"And as they did eat, he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I? And he answered and said, He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me. The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born. Then Judas, which betrayed him, answered and said, Master, is it I? He said unto him, Thou hast said." (Matthew 26:21-25)
An esteemed brother in Louisiana has written requesting that we submit our views on the subject of Judas, and whether or not he is portrayed in the Scriptures to be a child of God. It seems that there has been a question in this regard among the Conditional Primitives as well as some Predestinarians regarding the state or standing of Judas before the Lord. This in itself seems amazing, as the Scripture is so very clear in regard to this nefarious individual. We have no desire in writing this article to criticize, or condemn any of our dear brethren who may hold views contrary to our own. Yet we feel we would be remiss before our Lord and Master if we did not give our views honestly and forthrightly.
That Judas was an awful character we believe is denied by none. In John 12:4-6 his conduct as a common thief was exposed. He lamented the anointing the feet of Jesus with costly spikenard under the pretext of caring for the poor, but his heart was really fixed upon the bag which he bare rather than upon the plight of the destitute. The character of Judas, as well as setting him forth as a thief, showed him to be nothing better than an embezzler, a covetous man, a greedy dog, a hypocrite, an imposter, a traitor, a betrayer, and a liar. This would in itself be a strange mix of conduct for one of the elect. He also lived a life of constant duplicity as he walked among the disciples pretending to be a devoted follower of the dear Lamb of God. However, one of the most amazing features of this man is that he could act so calmly in the presence of Him who knew the hearts of all men. And something equally amazing is that our dear Lord could apparently conduct Himself toward Judas with as much grace as He did toward the others of His disciples. We find no where that Judas was treated as inferior during the ministry of our dear Lord among His disciples. Judas was, no doubt, accorded every privilege and every honor that the other disciples received. His authority as a disciple was equal with the others as recorded in Matthew 10:1-4; Mark 3: 13-19, where he was described as a betrayer, and Luke 6: 12-16 where he was called a traitor. When the disciples went out to heal the sick, raise the dead, perform miracles, and do other feats in the name of our dear Lord, Judas was among them. It seems clear enough that he was invested with power equal to that of the others, and yet at the same time his heart was destitute of the grace of God.
That he was the betrayer is beyond question. Among the texts that record this unholy violation of fellowship with the Lord is John 18:2-5; Acts 1:16-25; Luke 22:48. Judas was engaged in a wicked plot to betray our dear Redeemer as is recorded in Matthew 26:14-16; Mark 14:10; Luke 22:3-6. The betrayal in his heart was not some sudden impulse, but rather the outgrowth of a malignancy and a cancerous nature that existed in this wicked person from the very outset. We cannot believe as some have suggested that Judas simply went astray, or that because of weakness, or other factors, he failed where others might have succeeded. But rather, we respect the truth of God's word that he was appointed for this unique position.
When the time came for Judas to fulfill his act of betrayal, the awful departure and abandonment of any compassion was revealed in that he betrayed the Saviour with a kiss, as was recorded in all four Gospels: Matthew 26:47-50; Mark 14:43-46; Luke 22:47-48; and John 18:1-6, though in John the kiss itself is not mentioned. It is worthy of note that this is one of the few incidents in the life of Jesus that is recorded in all four Gospels, something that is usually not so. He led his motley mob to the Saviour at the place where he knew He would be when Jesus had accomplished his agonizing and groanings in the garden that evening. What dreadful timing that at this low point of suffering, grief, agonizing prayers, and extreme loneliness while dreading the awful cup of the dredges of God's wrath, our Redeemer must then meet the one devil of His little band to receive the filthy kiss. Yet it was so for God willed it; and our Lord gracious ever, withstood the situation in the strength and glory the Father had given Him for that awful hour.
Our text at the beginning of this article sets forth several very telling points. Our Lord pointedly told the disciples that one of them would betray Him. The disciples were exceeding sorrowful, and the Scripture says "They begin every one to say, Lord is it I?" How sorrowful the hearts of these must have been as they examined and wondered, "Could I betray my Lord? Am I one so vile?" And yet we believe that God's children down through the ages have experienced the very same thing. Knowing our hearts, and our frequent destituteness coupled with a strong propensity for sin; we know that but for the grace of God we too, might betray our dear Lord and Saviour. (More on this point later.) On each occasion when they asked this question, the Lord gave the answer that the one who would betray Him was the one who would dip his hand with Him in the dish, and that the Son of Man would go, not by chance, but as it was written of Him. And, so at the last, there came Judas. He did not address the Lord by that grand title, but rather he said, "Master, is it I?" It is very telling here to see that neither here nor anywhere else in the Scriptures did Judas ever refer to the Saviour as "Lord" as the other disciples did. He always used the more formal title, Master. For truly, Jesus was not his Lord, as He is those of the saved family. And our dear Redeemer's answer to him was as plain to settle this issue as if it were emblazoned in the heavens. He said unto him, "Thou has said it." Or in the language as we would use it today, "You have just condemned yourself."
There is one other very important feature in this text and that is that Jesus said that it had been good for Judas if he had not been born. What an awfully desperate man this must have been that a nonexistence would have been preferable to have been born to such a lot in life; to betray the very Son of God. Better that he had not been born! Can it be possible to believe that this individual could be among the election of grace if it was better that he had not been born? Nothing could be more contradictory.
One of the more telling chapters in the Scriptures regarding Judas is John 13. In the very first verse, before the Feast of the Passover, the Scripture says that "....Jesus knew that His hour was come that He should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end." We may fairly conclude from this that Jesus did not die loving Judas. He loved His own unto the end, which was His crucifixion and death, but there is no possible way one who trusts the Scriptures as inerrant could believe that Jesus loved Judas in His death. The second verse of this chapter says, "And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him." How revealing this is, that Judas and Satan were in league. Could this be believed of one of God's children? We think not. And another important detail is the beginning of Verse 9; "Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, .but also my hands and my head. Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needed not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all." The next verse says that Jesus knew who should betray Him, therefore He said, "Ye are not all clean." If the disciples were clean with the exception of Judas, then certainly it had no reference to external cleansing but rather internal; that Judas had not been washed by the renewing of regeneration, and was thus not one of the Lord's elect and chosen ones.
In verse 18 we quote, "I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me." Again, stating in the clearest terms that though he was chosen as an apostle, he was certainly not chosen in the election of grace. Inverse 21, "When Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me." It was one of the twelve He was referring to. After three and one-half years of the ministry of Jesus, in seeing Him raise the dead, heal the sick, delivering the souls of men, and casting out devils, doing good, praying,, preaching, honoring the Father, glorifying the Holy Writ, and all the other things necessary to the accomplishment of His task, Judas had not been moved. Rather than growing better, Judas continued in his malignancy for which he was ordained; that he might betray the innocent Son of God. And thus after the sop had been given to him, Jesus turned and said unto him, "That thou doest, do quickly." (Verse 27) Now the Scripture says that no man at the table knew what intent he spake this unto him, but Judas knew and verse 30 says, "He then having received the sop went immediately out: and it was night." Judas had been discharged. Judas was at that very instant dismissed as a disciple. He was now no longer of that select number; and thus Satan having entered his heart, he was completely under the domain of the power of darkness. And so he performed his vile deed as it was appointed.
We know that at this point some might say, "Well, but for the grace of God, we also could have been a Judas." We too, have used that expression in time gone by, but we feel upon reflection, we no longer can so state, for we verily believe that Judas was unique. He alone of all mankind was a very devil; something which could be said of no other human being while we use the Bible as our guide. Look back at John 6, and recall the great discourse concerning the bread of life. Many of the disciples, when they heard these things Jesus spoke said they were hard sayings. They went back, walking no more with Him. They abandoned Him. Our Saviour then turned to the twelve and asked them, "Will ye also go away?" At that point Simon Peter spoke up and said, "Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. We believe and art sure that thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus no doubt startled them with this, "Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil." Do words having meaning? Can anything be clearer, or plainer, or more forceful? "He spake of Judas Iscariot, the Son of Simon, for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve." To our notion, no other human who has ever lived on earth could have been a Judas for no one else was a devil as he was.
In that same vein in the glorious prayer of intercession of Jesus in John 17, He says, "While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gayest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled." (Verse 12) It did not say that none of them got lost or became lost, but none of them is lost. For you see, Judas was always lost. He was not gathered among the disciples as one of God's children to then fall away. He was chosen as a devil from the beginning. As the other disciples were chosen as elect vessels, he was chosen as a reprobate one. The point to observe here is that he was the son of perdition. These words have sufficient force to those who believe.
There are many black characters in the scriptures, and there can be no question that there is a place of perdition or judgment for these black characters. Characters such as Esau, whom the scriptures says God hated. Individual like Pharaoh, whom God raised up for the purpose of destroying. There are the goats who will be put on the left hand of the Son of God the King, to whom these words, "Depart from me, ye workers of iniquity, for I never knew you," will be said. There are the tares of which it was said, "Bind them into bundles to burn them." There are the dogs that return again to their vomit and the sows that return to the filthy wallow, and many such others. There are the Pharisees, even as the Lord described as "whited sepulchers." Without they were garnished, but within they were full of dead men's bones. There are those who are vessels of mercy and there are those who are vessels of wrath. That being so, we cannot conceive how that an individual such as Judas, whose character is black from beginning to end, who was a devil at the start and died a devil, who was a very son of perdition, could ever be anything other than a reprobate character. We take no delight nor joy in this. It is not an honor or a point of pleasure to give our view upon this sad individual, but rather to warn God's children that the Scriptures must be followed, say they what they will.
We conclude with these thoughts. In Matthew 27:3-10, we find Judas attempting to return the thirty pieces of silver and the scriptures says he "repented himself". We know that some have sought to exonerate Judas by saying, "See, there he repented." The difference being, however, that Judas repented himself. We find no indication that God granted him repentance unto life, but that his was a conjured or a worked-up type such as could come only from his own corrupt bowels. Can an unclean thing bring forth a clean? And finally, in Acts 1:16-20 we see that Judas died a suicide and went to his appointed place. Appointed, as being opposed to a "prepared place" (John 14:2) for the elect.
Volume 4, No. 3
May - June, 1990