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This is similar to another question "How did Judas Die", but is specifically addressing another aspect of the story.

In Matthew we have the priests purchasing the field:

Matthew 27:5-7 (NASB)

5 And he threw the pieces of silver into the temple sanctuary and departed; and he went away and hanged himself. 6 The chief priests took the pieces of silver and said, “It is not lawful to put them into the temple treasury, since it is the price of blood.” 7 And they conferred together and with the money bought the Potter’s Field as a burial place for strangers.

And in Acts we have Judas purchasing it:

Acts 1:16-18 (NASB)

16 “Brethren, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit foretold by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. 17 For he was counted among us and received his share in this ministry.” 18 (Now this man acquired a field with the price of his wickedness, and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his intestines gushed out.

This seems a clear contradiction in the New Testament. What is going on here?

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4 Answers 4

In many languages today there is the equivalent of the English word "acquire." Like in Russian "priobrel" means acquire - in contrast "buy" in Russian would be kupit. in Azerbaijani language for "buy" we use a word "almaq" which has many meanings like buy, take, gain. and so this word acquire in the original Greek does not necessarily mean that someone put down real money on the counter and got something in exchange for it. To make the long story short, the Scriptures as pointed out here by others show that the Priests bought it, and so Judas gained or acquired it. Now what was Judas doing on that land? He was angry with what happened, he understood how he was fooled by the Pharisees, and could not believe his foolishness. It happens to all of us. In the heat of our passions, envy or some other feelings we do something stupid, and then like in the Azeri saying "let the earth swallow me" feelings rush in. So I guess Judas wanted to do 2 things on the land: 1. to kill himself; 2. to also disgrace the place Pharisees gave him, in an attepmt to disgrace Pharisees too.

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Welcome to Christianity.SE! Do you mind if I ask where you're from? Your set of languages and name place you in my part of the world. –  Caleb Apr 5 '12 at 10:08
I am Mushfig Bayram from Azerbaijan. I used to be a Protestant but I am a Catholic now. –  Mushfig Bayram Apr 5 '12 at 10:10
Caleb: your name doesn't place you in your part of the world ;) –  iconoclast Mar 18 '13 at 15:44

They both did - it just depends on perspective for application of the word "bought".

It was Judas' money, and it was the priests who used the money he returned to them to buy the field. They bought the field because they could not accept blood money and return it to the temple treasury.

In essence, the priests bought the field on behalf of Judas.

This is just like when my mother would give me money to go to the store to buy some groceries; we both bought the groceries - I did the physical act and she did through providing the financial resource (and, back in the day of single income families, so did my Dad in earning the income to begin with).

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So you are saying that the priests bought the field on behalf of Judas? –  aceinthehole Sep 2 '11 at 21:39
@ace: Yes, answer edited. –  Lawrence Dol Sep 2 '11 at 21:40

The ESV Study Bible includes this note about the purchase of the property in the Acts account:

That is, the field was acquired indirectly by Judas, through the agency of the chief priests. As Matt. 27:3–7 records, Judas brought the 30 pieces of silver back to the chief priests and elders. The chief priests then purchased the potter’s field with Judas’s money, with the same effect as if Judas had himself made the purchase.

The verse in Matthew uses the word ἀγοράζω (transliterated agorazō, strongs #59) which is translated consistently as "buy" or "purchase" through 27 places in the NT. 3 more instances in Revelation are translated "redeem" or "ransom" which certainly carries the same general idea.

A further examination of the verse in Acts shows that the Greek word used is κτάομαι (transliterated ktaomai, strongs #2932). The other places it occurs in scripture are translated in the ESV as "acquire", "get", "gain", "obtain", "bought" and even "control". It seems quite likely that the word could be used for something acquired through a transaction in which you used your own money, but it quite often used for other ways of coming into possession or control.

It seems quite probably that the two verses can be indeed be reconciled as the note above suggests. The Chief Priests did the buying but somehow Judas came to use the land. Whether the Priests deeded it to him as part of the purchase or he was only squatting on it out of some morbid interest in seeing what happened to his money -- or some other explanation -- is not stated. There does not appear to be a real conflict between these two statements.

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I am reminded of the expression "he bought the farm", which actually means someone died. The implication is that with the life insurance policy, a man's widow was able to pay off the farm. He bought it, even though he was dead. –  Narnian Apr 5 '12 at 16:35

It was the priests, the Acts passage said he acquired it, it didn't say he bought it.

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Hi James! This is a great start of an answer - but if you could elaborate (like @Caleb did), I think it could be a great answer :) . Welcome to Christianity.SE :) –  warren Sep 28 '11 at 19:55

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