The two "fields" of blood
(Based on the analysis of E.W. Bullinger: The Companion Bible, Appendix 161: "The purchase of "the Potter's field". All work of E.W. Bullinger is in the public domain)
As you may remember last issue was devoted to the time that Judas died. Though in that issue we covered, I believe, most that had to do with the time aspect of Judas' death, we did not touch every aspect of this event. Among the aspects of the relative records of Matthew and Acts that we did not examined was the purchase of what is called "field of blood". This name appears in two places of the New Testament: in Matthew 27:8 and in Acts 1:19. Both of these records are given below together with their context:
For most people the two pieces of land referred in the above two passages are identical and the "wages of iniquity" of Acts 1:18 are the thirty pieces of silver of Matthew 27:3-5. However, we have the following reasons to believe that none of these happens:
1. Different buyers
The buyers of the piece of land referred in Matthew 27 were different from the buyer of the piece of land referred in Acts 1. Indeed, the piece of land referred in Matthew, was bought BY THE CHIEF PRIESTS (Matthew 27:6-7). On the other hand, the piece of land referred in Acts was bought by JUDAS (Acts 1:18).
2. Different money
The money that was used for the purchase of the piece of land referred in Matthew 27 was different from the money that was used for the purchase of the piece of land referred in Acts 1. Indeed, the purchase of the former was done with the thirty pieces of silver that Judas threw down in the temple (Matthew 27:5-7). Therefore, the "wages of iniquity" that Judas used to buy his piece of land (Acts 1:18) could not be the thirty pieces of silver, since he threw them down in the temple and therefore it was impossible for him to make use of them.
Regarding the identity and the source of the "wages of iniquity", the phrase itself declares money that was obtained unrightseously. The same phrase is also used in II Peter 2:15 where the same Greek words are translated as "wages of unrightseousness". There, the reference is to the gifts that Balaam loved (Numbers 22:7) and for which he disobeyed what God had commanded him1. Generally therefore, the "wages of iniquity" is a title for ill-gotten money. Regarding now our specific case of Judas, John 12:6 makes clear that he "was a thief, and had the money bag; AND HE USED TO TAKE WHAT WAS PUT INTO IT". Therefore, since Judas was a thief that used to take what was put into the money bag, we can easily understand that the ill-gotten money, the "wages of iniquity" of Acts 1:18, was no other than money stolen from the money bag. It was with this money that Judas bought his piece of land.
3. Different Greek words
Another point that makes clear that the two pieces of land are different, is the fact that different Greek words, are used for each of them. Unfortunately this is lost in the English transation that translates both of these pieces as "field of blood". Nevertheless, the Greek text makes clear that only the piece of land referred in Matthew could be characterised as a field. Indeed, the Greek word that is used for this piece is the word "agros" that means "field".
However, the Greek word that is used in Acts 1:19 is the word "chorion" that means "a particular place, landed property, estate2". Therefore whereas the priests and the elders bought an "agros", a field, Judas bought a "chorion", a property. Following the Greek text, what the priests bought was called "agros of blood" while what Judas bought was called "chorion of blood".
4. Different reasons for their names
In addition to all the above, the two pieces of land were respectively called "agros of blood" (Matthew 27:8) and "chorion of blood" (Acts 1:19) for different reasons. Indeed, the "agros of blood" that the chief priests bought was called like this because it was bought with the "price of blood" (Matthew 27:7, 9) i.e. with the thirty pieces of silver paid for the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. However, the "chorion of blood" that Judas bought was called like this because Judas committed suicide there (Acts 1:19).
From the above it is evident that Acts 1:15-20 and Matthew 27:3-8 speak for two different pieces of land.
Matthew 27 speaks for a field, "agros", that was bought by the priests with the thirty pieces of silver that Judas threw down. It was called "agros of blood" because it was purchased with the "price of blood" i.e. with the thirty pieces of silver paid for the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Acts 1 on the other hand speaks for a property, an estate, a "chorion", that was bought by Judas with the "wages of iniquity" i.e. with money stolen from the money bag. It was called "chorion of blood" because Judas committed suicide there.
The Companion Bible: Kregel Publications, Michigan 49501, This printing 1994.
1. For more about Balaam see Numbers 22, 23, 24.
2. See: E.W. Bullinger: "A Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testament", Zondervan Publishing House, this printing 1975, p. 283 and Liddell - Scott: "A Greek - English Lexicon" (I quote this by memory and for this I cannot give number of edition and page number).