May 23, 2013


Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles
By: Tom Lowe


Topic #I: Introduction to the Beginning of the Church, Acts 1.1-1.26
 Subtopic B: The Lord Re-Establishes 12 Apostles (1:12-26)                   
         Secondary Topic 2: The Motion of Peter to Choose Another Apostle                     


Lesson I.B.2.a: Judas' Apostatizing Fulfilled
 Scripture: 1 Corinthians 1.15-20


Acts 1.15-20 (KJV)

15 And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,)
16 Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus.
17 For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry.
18 Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.
19 And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood.
20 For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take.

 

Commentary

15 And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,)

And in those days
“In those days” refers here to the days between the ascension of Jesus and the day of Pentecost, when the disciples were waiting for the coming of the Holy Spirit. The Ethiopic version reads, "On that day,” which makes it sound as if it was the same day they came back to Jerusalem after watching Jesus ascend to heaven, and went into the upper room; and this is very likely since there was no time to be lost in choosing someone to replace Judas.

Peter stood up
“Peter stood up” means Peter standing up, or rising. This is a customary expression in the Scriptures when one begins to do something, “I will arise and go to my father…” (Luke 15:18; KJV). Peter, was respected as the chief apostle, since he was usually the first one to act in almost any situation, and he was willing to show his zeal for Christ, whom he had recently denied; he was the senior man in the company of apostles, as well as the principle minister to the Jews. He rises to his feet like people used to do, when they were about to address an assembly; which was done to show respect and reverence to those they addressed.  It was no surprise, then, when Peter stood up and introduced the business of electing a new apostle. Note: Teachers and those of superior rank were always seated when addressing a group, but Peter did not want to give that kind of impression; he only wanted to make a motion.

in the midst of the disciples,
“The disciples” was the name given to them because they were students in the school of Jesus Christ—“And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him” (Matt 5:1; NKJV). Again, among the Jews, the common position when teaching was for the teacher to set and the learners to stand. The Coptic, Ethiopic, Armenian, and Vulgate versions replace “disciples” with “brethren.” This seems to be the best rendering, because of what immediately follows, since he was not only among the twelve disciples when he stood-up, but among the whole company, which amounted to one hundred and twenty. It may only be a coincidence that this was the number which the Jews required to form a council (Sanhedrin) in any city; but it is more likely that the disciples had gathered together, with themselves, one hundred and twenty believers, chosen from the many who had been converted by the ministry of our Lord; it may have included the seventy-two whom he had sent forth to preach (See Luke 10:1); therefore they formed a complete council to conduct the important business of electing a person  to replace Judas.

Peter takes a natural leadership role among the disciples. There is nothing wrong with him doing that, since he is the recognized leader of the twelve, and he was often the spokesman for the group during the earthly ministry of Jesus. However, the idea that the authority of Peter was supreme, and that he handed down commands in unbroken succession, is unbiblical and wrong.

and said,
Or better, “and he said” what is expressed in the following verses, which before Paul relates that information, he inserts in a parenthesis the following clause.

(the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,)
“The number of the names” is used here in lieu of “the number of the persons,” or “individuals.” The word “name” is often used to denote “the person,”—“Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy” (Rev 3:4; KJV). (Also see Acts 4:12; Acts 18:15; Ephesians 1:21.). This was the first assembly convened to transact the business of the church; and it is remarkable that the vote in so important a matter as electing an apostle was by what may have been the entire church. This settles the question that the election of a minister and pastor should be by the church, and that a pastor should not be placed over a church by a benefactor, or by an ecclesiastical body. If a situation could ever occur where it would be right and proper for one to be selected to the position of a minister of Christ by ministers only, the election of one to fill the office of an apostle was such an occasion. And yet in this case the entire church had a voice. Whether this was the entire true church in existence at this time is not reflected in the history of the event. This expression cannot mean that there were no more Christians, but that one hundred and twenty was all that had convened in the upper room. It is undeniable that our Savior had, by his own ministry, brought many others into the fellowship of his true followers—“After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep” (1 Cor 15:6; NKJV). It is very likely that most of the disciples, who met our Lord in Galilee after his resurrection, lived either in Galilee, in the remotest parts of Judea, or in Samaria, and were not in Jerusalem at this time.

The death of Judas made a vacancy in the college of the apostles. There were twelve men ordained apostles, perhaps because there were twelve tribes of Israel, descended from the twelve patriarchs; they were the twelve stars that make up the church's crown (See Revelation 12:1), and for them twelve thrones were designated—“Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Matt 19:28; NKJV). Now, since they were twelve when they were learners, if they were only eleven when they became the teachers, everyone would want to know what had become of the twelfth, and their curiosity would tend to revive the remembrance of the scandal of their society, and therefore care was taken, before the descent of the Spirit, to fill the vacancy. Our Lord Jesus probably gave directions about this when He spoke to them about the kingdom of God.

This was the beginning of the Christian church: this hundred and twenty was the grain of mustard-seed that grew into a tree, the leaven that leavened the whole lump. The speaker was Peter, who had been, and still was, the most prominent apostle and this shows that he had recovered the ground he lost by his denying his Master.

16 Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus.

Men and brethren,
Peter is not expressing his modesty, and humility, and his brotherly love, which he had for those he is speaking to, on account of the spiritual relationship that existed between him and them, when he addresses them with “Men and brethren,” since it was a customary mode of address, a Hebraism, which conveyed affection and respect—“Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent” (Acts 13:26; KJV); but it was also used by the cultured Greeks.

It seems that the women, were not included in the hundred and twenty referred to here; and the Syriac version calls that number, "the number of men.”

this scripture must needs have been fulfilled,
Our Lord declared, "The Scriptures cannot be broken" (John 10:35); and "all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me" (Luke 24.44; NKJV). It is vital to our integrity as Christians that we view the Scriptures in the same light as our Lord and his apostles, that they contain real prophecies, spoken by the Holy Ghost—“So when they did not agree among themselves, they departed after Paul had said one word: "The Holy Spirit spoke rightly through Isaiah the prophet to our fathers” (Acts 28:25; NKJV).

“This scripture” refers to the prediction contained in the writings of the Old Testament, which is commonly thought to be the prophesy recorded in Psalm 41:9, “Yea, mine own familiar friend … hath lifted up his heel against me.” This is definitely applied to Judas by our Savior, in John 13:18—“I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me.” This scripture would certainly be fulfilled. But it was not due to a compulsion of any kind; nevertheless, it had to happen, because every prediction of God will be fulfilled. This does not say anything about Judas’ responsibility in the matter; Judas made up his mind without any help from God. A man is just as free to do evil when it is predicted as he is when it is not. Judas, therefore, was not excused because his sinful actions were foretold; he was not compelled to do evil by the prophecy, but only by the wickedness of his own heart.

Peter’s words show a wisdom we did not often see in him before this; the gist of this statement is that Judas didn’t spoil God’s plan, he fulfilled it (this Scripture had to be fulfilled). This is something that only the wise and mature can see when evil happens.

which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas,
“The Holy Ghost;” the third Person of the adorable Trinity.

“The Holy Ghost by the mouth of David” is a strong confirmation of the Divine inspiration of the book of Psalms. They were dictated by the Holy Spirit, and spoken by the mouth of David. Here again, as it is consistently throughout the word of God, the prophets and writers of the Old Testament are not represented as originating the words they delivered, but as receiving them from the Lord by means of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, it was not David who spoke, but the Holy Spirit. Jesus himself emphasized this emphatically in Matthew 22.43—“He said to them, ‘How then does David in the Spirit call Him Lord,’” Now we know that David and all the rest of the prophets said only what they were directed to say, by the Holy Ghost; so that they themselves were not the authors of their prophecies, but the Spirit which used their tongues as an instrument.
 
“Which the Holy Ghost, by the mouth of David, spake before;” even hundreds of years before the event, which shows the omniscience of God, and the deity of the Holy Ghost, and the divine authority of David's Psalms; as well as the honour he received for being the instrument by which the Holy Ghost speaks, and for being His agent. The particular matter referred to, is, "concerning" Judas; who is sometimes called Iscariot, to distinguish him from another apostle with the same name. This is strong evidence that David wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and it confirms the uniform testimony of the New Testament, that the sacred writers spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit—“for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21; NKJV).

which was guide to them that took Jesus.
“Which was guide”
• “And while He was still speaking, behold, Judas, one of the twelve, with a great multitude with swords and clubs, came from the chief priests and elders of the people” (Matt 26:47; NKJV).
• “Then Judas, having received a detachment of troops, and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, came there with lanterns, torches, and weapons” (John 18:3NKJV).

“Them that took Jesus” refers to the band of soldiers and officers, who came with swords and staves to arrest Jesus, as if He were a thief, or a robber; and Judas was at the forefront and identified Jesus with a kiss. And He also advised them to take him and hold him fast, and lead him away safely; therefore, he was not only a guide to take them to Jesus, but a director, and conductor, and manager of the whole affair. And perhaps it should be pointed out, that though Peter affirms the sin of Judas; yet he does not do it in a rough manner, but with tenderness; so that we might learn from this, how we should speak of other men’s sins.

If St. Peter had been addressing only his brother apostles, who were well acquainted with the treachery of Judas, it would not have been necessary to speak of Judas’ treachery; but the circumstances might not have been known or only partly known to many of the hundred and twenty brethren assembled on this occasion; and if so, the reference to Judas's treachery would not be out of place on this occasion.

17 For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry.

For he was numbered with us,
“He was numbered with us” means he was chosen an apostle along with the rest, and was ordained into that office when they were, and was always considered one of the twelve, and his name is listed with theirs when the list of apostles is mentioned (See Luke 6:13-16). This does not mean that he was a true Christian, but that he was considered one of the apostles. Long before he betrayed Him, Jesus declared that he was a devil—“Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?” (John 6:70; KJV). He knew his character when he chose him—Jesus “…had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man” (John 2:25 (NKJV).

If it should be asked why he chose such a man to be an apostle; why he was made the treasurer of the apostles, and was treated as well as the other apostles; we might reply, that there is an important lesson to be learned from having such a man—a spy—among them. It could happen, when the apostles were speaking of the purity of life, of doctrine, and of the purpose of the Lord Jesus; that they might suppress any negative comments about Judas’ attitude, and represent him in a light more favorable than the truth would support. Hence, the testimony of such a man as Judas, if favorable, must be invaluable, because no one could charge him with partiality. If Judas knew anything unfavorable about the character of Jesus, he would have communicated it to the Sanhedrin. If he knew of any secret plot against the government, he would have been easily inducement to talk about it. He had every opportunity to know such things; he was with Him; heard Him speak; was a member of His family, and was privileged to have a personal relationship with Him. Yet even Judas could not be bought or bribed, to testify against the moral character of the Savior. If he had done it, or could have done it, it would have protected Him from the charge of treason; would have entitled him to the reputation of a public benefactor for discovering secret sedition; and would have saved him from the pangs of guilt, and from suicide. Judas would have done it if he could. But he made no such charge; he did not even say a single contemptible word against the good reputation of the Lord Jesus; and his own disparagement of conscience, and his voluntary death—“saying, "I have sinned by betraying innocent blood." And they said, "What is that to us? You see to it!"  Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself” (Matt 27:4-5; NKJV)—furnish the greatest proof that can be found of his conviction that the betrayed Savior was an innocent man. The next verse gives the gruesome details of his death—“… and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.”

This verse makes two important statements:
1. That Judas was numbered with the Twelve.
2. That he "received" his portion of the apostolic ministry. This means that Judas, at first, was a genuine apostle, he was not less than the others, he was also commissioned to cast out demons and to heal all manner of diseases—“And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease” (Matt 10:1; KJV). This refutes the allegation that Judas was a devil from the beginning.

and had obtained part of this ministry.
“Obtained part of this ministry, means he obtained the “lot” of this ministry; not that he or any of the twelve apostles, was chosen to this ministry by lot, but since “lot” signifies the portion a man has in life; what comes to him by Divine providence, or as a special gift of God‘s goodness. It is used here, as it is in many other parts of the Holy Scriptures, to signify office or station. Consequently, it is certain that Judas was chosen when the providence of God ordered it, according to his eternal purpose and decree; therefore, he was not only called an apostle, and part of their band, but he really had a part in that ministry; he preached, and baptized, and performed miracles; and besides all this, he carried the bag, was the treasurer, and a sort of steward in Christ's family, and an important part of it.

Today, I am sad to inform you that there are many who are numbered with the saints in this world that will not be found among them on the Day of Judgment, when the Lord separates the sheep from the goats. What good will it do us us to be added to the number of Christians, if we have not received the spirit and nature of Christians? Judas obtained a part in this ministry, but that only aggravated his sin and hastened his ruin, as it will for those who prophesied in Christ's name, and yet were workers of iniquity.

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

Now this man purchased a field
“Now this man” is the traitor “Judas.”  This verse, and those that follow, seem to be the words of Luke the historian, which should be placed within a parenthesis; because there was no reason to inform the disciples of the facts of Judas's death, since it was well known by all the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And since Peter was addressing the disciples (Vs. 15), these verses must have been added for our information, since the disciples certainly would have talked frequently about Judas death among themselves, because it was all too fresh in their minds. The Ethiopic version calls this field, "a vineyard,” and it might have been one and the potter's field too.

Some have difficulty with this verse, because it says the priests bought the field in Matthew 27:7—“And they consulted together and bought with them the potter's field, to bury strangers in” (Matt 27:7; NKJV). But one explanation shows that both are true; Judas after he received his money from the chief priests two days ago, might not only intend to purchase the field, but might have actually struck a bargain with the potter who owned the field; but then he repented of his sin, and instead using the money to pay for the field, he went to the temple and threw it to the chief priests; and then he hanged himself. After that, they, perhaps by the secret persuasion of the Holy Spirit, might have been directed to purchase  the same field with his money; therefore, he may be said to purchase it, because it was purchased with his money. The Vulgate Latin, and Arabic versions render it, "he possessed" it; not in person, unless he was buried there, which could have happened; and if that is true, all that he gained from his wretched bargain, was only enough ground to be buried in; or it may mean that "he caused it to be purchased; by returning the money which the chief priests used to make the purchase. Matthew states that the money which was given for betraying the Lord Jesus was thrown down in the temple, and the field was purchased with it by the Jewish priests—“Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself”… “and gave them for the potter's field, as the LORD directed me" (Matt 27:5, 10; NKJV). There is yet another version that is close to this one, which says, “The priests, knowing his intentions, might have completed the purchase, and, because Judas was now dead, they directed that the field they bought should be used for the burial of strangers, that is to say, Jews from foreign lands, or others who died when visiting Jerusalem.

Judas’ burial in this field has been a perpetual disgrace; because it was the reward which he had received for his deceit and wicked act. But he never enjoyed the money; he only possessed the field, and that was after his death. Furthermore, it came about through the marvelous providence of God, that the field which had a common name, came to be known as “The Field of Blood,” and because of its notoriety, became a scandal for the priests, because it had been bought the money paid to a man who betrayed (the) innocent blood. Judas provided the money, which remained after his death; and therefore the field rightfully belonged to Judas, his estate, and his heirs (if any). Certainly, the priests refused to accept the returned money, either for them or for the temple treasury. Thus it is exactly true that Judas "obtained" the field. His money bought it. The priests, however, actually did the purchasing, hence the statement that "they" bought the field.

with the reward of iniquity;
“The reward of iniquity” is what Luke calls the fee paid to Judas for that act of horrible wickedness—the betraying of the Lord Jesus for thirty pieces of silver.

It is obvious that this verse and Acts 1:19, which are placed in a parenthesis in the R.V., are not part of St. Peter's discourse, but are explanatory words inserted by St. Luke for the instruction of Theophilus and his other readers; which would include you and I.

and falling headlong,
The word translated “headlong” is the Latin “pronus,” from which we get our English word “prone” which means “bent forward, head-foremost”; and the idea is, that when he attempted to hang himself the rope broke and he fell headlong, or fell forward on his face. This can be easily substantiated if it is thought he threw himself from a rock or elevated place. He first hanged himself, then the rope broke, and due to the violence of the fall his body burst, and his bowels gushed out. There is an ancient tradition that says “the devil caught him up into the air, strangled him, and threw him down on the ground with violence, so that his body was burst, and his guts shed out!”

Matthew's account of this incident (See Matthew 27.5), has been alleged to contradict what Luke said here; but, in actuality, the two accounts are in perfect harmony. Judas hanged himself, as Matthew related; but his body also fell, as Luke stated. We do not know whether the fall took place as a result of Judas' bungling efforts at suicide, or if his body hung until it fell due to natural causes. Tradition says that he fell while in the process of hanging himself. Johnson says:
He probably hanged himself on a tree projecting over the cliffs of the Valley of Hinnom, and afterward, on account of the rope or limb breaking, he fell headlong with such force that it caused his body to burst open on the jagged rocks. This is the traditional account of his death.


Such alleged "contradictions" as skeptics delight to point out from seeming variations in the holy gospels are called "pseudocons," which means sham-contradictions, since, in fact, they are not contradictions at all but variations that can be expected from independent accounts of events in the New Testament.

There are a few more theories that have attempted to explain the difference between Matthew’s account and Luke’s version, which are offered for your consideration:
1. Casaubon observes, that Judas hanged himself; but the rope broke, he fell down, and, due to the fall, his belly broke open. He supposes therefore, that St. Matthew relates only the beginning of the account, and St. Luke the conclusion.
2. Stephanus, in his Lexicon, says that when Judas had put the rope about his neck, and threw himself forward from the place where he stood, his belly burst open because of the shock which he received.
3. Hensius interprets the word απηγξατο in Matthew to mean, he was suffocated by the anguish of his mind; to which he applies what is said in Job 7:15—“So that my soul chooses strangling And death rather than my body” (Job 7:15; NKJV)—and adds, "such a suffocation is wont to occasion a rupture;" which he thinks is applicable to St. Luke's account.
4. Gronovius understands the word to signify he hung himself, but then he interprets the expression πρηνης εγεντο, falling headlong, in a passive sense, as if Judas's body, when dead, was cut down by some other person, and burst as a result of the fall.
5. Lastly, Perizonius, agreeing with Hensius, understands St. Matthew as speaking only of a suffocation arising from a melancholy disorder; which sense of the word he proves from a variety of examples, But then he supposes, that this did not kill Judas, who afterwards threw himself down from an eminence upon his face, and broke his belly by the fall; which is what is suggested by St. Luke’s version.

Another apparent discrepancy in the accounts of St. Matthew and St. Luke is in regard to the name given to the field that was purchased with Judas’ blood-money. St. Matthew said, “Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day” (Matt 27:8; KJV). He suggests that it was Judas's own blood, shed in his fall, which gave the field its name. Luke, in verse 19 states, “And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood.”  He explains that the name Akel-dama was given to the field because it was the price of the "innocent blood" of Jesus, who was betrayed by Judas. But both accounts of the name might be true, some understanding the name in one sense and some in the other. But, since there is no serious discrepancy between St. Luke and St. Matthew, it is probable, from the variations mentioned above, that St. Luke had not seen St. Matthew's account.

he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.
I read of a man that fell from the roof of a house, "and his belly burst, and his bowels came out." I have also heard that when a man condemned to death by hanging, is legally and properly hung that he bowls move. But, I always believe in a literal interpretation of scripture; therefore, since it says, “he burst asunder in the midst,” that is proof enough that his abdomen burst open and his insides fell out. And this was the miserable end of Judas. As to the seeming difference between what has been reported by the Evangelist Matthew and the Apostle Peter, it may be reconciled by the ways mentioned in the previous paragraphs; although it seems most likely, that Judas was not able to bear the torments of his mind, and that’s why he hanged himself. He was not strangled by the devil, or by any disease; probably, he fell down from the tree on which he hung, because either the rope broke, or the limb where the rope was attached; and consequently, the things happened to him which are recorded. Or he might have fallen either due to a violent strong wind which blew him down; or through wild beasts adding their weight to his, causing either the rope or the limb on which he hung to break; or, which seems to be the best explanation, he might be thrown down by men, either on their own volition, or by the order of the civil magistrates, because they did not want such a horrible spectacle to hang for very long; and they would not take him down, in a gentle manner, but by cutting the rope, and allowing the body to fall, and burst asunder, as is describe here.

Perhaps Christ was referring to the fate of Judas, when he said of the wicked servant that he would cut him in sunder—“and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt 24:51; NKJV).

19 And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood.

And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem;
Public notice was taken, “and it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem.” You might say, it was in the newspapers, and was the talk of the town; that a remarkable judgment of God had taken the life of the man that betrayed his Master. The disciples talked about it among themselves, and Matthew knew where Judas was buried; “Therefore that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day” (Matt 27:8; NKJV). Jerusalem was buzzing with all the talk about this unpleasant incident, but nobody doubted the truth of the affair.

Let’s review the facts; what was known that caused such a stir in Jerusalem.
• That Judas betrayed Jesus of Nazareth into the hands of the chief priests, for thirty pieces of silver; that this was the reward of his iniquity.
• The incident in the temple that led to the priests purchasing the field.
• The name of the field, which would preserve the memory of the guilt of Judas—The field of blood. The field purchased by the price of blood. The name by which this field was called was Aceldama. It was just outside the walls of Jerusalem, on the south of Mount Zion. It is now used as a burying-place by the Armenian Christians in Jerusalem, who have a magnificent convent on Mount Zion.
• The field was formerly called the potter's field. A field that had been used for the purpose of making pottery until it was worthless for other purposes and could be bought cheap. Potters' fields are still found in the Kedron Valley south of the city.
• The field was to be used to bury strangers in and as a burial place for the poor.
• The repentance of Judas in a wretched way, his dying testimony in behalf of our Lord‘s innocence, and his tragic death.

Now, one would think that since all this was common knowledge it would have awakened those to repentance that had had a hand in the death of Christ, when they saw that Judas, who acted first and started the other events that culminated in Christ’s death, had taken his own life. But their hearts were hardened, and, if they were to be softened, it must be done by the word of God, applied by the Spirit of God.

These circumstances must have damaged the reputation of the priests in the public mind, but God can take the worst things that happen and make them the very best thing that ever happened, and perhaps He did precisely that by using these circumstances to prepare the citizens of Jerusalem to receive the Gospel of the kingdom, when preached to them after the day of Pentecost.

insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood.
 “In their proper tongue,” means "in their own dialect" (the "Jerusalem dialect"), which at this time was Chaldee, or Syriac, not Hebrew, which had long ceased to be the “proper tongue” in Palestine. "Aceldama,” which means “the field of blood" belonged to that language. We know that Peter did not speak this language because of what is said in Mark’s gospel—“And he denied it again. And a little after, they that stood by said again to Peter, Surely thou art one of them: for thou art a Galilaean, and thy speech agreeth thereto” (Mark 14:70; KJV). It is clear that the Galilean dialect was different from the Jerusalem dialect.

There are two reasons given for naming the field, Akeldema. The reason given in Matthew is the fact that the money that bought it was "the price of blood," and the reason in Acts appears to be that it was derived from the bloody death of Judas. Both reasons are true, since either one of them is sufficient to suggest the name.

This field has been identified as one owned today by the Armenian Christians in Jerusalem. It stands near to the valley of Himom, and is upon the south side of Mount Zion. The name it was given was fitting—“the field of blood"—because it was bought with the price of Christ's blood: and if, as some say, Judas hanged himself there, or was thrown headlong there by Satan, and that this was the place where his bowels gushed out; then it may also be called by that name, because it was sprinkled with Judas’ blood. The name kept alive the disgrace not only of the one that sold that innocent precious blood, but of those that bought it too.

20 For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take.

For it is written in the book of Psalms,
Here Paul returns to reporting what Peter said in his address to the other disciples. Peter refers them to a prediction, which is no doubt Psalm 69:25—“Let their habitation be desolate; and let none dwell in their tents.” Without a doubt, this is the prediction to which Peter refers in Acts 1:16—“Men and brethren, this Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus." The intermediate verses (Acts 1:18-19) are probably the words of Luke, not of Peter and should doubtless be in a parenthesis. It is not likely that Peter would introduce a narrative like this, which they were all familiar with, in an address to the disciples. The Hebrew in Psalm 69.25 is, “Let their habitation (Hebrew: fold, enclosure for cattle; tower, or palace) be desolate, and let none dwell in their tents.” This quotation is not made literally from the Hebrew, or from the Septuagint. The plural is changed to the singular, and there are some other slight changes. The Hebrew is, “Let there be no one dwelling in their tents.” The reference to the tents is omitted in the quotation. The term “habitation,” in the Psalm, evidently means the dwelling-place of the enemies of the writer of the Psalm. It is an image that expresses their overthrow and defeat by a just God: “Let their families be scattered, and the places where they have dwelt be without an inhabitant, as a reward for their crimes.”

If the Psalm was originally written David, about the Messiah and His sufferings, the expression here was not intended to denote Judas in particular, but one of Christ’s foes who was to meet the just punishment of rejecting, betraying, and murdering Him. The change, therefore, which Peter made from the plural to the singular, and the application to Judas especially “as one of those enemies,” agrees with the intention of the Psalm, and is a change which the circumstances of the case justified and required. It is an image, therefore, of judgment and desolation coming upon His betrayer—an image to be literally fulfilled with the betrayal by Judas and his subsequent suicide.

Let his habitation be desolate,
The Arabic and Ethiopic versions render it, "his city"; meaning, perhaps, the city of Jerusalem; which did become desolate, and was utterly destroyed in 70 A.D.

David, who wrote the Psalm which Peter has quoted, knew what it was like to be betrayed by another. When he was a fugitive from Saul, he was betrayed by a man named Doeg (See 1 Samuel 21-22), and many innocent people died as a result. David may have penned these very words in reference to this betrayer.

and let no man dwell therein:

“And let no man dwell therein;” or, in his habitation. The psalm (ps. 69), out of which these words are quoted, is a psalm concerning the Messiah, and there are many passages in the New Testament that contain quotes from that psalm and apply them to the Savior. For example John 2.17 quotes Psalms 69.9. What the psalmist says about the enemies of the Messiah in general, is applied by the apostle Paul to Judas in particular. In the Hebrew text, in Psalm 69:25 the words are  in the plural number, "let their habitation be desolate, and let none dwell in their tents"; and refer to all the enemies of Christ, the chief priests, elders of the people, Scribes and Pharisees, who made a deal with Judas to give him a certain amount of money to betray Christ into their hands; and who delivered him to the Roman governor, by whom, at their instigation, he was crucified. But Christ’s enemies must include Judas, since he betrayed Him to them; and therefore the prediction can be rightfully applied to Judas, as well as those others who had a hand in Christ’s death, whose house was to be left desolate, and were left desolate, as our Lord predicted— “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate” (Matt 23:38; KJV).

and his bishoprick let another take.
“And his bishopric let another take” is quoted from Psalm 109:8, “Let his days be few, and let another take his office.” This is called “a Psalm of David,” and is of the same class as Psalm 6:1-10, and Psalm 42:1-11. This class of Psalms is commonly supposed to have expressed David‘s feelings in the disastrous times of the persecution by Saul, the rebellion of Absalom, etc. They are also expressive of the condition of a suffering and persecuted Messiah, and many of them are applied to Him in the New Testament. The general principle on which most of them are applicable is, not that David personified or typified the Messiah which is not stated anywhere in Scripture, and which can be true in no intelligible sense; but that he was placed in circumstances similar to the Messiah; was surrounded with similar enemies; was persecuted in the same manner. Therefore, they express “general sentiments” as just as applicable to the case of the Messiah as to David. They were placed in similar circumstances. The same help was needed. The same expressions would convey their feelings. The same treatment was proper for their enemies. It was on this principle that David deemed his enemy, whoever he was, unworthy of his office, and desired that it should be given to another. In like manner, Judas had rendered himself unworthy of his office, and it was appropriate to give his bishopric, or office, as an apostle, to another. He was stripped of his office, as a bishop, or overseer, when he died a violent and infamous death, by his own hand. He was replaced by Matthias, who was fully invested in the office of apostle of Jesus Christ.

 

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