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Formerly New Heart, New Spirit

Who Bought the Potter's Field (the "Field of Blood")?
Judas or the Temple Authorities?

We are given two accounts of the return of the 30 pieces of silver and the death of Judas Iscariot. In these two accounts, however, we are given what appears to be conflicting stories about who bought the potter's field, the field which later became known as the "Field of Blood." Let's look at these passages:

Matthew 27:1-8

“When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death: 2  And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor. Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, 4 Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. 5 And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself. 6 And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood. 7 And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter's field, to bury strangers in. 8 This is why that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day.”

Acts 1:15-19

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 a 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.”

Conclusion

In the Book of Matthew, it says that Judas gave the money to the Temple authorities and the Temple authorities bought the field. In Acts, it says that Judas bought the field with the reward money. Which one is true? I believe that the Temple authorities bought the field. Since the money belonged to Judas, Judas gets credit for buying the field. The Temple authorities probably bought the field after Judas killed himself. Perhaps they did this to hide his death from the population of Jerusalem. People might have thought that the Temple authorities killed Judas, so in an effort to cover up his death, they camouflaged the scene by burying other dead bodies there. So, here is a theoretical timeline:
- Judas returns the 30 pieces of silver
- The Temple authorities reject the money, saying that it cannot be accepted into the Temple treasury because it is blood money.
- Judas storms out and in a bout of self-hatred and remorse. He kills himself in a field.
- People may have seen Judas leave the Temple after meeting with the Temple authorities and thus they were witnesses to an apparent crime. 
- Fearing that people might suspect them of killing of one Jesus' own "inner circle" followers, the Temple authorities may have purchased the field which Judas had hanged himself and put other corpses there to hide Judas' death.

Although we believe this is a likely scenario, we also believe that it is ultimately impossible to know for sure. We are merely theorizing about the situation. We must also be open to theorizing that Luke had inherited a less-than-accurate historical tradition and had mistakenly believed that Judas himself had personally bought the field instead of the Temple authorities. A third theory is that Luke wholeheartedly blamed Judas for the purchase of the field and because he may have been writing to Theophilus, son of the high priest Ananus, about the early Nazarene movement, he may have wanted to avoid speaking ill of the Temple authorities - which would include Theophilus' own father, Ananus (also see Acts 6:7). However, despite these alternative theories, we still believe that the primary theory is correct. It is by far the most believable and the least conspiratorial. It is also the only one which does not bring into question the reliability of Scripture or our authors (Matthew and Luke).