Friday, 3/15/19 – Tough Question

“How can Peter say these passages speak of Judas?”

This question came to me along with last week’s question. It too has to do with the events surrounding selecting a replacement disciple for Judas.

books bookshelf open page

When Peter first brings up the matter of selecting another disciple, he quotes Psalm 69:25 and Psalm 109:8 and uses them in reference to Judas, yet in their original context they don’t appear to be about Judas at all! What gives?

Let’s have a look at the full passage…

In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty) and said, “Brothers and sisters, the Scripture had to be fulfilled in which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through David concerning Judas, who served as guide for those who arrested Jesus. He was one of our number and shared in our ministry.”

(With the payment he received for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out. Everyone in Jerusalem heard about this, so they called that field in their language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.)

“For,” said Peter, “it is written in the Book of Psalms: ‘May his place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in it,’ and, ‘May another take his place of leadership.’” (Acts 1:15-20).

And here are the two passages from the Psalms…

Psalm 69:25May their place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in their tents.” – subject “all my enemies” (v.19)
Psalm 109:8May his days be few; may another take his place of leadership.” – subject “my enemy” (v.6)

Both Psalm 69 and Psalm 109 are ‘imprecatory’ psalms of David. Imprecatory psalms are those which call down curses or judgments upon one’s enemies. In both these psalms David is asking the Lord to destroy his enemies and to vindicate his person. These Psalms would be well-known to the disciples.

book showing das gebet mananes des text in shallow focus photography

Peter may or may not have in mind here a sort of Davidic typology where David is representative of Christ and so consequently David’s enemies are representative of Christ’s enemies, and thus representative of Judas. But it could be something much simpler. It could be that Peter is merely drawing upon known scripture and making his own application of them to Judas.

We actually do something like this very often ourselves. For example, if I see someone just loving on a person who has many obvious faults but the loving person simply overlooks these faults and is genuinely gracious to the individual regardless, I might say of that person, “This fulfills the scripture ‘love covers over a multitude of sins.’” (1 Pet. 4:8). And these actions do fulfill that scripture, in that they demonstrate the essential truth of it, but that does not mean the 1 Pet. 4:8 passage was originally written with the person I saw in mind.

Once again Barnes gives insight …

“…the expression here was not intended to denote Judas in particular, but one of his foes who was to meet the just punishment of rejecting, betraying, and murdering him. The change, therefore, which Peter made from the plural to the singular, and the application to Judas especially “as one of those enemies,” accords with the design of the Psalm, and is such a change as the circumstances of the case justified and required.” – Albert Barnes

Press on…

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

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