Is Judas a problem for your theology? He can be a problem if some of your beliefs come from tradition and not from the Scriptures. In this article I would like to discuss the full Scriptural view of Judas and ask you to test your own understanding against what the Scripture reveals.
What was the history of Judas as one of the Disciples?
Judas was a follower of Jesus who was chosen with eleven others to be Jesus’ apostles.
Luke 6:13 (NASB) And when day came, He called His disciples to Him and chose twelve of them, whom He also named as apostles:
As a disciple of Jesus he was sent out to preach the gospel of the kingdom and to do miracles.
Matthew 10:5–8 (NASB)
5 These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them: “Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans;
6 but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
7 “And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’
8 “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give.
Notice it was the twelve that Jesus sent out and Judas was among the twelve according to Matthew 10:4. Judas was given authority over sickness and the enemy just as the other apostles received. Jesus also said that the twelve were sent out as sheep in the midst of wolves.
Matthew 10:16 (NASB) “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves.
How did Jesus treat Judas?
Jesus treated Judas with love just as He treated the other disciples even though He knew that Judas would betray Him. When many of Jesus’ disciples left Him after Jesus spoke about coming down from heaven and eating his body and drinking his blood (John 6), Judas stayed with Jesus, but for reasons other than faith. When Jesus asked if the apostles would also like to go away, Peter answered:
John 6:68–69 (NASB)
68 Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.
69 “We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.”
Peter spoke for all the apostles by saying “we have believed”, but Jesus corrected him by exposing the hidden nature of one of them.
John 6:70 (NASB) Jesus answered them, “Did I Myself not choose you, the twelve, and yet one of you is a devil?”
Jesus placed Himself as responsible for choosing the one who would be exposed as a devil. But even knowing that one of His apostles was a devil, an opposer of God, he treated Judas with uncompromising love.
John 13:1 (NASB) Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.
Judas was still in Jesus’ care and Judas experienced the servanthood of Jesus. Jesus showed love toward His disciples by washing their feet.
John 13:4–5 (NASB) (He) got up from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself. 5 Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.
Although Jesus acted in love towards Judas, Jesus said that not all the apostles were clean.
John 13:10–11 (NASB)
10 Jesus said to him, “He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.”
11 For He knew the one who was betraying Him; for this reason He said, “Not all of you are clean.”
What did Jesus do for Judas that turned everything upside down?
What Jesus does next is absolutely amazing! The entire account can be seen by comparing the gospel accounts of the last supper.
In Matthew Jesus gives a command:
Matthew 26:26–28 (NASB)
26 While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.”
27 And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you;
28 for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.
Jesus reveals that the bread that He broke is His body and He commands them all to drink from the cup which He said is the blood of the covenant.
Did Judas also partake? Did he obey the command of Jesus to eat and drink the sign of the covenant? Mark and Luke tell us the rest of the story.
Mark 14:18–24 (NASB)
18 As they were reclining at the table and eating, Jesus said, “Truly I say to you that one of you will betray Me—one who is eating with Me.”
19 They began to be grieved and to say to Him one by one, “Surely not I?”
20 And He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, one who dips with Me in the bowl.
21 “For the Son of Man is to go just as it is written of Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.”
22 While they were eating, He took some bread, and after a blessing He broke it, and gave it to them, and said, “Take it; this is My body.”
23 And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, and they all drank from it.
24 And He said to them, “This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.
Again Jesus is said to command them to take the bread and He gave the cup to them to drink and they all drank from it! Some may say that they had thought Judas was not there for the institution of the new covenant, but Luke, the author who wrote the time ordered account wrote:
Luke 22:19–22 (NASB)
19 And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”
20 And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.
21 “But behold, the hand of the one betraying Me is with Mine on the table.
22 “For indeed, the Son of Man is going as it has been determined; but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!”
Notice first of all that Jesus said that the cup which is the new covenant in His blood is for you. Notice also that after Jesus gives the bread and the wine which is the new covenant in His blood, He said “But behold, the hand of the one betraying Me is with Mine on the table.” Jesus clearly identified that Judas was there with Him when He commanded them all to partake. Judas was with Jesus as all the disciples partook of the sign of the new covenant.
Why did Jesus offer His body and His blood to Judas?
Jesus offered His body and blood to Judas because Jesus was going to die for the sins of Judas as well as the sins of the other apostles. Those who say that Jesus died for only those who will be saved have to face the words of Jesus in Luke 22:21. Jesus did not go to the cross for the sins of only His sheep. He died for Judas too.
Why did Jesus die for Judas when Judas would end up dying in his sins?
There are two reasons why Jesus would die for Judas even though Judas would be lost.
1. Jesus said that there is no greater love than this:
John 15:13 (NASB) “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.
Was Jesus a friend to Judas? We know that Judas was no friend to Jesus, but in spite of the betrayal of Judas, Jesus showed His love to the end by dying for His friend. Jesus was the true friend of Judas.
Matthew 26:49–50 (NASB)
49 Immediately Judas went to Jesus and said, “Hail, Rabbi!” and kissed Him.
50 And Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you have come for.” Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and seized Him.
Jesus called Judas “Friend”. Jesus’ word to Judas was so fitting because shortly after that He would lay down His life for His friends.
2. The failure of Judas cannot limit the faithfulness of God. Just because Judas would rebel against Jesus and then Judas would die in his sin, Judas could not limit God’s faithfulness. 2 Timothy 2:13 tells us why.
2 Timothy 2:13 (NASB) If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.
Jesus cannot deny Himself. He cannot be faithless even when many are faithless. He must remain faithful.
What about those who were in hell before Jesus died?
Jesus still died for them. He cannot deny Himself. The price He paid must be faithful even in the face of the unfaithfulness of any sinner. They cannot limit His death just because they chose to deny the light that was given to them. If you say that God cannot be faithful even with the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus because of the unfaithfulness of people, you have limited the Sovereignty of God. It is not a waste of the blood of Jesus when He dies for an unbeliever who ends up in hell, because by showing the greatest form of love to those He calls “friend” but who are His enemies, He has shown His glory by exhibiting the ultimate example of faithfulness. God is the faithful Sovereign who cannot be limited by unfaithfulness.
But didn’t Jesus die for “many” and not all?
Jesus did die for “many” however “many” is a synonym for “all”. It is never a synonym for “few”. In fact in Romans 5:15 the term “many” is connected to all who die because of the sin of Adam and the same word is used for the grace of Jesus Christ given for the same “many”.
Romans 5:15 (NASB) But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many.
Was Judas predestined to be lost?
Judas was not set up without a choice to go into perdition. Jesus died for Judas so that he would have life. While God planned to use a betrayer to bring about the death of Jesus, God could not unconditionally predestinate Judas to hell because God cannot deny Himself. His character is faithfulness and His love is far beyond what we could ever conceive.