Blood Money and the Field of Blood

Question

I need help to understand what was the real cause that led the inhabitants of Jerusalem to call the field where Judas hanged himself the Field of Blood. In Matthew 27:3-10 it seems that the cause was because it commemorated the use of blood money to buy the field, money that caused death by betrayal. But in Acts 1:15-20 there appears to be another reason: the field was called Field of Blood because Judas fell to it after was hanged and his corpse was broken in a disgusting bloodbath. Why are there two different reasons?

Answer

There can be more than one reason for a place having a particular name. And I believe such is the case here.

In Matthew the name "Field of Blood" appears to be associated to Judas having "betrayed [the] innocent blood" of Jesus (Matt 27:4). But Matthew also records that Judas "went and hanged himself" (Matt 27:5). In Acts it seems to be related to the death of Judas "falling headlong he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out" (Acts 1:18). Judas committed suicide because he betrayed the innocent blood of Jesus, and Luke makes this very clear in writing about the one "who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus" (Acts 1:16) … "this man acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness" (Acts 1:18). In both accounts, innocent blood (John 18:4, 6, 38; 19:6) was betrayed by non-innocent blood (cf. Psa. 41:9; John 6:70; 13:18; 17:12). The texts aren't in disagreement because they both mention the same facts; however, the two texts are emphasizing different elements of the same facts. But let's consider why.

Look at the way Acts describes Judas as lying prostrate and bleeding on the ground. This should remind the student of Scripture of the serpent in Genesis 3:15, the one who strikes at the heel of the Innocent One, causing a blood wound. Yet this one who came but to destroy and spill blood was conquered at the cross by the One who willingly offered his blood as an atoning sacrifice for his people (cf. John 10:10; Col. 2:15). So, when we look at both texts, we can be directed back to the very beginning to reveal the providence of the death of Christ (Luke 22:22; Acts 2:23; 4:27-28; Eph. 3:11; Rev. 13:8) and his redemptive mission to destroy the works of the Devil (1 John 3:18) and to restore God's kingdom (Matt. 28:18-20, et. al.), etc.

A discrepancy some bring up in these texts is about who actually bought the field. Matthew says the chief priests bought it (Matt 27:7) and in Acts Luke says Judas bought it (Acts 1:18). So, who really bought it? In reality, both did. If I were to lay $30 on the table and you purchased groceries with it, in essence we both purchased the groceries. Similarly, Judas threw down his blood money in the temple (Matt. 27:5) giving ownership to the chief priests who then used it to purchase the potter's field (Matt. 27:6-7).

As to how Judas died, another alleged discrepancy, please see: "How Judas Died Matthew 27:5 and Acts 1:18" below.

Related Topics

How Judas Died Matthew 27:5 and Acts 1:18
How do we know Judas was really lost?

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).