Family Study: Matthew 27:1-14


Judas Repents Too Late, 27:3-10

The sad end of Judas Iscariot, recorded only in Matthew in the gospels, is mentioned by Luke in Acts 1:16-19 in connection with the election of Matthias as his successor. According to Matthew’s account, when Judas found that Jesus had been condemned to die, he repented of his act and attempted to return the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. Apparently, Judas had not believed that the arrest of Jesus would lead to His condemnation, or perhaps he was confronted now with his wicked betrayal of Jesus. In his conversations with the chief priests he said, “I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood” (27:4). While his feelings concerning the claim of Jesus to be the Messiah may still have been mixed with unbelief, he knew that Jesus was not worthy of death. The priests, however, were quite unconcerned and threw the problem back at him. This encounter with the chief priests and elders may have been before Caiaphas’ palace, as Lenski suggests.

Upon being spurned by them, however, Judas went to the temple and hurled the silver into the sanctuary (Gr. naos), meaning the entrance to the holy place. He then went out and hanged himself. Acts 1:18-19 describes the horrible deed in detail. The chief priests, confronted with what to do with this blood money, decided it could not be put in the treasury but could be used to buy a potter’s field in which to bury strangers. This they did; and according to Matthew, the field became known as “The field of blood,” or, as Acts 1:19 calls it, “Aceldama.” The whole transaction reflected on the one hand the casuistry of the Pharisees and their indifference to their crime, and on the other hand, the despair of Judas, for whom there seems to have been no road to forgiveness, even though he had remorse.

Matthew notes that this was a fulfillment of “that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value; And gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord appointed me” (27:9-10). The reference to this as a quotation from Jeremiah has caused difficulty to expositors, as it is actually a quotation of Zechariah 11:12-13. How can this apparent discrepancy be explained?

Probably the best explanation is that the third section of the Old Testament began with the book of Jeremiah and included all that followed. Just as the first section was called the law, after the first five books, and the second section was called the psalms, although other books were included, so the third part began with Jeremiah, and the reference is related to this section of the Old Testament rather than to the book of Jeremiah. The references sometimes cited in Jeremiah, such as 18:2-12 and 19:1-15, do not correspond sufficiently to justify the quotation.

In Zechariah 11:12-13, the thirty pieces of silver are paid to dispose of Israel’s shepherd. In Matthew, the actual fulfillment is found in that the price was paid to dispose of Jesus, the true Shepherd of Israel. Obviously, Matthew is referring to the idea in Zechariah rather than to the precise wording.

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Matthew 27:3-10 Breakdown

Judas’ Suicide 3Now when Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus had been condemned, he regretted what he had done and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders,

Judas “saw” by observation that Jesus was betrayed.

4saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood!” But they said, “What is that to us? You take care of it yourself!”

Judas confessed that Jesus was innocent. If Judas would have turned to Jesus instead of men, then Jesus would have forgiven him.

5So Judas threw the silver coins into the temple and left. Then he went out and hanged himself.

This was a fulfillment of Zechariah 11:12-13.

6The chief priests took the silver and said, “It is not lawful to put this into the temple treasury, since it is blood money.”

The chief priests were hypocrites. It was also not lawful to conduct trials at night, bring up false witnesses, make false accusations, and condemn the Messiah to die.

7After consulting together they bought the Potter’s Field with it, as a burial place for foreigners.

The Potter’s Field was a burial site for those who could not afford to buy a grave.

8For this reason that field has been called the “Field of Blood” to this day.

When Matthew was writing this gospel in 62-63 A.D., this field was called the "Field of Blood." In 70 A.D., the Romans sieged Jerusalem and killed many of the Jewish people in this same field.

9Then what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: “They took the thirty silver coins, the price of the one whose price had been set by the people of Israel, 10and they gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord commanded me.”

Not only did Zechariah predict this historical event, but so did Jeremiah (19:1, 4, 6, 11). Jeremiah was the first book among the prophets, so in Matthew’s day, Jeremiah would be given the title to represent all of the prophetic books.

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