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Judas—the Man Who Betrayed Jesus

While we don’t know a lot about Judas, the Bible does not clearly give some insight into this man.  The Bible reveals many things that help us in considering why he betrayed the Lord Jesus Christ.

His Calling

We know that Judas was chosen by Jesus to follow Him and be an apostle (Luke 12:13).  We also know that Judas left his former life and followed Jesus during his three and half years of public ministry.  Was he ever faithful and committed?  That is open to speculation.  We know of the 11 faithful that they left their former lives to follow Jesus because they believed Him, they trusted Him, and, most importantly, they loved Him and were devoted to serving Him.  When Jesus called them, their priorities changed.  They left behind the old life for a new life with Jesus.  Did Judas do the same initially?  We can only wonder if he was committed at the start, but we definitely know how his life ended.

His Name

In the New Testament, his name is first recorded in Matthew 10, the chapter that speaks of Jesus commissioning His disciples and sending them out to preach.  Verses 2 through 4 list all twelve disciples, but take note that in verse 4 Judas is listed last of the twelve. This is always the case in the Gospel records.

Mat 10:4  Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.

Judas is always last on the list of the apostles.  Perhaps he was chosen last or perhaps this was inspired in the writing of the Gospels because of his great sin.

His Home

All of the apostles, except Judas, were from Galilee.  His name, Judas Iscariot, indicates that he was “Judas from Kerioth.” Iscariot is not a word in any known language.  It is believed to be a corruption of the Hebrew word Ish Kerioth (man of Kerioth). 

Kerioth was a small village on the southwestern extremity of the territory of Judea (Joshua 15:25), about 15 miles south of Hebron.  This territory was occupied by Edomites. The Edomites descended from Esau who took wives from the line of Ishmael (Gen 28:9).  Ishmael, we know, is the son of the flesh who are not the children of God (Rom 9:8).  

The other eleven disciples were all Galileans, therefore Benjamenites, sons of the promise (Rom 9:8).  Plus Galilee is in the region that was the Northern Kingdom, Israel.  Why might this be important?  Because Jesus was sent to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Mat 10:6, 15:24).  Israel had been lost (the kingdom fell) more than seven centuries earlier for her idolatry and it had never been restored.  In contrast, Judah (the Southern Kingdom) was judged by God, sent into captivity in Babylon, and restored to their land 70 years later. So, all the disciples were from the north, except Judas who was from the south. Supporting this is the fact that most of Jesus three and half year public ministry took place in the northern regions.  Only toward the end of that time dig He go to Jerusalem, but He did not go to the far southern regions of Judah.

 This is the first of many distinctions between the betrayer and the faithful 11.

His Descent

If Judas was of Edomite descent, he was not a true Jew from one of the 12 tribes.  We cannot know for certain as he might have been of Jewish heritage living in an area predominantly Edomite, but we can wonder if he was an Edomite.  We do know that he was not a Galilean and we can note that he is never identified as a Judean.  Therefore, if he was, by bloodline, an Edomite, we should note that the Lord’s judgment and indignation is forever upon these people (Mal 1:4).

Furthermore, we might note that an Edomite (Herod) opposed the birth of Christ and tried to kill him and that Judas, an Edomite, opposed Jesus and conspired to bring about His death.

His Family

We know nothing about the family of Judas, except his father’s name.  It was Simon (John 6:71).  Simon is the English version of the Hebrew name Shimon. Shimon comes from the Hebrew word Sh’ma, which means to listen, or to hear and obey. It’s the word from which we get “shema” which is found in the command of Deut 6:4 (Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!).  

Interestingly, Simon was also the given birth name of Peter, who loved the Lord and he did listen (or at least he desired to).  Perhaps the father of Judas was a God-fearing man and he listened, heard and obeyed. Or perhaps he contradicted the meaning of his name, just as Judas did with his name (Judas is the Greek form of Judah, which means “I will praise Jehovah”). 

Gen 29:35  Now will I praise [Heb. odeh] Jehovah, and she called his name Yehudah [Judah].

We can only wonder if Judas came from a God-honoring or God-forsaking heritage.

His Desire

Judas sought monetary gain:

Mat 26:15  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.

Judas sought opportunity:

Mat 26:16 So from that time he sought opportunity to betray Him.

Judas sought convenience:

Mark 14:11  And when they heard it, they were glad, and promised to give him money. And he sought how he might conveniently betray him.

Judas sought self-preservation:

Luke 22:5-6  And they were glad, and covenanted to give him money. And he promised, and sought opportunity to betray him unto them in the absence of the multitude.

His Actions

Judas demonstrated that he didn’t care about the poor and that he was untrustworthy, even a thief and a traitor.

John 12:6  This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it.

Three of the Gospels identify Judas as the one who would betray Jesus (Matt 10:4, Mark 3:19 and John 6:71).  “To betray” (Hebrew paradidomi) means “to give over” or “to deliver treacherously” (Matt 17:22, 26:16, John 6:64)

In the Gospel of Luke, which presents Jesus in His humanity, Judas is labeled as a traitor (Hebrew prodotes).

Luke 6:16  …and Judas Iscariot, which also was the traitor.

Being labeled a “traitor”  does not speak of what he did, but rather of who Judas was.  It reveals the wickedness in his heart.  The word is used one other time in reference to evil people in the End Times (2 Tim 3:4).  Traitors are betrayers.  They are people who cannot be trusted, because they purposefully conspire and work to do their own will.

Mat 26:15  …And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver.

Luke 22:5  And they were glad, and covenanted to give him money.

His Titles

In addition to being identified as a traitor (Luke 6:16) and a thief (John 12:6), Judas was also identified with the same name that will identify the Antichrist. John 17:12 speaks of Judas and 2 Thrddslonins makes reference to the “man of sin,” the “son of perdition,” who is the Antichrist.

2 Th 2:3  Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition [the Antichrist]

Clearly, this title, the Son of Perdition, applied to both Judas and the Antichrist, indicates the evil that controls the heart, mind, and soul of one who listens to Satan.

His Position

Judas was one of the twelve, but he was not of them.

John 6:71  He spoke of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, for it was he who would betray Him, being one of the twelve.

John 17:9  I pray for them [the 11 faithful; Judas had already departed]. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours.

John 17:12  While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them [the 11 faithful] is lost, but the son of perdition [Judas]; that the scripture might be fulfilled.

One can be identified with Jesus and yet not belong to Him. The apostle John wrote of this, those who are professors but not possessors, in his first letter.

1 John 2:19  They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.

His Destiny

We know that without the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, man’s eternal destiny is separation from God.  Prior to the cross, at death, one’s soul went either to Abraham’s Bosom (for those who had faith in God) or to Hell, the place of torment for unrepentant sinners.  However, we are told of Judas that he “went to his own place” (Acts 1:25).  What might that mean?  We can’t really know.  Was there a place specifically for Judas, who committed the damnable crime of betraying the Lord?  We know that Hell is not a place of isolation, but a place of shared torment by all who have rejected God.  Is Judas there?  Or is he in another place.  All we know for certain is what God has revealed in His Word.  Judas went to “his own place.”

His Legacy

While Jesus’ name is the Name Above All Names, Judas’s name can be said to be the Name Below All Names.  The name Judas is so associated with betrayal that it is said to be illegal to name your child Judas in Germany.  While the name Judas is not specified as breaking the law, the German government does set certain criteria for the birth names of its citizens. One of the criteria set is that a name cannot be humiliating, nor can it negatively affect the well-being of the child.  With regulations in place, the German government requires name approval when their citizens name a child.  Because the name Judas would be like naming your child “Traitor” it would be deemed unacceptable.

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