Wednesday Oct 13, 2021

Acts 1:18

Wednesday, 13 October 2021

 

(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

 

Note: The explanation of this verse comes with a gross-out warning.

 

The words now continue to refer to Judas. The gospels record this concerning his death –

 

Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, ‘I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.’

And they said, ‘What is that to us? You see to it!

Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself.

But the chief priests took the silver pieces and said, ‘It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, because they are the price of blood.’ And they consulted together and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in. Therefore that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day.

Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, ‘And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the value of Him who was priced, whom they of the children of Israel priced, 10 and gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord directed me.’” Matthew 27:3-10

 

Understanding the context, Luke now parenthetically records, “Now this man purchased a field.” Obviously, Judas was unable to actually purchase anything while dangling from a rope. Instead, the idea is that the money he earned through betraying Jesus was used in his name by the chief priests. As Vincent’s Word Studies says, “The expression means merely that the field was purchased with the money of Judas.”

 

From there, Luke continues, “with the wages of iniquity.” This expression means that the silver he was paid was reckoned to him as wages. He earned the money through his actions, but they were actions of iniquity. Therefore, despite throwing the money down in the temple, his name remained attached to them.

 

This same concept is found throughout the world. When it is known where a sum of money comes from, the acknowledgment for that money is assigned to the one from whom it issued. For example, “This hall was built with the money provided by Glen Giver.”

 

With that understood, Luke continues with the unhappy details of the final state of Judas’ earthy body, saying, “and falling headlong.” The Greek reads, genomenos elakēsen, “and becoming headlong.” The inference is that he hung himself (Matthew 27:5), and at some point, his rotting corpse fell. Hence, translators rightly say “having fallen.”

 

As far as the word “headlong,” it is prénés, an adjective found only here in the Bible. It signifies headlong, or prone. Hence, one can see him hanging and when his body finally fell from that position, he landed face-first on the ground. When he did, “he burst open in the middle.”

 

Again, a word found only here in the Bible is used, laskó, to burst asunder with a loud noise. With all of the detail given, a clear mental picture is made. In Israel, even at the time of year of the Passover, the sun is direct and would have quickly caused Judas’ body to swell up from rapid decomposition. The gasses caused pressure from the inside, and when he came down, he fell flat, face first, and forcefully. As such the pressure of the gasses was great enough to cause him to burst open, “and all his entrails gushed out.”

 

The inclusion of the details, culminating with this note here, is given to explain the ignoble end of Judas. It is a note of disgrace in death. Such a death, and the surrounding circumstances concerning the body, are being given to highlight the despicable deeds of the man. An example of the disgrace recorded here is found in the death of Joram, a contemptible king of Judah. Because of his vile life and actions, the prophet Elijah said to him –

 

Because you have not walked in the ways of Jehoshaphat your father, or in the ways of Asa king of Judah, 13 but have walked in the way of the kings of Israel, and have made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to play the harlot like the harlotry of the house of Ahab, and also have killed your brothers, those of your father’s household, who were better than yourself, 14 behold, the Lord will strike your people with a serious affliction—your children, your wives, and all your possessions; 15 and you will become very sick with a disease of your intestines, until your intestines come out by reason of the sickness, day by day.” 2 Chronicles 21:14, 15

 

Exactly as the prophet stated, so it occurred (see 2 Chronicles 21:18, 19).

 

The fact that no record of Judas’ burial is given is also telling. To not be buried is an added note of disgrace, as is evidenced by the words of the Lord through Jeremiah –

 

They shall die gruesome deaths; they shall not be lamented nor shall they be buried, but they shall be like refuse on the face of the earth. They shall be consumed by the sword and by famine, and their corpses shall be meat for the birds of heaven and for the beasts of the earth.” Jeremiah 16:4

 

Understanding these things, one might wonder how Luke would know the details. First, the reason for the gas buildup and resulting explosion is obvious. Judas hung himself at the Passover the next day was a Sabbath. Depending on where he hung himself, he might not have been discovered until that was over on Sunday morning. People would be home resting according to the commandment (see Luke 23:56).

 

This would allow plenty of time for him to swell up. Secondly, the recorded detail tells us that he was discovered, and someone saw the resulting explosion when he landed headlong. But a dead body in Israel was considered unclean. As such, whoever found him (or whoever was told about it), had no desire to even touch his rotting corpse. Instead, he probably would have taken a knife and cut the rope. Down Judas went, and apart he came. Hence, an eyewitness is not only possible, it is likely.

 

Finally, the death of Judas in this way has one more highly ignoble consequence laid upon him. As he was hanging there for some time, it means he was hanging overnight. But the law says this –

 

If a man has committed a sin deserving of death, and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, 23 his body shall not remain overnight on the tree, but you shall surely bury him that day, so that you do not defile the land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance; for he who is hanged is accursed of God.” Deuteronomy 21:22, 23

 

Anyone hanged is accursed of God. As such anyone who was hanged was to be taken down before evening (the start of the new day). Judas did not receive this treatment. The contrast is given –

 

Christ was nailed to a tree, but He was taken down and buried.

Judas was hanged and his body remained up.

 

Christ rose on the third day, whole and complete, and having prevailed over death.

Judas fell (probably on the third day, but that is speculation) and burst open; a most ignoble end for his corpse.

 

Christ was anointed with spices in His burial (see John 19:39).

Judas bloated up while hanging in His exposed death.

 

Christ removed the curse of the law and the sting of death through His work.

Judas was accursed of God in his hanging, and he never received the atoning work of the Lord for his iniquity.

 

Life application: The Bible doesn’t hide gruesome facts or difficult to swallow details. But when they are given, it isn’t just for a sensational story. Rather, they are provided for a specific reason, and they call out to us to consider them and contemplate why they are stated.

 

When we come across events such as these, let us consider them and try to learn from them. In the end, the glory of what Jesus did is usually not far away from the evaluation, being hinted at for us to see. Thank God for the Person of Jesus Christ who has done marvelous things for His people!

 

We thank You, O God, for the events recorded in Scripture that provide us with the detail we need to see the marvel of what You have done in Christ. Even some details that seem hard to swallow when we read them will often give us wonderful hints of the contrasting glory to be found in what Jesus did. Thank You for this precious word You have given us. Amen.

 

 

 

 

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