In his Latin commentary on Zechariah 11:13, John Calvin taught that the 30 pieces of silver paid to Judas for the betrayal of Christ were a metaphor for “abominable” ceremonies in the Church. He taught that they were a picture of the “sacrifices offered by wicked men and hypocrites.”
Calvin’s little-known treatment of Messianic prophecies is discussed in a 16th century book by the Lutheran theologian, Aegidius Hunnius, which has now been translated into English: The Judaizing Calvin. Hunnius thoroughly and carefully refuted Calvin, giving many shocking examples of how Calvin treated Messianic prophecies metaphorically and falsely.
Thirty pieces of silver
All the Gospel writers, led by the Holy Spirit, treated Zechariah’s prophecy of the 30 pieces of silver as a prophecy of Christ’s passion, which was fulfilled when Judas accepted them as the price to betray him. However, Calvin taught that the 30 silver coins were a metaphor about “dirty” ceremonies offered by wicked and hypocritical men in the Church – first by the Jews, who were “excessively attentive” to their ceremonies, and then in the Christian Church. This may seem absurd, but this is what he taught. He wrote:
Calvin: By that cheap price worthy of a farmhand, he understands the frivolous nonsense by which the Jews thought they could satisfy God. For we know that they were excessively attentive in their ceremonies, as if this repayment should be of any value before God…. If the Jews would have brought themselves totally into compliance with his word. But how? If they had gotten rid of their ceremonies and other frivolous things, of course! Yes, this was a dirty job, as if they had wanted to pay off some swineherd.
He went on to say that the 30 pieces of silver (representing ceremonies) were “thrown to the potter” to show that they are unworthy of God — even like spitting in his face! He wrote:
Calvin: Afterwards he ironically calls [the 30 pieces] a magnificent and glorious price at which he was esteemed. In other words: This is my glorious price? I bore so much toil, and now they treat me just like some dirty farmer! Yet I was their Lord and Shepherd. Therefore, since they want to satisfy me in such a bogus manner, here also they want to thrust on me the cheap price of their contempt, as if to overthrow my glory or spit in my face. Throw it! Throw it to the potter, he says.… because I will not suffer my majesty to have an unworthy price so contemptuously thrust upon it…. He testifies that these things are worth nothing to him … the sacrifices offered by wicked men and hypocrites who have not the slightest sense of godliness are the highest form of abomination. Why? Because this is the highest form of insult that the reprobate hurl, as if they defiled his face with spit … 
By this teaching, Calvin turned a prophecy about Christ into an occasion of endless strife in the Church. The Geneva Bible notes taught everywhere that ceremonies were “abolished under the gospel.” The revolutionary manifestos of the early English Puritans railed against ceremonies and “Judas purse bearers.” In part this came from Calvin’s treatment of the prophecy of the 30 pieces of silver.
Ruth Magnusson Davis, March 2019
 Aegidius Hunnius, Trans. Paul A. Rydecki The Judaizing Calvin (Texas: Repristination Press, 2012), 65. Hunnius did not cite his sources. The translator advised me that they were from Calvin’s 1617 Latin commentaries. This one is from the commentary on Zechariah, Volume 3, Part 2.
 Ibid, 72-73. Hunnius adds, “Perhaps you will say to me that, still, in the things that follow in his commentary, Calvin approves of the Evangelist Matthew’s exegesis. I reply: This is what we have said on several occasions – that Calvin observes this order in explaining the Prophets, with the effect that he truly weakens their prophecies with his interpretations that are primarily Jewish; and blunts their sharp edge; and cuts into the nerve of their argumentation against the unbelievers; and shakes the bedrock foundation by means of stunning tricks and intricate distortions overgrown with a thousand thorn-bushes; that is to say, by means of the deception of symbols and figures of speech, but especially with the deception of his precious metaphors.” (Pages 73-74)