I watched Joseph Prince just completely misinterpret and misread and misrepresent a text in the bible. He was teaching a sermon about repentance. His contention was that the bible does not teach the necessity for anyone to repent before they come to Jesus. Of course, the obvious rebuttal is that John the Baptist preached repentance and Jesus started His ministry with “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is here.” But Joseph Prince was preaching that we do not necessarily need to repent, and that repentance does always lead to redemption. He uses the case of Judas hanging himself as evidence.
Here is his proof text from his sermon from Matthew 27: 1-5:
KJV (the version he used): 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.3 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.
I included verses 1 and 2 but Prince started at verse 3. In verse 3, Prince believes the two pronouns “he” both refer to Judas when the second “he” refers to Jesus. Here are the same verses in the ESV:
27 When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death. 2 And they bound him and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate the governor. 3 Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus[a] was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, 4 saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” 5 And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself.
In this version we can see that the translators used the name of Jesus for one the pronouns so that there could be no confusion. Even reading the KJV in context from verse 1, it is easy to see that both pronouns could not possibly refer to the same person. But English grammar can be tricky in that we do sometimes use the same pronoun in one sentence that refers to two different people. Even so, the NASB uses the pronoun he but capitalizes the one referring to Jesus which eliminates any possible confusion as well. So, we can see that Prince first misunderstood the context and assignments of the pronoun “he”.
Then there is the use of “repentance” in the same verse. I think the ESV translation is correct by saying he “changed his mind” about the betrayal and taking the thirty pieces of silver. “Changing his mind” gives a better understanding of the text because he felt remorse but not enough to seek forgiveness. If Judas truly repented with Godly remorse he would have been forgiven. But Judas never truly believed in Jesus as the forgiver of sins, the Promised Messiah, which is why he hanged himself.
So, what can we conclude about Joseph Princes’s use of Matthew 27: 3-5? I would have to guess that he used the KJV because that translation supported what his point. Even The Message, the go-to paraphrase for these scripture twisters, used “Jesus” instead of the pronoun “he”. He purposely chose the KJV because the wording supported his false premise that the bible does not require repentance in order to receive forgiveness and salvation.