In Matthew 27:8 and Acts 1:18–19, a Field of Blood is identified with an explanation for its name. However, the passages differ in how they explain the origin of the name.
Speaking of Judas, Acts 1:18–19 records this:
Acts 1:18–19 (ESV)
18 (Now this man acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness, and falling headlong he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. 19 And it became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their own language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.)
Describing how Judas returned the money received for betraying Jesus and what the Jewish leaders did with that money, Matthew 27:5–8 records this:
Matthew 27:5–8 (ESV)
5 And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself. 6 But the chief priests, taking the pieces of silver, said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since it is blood money.” 7 So they took counsel and bought with them the potter’s field as a burial place for strangers. 8 Therefore that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day.
Judas returned his thirty pieces of silver to the chief priest and elders out of guilt for having betrayed Jesus, who was innocent and shed His blood in His death on the cross (Matt 27:3–5a). Because the money was paid to Judas for this betrayal, the priests bought the potter’s field as a burial place for strangers (Matt 27:6–7). The field was thus called the Field of Blood with reference to the blood of Jesus (Matt 27:8; cf. 27:4).
In Acts 1:18–19, Judas is said to be the one to have acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness (Acts 1:18a). Perhaps the Jewish leaders purchased the field in his name. However it came into his possession, if we assume that Matthew’s account of Judas’s suicide in Matt 27:5b could have happened after the purchase of the field, the field was in the possession of Judas in Acts 1:18. According to Matthew 27:5b, Judas hanged himself and died. Acts 1:18–19 tells the story further. Assuming his body became swollen while decomposing, somehow fell and burst open, the blood of Judas was spilled on the field. The field became known as the Field of Blood for this reason as well—it was where the blood of the dead Judas spilled out.
Comparing Scripture to Scripture, we see that both passages are correct and that Matthew and Luke focused on one aspect of the story or another for their respective purposes in writing. The Field of Blood refers to the blood of two men—it was purchased with money used to betray the innocent blood of Jesus, and it was sullied with the blood of Judas who betrayed Him.
Pastor David Huffstutler
Pastor Huffstutler regularly writes articles for our Sunday bulletin. See his bio on our pastoral bio page.