How did Judas die?

Matthew states that Judas hung himself

Matthew 27-  5 And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.

However in the Book of Acts it is stated that Judas fell and burst asunder in the midst.  

Acts 1- 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.

Of course Judas cannot have died in two different ways. This would be a contradiction.

However for this to be an actual contradiction Judas would have had to have been recorded as dying in two different ways. It is impossible for a person to die in two different ways so at least one would be incorrect and contradict the other. BUT it must be noted NEITHER of these verses record that this was how Judas died at all.


Matthew simply says that Judas hanged himself and Acts says he fell and burst in the midst.

Obviously both of these verses allude to the fact that Judas did die. But neither say actually says that Judas died this way.  We must note that it is very unlikely that he would have survived either event.

As Matthew very clearly states that Judas hanged himself, it is also very likely that it was through hanging himself that he did indeed die. Matthew does not say that Judas attempted to hang himself rather that he did.  There is no record anywhere else of judas attempting to hang himself but being unsuccessful. So I think it is a pretty safe bet to say that Judas died when he hung himself. Some people do say that Judas hung himself on his sword, however, Matthew uses the Greek word ἀπάγχω apagchó which means to choke or strangle. If Matthew wished to convey hanging on his sword this is unlikely to be the Greek word which he would have used. 

But how do we reconcile the statement in Acts.

It is also highly unlikely that Luke, the author of Acts, would not have been aware of the depiction of Judas hanging himself in the gospel of Matthew.  Luke does not “correct” Matthew he rather simply makes a statement which would seem to contradict Matthews record of Judas.

Possibility 1) It works but I do not think it is the actual answer.

What if we, rather than seeing these two accounts as contradictory, we see these accounts as complementary.

If Judas hung himself then it could simply be that after he had died the rope wore through or maybe his decaying body simply broke free from the rope, he fell and burst in his midst. The Bible does not state how long Judas had been hanging for. 

Neither record would therefore be incorrect. As neither record that this was how he died, the depiction in Acts could be a record of what happened to Judas after he died and not the way in which he died. Luke, having seen that Matthew had recorded HOW Judas died simply added to the information saying that he fell and burst, as already highlighted Luke does not record that Judas died this way and neither did he say that the record of Matthew was incorrect or “supposed”.

Just as Luke did do in his Genealogy of Jesus in his Gospel

Luke 3- 23 And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli


Theory 2) What I actually think this means

What we need to do is look more into is the language that Luke used.

Luke used the word γίνομαι ginomai in Acts 1-18 (translated as falling) which is more often translated a become or to happen or come to pass.

This word is used in John 1-14 the word BECAME flesh

This in contrast to the Greek πίπτω piptó , meaning to fall.

The word translated as Bowles in the KJV and intestines in the NIV is  σπλάγχνα splagchnon. Now this most certainly can mean the literal inner parts of a person’s body but it can also mean the inner affections, emotions or feelings of a person.

Luke himself uses this word in this way in his gospel when he referred to the affectionate(tender) mercy of God.

Luke 1-78 Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us,

The Douay Rheims says the bowels of the mercy of our God.

Luke 1-78 Through the bowels of the mercy of our God, in which the Orient from on high hath visited us:

This clearly not used in a literal inner parts of God but Gods inner affections to us.

In the same way I think Luke is saying that Judas FELL (became) , not in the literal falling down but falling away from the side of Jesus and becoming ripped apart from the inside emotionally. 

Matthew records that Judas repented

Matthew 27- 3Then 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, 4Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that.

Luke is not recording the way in which Judas died, Judas did not die this way rather Luke is demonstrating the inner anguish with which Judas was beset after he had betrayed Jesus.

Again it is unlikely that Luke would have stated that Judas died by falling without at least having address Matthew’s account.

There is no actual contradiction here just an implied one which can just as easily be answered with reasoning.