Betrayed By A Friend

If faithfulness is the most important attribute that the Lord desires in our service to Him; betrayal is the least desirable.

Faithfulness is the criteria that Jesus will use to determine the rewards that He will bestow on those who have served Him during their earthly life. Betrayal by a close friend was the greatest sin that any man could commit against the Lord who was dying for us.

In this chapter we will examine the six prophecies which describe the betrayal of the Messiah, by a close friend. In each subsequent part of this total story, we will see how each prophecy is developed by the predictions before. Keep in mind that these are six separate prophecies, which detail this entire event. The first three from the Psalms, written by David; 1,000 years before Jesus was born. The second three from Zechariah, written 500 years before Jesus was born.

Psalm 41:9: Betrayed by a close friend, who ate bread with Him.
Psalm 55:12-14: One who is a part of His ministry.
Psalm 109:6-9: He will be replaced by another.
Zechariah 11:12: Betrayed for 30 pieces of silver.
Zechariah 11:13a: Money paid was later used to purchase a potters field.
Zechariah 11:13b: The price paid was returned; thrown into the house of the Lord.

How could two men; who did not know each other; who lived 500 years apart in history, write a concise and uniform story about the Messiah that describes precisely what happened to Jesus?

1. Judas betrayed Jesus.
2. He was a part of Jesus ministry.
3. He was replaced by Matthias.
4. Judas was paid 30 pieces of silver.
5. Judas killed himself, the money used to buy a potters field.
6. Judas went into the Temple to return the money, it was refused, he threw it into the house of the Lord.

What these six prophecies predict, is precisely what is recorded in the New Testament?

Part One:

The Messiah will be betrayed by a close friend, the one who ate bread with Him.

Old Testament Prediction:

Psalms 41:9 “Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, Who ate my bread, Has lifted up his heel against me.”

New Testament Fulfillment:

John 13:18-19 “I do not speak concerning all of you. I know whom I have chosen; but that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘He who eats bread with Me has lifted up his heel against Me.’ Now I tell you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe that I am He.”

John 13:21-27 When Jesus had said these things, He was troubled in spirit, and testified and said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me.” Then the disciples looked at one another, perplexed about whom He spoke. Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved. Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask who it was of whom He spoke. Then, leaning back on Jesus’ breast, he said to Him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I shall give a piece of bread when I have dipped it.” And having dipped the bread, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. Now after the piece of bread, Satan entered him. Then Jesus said to him, “What you do, do quickly.”

Luke 22:47-48 And while He was still speaking, behold, a multitude; and he who was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them and drew near to Jesus to kiss Him. But Jesus said to him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”

Betrayed by a friend

Psalms 40:14 gives us the details of Jesus’ arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane. Psalms 41:9 (this chapter) adds an additional detail, that it will be a close friend who will betray Him, the one who ate bread with Him. Both of these Psalms were originally written by David in response to his betrayal by Ahithophel. We will discover in this chapter that they also have a second, later fulfillment in the life of the Messiah.

Jesus confirms that He is the object of Psalms 41:9, in John 13:18-19, by saying: “I do not speak concerning all of you. I know whom I have chosen; but that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘He who eats bread with Me has lifted up his heel against Me.’”

Jesus understood that only the Messiah could fulfill Psalms 41:9. He knew what He was saying when He stated that the Messiah would be betrayed by a friend so close that they would break bread together. Judas Iscariot became the betrayer when He sat with Jesus at the Last Supper, on the night Jesus was arrested.

What I repeatedly find amazing about each of these individual prophecies is that Jesus often states that the Scripture may be fulfilled. When we find Jesus confirming that a particular Old Testament prediction is being fulfilled by Himself, there is no further need of validation. Consider the difficulty to which these things come into alignment and become a reality. Jesus’ remembrance of scriptures from the Old Testament that He claims to be fulfilling, shows His vast knowledge of the Bible. Paul, who was an incredible teacher of the Hebrew scriptures, was no doubt impressed and inspired by how Jesus pulled verses from the Old Testament together and stated that what He was doing at a given moment was the fulfillment of those verses. When we examine Paul’s writing in the New Testament, we see the very same thing. Paul will show us how events which were taking place were a fulfillment of what was formerly written. Not only this, but what was written before also has the important purpose of teaching and encouraging us today.

Romans 15:4 For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.

This is one of the reasons that I set out to write this book. After forty-one years of studying the Bible and the subject of prophecy, I became aware of how Bible prophecy affects everything that we do in our Christian lives. Even as I write to this point, I have already observed how understanding the interrelationship between what was formerly written in the Old Testament and these things being fulfilled in the New Testament, are crucial to our understanding of who Jesus is, and why He came to earth. God wanted to make sure that there was considerable evidence for the identity of the Messiah. From the simplest mind to the greatest intellect, prophecies such Psalm 41:9, show us God’s intimate knowledge of every microsecond of our lives. If He has the power to control every event that we can observe here in these predictions and their fulfillment, He can also control all the events of our life, for our greatest benefit.

God is interacting with seven billion people, every second of every day, and He has continued to do so—for all time. In every event, the Lord is always working to bring about His will and purpose for all human life. He has the ability to know, control, and bring about the purposes that He has determined for each individual person. It appears that God is so mighty that He has not only the desire, but also the capacity—to interact with every individual person on the earth, simultaneously. He can hear the prayers of seven billion people, all individually, and all at once. He can answer all prayers and bring about the specific plan that He has for each individual. All this, while causing each one of us to come into alignment—to fulfill His determined will and purpose, for all time and eternity.

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Part Two

The Messiah will be betrayed by a close friend, one who was a part of His ministry.

Old Testament Prediction:

Psalms 55:12-14 “For it is not an enemy who reproaches me; Then I could bear it. Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me; Then I could hide from him. But it was you, a man my equal, My companion and my acquaintance. We took sweet counsel together, And walked to the house of God in the throng.”

New Testament Fulfillment:

John 13:18 “I do not speak concerning all of you. I know whom I have chosen; but that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘He who eats bread with Me has lifted up his heel against Me.’ ”
John 13:21-27 When Jesus had said these things, He was troubled in spirit, and testified and said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me.” Then the disciples looked at one another, perplexed about whom He spoke. Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved. Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask who it was of whom He spoke. Then, leaning back on Jesus’ breast, he said to Him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I shall give a piece of bread when I have dipped it.” And having dipped the bread, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. Now after the piece of bread, Satan entered him. Then Jesus said to him, “What you do, do quickly.”

One who was a part of His ministry:

Both Psalms 41 and 55 were written by David after his son Absalom and close friend—Ahithophel, plotted against David, in 2 Samuel 16:15-17:23. David writes from a broken heart after being betrayed. His cry to God is one that we can certainly identify with, if we have had a close friend betray us.

Psalms 55:1-11 Give ear to my prayer, O God, And do not hide Yourself from my supplication. Attend to me, and hear me; I am restless in my complaint, and moan noisily, Because of the voice of the enemy, Because of the oppression of the wicked; For they bring down trouble upon me, And in wrath they hate me. My heart is severely pained within me, And the terrors of death have fallen upon me. Fearfulness and trembling have come upon me, And horror has overwhelmed me. So I said, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest. Indeed, I would wander far off, And remain in the wilderness. Selah I would hasten my escape From the windy storm and tempest.” Destroy, O Lord, and divide their tongues, For I have seen violence and strife in the city. Day and night they go around it on its walls; Iniquity and trouble are also in the midst of it. Destruction is in its midst; Oppression and deceit do not depart from its streets.

There is no doubt that Ahithophel is the subject of David’s words in these two Psalms. We do find, however, that in the New Testament, Jesus quotes from Psalm 41 in speaking of His own betrayal by Judas Iscariot.

John 13:18 “I do not speak concerning all of you. I know whom I have chosen; but that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘He who eats bread with Me has lifted up his heel against Me.’ ”

Jesus is quoting David, confirming that this prophecy was not just written for Ahithophel, but also for Him. Since we know for certain that David was writing both Psalms after his experience of betrayal with Ahithophel, it is reasonable that Jesus, in quoting Psalm 41, is also thinking of Psalm 55. Jesus states that Judas’ betrayal was a fulfillment of Old Testament Prophecy, specifically, Psalms 41; and Psalms 55.

Psalms 55:12-14 “For it is not an enemy who reproaches me; Then I could bear it. Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me; Then I could hide from him. But it was you, a man my equal, My companion and my acquaintance. We took sweet counsel together, And walked to the house of God in the throng.”

Psalms 41:9 “Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, Who ate my bread, Has lifted up his heel against me.”

It is possible that Ahithophel was a close relative of Uriah and Bathsheba to whom David had brought so much pain and suffering. Ahithophel, convincing David’s son Absalom to take his counsel against his father, may have betrayed David as an act of revenge for the murder and adultery that destroyed Uriah and Bathsheba’s lives.

There are nine ways in which Ahithophel and Judas are alike:

1. They were both trusted friends of David and Jesus.
2. They both betrayed their friend.
3. They are said to have “loved” their masters.
4. They “lifted up themselves” against their friends.
5. They betrayed the trust that was placed in them.
6. Both were counselors or advisors.
7. They enjoyed fellowship with their masters.
8. They worshipped God together.
9. Their families were close.

Many years ago, one of my closest and dearest friends, misunderstood the circumstantial events of a particular difficulty I was enduring. While I was aware that my friend was simply misinformed, I could not persuade him otherwise. As he began to convey his thoughts to others who were also my friends, they believed his report and ceased their fellowship with me. The problem in having a false rumor spread—is the difficulty in disproving a negative once it has been stated amongst many people. This trusted friend, to whom I had worshipped the Lord with and placed a great deal of trust in, caused immense loss to myself and my ministry. Betrayal is one of life’s most painful experiences and one that leaves you with great suffering.

David understood the emotional desolation that betrayal by a close friend, leaves behind. We learn in this prophecy of Psalms 55:12-14, that Jesus also suffered at the betrayal of Judas. The fact that the Old Testament predicts this betrayal in such vivid detail, is a further validation of Jesus as the fulfillment of all the prophecies concerning the promised Messiah.

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Part Three

The Messiah will be betrayed by a close friend who will be replaced by another.

Old Testament Prediction:

Psalms 109:6-9 Set a wicked man over him, And let an accuser stand at his right hand. When he is judged, let him be found guilty, And let his prayer become sin. Let his days be few, And let another take his office. Let his children be fatherless, And his wife a widow.

New Testament Fulfillment:

Acts 1:16-20 “Men and brethren, this Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus; for he was numbered with us and obtained a part in this ministry.” (Now this man purchased a field with the wages of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his entrails gushed out. And it became known to all those dwelling in Jerusalem; so that field is called in their own language, Akel Dama, that is, Field of Blood.) “For it is written in the Book of Psalms: ‘Let his dwelling place be desolate, And let no one live in it’; and, ‘Let another take his office.’ ”

Replaced by another:

As Luke writes the words to Acts 1:16-20, he is remembering Psalms 109:6-9. The physician understood that this Psalm was written for the Messiah who would have one of His closest friends betray Him. The fact that Luke records these words in the first chapter of Acts is a confirmation of its prophetic importance as one of the prophecies that Jesus fulfilled. Luke finished the first chapter of Acts with the statement:

For it is written in the Book of Psalms: ‘Let his dwelling place be desolate, And let no one live in it’; and, ‘Let another take his office.’ —Acts 1:20

After Judas betrayed Jesus, he went out and hung himself. The disciples met to determine who should replace him and after prayer, they chose Barsabas and Matthias as candidates. By casting lots (drawing straws), Matthias drew the lot and he was added as the 12th Apostle. The only problem with this choice is that it was made before the arrival of the Holy Spirit in Acts Chapter 2. We never read anything further about the Apostle Matthias, while nearly one half of the New Testament is written by the Apostle Paul.

Acts 1:23 And they proposed two: Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. And they prayed and said, “You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.” And they cast their lots, and the lot fell on Matthias. And he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

Clearly, it was Paul who was the Lord’s choice for the 12th Apostle, and the one whom David described in Psalm 109-6-9, to take Judas place. The lesson of this example is understood by waiting for the leading of the Holy Spirit—instead of acting in our own wisdom.

Betrayal is a fatal error

If you have ever been betrayed by a close friend, then you can certainly relate to how Jesus must have felt. There is a bite in our soul that happens when someone we have known and trusted for some time begins to spread rumors and untrue facts about us to others. Once a person’s reputation is taken from him, he cannot ever recover it again. There is no defense that a man can make of himself once negative things have been said. These gossips are spread from one person to another, like a virus that infects every host that is touched by the originator of the plague.

Those who destroy a man’s good name by their gossip should understand that the Lord will visit them with His retribution. If the reputation lost is one who has been anointed by the Lord to teach the word of God or minster to others, the penalty of the betrayer will be even more severe.

Though King Saul tormented and pursued David continually—when David had the opportunity to destroy Saul, he would not. The wisdom of David was displayed in his knowledge that whoever the Lord has anointed (placed in a position of spiritual authority) is also protected by God. Those who come against God’s servants are in a battle with the Lord of heaven. He will avenge His servants; He will repay.

The lesson that we should learn from those who betrayed Jesus:

Should we find ourselves in a place where negative comments are being spoken by us to other people about a particular person, we will place ourselves in danger of God’s judgment. The Lord hates division, gossip, talebearing, and the spreading of stories that destroy the reputation of others.

Proverbs 6:16 There are six things that the Lord hates, (the seventh is) an abomination to him: 19 …one who sows discord among brothers. (ESV)

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Part Four

The Messiah will be betrayed by a friend for thirty pieces of silver.

Old Testament Prediction:

Zechariah 11:12 Then I said to them, “If it is agreeable to you, give me my wages; and if not, refrain.” So they weighed out for my wages thirty pieces of silver.

New Testament Fulfillment:

Matthew 26:14-16 Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?” And they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver. So from that time he sought opportunity to betray Him.

Betrayed for 30 pieces of silver:

Zechariah describes the betrayal of the Messiah for thirty pieces of silver.

Matthew records an event where Judas Iscariot is paid thirty pieces of silver to deliver Jesus to the chief priests of Israel.

There is no doubt that Zechariah was writing specifically for Jesus—to reveal Him to us as the Messiah and the One to whom all the prophets wrote.

It is interesting that the book of Exodus prescribes the compensation that should be paid for a slave who is gored by an ox—precisely the same amount paid to betray Jesus.

Exodus 21:32 If the ox gores a male or female servant, he shall give to their master thirty shekels of silver, and the ox shall be stoned.

Israel sold her Messiah for the price of an injured slave. This is all that Jesus was worth to the Jews and the religious leaders of Israel. The thirty shekels that the chief priest paid Judas for the Lord’s betrayal was intended as an insult towards Jesus. It is certain that this amount was set with the thought of Exodus 21:32, specifically to reduce Jesus to little more than a wounded slave. Though He created everything that exists, and He came first to His own people—they insulted, rejected, and butchered Him on a Roman cross.

In every prophecy of the Bible, it is the Lord who controls the results. He tells us what will happen, then directs each part of the prophecy until its final outcome. The people who participate in the particular events described by each prophecy are chosen by God for His own purpose. When Israel failed to honor the Lord and keep His word, the Lord called Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, to fulfill His word. Though Nebuchadnezzar was a pagan king, God called him: “My servant.” It was the Lord’s plan to send Nebuchadnezzar to destroy Jerusalem, and take many of the Jews captive, back to Babylon. They would remain in Babylon until the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy, for seventy years. When the Persians conquered Babylon, God called Cyrus, the king of Persia, to be “His Shepherd” and “His Anointed.” One hundred and fifty years before Cyrus was born, the Lord called him by name, in Isaiah 44:28 and 45:1. God said that Cyrus would release the captives who had been held in Babylon and allow them to return to Jerusalem to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple. The Lord called forth these two kings in order to fulfill His prophetic word, though they were not His people, nor had their nations served God.

Isaiah 44:28 Who says of Cyrus, “He is My shepherd, And he shall perform all My pleasure, Saying to Jerusalem, ‘You shall be built,’ And to the temple, ‘Your foundation shall be laid.’ ”

Isaiah 45:1 Thus says the LORD to His anointed, To Cyrus, whose right hand I have held—To subdue nations before him And loose the armor of kings, To open before him the double doors, So that the gates will not be shut:

Jeremiah 27:6 And now I have given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, My servant; and the beasts of the field I have also given him to serve him.

These prophecies are from God; therefore, He determines the outcome for each one. The Lord is reporting to us what will happen, because He has seen these events before they occurred. More importantly, He has ordained each event to happen; therefore, no one is able to prevent them from taking place. In every Old Testament prophecy that Jesus fulfilled, it is clear that God was ordering all the events of history to cause His word to come to pass. This shows us that He not only knows what is going to happen, but He also causes these things to come into being, by the power of His will.

How God Moves Men to Accomplish His Will:

It was the Lord who placed into the mind of the Roman government the need for a census that would necessitate Joseph to go, from Nazareth where he lived—back to Bethlehem, the place of his ancestor David’s birth. This was necessary because Micah’s prophecy called for the Messiah to be born in Bethlehem. Mary and Joseph lived in Nazareth, which presented a problem. How would God accomplish His word by causing the Messiah’s birth in Bethlehem when Mary and Joseph lived 80 miles away, in Nazareth?

God not only ordained that His Son would be born in Bethlehem; He moved the entire world to participate in a census, in order to fulfill His word. The head of every family in the Roman Empire was required by law to go back to the place of their ancestor’s birth to register for this census. The purpose of the survey was to provide the Roman government with information—detailing how many people were of proper age to pay taxes. This was the human element that caused the census to take place; the spiritual element came about by a sovereign act of God to require His Son to be born where David was born, so that He might fulfill His word. It was the Lord who put it into the mind of Caesar Augustus to call for the census. The thought came from God; the purpose was from God; the reason: to fulfill the prophecy of the Messiah’s birth.

Luke 2:1-7 And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son…

This account from the gospel of Luke is also a matter of secular history, confirmed in the records of the Roman Senate from the same period of history that the New Testament places Jesus in Israel. See also, the chapter: Threatened With Death At Birth

The Census of Augustus, Documented by Suetonius and Tacitus:

“He revived the office of the Censor which had long been disused and whose duty it had formerly been to take an account of the number of people.” [1] —Suetonius

“Since the consuls caused a law to be passed soon after this that he should govern the provinces jointly with Augustus and hold the census with him.” [2] —Suetonius

“This contained the number of citizens, subject kingdoms and taxes. All these details Agustus had written with his own hand.”[3] —Tacitus

It seems that God adds these points of difficulty to many of these Old Testament prophecies, in order to increase the unlikely prospect that any one person could fulfill them by chance. God intentionally adds difficulty so that no rational and reasonable person would assume the events that He said would happen, had taken place by mere happenstance. In addition, the goal of these added difficulties; increases the mathematical impossibility for any of these prophecies to take place by chance.

Dr. Peter Stoner computed the mathematical odds of one person in history being able to fulfill just 8 of prophecies of the Messiah. These were events that were beyond Jesus ability to control or direct their outcome.

1. Place of birth (Micah 5:2)
2. Time of birth (Daniel 9:25; Genesis 49:10)
3. Manner of birth (Isaiah 7:14)
4. Betrayal by a close friend (Zechariah 13:6; Psalm 109)
5. The Manner of His death (Psalms 22:16)
6. The people who saw the death—their reactions: mocking, spitting, staring, etc. (Isaiah 5; Psalm 109; Psalm 22)
7. The Piercing of His side (Zechariah 12:10)
8. The manner of His Burial (Isaiah 53:9)

Dr. Stoner concluded that the odds of any one man fulfilling these 8 prophecies as 1 chance in 1017. This number is literally astronomical—a 10 with 17 zeros behind it.[4] Astrophysicists, in determining the age of the universe at 13.7 billion years, computed that there has been 1017 seconds of time since the Big Bang occurred.[5] This enormous number is the result of fulfilling just 8, of the more than 400, prophecies that Jesus fulfilled.

In examining this prophecy of Zechariah 11:11, we must ask what the chances would be that the Messiah would be betrayed in the first place? Add to this, the fact that only 30 shekels would be paid to commit treason against Yahweh—to ensure that his Messiah is put to death. If we had not been told that this actually happened, two thousand years ago, we might never believe that it would be possible.

The Lord chose this prophecy amongst all the other incredible prophecies of the Messiah—to convince even the most obstinate skeptic. For those looking for a reason to believe, the preponderance of overwhelming evidence that comes from these prophecies is more than enough to cause belief in Jesus as the Messiah. For those who care not for evidence, these many prophetic proofs will serve only to harden their heart further.

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Part Five:

The money paid to the betrayer of the Messiah will be used to purchase a potter’s field.

Old Testament Prediction:

Zechariah 11:13a …And the LORD said to me, “Throw it to the potter”—that princely price they set on me. So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the LORD for the potter.

New Testament Fulfillment:

Matthew 27:3-7 Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, 4 saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” And they said, “What is that to us? You see to it!” 5 Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself. 6 But the chief priests took the silver pieces and said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, because they are the price of blood.” 7 And they consulted together and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in.

Purchase a potters field:

Zechariah’s prophecy is one of the most detailed and stunning predictions of the Messiah that contains seven points for its fulfillment.

1. The betrayer will be paid thirty pieces of silver.
2. The betrayer will later regret his decision.
3. He will attempt to return the fee he was paid.
4. Those who paid him will refuse to accept the returned fee.
5. The betrayer will throw the coins into the temple.
6. A potter’s field will be purchased using the money that was returned.
7. The money paid for the Messiah’s betrayal is called “blood money” (Matthew 27:6).[6]

The account written by Matthew, records these astonishing details—exactly as Zechariah had predicted them. When Judas realizes that he has betrayed Jesus and has caused His death, he returns to the chief priests to return the thirty pieces of silver.

According to the law, money could not be received into the Temple treasury that had resulted from certain events, often referred to as “blood money.” The paying of a fee to Judas for the betrayal of Jesus, which caused His death, forbid the chief priests from receiving the money back from Judas that he had formerly been paid.

Deuteronomy 23:18 You shall not bring the wages of a harlot or the price of a dog to the house of the Lord your God for any vowed offering, for both of these are an abomination to the Lord your God.

During this period of history, women did not have personal assets or the ability to earn money. Often when a woman had made a vow to the Lord, her only means to obtain resources to pay these vows, was through prostitution.[7] The priests were forbidden from receiving money which was earned by these methods. The intent was to discourage women from conducting themselves in this manner. This law was further expanded to exclude money which resulted from the death or injury of an individual.

Although the priests were forbidden from accepting money from the hands of those who had been paid to bring a criminal to justice, a provision in the traditions of the elders, allowed certain funds to be received into the temple treasury for the purpose of prepaying the burial expenses of an indigent who had died while in Jerusalem. On many occasions, the Temple treasury was forced to provide a place of burial for a foreigner or the poor. According to a provision in Jewish law, the chief priests could take the money that Judas threw into the temple and use it to purchase a parcel of land where the destitute could be laid to rest.

The term “potter’s field,” implies that the section of land which was purchased using this money, was formerly utilized for the extraction of clay that was used in the creation of pottery.

Design in the details

It is interesting that the Pharisees would have no part in receiving money that was paid for Jesus death. We understand today that it was the death of Jesus and His blood that was shed, which has paid the price for all of our sins. Since no part of the scriptures exists by happenstance, we are compelled to understand the deeper meaning of these words.

Blood money was the reward paid for bringing a criminal to justice. Since Jesus became a criminal for each one of us, taking all of our sins upon Himself and then dying for those crimes, His blood has paid for us.

The use of the term “blood money,” may be a spiritual idiom from God that illustrates the eternal plan and purpose of the Messiah, even in the smallest details of His betrayal, condemnation, and execution.

• The Messiah was betrayed.
• The money paid for His betrayal is called “blood money.”
• It was the blood of Jesus Christ which cleanses us from our sins.

It is amazing to consider that Zechariah not only described the price of betrayal for the Messiah as thirty pieces of silver, but also revealed to us that the money would be thrown into the temple and later used to buy a potter’s field.

Notice the use of the term: “they.”

“The princely price they set on me…”

They—being the leaders of Israel. The thirty pieces of silver, as described in Part Four, as intended as an insult towards Jesus. If a person owned a slave during the days of the Old Testament and that slave was killed by the careless acts of another, the amount that was paid as reimbursement to the slave owner, was thirty shekels of silver.

The payment of thirty pieces of silver by the leaders of Israel for Jesus betrayal was tantamount to saying that His life was of such little value in their eyes that He was nothing more than a worthless slave.

The scribes and Pharisees cared nothing for Jesus, nor did they believe that His words, and actions proved that He is the Messiah. These leaders of Israel feared the loss of their positions of authority and great wealth and gave no thought to the plans and purposes of God.

God was seeking to bless the Jews with their long-promised Messiah. When He stood before them, they hated and killed Him. Jesus met every requirement for the Messiah, proven by hundreds of Old Testament Prophecies, which He fulfilled. Jesus accomplished every word and work that the prophets of the Old Testament predicted, in stellar detail. He healed the sick, raised the dead, cast out demons, and forgave sins—He made it clear that He is God and the only Savior of the world.

This prophecy and its stunning detail—regarding the betrayal of the Messiah, is substantial evidence that Jesus is the object of all the prophecies of the Old Testament.

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Part Six

The price that was paid to betray the Messiah will be thrown into the “House of the LORD”.

Old Testament Prediction:

Zechariah 11:13b …And the LORD said to me, “Throw it to the potter”—that princely price they set on me. So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the LORD for the potter.

New Testament Fulfillment:

Matthew 27:3-10 Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” And they said, “What is that to us? You see to it!” Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself. But the chief priests took the silver pieces and said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, because they are the price of blood.” And they consulted together and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in. Therefore that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the value of Him who was priced, whom they of the children of Israel priced, and gave them for the potter’s field, as the LORD directed me.”

Thrown to the House of the Lord:

Part Six further defines the actions of the Messiah’s betrayer. Upon his realization that he has betrayed “innocent blood,” he regrets his decision and returns to the leaders of the temple at Jerusalem.

Part Four describes the price of the Messiah’s betrayal.
Part Five describes the purchase of a field from the price paid.
Part Six describes the regret and suicide of the betrayer.

This prophecy of Zechariah does not tell us directly that the one who will betray the Messiah, will take his own life as a result of his actions. Here Matthew describes the resulting suicide of Judas as a direct fulfillment of Zechariah 11:13b.

Matthew describes Judas remorse in returning to the temple to persuade the Pharisees to take back the thirty pieces of silver they had paid him. When Judas realizes that the money cannot be returned, he throws the coins in the direction of the Pharisees and they are scattered onto the floor of the temple grounds.

Matthew believed that Zechariah’s prophecy was directly fulfilled through the actions of Judas, as he did precisely what the prophet had predicted: “I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the LORD for the potter.”

What is astounding in this prophecy is that Zechariah described not only the return of the money which was paid to the betrayer, but specifically that these funds would be used “for the potter.”

As I previously discussed the fact that the priests were forbidden from accepting money from the hands of those who had been paid to bring a criminal to justice, a provision in the tradition of the elders allowed certain funds to be received into the temple treasury for the purpose of prepaying the burial expenses of an indigent who had died while in Jerusalem. On many occasions, the Temple treasury was forced to provide a place of burial for a foreigner or the poor. According to a provision in Jewish law, the chief priests could take the money that Judas threw into the temple and use it to purchase a parcel of land where the destitute could be laid to rest.

The term “potter’s field,” in Zechariah’s prophecy, specifically identifies a field that was well known during this time, which was formerly utilized for the extraction of clay that was used in the creation of pottery. This field was called “The potters field.” How incredible that Zechariah could identify the actions of the Messiah’s betrayer, as well as the resulting circumstances which would take place—even the purchased of a field, described by Zechariah and known as “The Potters field.”

Was the remorse of Judas sincere?

It would be natural to assume that Judas felt a great sense of remorse for having betrayed Jesus—who he knew was innocent. After seeing the resulting errors of all his actions, Matthew 27:3-10 describes Judas as “remorseful.” It is possible that the reader might imagine Judas as repentant enough over what he had done—sufficient for redemption.

It is important to understand the difference between remorse and repentance.

Repentance is a sincere regret that causes a person to make changes in their life.

Remorse is a feeling of regret or guilt for wrongful actions or words without the desire to change.

The difference between repentance and remorse is defined by what a person does after he feels a sense of regret or remorse. The Bible defines true repentance as—Godly sorrow.

2 Corinthians 7:10 For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation…

The kind of sorrow that leads to true repentance produces a sincere desire to change the behavior that caused the sin in the first place. Many people feel sorrow when they commit a certain act, speak a particular word, feel anger, display selfishness, feel lust in their heart, or covet something material in the world. Feelings of regret speak to our conscience, which produces guilt, which causes sorrow. In order for salvation to be possible, a person must take action to cease their former conduct. Without action to change sinful behavior, God will not forgive, nor grant salvation.

This is a key element that is not taught, nor observed in the Christian church today.

When Paul wrote the above verse in 2 Corinthians 7:10, it came in the form of a letter addressed to the church at Corinth. Paul describes a young man who was involved in sexual sin with his fathers wife. The church leaders had not taken steps to discipline this young man, and instead permitted his sin to continue without any action by the leaders of the church.

1 Corinthians 5:1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles—that a man has his father’s wife!

Paul instructs the leaders of the church to cast the young man out of the church, to give him an opportunity to understand the seriousness of his actions—which resulted in sincere repentance: a change in his actions.

Apparently, true repentance had taken place by the time that Paul had written his second letter to the church at Corinth. He expresses his apparent earlier concern that his first letter had hurt the members of the church, but clarifies that this pain was necessary in order to bring about the Godly sorrow of the young man who had committed the actions. The young man’s sorrow led to true repentance, as evidenced by his willingness to change his former actions and stop the sin.

2 Corinthians 7:8-9 For even if I made you sorry with my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it. For I perceive that the same epistle made you sorry, though only for a while. 9 Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing.

In this example from the New Testament, we see what true repentance is all about.

The sorrow that Judas felt did not lead him to change his actions and then continue in a relationship with Jesus. It is clear that had Judas sincerely repented of his sin and then come to Jesus in genuine sorrow, the Lord would have forgiven and restored him. Judas could have gone on to a full life of joy in following and serving Jesus. When Peter denied the Lord three times, he also felt a deep sense of regret for his actions. Peter took appropriate steps to change his heart and behavior as he came to Jesus in repentance. Peter went on to become a tremendous leader in Jesus church who drastically effected the entire world by his example of sincere repentance, which led to practical changes in his actions.

Judas did not possess the Godly sorrow that leads to a changed life. He was sorry that he had betrayed Jesus; but he went on to sin further by taking his own life. In true repentance, a person changes their mind about the former sins they have committed and puts forth serious effort to cease from sinning again.

In sorrow that does not lead to salvation, we simply feel bad about what was done without action to change our behavior. It is not enough to feel bad. We must do something to change our future actions—which is true repentance.

Internal evidence of the New Testament

An important point that actually serves greatly to authenticate the New Testament as a valid account of the life of Jesus Christ is the difference in testimony between Matthew and Peter’s narrative of Judas suicide. Matthew describes Judas as hanging himself in a tree after his betrayal of Jesus. Peter, in Acts chapter 1, describes Judas—falling head first into a field—with his intestines spilling out. Some critics of the Bible see this difference in the description of Judas death as a discrepancy that casts doubt on the reliability of the New Testament.

Judas was hanged

Matthew 27:3-5 Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” And they said, “What is that to us? You see to it!” Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself.

Then Judas fell head first, his stomach bursting open

Acts 1:15-19 And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples (altogether the number of names was about a hundred and twenty), and said, “Men and brethren, this Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus; for he was numbered with us and obtained a part in this ministry.” (Now this man purchased a field with the wages of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his entrails gushed out. And it became known to all those dwelling in Jerusalem; so that field is called in their own language, Akel Dama, that is, Field of Blood.)

Matthew says that Judas, “Hanged himself”.

Peter says that Judas “falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his entrails gushed out…”

We must remember that the words of the New Testament are the eye witness accounts of those who were either there when the events took place, or were recorded by others from the testimony of those who saw the events take place.

The accounts of Matthew and Peter do not conflict with each other, they are the record of the events which took place, as each of these men described different parts of the same event.

Matthew recounts how Judas hanged himself. Peter describes further details of this event where the rope that was used, apparently snapped and Judas fell into the rocks of the field below. This fall ruptured his stomach area, spilling out his intestines onto the ground. This is the reason the field was later called the “Field of Blood.”

When people are at the scene of an incident, they will often remember different details of the same event. It is common for a person who is interviewing eyewitnesses to hear added details that others who were present did not think of or say. These differences are understood by experts as consistent with the true events which took place.

As we observe this phenomenon in Matthew and Peter’s descriptions of Judas death, we understand that this brings great internal evidence to their testimony as valid and authentic accounts of the same event. There are no discrepancies between these two narratives; there are simply additional details given by Peter, which Matthew did not mention. If the story was a fabrication, those who wrote the fabrication would be careful to make sure that the accounts of all witnesses were the same, so as to remove any doubts about their authenticity.

A second objection

Matthew records the prophecy of the Messiah’s betrayal coming from the prophet Jeremiah. The actual prophecy that Jesus fulfilled is from Zechariah.

Matthew 27:9-10 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the value of Him who was priced, whom they of the children of Israel priced, 10 and gave them for the potter’s field, as the LORD directed me.”

Zechariah 11:13b …And the LORD said to me, “Throw it to the potter”—that princely price they set on me. So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the LORD for the potter

The division of each scroll of the Old Testament into individual books did not take place until much later; after Matthew and Peter quoted from Zechariah and Jeremiah. At the time that the gospel of Matthew was recorded; the writings of Zechariah were included in the larger scroll of Jeremiah.

Jeremiah, being the more important of the two prophets—Matthew simply quoted from the scroll of Jeremiah where Zechariah’s prophecy was located.

When Matthew was trying to remember where the prophecy was written, he was doing so from memory and mistakenly thought it was in Jeremiah’s writing.

Very often as a pastor and Bible teacher, I will make this same mistake without realizing my error while I am teaching from the pulpit. I have often stated that a particular verse of scripture is located in a certain book, when in fact the verse came from a different book of the Bible. The text of the verse I am quoting was correct; I simply described the wrong book.

The fact that we observe this occurring in the gospels gives us a great reason to believe that the New Testament scriptures are genuine.

If a person was seeking to fabricate a lie and write a story to convince us, he would make sure that the details of his accounts were consistent with known sources. However, if a person was simply trying to recount the verse of scripture that he believed were fulfilled—much as I do when teaching on a Sunday morning before the congregation, he might miss quote the wrong book. This tells us that the details, which are written in Matthew 27:9, are a genuine account of what actually took place. This so-called “discrepancy” is not a valid reason to doubt the New Testament; in reality, it is a great reason to believe it.

Another possibility is that this verse does not specifically state that the prophecy was written in the scroll of Jeremiah; it says that it was “spoken by Jeremiah the prophet…” Zechariah may have recorded the words of Jeremiah who had originally spoken them.

When we investigate the New Testament in great detail, we find that the internal evidence which the writers have provided, gives us an abundance of clues to validate the authenticity of their narratives. The differences between Matthew and Peter’s account of Judas death, the mistaken quote of Matthew in describing Jeremiah as the source of Zechariah’s prophecy, all tell us that we have a true account of the events which they describe. We can have confidence that the life of Jesus Christ has been recorded for us—truthfully, by the actual people who saw and heard Him—witnessed His crucifixion and resurrection three days later; and testified that He is the fulfillment of all the Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah.


[1] Seutonius Roman Historian – Augustus 23 – Lives of the Twelve Caesars
[2] Suetonius Roman Historian – Tiberias 21- Lives of the Twelve Caesars
[3] Tacitus Annals – Book 1 Roman Historian
[4] Peter W. Stoner (November 2005). “Prophetic Accuracy”. Science Speaks. revised and HTML formatted by Don W. Stoner. ISBN 0-8024-7630-9. Retrieved 2007-02-09.
[5] The best estimate of the age of the universe is 13.75 ± 0.11 billion years N. Jarosik et al (2011). “Seven-year Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) Observations: Sky Maps, Systematic Errors, and Basic Results”. “The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series” 192: 14. arXiv:1001.4744. Bibcode 2011ApJS..192…14J. doi:10.1088/0067-0049/192/2/14 and Spergel, D. N.; et al. (2003). “First-Year Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) Observations: Determination of Cosmological Parameters”. The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series 148 (1): 175–194. arXiv:astro-ph/0302209. Bibcode 2003ApJS..148..175S. doi:10.1086/377226
[6] “Blood Money.” 1911 Edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica (1911 ed.). Encyclopaedia Britannica. pp. 29–volumes. ASIN B0006P7UY
[7] It should be noted that women not possessing assets or money of their own was strictly a cultural bias of this period of history, not a law prescribed by the Bible or God. When Jesus arrived on the earth He elevated woman to a place of equality with man.

Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.