Acts recalls the death of Judas in gruesome detail: “Falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his innards poured out” (1:18). Whereas Matthew states that Judas hangs himself (27:5), Acts presents its own picture of his demise in order to highlight an important theological truth. The death of Judas anticipates the giving of the Holy Spirit and emphasizes God’s mission to restore Israel through Jesus.

The name “Judas” comes into English based on the way it appears in the Greek New Testament, Ἰούδας (Ioúdas), and is a transliteration of the Hebrew “Judah” (יהודה; Yehudah)—the wayward disciple is named after the Israelite tribe of which Jesus is a part. Luke, the writer of Acts, uses a favorite catchword to describe the death of Judas/Judah, noting that his insides are “poured out” (ἐκχέω; ekchéo). This initial reference to the former disciple’s “pouring out” constitutes the destruction of one whose name recalls the people of Judah.

Yet, Luke responds to Judas/Judah’s destructive outpouring with the Holy Spirit’s arrival at Pentecost—or Shavuot (שׁבועות), the Jewish Feast of Weeks. Addressing the “men of Judah” (ἄνδρες Ἰουδαῖοι; Acts 2:14), Peter cites the prophet Joel: “In the last days… I will pour out (ἐκχέω; ekchéo) my Spirit upon all flesh…. I will pour out (ἐκχέω) my Spirit and they shall prophesy” (2:17-18; cf. Joel 2:28-29). Peter follows his citation by telling those in Judah that God has “poured out (ἐκχέω)… the promise of the Holy Spirit [so that] you both see and hear” (2:33). Judas/Judah ends his life by being poured out and Acts follows this tragic event with the outpouring of the Spirit, which brings new life to the people celebrating Shavuot in Judah. In the wake of Judas’s demise, the Holy Spirit arrives as the antidote to destruction and death. The rest of Acts affirms God’s life-giving goal by showing how the Lord “pours out (ἐκχέω) the gift of the Holy Spirit” (10:45) from Judea to the ends of the earth.

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51 COMMENTS

  1. I wonder if the term "came upon" is the same as "poured out". One reads how the Spirit came upon Saul and he prophesied (Sam 19:23)., and the "Holy Spirit came upon Jesus in the form of a dove". Also the Holy Spirit came upon Mary (Luke 1:35) and the spirit came upon the believers at Pentecost. It seems this is they way of God's Spirit. Reflecting upon Pentecost, "All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit", I wonder if this needs to be understood differently. That the Greek meant came upon/poured out upon to the original readers but modern readers see it more literally.
    • Thanks for your comment, Thomas. In Greek, "pour out" (ἐκχέω; ekchéo) and "come upon" (ἐπέρχομαι; epérchomai) are different words, but they are two sides of a coin re the Spirit. The first term highlights what God does with the Spirit, and the second describes what happens once the Spirit is poured out. In Acts, "filled" with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4) is πίμπλημι (pímplemi); the Greek means to be "overcome" in the same way that one talks about being overcome with an emotion or feeling (cf. Acts 3:10; 5:17; 13:45; 19:29). That is, to be "filled" with the Spirit is to be impacted by the Spirit in some significant way (rather than the literal "filling up" of one's internal space, as it were).

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  2. Point for thought - I went through 14 English translations that use “gushed out” or “spilled out”. Only Strong’s translates (ἐκχέω; ekchéo) as “poured out”.
    J.
    • Thanks, Jerry. Goes to show that most English translations miss the linguistic link that Luke makes with ἐκχέω. Had these translations made this connection, they might have translated Judas' insides being "poured out" to coincide with the outpouring of the Spirit.
    • Dr. Schaser, do you do your own direct translation from the Greek into English? If so, my hat's off to you. As for myself, I can do no better than to read the letters on the local fraternity houses.

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  3. also heard that Judas hung himself upon a sword there by gushed out his bowels. when christ was stabbed in the side it went 'in' and 'up' there by slicing his heart. out came water and blood. Mary was told a sword shall pierce your own soul also. the out poring of the Holy Spirit is from the very bowels and heart of Abba, May Christ (haMashiach) dwell in your heart by faith. Judas simply spilled his guts
  4. Matthew's reference to "hanging" is not by rope as a modern understanding would suggest... rather "to hang" is to lift up and mount on some form of hook, like a meat-hook. Judas threw himself down and was impaled (thus hanged himself) just like Luke mentioned.
    • That's possible, Hal. But Judas's hanging in Matthew is meant to remind the reader of Absalom -- the son who betrays David and ends up hanging from a tree by his hair, which leads to his death (see 2 Sam 18:9-15). Thus, Matthew alludes to a similar kind of "hanging from a tree" for Judas. More, Matthew doesn't mention hooks or impaling (though Matthew could have used these words), and Luke doesn't say that Judas threw himself down or impaled himself either.
  5. It is a fallacy to compare Judas and the Holy Spirit; "synonyms" never means "same". The Holy Spirit never betrays God, and never seeks to terminate goodness by being bought by money as Judas did. Your perspective is not congruent with scriptures and proper interpretation of the Bible.
    • The above article does not compare Judas with the Holy Spirit, nor does it equate the two; rather, it compares the negative way that Judas dies with the positive outpouring of the Spirit. You may wish to read the article again.
  6. I love the perspectives generated on this platform. My day is never complete without reading the differing views. Really love the insights.Amazing! Wao ??
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  7. The workings of the holy spirit is a mystery which can only be understood by consistent and continuos communion with the Lord. May we continue to enjoy the infilling and outpouring of the holy spirit.
  8. But I need this clarification - both peter and Judas denied and betrayed Jesus respectively. Why wasn't Judas restored. Sorry for the diversion - just being curious
  9. I can see that none of you have ever been in a combat situation. When a person hangs himself eventually the body extends and expands as the gastric "juices" ferment. After awhile the body becomes bloated, the head separates from the body and the body falls to the ground and bursts open, spilling the intestines all over the ground. Neither passage is totally complete until they are combined together giving a total picture of what happened to a satanically controlled fool who turned apostate (Luke 22:3). Not everything in God's word has "hidden meanings".
    • This is the explanation that I have been told and I accept as very plausible. I agree that sometimes we try to read too much into the Bible. The word of God is always true; the Bible cannot contradict itself, not even to point towards a theological truth.
    • In what combat situation does one kill himself by hanging and his comrades leave his corpse to decompose like that? Are Matthew and Luke known to be combat veterans recounting such a situation? Were Jews or other peoples of the first century known for leaving human bodies hanging around?

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    • Either this or a similar explanation (differing descriptions of the same event/process) is the only possibility, unless you allow that at least one of the authors was just ginning up his own story to fit a literary need.

      Either the two descriptions are resolvable, or one author is a liar.
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