Judas the Traitor

Judas Iscariot

The traitor Judas Iscariot was the son of Simon, who lived in Kerioth, Judah.

He betrayed Jesus in exchange for thirty pieces of silver and then hanged himself (Matthew 26:14,16).

Judas, the traitor, is the ultimate enigma of the New Testament because it is difficult to imagine how anyone so close to Jesus, who witnessed so many miracles and heard so much of the Master’s teaching, could ever betray him into the hands of his enemies.

  • His name appears on three different lists of the Twelve Apostles (Matthew 10:4; Mark 3:19; Luke 6:19). Judas is said to have come from Judah near Jericho. He was a Judean, while the other disciples were Galileans.

    He was the band’s treasurer and one of its most outspoken leaders.

Judas is said to have been a violent Jewish nationalist who had followed Jesus in the hope that his nationalistic flame and dreams would be realized through Him.

No one can deny that Judas was a greedy man who took advantage of his position as band treasurer to steal from the common purse.

There is no clear reason why Judas betrayed his master; however, it was not his betrayal that led to Jesus’ death on the cross; it was our sins.

His apostolic symbol is a noose or a money purse with silver coins falling from it.

Judas Birth/Early Life

He was born in Kerioth, a small town in Judea’s south. His parents moved to Jericho when he was a child, and he worked in his father’s various business ventures until he became interested in John the Baptist’s preaching and work. Judas’s parents were Sadducees, and they disowned him when he joined John’s disciples.

Christ and Judas
Christ and Judas

Judas With Jesus

There was nothing about Jesus that Judas admired more than his overall attractive and exquisitely charming personality. Judas was never able to overcome his Judean prejudices against his Galilean associates, and he would even criticize Jesus in his mind.

This self-satisfied Judean dared to criticize in his own heart the man whom eleven of the apostles regarded as the perfect man, as the “one altogether lovely and the chiefest among ten thousand.”

He believed that Jesus was hesitant and afraid to assert his power and authority.

Judas was a faith adventure for Jesus. The Master recognized this apostle’s weakness from the start and was well aware of the risks of admitting him to fellowship. However, it is the nature of God’s Sons to provide every created being with a full and equal chance for salvation and survival.

Judas betrays his Friend
Judas betrays his Friend

Betrayal of Jesus by Judas Iscariot

He betrayed Jesus, which resulted in his arrest and subsequent conviction by the Jewish judicial body, the Sanhedrin. Following his conviction, Jesus was crucified by Roman authorities in Judaea, on the advice of Jewish priests and elders.

However, different accounts of his betrayal exist. Scholars have proposed various motives for the act over time and have even questioned the veracity of the claim that he betrayed Jesus.

The ‘Gospel of Mark’ contains the earliest account of his betrayal of Jesus. According to this gospel, when Judas went to the Jewish priests to betray Jesus, he was offered 30 pieces of silver as a bribe. At the same time, it was unclear whether he went to the priests to betray Jesus for money or some other reason.

According to the ‘Gospel of Matthew,’ he betrayed Jesus for a bribe of 30 pieces of silver from Jewish priests.

According to this gospel, he identified Jesus with a kiss (immortalized in history as the “Kiss of Judas”) and revealed him to the soldiers of the Jewish high priest Joseph Caiaphas, who then handed Jesus over to the soldiers of Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judaea. According to the gospel, Jesus foresaw Judas betraying him.

The bribe of 30 pieces of silver is mentioned in the ‘Gospel of John,’ but it is not mentioned in the ‘Gospel of John.’ It describes him as dissatisfied with money spent on perfumes to anoint Jesus when it could have been spent on the poor. According to the gospel, Jesus foresaw his betrayal and allowed it to occur.

Basilique-cathédrale Notre-Dame de l'Annonciation de Moulins; vitrail néogothique du XIXe siècle. La Cène. Détail: Judas.
Basilique-cathédrale Notre-Dame de l'Annonciation de Moulins; vitrail néogothique du XIXe siècle. La Cène. Détail: Judas.

Judas Iscariot’s Achievements

Judas Iscariot, one of Jesus’ original 12 disciples, travelled with him and studied under him for three years. Judas, like the other 11 disciples, was summoned and sent by Jesus to preach the gospel of God’s kingdom, cast out demons, and heal the sick.

Gospel of Judas

The National Geographic Society announced in 2006 the discovery and translation of the “Gospel of Judas,” a long-lost text thought to have been written around A.D. 150 and then copied from Greek into Coptic in the third century.

The Gospel of Judas, first alluded to in writing by the second-century cleric Irenaeus, is one of many ancient texts discovered in recent decades that have been linked to the Gnostics, a (mostly) Christian group who were condemned as heretics by early church leaders for their unorthodox spiritual beliefs.

Rather than condemning Judas as Jesus’ betrayer, the author of the Gospel of Judas extolled him as Jesus’ favourite disciple. According to this version of events, Jesus asked Judas to betray him to the authorities for him to be freed from his physical body and fulfil his destiny of saving humanity.

Brooklyn Museum - The Kiss of Judas (Le baiser de Judas) - James Tissot
Brooklyn Museum - The Kiss of Judas (Le baiser de Judas) - James Tissot

The Gospel of Judas has sparked debate, with some scholars claiming that the National Geographic Society’s version was a mistranslation of the Coptic text and that the public was misled into believing the document depicted a “noble Judas.”

In any case, the Gospel of Judas was written at least a century after Jesus and Judas died, so it contains little historically reliable information about their lives, and it certainly does not provide the missing link to understanding Judas Iscariot’s true motivations.

“The truth is we don’t know why Judas did what he did,”

notes Cargill.

“The grand irony, of course, is that without [Judas’s betrayal], Jesus doesn’t get handed over to the Romans and crucified. Without Judas, you don’t have the central component of Christianity—you don’t have the Resurrection.”

Judas Returns the Silver Coins
Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn 1606 – 1669
Judas Returns the Silver Coins
oil on panel (79 × 102 cm) — 1629
private collection

Death of Judas Iscariot

His death is described in a variety of ways. These descriptions of his death were gleaned from the ‘New Testament’ and other sources.

After betraying Jesus, Judas was filled with regret and remorse, according to the ‘Gospel of Matthew.’

According to the gospel, he went to return the 30 pieces of silver he received as a bribe for betraying Jesus to the Jewish priests.

Because it was blood money, the priests refused to accept it.

As a result, he threw away the 30 pieces of silver and left.

Who Replaced Judas Iscariot?

Matthias was selected to replace Judas as recorded in Acts 1:15-26. The other man who was also in consideration was named Joseph or Barsabas and surnamed Justus.

Lots were cast and eventually, Matthias was chosen.

Acts 1:24-26 records the following, “And they prayed and said,

“You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his place.”

And he was numbered with the eleven apostles.” The Bible is sparse on additional details relating to Matthias, but it does say that Matthias was with Jesus from His baptism until his resurrection.

Besides the book of Acts, Matthias isn’t mentioned anywhere else in the Bible. According to historical sources Matthias lived until 80 A.D. and spread the gospel on the shores of the Caspian and Cappadocia.

Black Halo
Black Halo

Judas Iscariot Key Takeaway

Judas Iscariot is remembered for only one thing: betraying Jesus Christ. Even though Judas later expressed regret, his name became synonymous with traitors and turncoats throughout history. His motivation appeared to be greed, but some scholars believe political motivations lurked beneath his treachery.

In first-century Judaism, the name Judas meant “praise the Lord.” The surname “Iscariot” means “man of Kerioth,” a town in Judea’s south. Judas was the only one of the twelve who was not from Galilee.

Mark’s Gospel reveals the least about Judas, attributing his actions to no particular motive. Judas is simply the person who handed over Jesus to the chief priests. Matthew’s account gives more detail and paints Judas as an unscrupulous man.

Luke goes even further, saying that Satan entered into Judas.

The Devil devouring Judas Iscariot
The Devil devouring Judas Iscariot

Summary Judas Iscariot

Judas Iscariot was one of Jesus Christ’s 12 primary disciples and the founder of Christianity. Judas betrayed his master, Jesus Christ, leading to his crucifixion for heresy. Judas has become a synonym for a person who betrays a higher cause or a great person, despite being reviled in mainstream Christianity as a man of low morals or the incarnation of the Devil.

Historically, the legend of Judas was used to justify persecution of the Jewish community in Europe and the Middle East. From the beginning of Christianity to the majority of the twentieth century, he was almost always portrayed negatively in art, literature, drama, and other forms of popular culture.

Dante’s ‘Inferno,’ one of the most famous works of Western literature, depicts him as an evil character condemned to the lowest circle of Hell, alongside the assassins of Julius Caesar, Brutus, and Cassius.

Scholarly studies and popular culture have featured more sympathetic portrayals of Judas since the 1970s. In the 1970s, the discovery of the ‘Gospel of Judas’ in Egypt was a revelation. Its translation, published in 2006, depicted Judas Iscariot’s life in a new light and aided in the reassessment of his image.

Resources Judas Iscariot

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