He did for the others, rather he intruded among them and asked for a place. Jesus trusted him to do the work of an evangelist. He endowed him with power to heal the sick and to cast out devils. He gave him every encouragement and every opportunity to develop a heavenly character.

But this disciple had character defects of worldly ambition and love of money. Jesus foresaw that these characteristics would take over (John 6:70), but still worked with him in an effort to save Him. However, this disciple did not come to the point of surrendering himself fully to Christ. While he accepted the position of a minister of Christ, he did not yield to the divine transforming Spirit of God. He fostered the evil spirit of love of money until it had become the ruling motive of his life. He was the treasurer and used his position to steal from the collections (John 12:6).

The betrayal

Before the Passover, Judas planned with the priests to betray Jesus (Luke 6:16) into their hands for 30 pieces of sliver – the price of a slave. At the Last Supper, Jesus foretold the disciples who would betray Him (John 13:26). But this disciple disregarded Christ’s words and allowed the devil to completely take charge of his heart (John 13:27). In so doing, he fulfilled the OT prophecy of Psalm 41:9, “Even my close friend, someone I trusted, one who shared my bread, has turned against me” (John 13:18).

Judas acted his part in betraying Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane when he said to the leaders of the mob, “Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is He: hold Him fast” (Matthew 26:48). But Jesus said to him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?” (Luke 22:48). Jesus said, “The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born” (Matthew 26:24).

When this disciple saw that Jesus was condemned to be crucified, and was making no effort to save Himself, he felt remorse over his treachery. He returned the 30 pieces of silver to the priests (Matthew 27:4) and then in despair committed suicide by hanging himself (Luke 27:5). His body broke the branch of the tree and he fell headlong and his body burst open (Acts 1:18,19). This is the last mention of him in the scriptures. What a horrible end for a man that made money his idol.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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