By Hoyt H. Houchen
Question: How do the accounts of Judas’ death in Matthew 27:5 and Acts 1:18 harmonize?
Reply: There is no conflict between the two accounts. The account in Matthew 27:5 simply states how Judas died. “And he cast down the pieces of silver into the sanctuary, and departed; and went out and hanged himself.” Obviously, the death of Judas resulted from suicide.
The statement by Peter in Acts 1:18 describes what happened after Judas hanged himself. The limb or rope may have given way and he fell down a deep place and was disemboweled on the sharp rocks. There are some rocky terraces in the vicinity of where the event took place. Furthermore, it cannot be determined how long Judas’ body remained suspended before it fell. His body could have been hanging for sufficient time for it to decompose, and thus drop. “Now this man obtained a field with the reward of his iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.”
Neither of the two passages excludes the other. Matthew does not state that Judas, after hanging himself fell and burst asunder; but, he does not deny it. Peter does not mention that Judas hanged himself previous to his fall, but neither does he deny it. So, actually the two passages supplement each other. One writer tells us how Judas died; the other tells us what followed the hanging. Matthew 27:5 and Acts 1:18 harmonize.
Guardian of Truth XXIX: 16, p. 485
August 15, 1985