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Judas Hangs Himself October 20, 2018

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on Matthew 27:1-10.

Summary: In this passage, the Sanhedrin formally votes against Jesus at sunrise. They then take Him to Pontius Pilate, as they lack the legal authority to execute Him.

When Judas sees that Jesus has been condemned to judgment, he feels sad and attempts to return the money that he has received from the chief priests, asserting that he has sinned in betraying an innocent man.

The chief priests are indifferent to Judas’ sadness, though. He responds by going to the Holy Place and throwing down his silver coins in angry defiance. He then hangs himself.

The chief priests know that these silver coins were illegitimately paid to kill Jesus; thus, they cannot be put in the temple treasury. Instead, the chief priests use these silver coins to purchase a potter’s field where Gentiles could be buried – thereby fulfilling a prophecy in Zechariah 11:12-13.

Thoughts: In verses 9 and 10, Matthew notes that when the chief priests use Judas’ silver coins to purchase a potter’s field, they fulfill a prophecy of Jeremiah – not Zechariah. Ryle offers some thoughts on this point:

It is a great and undeniable difficulty, that the words quoted as having been used by “Jeremiah the prophet” are not to be found in any writings of Jeremiah that we possess, and that they are found in the prophet Zechariah…A question of this sort, which has puzzled many interpreters, is not likely to be settled at this date.

In John MacArthur’s sermon on this passage, he notes:

But it is a direct prophecy from Zechariah. You can’t make it fit into Jeremiah. The category of the prophets in rabbinic tradition, in rabbinic manuscripts and in the Talmud is always headed by the book of Jeremiah. So to a Jew the three sections of the Old Testament would be the law, Jeremiah and the Psalms. So when the writer refers to Jeremiah, he is simply taking the name that was at the top of the prophetic roll…

MacArthur appears to furnish a straightforward explanation of this issue; thus, I am curious as to how this explanation eluded Ryle. Have there been nontrivial advances in Biblical scholarship since the 19th century, enabling modern expositors such as MacArthur to resolve baffling details in Scripture? Did Ryle grasp the concept of “authorial intent” as it relates to the Old Testament? Did Matthew actually commit an error when writing this passage? Is MacArthur’s explanation of this issue actually correct? I anticipate meeting Matthew, Ryle and MacArthur at some point and probing them on this issue.

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