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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36 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).

      • Two sides to the same coin… I like it. God’s action by His Spirit coming upon, the empowerment or full authoritative activity in the believer as His Spirit empowers the believer’s spirit. This in turn is interfaced (the mind) to the physical expression of great joy, prophecy, etc.

        It appears to me that at conversion/salvation/redemption God, by His Spirit is given the sovereign right to presence Himself in our presence. (After all we are sovereign entities created in His image, and He would not usurp our rights of sovereignty, but waits to be received). As the Spirit came upon Jesus and remained on Jesus, so to does the Holy Spirit remain upon us. Could this be reflected in Pail’s statements of being sealed by the Holy Spirit? 2Cor 1:2, Eph 1:13. Eph 4:30.

        • Two sides of the same coin is a good way to put it, Thomas. Thanks for that illustration. Yes, I think that being “sealed” in the Holy Spirit signifies the Spirit’s abiding presence with believers.

  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.

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    • 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.

      • Yes, Neville. IBC’s faculty translates the Greek & Hebrew into English — that’s what 10+ years of graduate school gets you.

  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.

    • We are very happy that you’ve joined our discussion forum. Would you believe that these articles are only a taste of what Israel Bible Center has to offer? We also provide comprehensive teaching on a variety of biblical, historical, and cultural topics. You might begin with The Jewish Gospel of Matthew or The Hebrew Psalms: How To Worship God. You’ll be amazed at the Jewish world that awaits you. Don’t delay another minute: enroll now!

  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 🤛👏

  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?

      • Dennis, I believe you are jumping to some conclusions here. One sees a lot in a war zone.

        Have you considered the possibility of soldiers liberating a town that has been occupied and terrorized by a warlord/despot/opposing-faction?

        Are you familiar with the Rwandan Genocide of 25 years ago?

    • 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.

  10. aderemi adebowale Laoniyonu raises an important point. Judas could have been restored as was Peter. The outcome illustrates a fundamental difference between the two men: Peter rushed out and wept bitterly while Judas rushed out and hanged himself. Both failed, both rushed out but chose different destinies.

  11. Judas did not repent instead he went to the Pharisees to say I betrayed an innocent man. Do you still remember their response? What has that got to do with us? He still had time to go to Jesus and our Lord God to say I am sorry.

    • Thanks for your comment, Faniswa. Judas speaks to the chief priests and elders, not to the Pharisees (Matt 27:3), and by the time he goes to them, Jesus is already condemned and handed over to the Romans (27:2), so it was too late for Judas to apologize to Jesus.

    • So, do we really know that Judas did not repent?

      I am aware of the “son of perdition” reference, etc.

      But consider Luke 22; when Jesus himself promised his disciples they would sit on thrones and rule over the 12 tribes of Israel, Judas was right there in the room.

  12. I have read this articles and your comments, I have realised that I don’t know anything. I compare myself as a foolish man. I need to learn.

  13. When the word “come upon” is used, it is to a specific person with specific mission: Saul to be king, Mary to be Mother of the Savior, Paul for a mission to the gentiles. When the Spirit was “poured out” in Joel or in Acts, it was on the people.

  14. I had never connected the outpouring of Judas’s innards with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. It seems a stretch to me simply because the same word is used in both instances.

    • Charles, the Holy Spirit does not get poured out through Judas; rather, God pours out the Spirit in response to the destructive work and death of Judas. The similarity in terminology highlights the divine repairing of rebellious activity.

    • We are very happy that you’ve joined our discussion forum. Would you believe that these articles are only a taste of what Israel Bible Center has to offer? We also provide comprehensive teaching on a variety of biblical, historical, and cultural topics. You might begin with The Jewish Gospel of Matthew or The Hebrew Psalms: How To Worship God. You’ll be amazed at the Jewish world that awaits you. Don’t delay another minute: enroll now!

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