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Bits and pieces

This page was last updated on 16 February, 2017.

When did Judas die?

The classical interpretation:

Matt 27:1 When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death:
Matt 27:2 And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor.
Matt 27:3 Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders,
Matt 27:4 Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see you to that.
Matt 27:5 And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.

According to tradition Judas hung himself the day Jesus was crucified. Maybe even before Jesus was on on the cross. But the verse below states Jesus met the Twelve. How can that be?

1Cor 15:4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day, according to the Scriptures,
1Cor 15:5 and that He appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve.

The most common interpretation is that Judas hanged himself on crucifixion day. The Twelve are the original disciples - Judas + Matthias.

Judas didn’t die on crucifixion day:

Matt 27:1 When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death:
Matt 27:2 And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor.
Matt 27:3 Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders,
Matt 27:4 Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see you to that.
Matt 27:5 And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.
Matt 27:7 And taking counsel, they bought of them the field of a potter, for burial for strangers.
Matt 27:8 So that field was called Field of Blood until today.
Matt 27:9 Then was fulfilled that spoken through the prophet, saying, And I took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of Him who had been priced, on whom they of the sons of Israel set a price,
Matt 27:10 and gave them for the field of a potter, as YAHWEH directed me.

The main topic of Matt 27 the passion of the Christ. The story of Judas is just a side note. A subordinate clause. Judas saw Jesus before Pilate but the rest of Judas’ actions are stretched out over a longer, unmentioned amount of time.
Judas saw Jesus before Pilate repented and returned the 30 pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders. Those priests and elders likely were standing in the crowd before Pilate so Judas likely has to wait. Another hint that the verses span a longer period of time is that Jesus was condemned in verse 26. So Judas stood in the crowd until at least verse 26. Finding and buying a field takes time too. No way all those events can fit in crucifixion day.

John 12:4-5  Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, which should betray him,  Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?

While the red part is true, it’s just added information which isn’t required in the context. It can easily be left out and the passage keeps exactly the same meaning. The extra information is correct but pointing to a time after the anointing. It doesn’t say Judas betrayed Jesus before, during or after the anointing. It just states Judas will betray Him. Likewise Mat 27:3-5 only states Judas will kill himself. No timeframe given. It states ‘what’ not ‘when’.

The eleven:

John 20:19 Then it being evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors having been locked where the disciples were assembled because of fear of the Jews, Yahshua came and stood in the midst and said to them, Peace to you.
John 20:24 But Thomas, one of the Twelve, the one called Twin, was not with them when Yahshua came.

Verse 19 doesn’t state how many disciples were present but because verse 24 only states Thomas wasn’t present we at the very least have a hint that only Thomas wasn’t present and the number of Disciples was 11, possibly less.

Luke 24:1 And the first day of the week  at dawn, while still dark, they came on the tomb, carrying spices which they prepared; and some were with them.
Luke 24:13 And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about three score furlongs.
Luke 24:29 But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them.
Luke 24:33 And rising up in the same hour, they went back to Jerusalem, and they found the Eleven, and those with them, having been gathered,

Verse 1 informs us it’s the first day of the week. Two men went to Emmaus on that same day (v13); meet Jesus (v13-31) and then return to Jerusalem on the same day (v33)
Luke clearly states there were 11 disciples; John’s 12 minus Thomas. Both events happened on the first day of the week in the evening; so it must have been the same events.
Note that the Eleven isn’t just a group of eleven followers of Jesus but the ones Jesus personally picked for His ministry. All other people present are called “and those with them”

Mark 16:9 Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.

→ Again the first day of the week but this time not in the evening but early morning.

Mark 16:10 And she went and told them that had been with Him, as they mourned and wept.

→ Clearly ‘them’ are the original Apostles.

Mark 16:11 And they, when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not.
Mark 16:12 After that he appeared in another form to two of them, as they walked, and went into the country.

→ ‘them’ are two of the group mentioned in v9

Mark 16:13 And they went and told it to the residue: neither believed they them.

→ The other Apostles. Mattheas isn’t ‘residue’ because he never was Jesus’ apostle and wasn’t chosen to replace Judas by then.

Mark 16:14 Afterward he appeared to the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen.

→ Apparently Thomas has left by then.

So Mark 16:9-14 tells a similar story. First day, two people walking and the Eleven. Obviously that’s no surprise because all three write about the same event. But piecing things together we get a report with extra details.

What we have so far:

John 20:26 And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the middle, and said, Peace be to you.

Eight days later Jesus met the Twelve. It’s true that no number is mentioned but consider this:

Why is it always Thomas that is mentioned as being absent and being present again? Why isn’t it mentioned Judas wasn’t present? So may argue because he was already replaced by Matthias. If that’s so, I find it odd such an important fact isn’t mentioned. Let’s dig deeper for extra clues.

What we have so far:

Matthias replaced Judas after His ascension:

Acts 1:1 The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach,
Acts 1:2 Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments to the apostles whom he had chosen:
Acts 1:3 To whom also he showed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:
Acts 1:4 And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, said he, you have heard of me.
Acts 1:5 For John truly baptized with water; but you shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.
Acts 1:6 When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, will you at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?
Acts 1:7 And he said to them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father has put in his own power.
Acts 1:8 But you shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come on you: and you shall be witnesses to me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and to the uttermost part of the earth.
Acts 1:9 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.
Acts 1:10 And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;

All the bolded words are “the apostles whom he had chosen”. He had chosen 12. Jesus kept showing Himself to them for 40 days.

Acts 1:11 Which also said, You men of Galilee, why stand you gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as you have seen him go into heaven.

Judas wasn’t from Kerioth, Judea, not Galilee and must have left between verse 10 and 11.

Acts 1:26 And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell on Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

If Judas would have died before Jesus went back to heaven, it’s more than obvious they would have asked Jesus to appoint a replacement instead of casting lots.

What we have so far:

Matthias was counted among the Twelve starting from crucifixion day:

It’s claimed although Matthias was chosen in Acts 1:26 after Jesus ascended to heaven, he was numbered among the disciples starting at Judas death on crucifixion day, because the NT was written after those events and the authors by then knew Matthias had replaced Judas. I was just a way to say Matthias was present at all those events.

The problem with this view is that there are no examples in the Bible that give people a certain title like apostle, king, prophet, priest, disciple etc until those people actually received that title.  All the verses were written (very long) after the events took place but never the writer used names/titles that were not given yet in the period of time he was writing about.

Jesus chose the Twelve (Luke 6:13-16) and until Matthias was chosen there hasn’t be any change in the composition of the group. Simply because only Father, Son or Holy Spirit are entitled to make such changes. So while it’s very well possible Matthias was present every time the disciples are mentioned it doesn’t mean/prove he was one of the Twelve back then.
“the Twelve” was as a title for that group. It was always referring to the 12 Jesus selected. Never to another group of 12.
It would be like calling Jesus ‘the resurrected Christ’ before His resurrection. That would be wrong because He simply wasn’t resurrected before He died.

 The death and field of Judas:

I know of three interpretations of ‘hanged’:

Matt 27:5 And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.

1Sam 31:4 Then said Saul to his armor bearer, Draw your sword, and thrust me through therewith; lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and abuse me. But his armor bearer would not; for he was sore afraid. Therefore Saul took a sword, and fell on it.

Acts 1:18 Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the middle, and all his bowels gushed out.


Matt 27:5 And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.
Matt 27:6 And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood.
Matt 27:7 And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter's field (agros), to bury strangers in.
Matt 27:8 Why that field was called, The field (agros) of blood, to this day.

Verse 5 states Judas threw the silver in the Temple and left. Meaning he did not take silver back. If Judas had taken back the silver there was no need for the priests to discuss what to do with the silver (v6-7). The priests used the silver to buy the potter’s field (agros) which is  also called ‘field (agros) of blood’.

Acts 1:18 This is he who obtained a field (chorion) for himself from the reward of sin and fell upon his face on the ground and burst from his middle and poured out all his insides
Acts 1:19 And it was known to all the dwellers at Jerusalem; so as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood.

Judas did not buy that field with the 30 pieces of silver (see Mat 27:5-9) but with money he got from other sins. Namely stealing from the money bag he was in charge of. (John 12:6). This field is also called field (chorion) of blood.

Another interpretation is  that both fields are the same. The priests used Judas’ money to buy it by proxy so to speak. It’s ridiculing Judas by saying he bought his own field to die on.

Matthew 27:7 uses the Greek word “argos” which means “large area”.
Acts 1:18 uses the Greek word “chorion” which means “field”.
While it hints at different pieces of land it’s no a conclusive proof because as field is also a large area.


Betray or hand over?

Matt 26:46 Rise, let us be going. Behold, he is at hand that betrays me.

Paradidomi doesn’t have the meaning of betrayal in:

Judas’ suicide note

A suicide note left behind by Judas Iscariot has recently come to light and been sent on to John Mark in Antioch who is, we are told, writing an account of the days of Jesus. It is being shared with all the followers of the Way for it throws some light on the role of our much maligned associate, Judas, in the death of our Lord. It was written in Aramaic and is here translated into Greek for the benefit of those interested.

I, Judas, write with my own hand. My soul is in turmoil. I have seen the guards leading Jesus from the house of Caiaphas towards Pilate's hall of judgment. I am at my wits end and I do not know which way to turn. My heart has turned to water. What made our High Priest turn our Lord over to the Romans? Does he not know that to deliver a Jew over to a heathen ruler is a serious transgression of our laws? What is left for me to do?

Jesus cannot possibly escape from the clutches of Pilate—not at feast time! The jaws of Roman oppression do not open to free their victims. If he is not delivered from the fist of Pilate he will most assuredly be delivered unto death by him. What did Jesus say to Caiaphas to bring about this drastic change?

For the last three years I have been a disciple of Jesus of Nazareth. They have been years of great joy and much excitement. They have also been frustrating and disappointing.

In the last few months especially it has been very confusing for Jesus seems to have become totally absorbed with his impending death. Why? We do not know.

It all came to a head during this Passover celebration. As usual we had one of those worshipful and enjoyable dinners with Jesus when he had deep sharing with each other and Jesus spoke of the coming Kingdom and the meals we would have with him when the Kingdom comes. He also returned to a topic which has been much on his mind: his being handed over to the High Priests. Each disciple wondered, Am I the One to be chosen? The lot fell to me and Jesus commissioned me to do it.

What is then to become of me? What future is there for me? Ah perhaps he will unseat Pilate from his throne. Jesus can be so persuasive. Perhaps he can persuade Pilate voluntarily to give up his throne to Jesus. What a ruler he would be! If not—what then? What if Jesus did not speak out on his own behalf? The priests may have turned against him and testified against him to Pilate. Pilate may well yield to their entreaty and have him killed since he is one who upsets the people. He lays a charm on them. They follow him, willingly as I, myself, Peter and many others did. What if Jesus is condemned to die?

I have agonized over whether I should die with him. He often said the disciple is not above his master and that we must suffer with him. If our Lord dies, there is no honor greater than to die with him.

I am terribly frightened, sad and troubled. I never had all this in mind. Who would ever have thought that the kingdom of God could end this way? If Jesus dies on the cross, surely he cannot be the Messiah.

I am trying to think it all through. I am one of the Twelve whom Jesus chose to represent the new Israel of God. I have had duties to perform. I gave it my best. I discharged those duties as well as I could, always under the mandate of Jesus himself. He never rebuked me.

For three years I served as treasurer of the wandering group of followers who stayed with him. As treasurer I kept the records and paid the bills. I took in donations from our supporters, especially the women, and I kept the members informed on the status of our resources. My years with Jesus were the best I have ever had—much better than the time I worked in the treasury of the Temple, the bank of the people.

So much has gone wrong. I was picked to hand Jesus over to the High Priest. For weeks Jesus had spoken with certainty about being handed over to evil men to be killed. All of us who traveled with him rejected these predictions and assumed that Jesus once was again speaking in violent metaphors which could not possibly come to pass.

Certainly the High Priest is not an evil man! He is divinely ordained to see that law and order are observed in the land. So when the assignment was given to me to hand Jesus over to the High Priest, I did it willingly, honored by the trust which Jesus placed in me. I was sure that once the High Priest and Jesus would meet, they could agree on the need for the renewal of the people of Israel—and perhaps even on the methods to be used.

At each step Jesus encouraged me to proceed; I did nothing he did not command. If anyone asks, why did I do it? let them be clear that I had learned that the essence of discipleship is to do what Jesus asked of us. What Jesus wanted done, I was prepared to do.

Just now word has come to me that Pilate has condemned Jesus to death. I have come back from the Temple and those misguided priests will not even allow me to cancel the deal! I threw the money at their feet. I told them that Jesus was an innocent man.

I will die with him. For the sake of my wife and children, let this act of taking my own life also be seen in the light of my love for my master. If he dies, I want to die with him.

Our great King Saul had an armor bearer who died with his king.* God of mercy, if he has chosen to die rather than fight for his kingdom he will find at least one disciple who is prepared to die with him. I leave my fate to God alone and hand over my life to him, just as I handed His son over to the High Priest, God's highest authority in the land. Adonai, I beg you, please may the children of Israel, find peace. Do not desert the Messiah. Do not desert me. Care for my wife and children. Guard them in your tent of peace.

Signed in my own hand,

Judas Iscariot