The first part of this article will address the question "When did Judas die?" The second part will address the question "Is Judas in Heaven or Hell?"
Part One: When did Judas Die?
Let us begin our study with I Corinthians 15:3-5, according to which the resurrected Christ appeared to the twelve.
1 Corinthians 15:3-5, "For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:"
For many, this scripture has been a stumbling block since, according to tradition, Judas died before the crucifixion and therefore, if this tradition was right, then here the Word of God should have written "eleven" instead of "twelve".
The investigation below starts by confirming that the "twelve" of the above passage are the well known "twelve" that included Judas. After that, we continue with a detailed analysis of the gospel records that refer to the post-resurrection appearance of Jesus that happened at the evening of the "first day of the week". Though this appearance is not the appearance to the twelve, it is very important to examine it since, as we will see, Judas was there when it happened. Apart from this, the examination of this appearance is necessary for a good understanding of the gospel record of the appearance to the twelve. After that, the investigation will continue with the examination of the traditional view and the passage of Matthew 27:3-5 that is used to support it. Finally, the article will close with the study of another passage that will help us to specify the time of Judas' death more accurately.
The Twelve of I Corinthians 15:5
According to the above given passage of I Corinthians 15, the resurrected Christ appeared to the twelve. To reconcile this reference with the tradition according to which Judas died before the crucifixion, it has been suggested that the twelve here are the old eleven disciples plus Matthias that substituted Judas in Acts 1:26. However, a conjecture like this is not supported neither from the references of the Word of God regarding the time that Matthias was counted as one of the twelve nor from the passages of the gospels that refer to some of the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus Christ. But let's examine this issue in more depth.
It is evident that there is no change in a specific group of people if there is no change in its composition. The original composition of the group of the "twelve" disciples is given in Matthew 10:1-4 as well as in Mark 3:14-18 and in Luke 6:13-16. Luke 6 for example tells us:
Luke 6:13-16, "And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles; Simon, (whom he also named Peter) and Andrew his brother, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew, Matthew and Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called Zelotes, And Judas the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot, which also was the traitor."
As it is evident from this passage, the original composition of the group of the twelve included Judas Iscariot. Many other passages in the gospels also witness that Judas Iscariot was "one of the twelve" (Matthew 26:14,47, Mark 14:10,43, Luke 22:3,47, John 6:71).
Thus, whenever we read "the twelve" we should understand it as a term that denotes the group of the above twelve people, except if there is a change in the composition of this group. In this later case, when the reference is to events before the change the number "twelve" should be understood as the group of the above twelve men, while when the reference is to events after the change, the meaning has to be adjusted correspondingly. In our case, the event that the Word of God speaks about in I Corinthians 15:5 is the resurrection of Jesus Christ and his appearances that followed it.
Therefore, the simple question that has to be asked is what was the composition of the group of the twelve at the time of the resurrection? Was Matthias numbered with the eleven at that time? The exact time and the process that was followed for the inclusion of Matthias in the group of the remaining eleven disciples is given in Acts 1:15-26. From this record we learn that sometime between the ascension and the day of Pentecost, Peter proposed the substitution of Judas by someone else. The candidates were two: the one was "Joseph called Barsabas" and the other was "Matthias." How the choice was made and who was chosen is described in Acts 1:24-26
Acts 1:24-26, "And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen, That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place. And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles."
Now, since only at that point Matthias was numbered with the eleven, this obviously means that he wasn't numbered before (the Greek word that is translated as "numbered" in the above passage is the verb sugkatapsephizo, which means "to be numbered with", "to be counted with" or "to be calculated with" and denotes the inclusion of something/someone into a particular group). Therefore, whenever we meet the expression the "twelve" and the reference is to events that happened before Acts 1:26 what is meant is the twelve of Luke 6:13 that included Judas. On the other hand, when this expression refers to events that happened after the inclusion of Matthias then what is meant is the new composition of the group that excluded Judas and included Matthias. Bearing this in mind we should not have any problem to understand who are the twelve of I Corinthians 15. The corresponding passage refers to the appearance that happened before "Matthias was numbered with the eleven."
Therefore, since at that time, Matthias was not yet one of the twelve, the expression "by the twelve" of I Corinthians 15 refers to the original twelve of Luke 6:13 that included Judas. This does not mean that Matthias didn't see the resurrected Jesus, because he did, indeed, see it. In fact, in his proposal given in Acts 1:15-23, Peter says:
"Therefore, of these men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John to that day when he was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection" (Acts 1:21-22).
For Matthias to be proposed (Acts 1:23) it means that he fulfilled all these requirements. The fact that except of the twelve others also saw the resurrected Christ is also confirmed by the gospels (Luke 24:33-36) and by I Corinthians 15:6 that speaks for an appearance to "five hundred brethren." The point, therefore, is not whether Matthias was a witness of the resurrection for he certainly was. The point is whether, at the time of the resurrection, he was counted with the eleven apostles. As scripture tells us, he was not.
Some claim that, even though Matthias was not an apostle at the time of Jesus' resurrection, he was an apostle at the time the book of Corinthians was written. Therefore, they referred to Matthias as an apostle (in 1 Corinthians 15:3-5) for that reason. However, this is not supported anywhere in scripture.
For example, scripture does not say that "Paul, an apostle of Christ, was consenting unto his (the apostle Steven's) death" in Acts 8:1. Nor does it say "Paul, an apostle of Christ, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison" in Acts 8:3. Scripture does not refer to Paul as an apostle of Christ at this point in time, because Paul was not ordained an apostle at the time he was persecting believers in Christ, even though he was an apostle at the time the book of Acts was written. Likweise, scripture does not say "And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, an apostle of Christ, sitting at the receipt of custom" in Matthew 9:9. Why? Because Matthew was not ordained an apostle when he collected taxes for Caesar. Niether were Peter and Andrew called apostles of Christ when they were commercial fishermen (Matthew 4:18), even though they were all apostles at the time the gospels were written. The reason is because they were not apostles at this point in time. They were only referred to as apostles from the point in history that they were ordained as apostles. The same goes for Matthias, who was ordained an apostle of Christ after the resurrection of Jesus.
Further evidence regarding the presence of Judas after the resurrection is given by the gospel records of two of the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus.
The Appearance "at the evening of the first day of the week"
This appearance is described in three out of four gospels. For a complete picture it is needed to examine each of these records carefully. Let's begin with John.
The Witness of John
The witness of John to this appearance is given in John 20:19:
John 20:19, "Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you."
Though this verse does not specifically state who of the disciples were present at this appearance, verse 24 of the same chapter tells us who was not present:
John 20:24, "But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came."
So from the above record we can conclude that in the appearance that happened at the "evening of the first day of the week" Thomas was certainly not there. This information has vital significance for the right understanding of the corresponding records of Mark and Luke and thus we should keep it in mind.
The Witness of Luke
Having examined the witness of John, let's examine the witness of Luke about the same appearance. The four gospels complement each other and to have a complete picture of something we should examine all the available records making sure that all of the them refer to the same event. One of the most frequent reasons of errors in the division of the Word of God, that is especially relevant in the gospels, is the confusion of similar things as identical. Indeed, it is not at all necessary; just because two records are similar (the healing of a blind man for example) it does not mean these records refer to the same exact event. Whether they do so or not is something that has to be determined after a careful examination of the context of the corresponding records.
Returning to our topic, the witness of Luke to the post-resurrection appearance that occurred at "the evening of the first day of the week" is given in chapter 24. Verse 1 informs us that the day is "the first day of the week." Then verse 13 tells us that two of the disciples (these disciples didn't belong to the group of the twelve) "went that same day" [i.e. the first day of the week] to a village called Emmaus which was seven miles from Jerusalem. Somewhere in this journey Jesus joined them and verses 15-31 give a description of the wonderful fellowship that they had together and how at the end "their eyes were opened and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight" (verse 31). When these disciples arrived at Emmaus, it was "toward evening" as verse 29 says. After they recognised Jesus, Luke 24:33 tells us what these two disciples did:
Luke 24:33, "And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them,"
Bearing in mind that Emmaus was no more than just 7 miles from Jerusalem and that when they arrived at Emmaus it was "toward evening," but not evening, we can conclude that by the time they arrived at Jerusalem it was already evening, "the evening of the first day of the week." What happened at that evening is given in verses 33-36:
Luke 24:33-36, "And they [the two disciples that had just arrived at Emmaus] rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them, Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon. And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread. And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you."
Since this appearance happened at the evening of the first day of the week, it is therefore the same with the one that John speaks about. Thus, the events described by John and Luke are not only similar but also identical. However, while John tells us that Thomas was not there, without telling us who was there, Luke adds to our knowledge that present at this appearance were "the eleven...and them that were with them." Many people read this passage and think that the reason the text speaks of eleven was because Judas was already dead, as tradition teaches. However, the record of John shows very clearly that the disciple that was absent in this appearance was not Judas, but Thomas. In turn, this means that Judas was present at this appearance and saw the resurrected Jesus. This also confirms the record of I Corinthians 15 according to which Judas was alive after the resurrection.
The Witness of Mark
The witness of Mark to the post-resurrection appearance that occurred "at the evening of the first day of the week" confirms the conclusions drawn from the combined examination of John and Luke.
Mark 16:9-13, "Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils. And she went and told them that had been with him, as they mourned and wept. And they, when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not. After that he appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country. And they went and told it unto the residue: neither believed they them."
These "two of them" are the two disciples that were on their way to Emmaus. The phrase "in another form" shows the variability of the resurrected body of Jesus.
Mark 16:14, "Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen."
This record that again refers to the appearance at the evening of the first day of the week speaks again for the eleven. Knowing that the absent one was Thomas, it is clear that Judas was there. (Though the verse does not specifically state that it was the evening of the first day of the week, an examination of the appearance shows that it was the first that was made to the group of the eleven. Since according to the other gospel records the first appearance happened at the evening of the first day of the week it is easy to infer that it is the same with the one described by John and Luke).
From all the above it is clear that Judas was alive and saw the resurrected Jesus. It is therefore not strange that I Corinthians speaks for an appearance to the twelve. Even if I Corinthians 15 didn't say anything about an appearance to the twelve, an examination of the gospel records could very easily prove that Judas was still alive after the resurrection.
The Appearance to the Twelve
After all this, the reader may ask, "Where does the appearance to the twelve appear in scripture?" The appearance to the twelve is also described in one of the gospels, namely in John's gospel.
John 20:24, "But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came."
This "them" refers to the disciples that were present at the appearance that happened at the evening of the first day of the week [John 20:19] and which Thomas missed. According to the other gospel records, we know that, except for Thomas, all the other eleven disciples were there.
John 20:25-26, "The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe. And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you."
Who were the disciples that were present at this appearance? They were the eleven plus Thomas (i.e. "the twelve"). Evidently, it is this appearance that the Word of God speaks about in I Corinthians 15:3-5.
Having confirmed from the above the appearance to the twelve and that Judas was there when it happened, we will continue with the examination of the misunderstood passage which is responsible for the tradition that supports the idea that Judas died before the crucifixion.
The passage that is traditionally used to support that the death of Judas happened before the crucifixion is in Matthew 27 where, starting from verse 1, we read:
Matthew 27:1-8,11, "When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death: And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor. 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, Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself. And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood. And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter's field, to bury strangers in. Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day. And Jesus stood before the governor: and the governor asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And Jesus said unto him, Thou sayest."
Far too often we read this passage with the preconceived idea that the link that connects the above events is time (i.e. we assume that this happened first, then this happened second, third, etc.). However, a time link is only one of the many ways by which we can connect various events. In fact, it is very usual when we describe something very important, instead of making continuous references to other events of minor importance, to describe them by opening brief parentheses. By this way we avoid the continuous detraction of the attention from what we consider as the most important person or event of the story. This is exactly what happens in our passage as well. The great topic of Matthew 27 is not Judas and his story but Jesus Christ and his passion. This is what the Word of God wants to point out and it is this description that is made in a time sequence.
Consequently, apart from the story of the man on whom the Word of God focus's (i.e. Jesus Christ), the stories of other people or events have necessarily to be restricted to brief parentheses. That is exactly what happens with Judas. Verses 1 and 2 tells us that Jesus was delivered to the governor. Then verse 3 opens a parenthesis to tell us what happened to Judas. This parenthesis continues up to verse 5. Thus we learn that Judas when he saw that Jesus was condemned, he repented and brought back the thirty pieces of silver. Because the chief priests and the elders didn't accept them, he threw them down and he left. Finally he committed suicide. Though these events are described in a time sequence relative to what happened to Judas [i.e. first he regretted, then he returned the silver pieces and then he committed suicide], they are not described in a time sequence relative to what happened to Jesus. They are a parenthesis that explains what happened to Judas; we are not told when it happened but what happened.
As a matter of fact, Many people believe verse 3 happened right after verse 2. Verse 3 says Judas did these things "when he saw that he was condemned." But Jesus was not condemned until verse 26! Thus proving that verse 3 could not possibly have happened right after verse 2, in sequence, but much later, after the trial.
This is more evident from verses 6-10, which consist of another parenthesis that tells us what happened to the thirty pieces of silver. Thus, we are told that the chief priests took these thirty pieces and after they consulted together, they bought with them the potter's field. Evidently, to end up buying the field, it means that after they consulted together, they went to the market, they found someone willing to sell a field, they visited the field to see if it was the one that they wanted, they reached a decision whether they will buy it or not, they agreed on the price and finally they made the relative contracts. Those that have any idea of the time that it is usually needed to only find the appropriate land know that this requires several days, weeks and sometimes months. If we were to read this parenthetical passage as many of us read the one that precede it about Judas (i.e. by taking everything in a time sequence), then we would conclude that while Jesus was before the governor (verses 1-2) Judas returned the money and hanged himself, the priests took the money, consulted together, found someone that was selling a field, saw the field, reached an agreement about it and made the contracts. All these are simply impossible to happen when Jesus was standing before the governor and in fact without any progress in his investigation (in verse 11, after the close of the parenthesis, the investigation of Jesus is exactly at the same stage as in verse 2, i.e. Jesus is standing before the governor). Moreover, an interpretation like this would contradict all that we have seen from the other gospels and from I Corinthians that tell us Judas was alive after the resurrection.
The great topic that the Word of God describes in Matthew 27 is Jesus Christ and his passion. Thus, it has to discuss other things in brief parentheses. Verses 1-2 tells us that Jesus was brought to the governor. Then, verses 3-5 open a parenthesis where we learn very briefly what happened to Judas. We are not told when Judas committed suicide but what he did. Then a new parenthesis is opened in verse 6 that continues till verse 10 where it is describes again, very briefly, what happened to the thirty pieces of silver. Again the topic is not when these happened but what happened. Then verse 11 takes us back to the point where verse 2 left off (i.e. to the investigation of Jesus by Pilate). The parenthetical character of verses 3-10 and the fact that what is described there is not given in a time sequence relative to the great topic of the chapter (the passion of Jesus), is evident by just reading the passage without verses 3-10:
Matthew 27:1-2,11, "When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death: And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor...And Jesus stood before the governor: and the governor asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And Jesus said unto him, Thou sayest."
As it is obvious, the omission of verses 3-10 does not cause any lack in our understanding of the great topic of the passage, and exactly this was the purpose of God when He put these verses as a parenthesis.
To conclude, therefore, the record of Matthew does not specify when Judas hanged himself but what he did. To learn when he did it, we need to consult the other records as well, to see what they say. With the evidence that we have collected so far we know that Judas saw the resurrected Christ and in fact we know that he was alive at least eight days (John 20:26) after the first appearance to the eleven. On the other hand, Peter in a speech given sometime between the ascension and the day of Pentecost (Acts 1:15-22) said that Judas was dead. This means that sometime between eight days after the resurrection and the day that Peter spoke, Judas hanged himself. This space can be narrowed down by taking into account what is said in Acts 1.
More evidence that will help us to determine better when Judas died is given in the first chapter of Acts.
Acts 1:1-2, "The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen:"
The crucial question that has to be asked before we go any further is who were the apostles "whom he had chosen"? The relative list can be found in the gospel records one of which (Luke 6:13) was also given previously and for ease of reference it is also repeated below:
Luke 6:13-16, "And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles; Simon, (whom he also named Peter) and Andrew his brother, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew, Matthew and Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called Zelotes, And Judas the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot, which also was the traitor."
The apostles therefore that Jesus had chosen and to whom Acts 1:2 refers are the well known twelve apostles that included Judas. Bearing this in mind we can continue the reading of the passage:
Acts 1:1-10, "The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;"
All these "whom", "them" and "they" refer to the apostles that Jesus had chosen and therefore, according to Luke 6:13, included Judas. Thus, since there is no other indication to the contrary, by following the record we can say that Judas should have been there, when the ascension happened. However, it is interesting that verses 10 and 11 of the same chapter tells us that "two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven?...." From the apostles that Jesus had chosen, only Judas was not a Galilean. This indicates that Judas was not present when the angels spoke. On the other hand, there is no indication that he was absent from the ascension. Therefore, the conclusion that one could draw is that Judas saw the ascension and then he left before the angels spoke. Sometime between this time and the time that Peter spoke is when Judas committed suicide. That this happened after the ascension is also indicated by the fact that had Judas committed suicide earlier, Jesus would have substituted him. Otherwise, it would be strange for Peter to do something that Jesus didn't think as appropriate to do. However, because he committed suicide sometime after the ascension and Jesus wasn't there any longer to make the substitution, Peter resumed this responsibility.
Having clarified all the above we can give a brief conclusion to the first part of this study. The conclusion is that Judas died sometime between the ascension and the day that Peter spoke, which was earlier than the day of Pentecost. After he saw that Jesus was condemned, he repented and returned to the group of the other disciples. We don't know when exactly this happened but we do know that he was with them "at the evening of the first day of the week" (i.e. shortly after the resurrection). As a result of his repentance, Judas was forgiven and he was accepted back. Indeed, there is no indication that Jesus treated him differently from the others. However, though Judas was forgiven, he didn't forgive himself but permitted the condemnation to take over his mind and finally to destroy him.
What's the Difference if Judas died Before or After the Crucifixion?
For those that will ask this question, it has to be said that we didn't simply try to find the exact time at which Judas died. This alone might have minor significance if we didn't have problems with the accuracy of the Word of God. Surely, we would have no problem if Judas died before the crucifixion if the Word told us so. In contrast, I would have many problems if in one place the Word, as tradition thinks, tells me that he is dead before the crucifixion, and in another I'm told that he is alive after the resurrection. Then, the examination is no longer a simple examination of the time that Judas died but an examination of the accuracy of the Word of God. The time therefore that Judas died does make a difference, and in fact a very big difference: the difference between an unerring Word of God, as indeed the scripture is, and a word that has errors as tradition makes the scripture to look like.
Part Two: Is Judas in Heaven or Hell?
For the last 1900 years, many Christians have placed Judas in a special category of evil. To sell Jesus into the hands of Israel's Priesthood is a sin most Christians feel they would not be capable of doing. Most Christians seem to categorize sins. In doing so, it allows them to separate themselves from the worst of sinners like Judas. The Bible says the wages of sin is death and all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
The purpose of this article is to raise Judas up from the false representation he has received from the self-righteous Christian and to bring down our self-righteousness to where we can look at the Judases of the world in the eye and be able to say, "I am the guilty one. I put Jesus on the tree of crucifixion. He died for my sins."
Christians must do away with their scapegoats. In Germany, Christian Catholics and Protestants put thousands of Jews into ovens calling them Christ killers. Early in the church, the Jews became associated with Judas. They, along with Judas, have been the scapegoats for this desire of mankind to blame shift.
It seems the world is obsessed these days to put the blame for the problems of the world on someone, any one except themselves. It is time to stop. We are all guilty. We have given ourselves a pardon, but we have not pardoned the world. We therefore, have put ourselves in an exalted position which has produced devastating results. We must be humbled. The purpose of this article is to bring us down to a place where we might be of benefit to the world. Our self-righteousness and pride has made us almost useless in changing the world for the good. If the world is getting darker, it is because our light is going out. May this article put a spark back into our Christian witness.
Facts about the History and Geographical Location of Judas
Let us begin to weave all these pieces together and see if we can see some things we have never thought about before. Perhaps we can get a glimpse of the wisdom of our Father which will leave us amazed and a little more humbled.
- Judas is the Greek form of the Hebrew Judah, which means praise.
- Iscariot means "man from Kerioth," a city in the Negev of the region in Jesus' day which was called Judea. Judas was the only one of the twelve apostles, the scriptures record, not coming from Galilee. Galileans were looked down upon by Judeans.
- Judea is where most of the priests lived since all the sacrifices had to be performed in Jerusalem.
- The 30 pieces of silver was a small sum of money, the value of a slave (Exodus 21:32). ($15 according to the American Tract Society Dictionary). If Judas were really covetous and greedy, why didn't he barter for much more?
- Jesus chose Judas, not the other way around.
- Jesus knew them before He picked them.
- Prior to the betrayal, Judas' only recorded sin was stealing from the money box. The other eleven apostles had accounts recorded of them of sins which included unbelief, lust for position and power, not being mindful of the things of the spirit but of man, all the disciples left Him, Peter denied Him three times in one night, falsely condemning people to fire when Jesus said He came to save, etc., etc..
- Judas threw the 30 pieces of silver on the ground in the "naos" (Holy Place) part of the temple (Matthew 27:5). Only a priest could enter that part of the temple. Even Jesus could only enter the courtyard because he was not from the tribe of Levi. This fact is very important.
- Judas repented and made restitution (Matthew 27:3) then declared Jesus innocent and confessed his sin (Matthew 27:4).
- All these things happened to fulfill prophesy that the Creator planned to be fulfilled at this time.
- Judas was called "friend" (hetairos) by Jesus at the "betrayal" (Matthew 26:50). A word for friend indicating partnership, comrade, companion as opposed to "philos" indicating endearment. In other words, there was a partnership of some sort involved in this "betrayal."
In reading about Jesus in the New Testament, we must always keep in mind that He came to "fulfill the law." First, He fulfilled it by adding the Spirit back to it which the religious leaders had removed by their "letter keeping."
The next aspect of "fulfilling the law" dealt with eliminating laws added to Moses' law which had nothing to do with Moses. The Jews added thousands of laws which were impossible to remember or keep. Some of the laws added actually made it possible to break Moses law' for self gain. For example, when making an agreement, one had to face Jerusalem and say twice "Amen, Amen." If one said "Amen" only once, the agreement was not lawful and therefore could be broken. Knowing the "Law" at this point in Israel's history actually became profitable. Many foreign people were swindled by these kinds of acts. The modern church has copied those swindlers, and has actually exceeded many of the "lawful" schemes perpetrated in Jesus' day by "religious people." The widow, orphan, and poor were greatly oppressed by the religious leaders. Today, the use of the unlawful "tithe" is an example of the greed of religious men and women who use this money to build their own kingdoms.
The third way Jesus dealt with the Mosaic Law was to fulfill every type and shadow contained in all the sacrificial ceremonies. Many people were predestined to participate with Jesus in His fulfillment of these ceremonies. One of the leading participants in fulfilling these ceremonies and Scriptures was Judas. These laws can be seen on at least three levels.
Most of us who have studied the scripture for any length of time know that Jesus was the "lamb of God," the "lamb slain before the foundation of the world." We know Jesus, the Innocent Lamb's blood, was shed for us that the Death Angel would "pass over" our house, that is, our life. But we have been very shallow in our studies and have not looked at how the Lamb was determined to be an "innocent lamb." We have looked to Pontius Pilate as the judge who determined whether Jesus was guilty of death or not, but Jesus had to fulfill the Laws of God, not the laws of Rome. The Jewish leaders wanted Jesus guilty, not innocent. They would not declare the lamb innocent. So how was Jesus lawfully determined to be the "innocent" Lamb? The answer: Judas!
- The actual performance of them by Israel.
- Seeing how Jesus would physically perform and fulfill them in the flesh.
- Seeing the spiritual reality behind it all.
As we begin to gather all these pieces together, keep in mind that Judas was predestined just as Jesus being born at this time was predestined. Jesus chose Judas knowing his purpose; that prior to Satan entering Judas, his sins were really not much different than the other apostles. Be very careful in how you judge Judas for as you judge, perhaps, so shall you be judged.
Inspecting the Lamb
As early as the Book of Genesis, there are references to proper sacrifices. All of these Old Testament sacrifices obviously pointed to the reality of Jesus Christ. I believe every sacrificial type and shadow will find it's reality wrapped up in Jesus Christ and His Body. This article will not deal with all of the types. We are concerned with the role Judas played and so we will have to stay focused as much as possible on Judas' role in prophesy being fulfilled.
Jesus was crucified in the Passover season. Did you know that a young goat was just as acceptable as a lamb? (2 Chronicles 35:7, Leviticus 22:19, Exodus 12:5). Somehow, due to our false teachings of the separation of the sheep and goats (derived from the parable in Matthew 25:31-34, 41), we have pictured the goat as an unclean animal. This is not so, at least according to Scripture. Many of our perceptions of the Creator and His Plan come from our religious traditions and not from the Scriptures.
In the original Passover, the lamb (or goat) was selected on the 10th day of the month of Abib (Deuteronomy 16:1) . This month was to be their first month since that was the month they were delivered from Pharaoh (Exodus 13:3-4). This lamb or goat was kept for 4 days and inspected to make sure it was spotless and without blemish. In subsequent Passovers, the Priest had to inspect the lamb or kid to make sure it was without blemish.
Most of you know all the ceremonies of Israel were types and shadows which were to point to realities which would come later on. While most Christians are very unskilled in dealing with the Old Testament, they have received enough to know that Jesus Christ was the true Passover Lamb pointed to by the first Passover in Egypt and its commemorative Passovers which were to be kept each year by Israel.
The Passover lamb or goat pointed to the true Sacrificial Goat, Jesus Christ. Did you just get a little flustered? Yes, the goat represents Jesus just as much as the cute little dumb lamb. Remember, on the Day of Atonement, two goats were selected; one to be killed and the other to be set free (Leviticus 16:7). These also pointed to the work of Christ. This animal had to be inspected by the Priests. Jesus had to be inspected by the Priests! The problem was that the Priests of the temple declared Jesus guilty of blasphemy which was punishable by death! How could Jesus be the innocent lamb or goats if they declared Him blemished with sin?
Orthodox Christianity puts it in the hands of the true secular authority of Israel which was Pontius Pilate. He asked Jesus a number of questions and after doing so found that Jesus was not guilty of anything worthy of the death penalty (Matthew 27). He washed his hands of the whole affair and said he found no fault with Jesus and wanted to set him free. The people, prodded on by the priests, wanted Him to be crucified. Pontius Pilate made another attempt to free Jesus by using a tradition Romans used on special occasions. On certain important days they would release a prisoner as a sign of mercy or good will. Pontius Pilate gave Israel a choice of freeing Jesus, who claimed to be the Son of God, or Barabbas. Some ancient manuscripts called him Jesus Barabbas. Barabbas, in Greek, means "Son of a Father or Master." Abba, in Aramaic, means father. So the choice presented to Israel was a very interesting choice. Which do you want freed...Jesus (which means God's deliverance) or Barabbas (son of a Father or Master). This is the scapegoat offering.
The people picked Jesus to be sacrificed and Barabbas to escape into the wilderness of humanity. At this point, Pilate ceremoniously washed his hands of the whole thing and turned the whole thing over to the Jews. He said "Ye see to it" (Matthew 27:24). The people answered and said, "His blood be on us and on our children" (verse 25).
Now dear reader, I want you to think through very carefully what we are about to discuss. It is vitally important for our witness and our ability to demonstrate the love of Christ. It is also vitally important to understand in order to rightly divide the Word. Honestly, in your heart, between Peter and Judas, who do you identify with most? For whom do you find more love, Peter or Judas? What about those Jews who yelled, "Crucify, crucify, let His blood be on our heads." Do you identify with them or despise them?
James 1:23-24, "For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was."
Matthew 16:21-23, "From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men."
Please note that the text does not say "Satan entered him" as with Judas (John 13:27). Jesus directly called Peter "Satan," which means adversary. Peter was unwilling for the dark side of the Word to be fulfilled. Death must precede life. Peter was not "mindful of the things of God." Trying to be the nice guy and saving Jesus' life was not the will of the Father. Jesus being betrayed, becoming the Lamb slain, being valued at 30 pieces of silver, and the purchase of the "field of blood" was "being mindful of the things of God."
Please get this one point. Peter was directly called "Satan." Satan had to enter Judas in order for him to fulfill the Scriptures (John 13:27). In other words, Judas was not capable of betraying Jesus by himself! He had to be taken over. Peter did not need the help of Satan to not be mindful of the things of God. It was perfectly natural for him. When Satan wanted to "sift" Peter, Jesus prayed for Peter. Why didn't Jesus just pray for Judas? Because Judas had to do what he did to fulfill Scripture that the redemption of the whole world from its bondage to sin might be accomplished! Judas was not a hearer only, as Peter was, but a "doer of the word." Not only was he a doer, but Jesus hastened Judas along to get it done. "What you are doing, do more quickly" (John 13:27). Judas fulfilled his purpose for being born.
The reason we are spending so much time on Judas is because we have found among some of the "elect" a disdain for "Jews" who have been called "Christ killers" for almost 2000 years. Martin Luther hated Jews and recommended they be killed. If right now you have an uneasy feeling, or feel a little blood rush to your head, you probably need to come to the place of the true realization that you and I are the Christ killers. If there were no Jews, our sins would still have put Jesus on the Tree of Crucifixion.
What I am trying to say is that we, as bondservants of Christ, have no business looking down upon any man, race, or nation. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. There is none righteous, nay, not one, including Judas, you, or myself. It is time for us to be able to look everyone right in the eyes, not looking down or up to anyone. When we humble ourselves, then He will allow us to see things in the Scriptures we have never seen before. His Holy Spirit will remove the veil over our eyes and we will behold wondrous things.
We speak so often of the "Lamb who takes away the sin of the world." This takes us back to Exodus to the Passover lamb. Israel was to put the blood of a lamb older than eight days and less than one year which was unblemished on the door of their house. The death angel or God was going to kill every first-born male in Egypt. Only those houses marked with the blood would be "passed over." But the death angel was not going to kill everyone in the unmarked houses, only the first born males. Later on, we find out that the God of Israel wanted every male that opened the womb as His own, whether it be from the domestic animals, or people. The first-born male children of Israel had to be redeemed, that is, bought back. In other words, when they were born, they belonged to God. The parent had to purchase him back from the Levites for a certain price. A first born-male jackass, an unclean animal, had to be redeemed with a lamb. Money in this case was not accepted.
Our Father and His Son are not hypocrites. They live by the laws They set. Under the Mosaic Law, an owner of land and animals is responsible for what happens on that land. If he digs a pit and doesn't cover it and a neighbor's animal falls into it and dies, the owner of the pit is liable. If someone builds a house with a roof and doesn't put up a railing and someone falls off, you must flee to a city of refuge until the death of the High Priest.
The following Scriptures may not seem to fit this article, but they are very important. I cannot go into full explanation of all of this because it would take too much space. I hope the gaps will cause you to study this out for yourselves.
Exodus 21:28-32, "If an ox gore a man or a woman, that they die: then the ox shall be surely stoned, and his flesh shall not be eaten; but the owner of the ox shall be quit. But if the ox were wont to push with his horn in time past, and it hath been testified to his owner, and he hath not kept him in, but that he hath killed a man or a woman; the ox shall be stoned, and his owner also shall be put to death. If there be laid on him a sum of money, then he shall give for the ransom of his life whatsoever is laid upon him. Whether he have gored a son, or have gored a daughter, according to this judgment shall it be done unto him. If the ox shall push a manservant or a maidservant; he shall give unto their master thirty shekels of silver, and the ox shall be stoned."
Zechariah 11:12-13, "And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. And the LORD said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the LORD."
Matthew 27:3-10, "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, Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple (naos), and departed, and went and hanged himself. And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood. And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter's field, to bury strangers in. Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value; And gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord appointed me."
The Creator of the Universe must abide by His own Laws. He created Adam, placed him in a place where he could be deceived by a Serpent which the Creator also created. Adam and all his offspring fell into a pit and all died. In Adam all died, including you. According to the Mosaic Law, the Creator was responsible for Adam's death and must make restitution. According to the Law, the owner of a beast that has been known to gore in the past, must die along with the beast. However, if a ransom price has been placed upon that man, he may be redeemed. The value the Priest of Israel placed upon Jesus was 30 pieces of silver, which Judas put into the temple. Judas threw the 30 pieces of silver on the ground in the "naos" (Holy Place) part of the temple (Matthew 27:5). Only a priest could enter that part of the temple. Even Jesus could only enter the courtyard because he was not from the tribe of Levi. Therefore, Judas was a priest. This is where the phrase "Judas Priest" comes from.
Lawfully, Jesus, who the Father gave all things to, and who all things are of, to, and through (Romans 11:36), must die because of allowing the serpent to kill Adam and his offspring, but Jesus was redeemed with the 30 pieces of silver. Not only that, but the 30 pieces of silver purchased the Potter's field, which became the "Field of Blood," which became a proper burial place in the land of Israel for foreigner, gentiles, that is non-Israelites. This "field of blood" was located in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, known as "Gehenna" to the Greeks and better known as "hell" in many misleading Bible translations, including the King James Bible. For those of you who want to translate Gehenna as "hell," you should know that Judas purchased that field called "hell" which the Potter's field is in.
Jesus came to fulfill the Law. I believe we are just beginning to understand what that is all about. I know I left many things out; there is just too much to cover. I just hope I have at least brought you to the place where you can look Judas eye to eye instead of down on him. If I have failed to do that, I hope I have cracked a few doors which at least will keep you from making a final judgment of Judas. I am trying to do this not so much for Judas' sake, but for your sake.
The next generation of Christians villainized Judas so much that Papias, Bishop of Heirapolis in about 140 A.D., claimed that Judas was so swollen that where a wagon could go through easily, he could not go through; nay, he could not even insert the mass of his head. His genitals were repellent and huge beyond all shamefulness. From his whole body flowed blood mixed with worms. According to this "Bishop" who claims to have known John, the apostle, Judas died in his own place, which, because of the stench, has remained deserted and uninhabitable to the present day. This kind of gross exaggeration to the point of lying is not unusual of Christian circles, ancient or present day.
To summarize, be careful where you place Judas. He did the will of the Father and fulfilled the Scriptures. Peter, who we all love, tried to prevent Jesus' crucifixion and was called "Satan" by our Lord. Peter, who was not mindful of the will of God, was restored. Was it not Jesus who said, ""For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother" (Matthew 12:50)? Be careful about placing Jesus' brother, Judas, in Christendom's "hell." One day you may have to look up to Judas, instead of looking down on him. Peter denied him three times in one night while Judas declared Jesus innocent in front of the High Priesthood. Judas had a very important job in the Kingdom of God. For three and one half years, as a Priest he inspected the Lamb of God as an unbiased man. He was not "one of them" a Galilean. He was the outsider. He did his job perfectly. If Judas really wanted to mess things up, he could have agreed with the High Priesthood and called Him a "blasphemer" who claimed to be the Son of God when He really wasn't. But Judas declared the Lamb spotless and unblemished, the Perfect Passover.
Thank you, Judas, for not only being a hearer of the Word, but also a doer of the Word. Thank you, Judas, for giving the redemption money which purchased the Potter's field; a place for strangers in the land of Israel and the silver which speaks of the redemption of the family of Adam who sold himself as a slave to sin. You may not like how Judas got that money, but you should rejoice in what it did for you.
I hope these words have you stirring. I hope they have rekindled a desire to study the Scriptures more. Most importantly, may these words cause you to give more freely what our Father has so freely bestowed upon you. . . mercy. Is there more room in your heart for mercy for yourself? If there is, then there is also more room for you to have mercy on others, especially those vessels of less honor in our eyes. Lift up the Judases of the world to our wonderful Father who freely forgives, Who bestows mercy upon the undeserving.
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