Stated “contradiction” #1 >
Judas’ death: Matthew 27:3-10 says he hangs himself. Acts 1:18-19 says he fell headlong and burst open.
No contradiction whatsoever.
A brief and unpleasant study on hanging will show that the act of hanging can have various effects on the body. For example, decapitation occurs if the weight of the person is not regulated to the height of the gallows and the drop. It, therefore, does not take much imagination to consider how a botched hanging could result in a terrible secondary event, never mind a hanging with such spiritual implications as this one. It is not unreasonable that Judas hung himself and, at the same time, fell in some way resulting in an even more gruesome death.
Dr. Gill provides further insight and context:
Act 1:18 - Now this man purchased a field,.... This verse, with the following, seem to be the words of Luke the historian, which should be read in a parenthesis; for there was no need to have acquainted the disciples with the manner of Judas's death, which was so well known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem; nor would Jerusalem, and the inhabitants of it, be mentioned with that propriety by Peter, when he, and those he spoke of, were upon the spot; nor could there be any necessity of his explaining a word in their own tongue, which they understood, and that in a language unknown unto them; nor does it seem likely, that in so short a time as five or six weeks, the field should have obtained the name of "Aceldama", and be commonly known by it. The Ethiopic version calls this field, "a vineyard"; and so it might be, and yet the potter's field too. It is somewhat difficult, that Judas should be said to purchase it, when Matthew says the chief priests bought it, Mat_27:7. Both are true; Judas having received his money of the chief priests two days ago, might not only intend to purchase, but might really strike a bargain with the potter for his field; but repenting of his sin, instead of carrying the money to make good the agreement, went and threw it to the chief priests, and then hanged himself; when they, by a secret providence, might be directed to make a purchase of the same field with his money; or he may be said to purchase it, because it was purchased with his money. The Vulgate Latin, and Arabic versions render it, "he possessed" it; not in person, unless he was buried there, as he might be; and so all that he got by his wretched bargain, was only so much ground as to be buried in; or the sense may be, "he caused it to be possessed"; by returning the money which the chief priests used this way,
with the reward of his iniquity; that is, with the thirty pieces of silver, given him as a reward for that vile action of his betraying of his Lord and master: so the reward of divination, or what Balsam got by soothsaying, which was an iniquitous and wicked practice, is called, "the wages of unrighteousness", 2Pe_2:15.
and falling headlong he burst in the midst; either falling from the gallows, or tree on which he hanged himself, the rope breaking, upon a stone, or stump, his belly was broke, and burst; or falling from the air, whither he was violently snatched up by Satan, who was in him, and by whom he was thrown down to the earth, and who went out of him by a rupture made in his belly; or being in deep melancholy, he was strangled with the squinancy, and fell down on his face to the ground, as the Syriac, Arabic, and Ethiopic versions render it,
and burst asunder: and all his bowels gushed out; through the rupture that was made. So we read of a man that fell from the roof of a house, \rtlch ô÷òéä ëøñéä åðôé÷\rtlch \rtlch îòééðéä, "and his belly burst, and his bowels came out" (l). And this was the miserable end of Judas. The death of Arius, as related by Athanasius (m), from Macarius the presbyter, who was present, was much after the same manner; who reports, that having swore to the orthodox faith, and being about to be introduced into the church at Constantinople, after the prayer of Alexander, the bishop of it, he went out to the seat, to ease nature; when he, on a sudden, fell down headlong, and burst in the middle, and immediately expired: and Epiphanius (n) compares his exit with this of Judas, who observes, that he went out in the night to the vault, as before related, and burst asunder, as Judas of old did; and came to his end in a filthy and unclean place. Ruffinus says (o), that as he sat, his entrails, and all his bowels, came from him into the vault; and so he died in such a place, a death worthy of his blasphemous and corrupt mind. As to the seeming difference between the Evangelist Matthew and the Apostle Peter, it may be reconciled by either of the ways before mentioned; see Gill on Mat_27:5 though it seems most likely, that Judas not being able to bear the torments of his mind, he hanged himself, as Achitophel did, and was not strangled by the devil, or by any disease; and that he fell down from the tree on which he hung, either the rope breaking, or the tree falling; and so the things happened to him which are recorded: or he might fall from hence, either through a violent strong wind which blew him down; or through the rushing of wild beasts against the gallows, on which he hung; or by the devil himself, who might throw him down from hence after he had dispatched himself, as some have conjectured: or, which seems best of all, he might be cast down from hence by men, either of themselves, or by the order of the civil magistrates, not enduring such a sight, that one that had destroyed himself should hang long there; and which, according to the law, was not to be admitted; and these not taking him down, in a gentle manner, but using some violence, or cutting the rope, the body fell, and burst asunder, as is here said: and it should be observed, that the Evangelist Matthew speaks of the death of Judas, in which he himself was concerned; and the Apostle Peter reports what befell his carcass after his death, and in which others were concerned. The Vulgate Latin renders it, and being hanged, he burst in the middle; as if this happened to him upon the gallows, without falling.
(l) T. Bab. Cholin, fol. 56. 2. (m) Epist. ad. Scrapion, Vol. I. p. 523. (n) Contra Haeres. l. 2. Haeres. 68. (o) L. 1. c. 13.
Mat 27:5 - And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple,.... Upon the ground, in that part of the temple where they were sitting; in their council chamber, \rtlch ìùëú\rtlch \rtlch äâæéú, "the paved chamber", where the sanhedrim used to meet (m): for it seems they would not take the money of him; and he was determined not to carry it back with him, and therefore threw it down before them, left it,
and departed; from the sanhedrim: and went; out of the temple; not to God, nor to the throne of his grace, nor to his master, to ask pardon of him, but to some secret solitary place, to cherish his grief and black despair,
and hanged himself. The kind and manner of his death, as recorded by Luke in Act_1:18 is, that "falling headlong, he burst asunder the midst, and all his bowels gushed out"; which account may be reconciled with this, by supposing the rope, with which he hanged himself, to break, when falling; it may be, from a very high place, upon a stone, or stump of a tree; when his belly burst, and his guts came out: or it may be rendered, as it is in the Arabic and Ethiopic versions, "he was strangled"; and that either by the devil, as Dr. Lightfoot thinks; who, having been in him for the space of two or three days, caught him up into the air, and threw him down headlong; and dashing him on the ground, he burst in the midst, and his bowels gushed out, and the devil made his exit that way: or by a disease called the squinancy, or quinsy, a suffocation brought upon him by excessive grief, deep melancholy, and utter despair; when being choked by it, he fell flat upon his face, and the rim of his belly burst, and his entrails came out. This disease the Jews call \rtlch àñëøà\ltrch ,\ltrch \ltrch "Iscara"; and if it was what he was subject to from his infancy, his parents might call him Iscariot from hence; and might be designed in providence to be what should bring him to his wretched end: and what is said of this suffocating disorder, seems to agree very well with the death of Judas. They say (n), that -
"it is a disease that begins in the bowels, and ends in the throat:''
they call death by it, \rtlch îéúä øòä, "an evil death" (o); and say (p), that "there are nine hundred and three kinds of deaths in the world, but that:
\rtlch ÷ùä ùáëìï\rtlch \rtlch àñëøà, "the hardest of them all is Iscara"; which the Gloss calls "strangulament", and says, is in the midst of the body:
'' they also reckon it, \rtlch îéúä îùåðä, "a violent death" (q); and say (r), that the spies which brought a bad report of the good land, died of it. Moreover, they affirm (s), that:
"whoever tastes anything before he separates (i.e. lights up the lamp on the eve of the sabbath, to distinguish the night from the day), shall die by "Iscara", or suffocation.''
Upon which the Gloss says, this is:
"measure for measure: he that satisfies his throat, or appetite, shall be choked: as it is said (t) he that is condemned to be strangled, either he shall be drowned in a river, or he shall die of a quinsy, this is "Iscara".''
(m) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 88. 2. (n) Gloss. in T. Bab. Sabbat, fol 33. 1. (o) T. Bab. Yebamot, fol. 62. 9. (p) Beracot, fol. 3. 1. (q) Gloss. in T. Bab. Taanith, fol. 19. 2. (r) T. Bab. Sota, fol. 35. 1. (s) T. Bab. Pesachim, fol. 105. 1. (t) T. Bab. Cetubot, fol. 30. 2.
Source: Dr. John Gill (1697-1771).
Seeming “contradictions” can serve to miss the truth in more ways than one. The death of Judas is instructive with a great and merciful warning. Judas and Peter both denied the Lord. Judas never repented in a saving way; he may have been sorry and realized the heinous evil of what he had done and could no longer face himself as a person, but he never loved the Lord nor ever trusted him as Redeemer (Acts 1:25). In contrast, Peter “went out, and wept bitterly” (Matthew 26:75), repented, obeyed His Saviour, and shortly thereafter preached boldly saying, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins…” (Acts 2: 38). Two “religious” people, but only one in heaven. One was unrepentant and hardened to his own explicit self-direction and self-rule, the other broken, humbled, and then mightly used of God.
It is written: “I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree. Yet he passed away, and, lo, he was not: yea, I sought him, but he could not be found. Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace.” - Psalm 37: 35-37