The traitor Judas Iscariot was the son of Simon, who lived in Kerioth, Judah. He betrayed Jesus in exchange for thirty coins and then hanged himself (Matthew 26:14; Matthew 26:15; Matthew 26:16).
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.
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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 greedy and 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 coins falling from it.
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. Having a Sadducee’s background meant that his parents disowned him when he joined John’s disciples.
Judas With Jesus
There was nothing about Jesus that Judas admired more than his overall attractive and exquisitely charming personality. The traitor 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.
Betrayal of Jesus
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. 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 for 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.
Judas Iscariot, one of Jesus’ original 12 disciples, traveled with him and studied under him for three years. He, 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’ favorite 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 fulfill his destiny of saving humanity.
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,”
“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.”
Death of Judas
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. He then committed suicide by hanging himself.
Who Replaced Judas?
Matthias was selected to replace Judas as recorded in Acts 1:15; Acts 1:16; Acts 1:17; Acts 1:18; Acts 1:19; Acts 1:20; Acts 1:21; Acts 1:22, Acts 1:23; Acts 1:24; Acts 1:25; Acts 1:-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.
“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.
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 Judas.
Judas Iscariot Characteristics
Characteristics of Judas Iscariot through time always made people have mixed feelings about Judas. Some experience a sense of hatred toward him, others feel pity, and some have even considered him a hero. No matter how you react to Judas, one thing is sure; believers can benefit greatly by taking a serious look at his life. During Jesus’ public ministry, Judas traveled everywhere with Him and lived in close proximity to Him but never seemed to share His spirit. Some have suggested that Jesus got His directions wrong in choosing Judas to be one of His disciples. Following the characteristics of the 12 apostles, this cannot possibly be so; however, one of Christ’s divine qualities was His ability to know what was in every man (see John 2:25). Whatever His reason for choosing Judas, we can be sure it was not because of a mistake.
Having chosen Judas to be one of the disciples, Jesus gives him a trusted position as keeper of the common purse. However, he proved to be unworthy of that trust, taking for himself the money that had been donated to support Jesus and the disciples.
Judas’ greed and hypocrisy were also shown by his willingness to betray the Son of God for the price of a slave (Exodus 21:32) and in his pretended concern for the welfare of the poor when he criticized Mary of Bethany for anointing Jesus’ feet with costly ointment.
His continued presence in the apostolic band must have daily involved him in hypocrisy as his heart became increasingly turned away from Jesus.
The Gospel writers, on almost every occasion, when Judas’ name is mentioned, refer to him as the betrayer of Jesus. The betrayal of Christ was indeed a heinous crime, and there can be no doubt that Judas acted as the instrument of Satan in perpetuating it.
In fact, in one place, Jesus describes Judas as a devil (John 6:70), and it appears that Satan entered into him following his rejection of Jesus’ final gesture of love at the Last Supper (John 13:27). Jesus also describes him as “the son of perdition” (John 12:17), and nothing good is ever said about him except, perhaps, that he was capable of feeling remorse after seeing the result of his evil crime.
Jesus, being the person He was the divine Son of God, knew both the strengths and weaknesses of every one of His disciples. He took steps also to alert them to the evil possibilities that lay deep in their hearts.
When Peter insisted that he would never deny Him, Jesus tried to prepare him for the next hours by telling him that he would deny Him, not just once or twice, but three times.
He does something similar with Judas Iscariot on the eve of His betrayal as if He wants to allow him to repent of his evil intentions. As we know, however, Judas is so bent on evil that he remains unmoved even when treated as an honored guest at the Last Supper.
Iscariot is understood to be equivalent to ish-Kerioth, that is, “man of Kerioth.” Kerioth was a town in South Judea. The other disciples were all from Galilee. The southern Jews regarded the northerners with a certain superiority.
Following the raising of Lazarus from the dead, the high priest and the Jewish leaders were deeply concerned that Jesus might recruit more followers to His cause and determined to put Him to death. Jesus’ high level of popularity at this time, however, meant that they must go about their plans with great care and caution. Judas’ offer of betrayal was an opportunity that was too good to miss.
His knowledge of Jesus’ movements would enable him to lead the soldiers to a place where they could arrest Him without too much of the populace being aware of it. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Judas greets Jesus with the word “Master!” followed by a spurious show of affection, which results in Christ’s arrest.
Once Christ has been condemned, and it becomes obvious that He is to die on the cross, the full weight of what He has done bursts in upon Judas’ conscience. Returning to the temple, he pleads with the priests to take back the money, confessing,
“I have betrayed innocent blood”.
They coldly reply that his problems are his affair and that it means nothing to them.
Judas then throws the thirty pieces of silver at their feet and, overcome by remorse, goes out and hangs himself. He has served the priests’ unholy enterprise, and, having no further use for him, they abandon him to the inferno that his rejection of Christ has made inevitable.
As a result of Judas’ suicide, the number of disciples is reduced to eleven. Peter quotes prophecies from the Scripture, which, under the Holy Spirit’s inspiration, applies to Judas. These Scriptures (Psalm 69:25; Psalm 109:8) show that a suitable person should fill the vacant office the qualifications being that he should have accompanied the apostles during the time of Jesus’ public ministry and that he was a witness of the Resurrection.
Two candidates are selected and, after prayer, lots are cast. The one on whom the lot falls is Saint Matthias, who then becomes the twelfth apostle. Nothing more is said of Matthias as an individual, only corporately as one of the twelve.
Judas Iscariot is always the last disciple placed on the list of twelve. Judas Iscariot is often referred to as Judas the Betrayer, and he is known and will forever be known for the one act of betrayal of the Lord.
Judas was the disciple who did not truly believe in the love of Jesus, and when the chief priests were looking for a way to arrest Jesus, Judas provided them with that way by identifying Jesus with a kiss in return for thirty pieces of silver. Judas is frequently referred to as the only disciple who was separated from God in his death as he never had salvation due to his betrayal, thievery, and lies.
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 the 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.
#1. When did Judas die?
#2. According to John 13:29, what special task did Judas do for Christ's ministry?
#3. How did Jesus refer to Judas in Matthew after he kissed him?
#4. Which group of people did Judas betray Jesus?
#5. Who betrayed Jesus?
#6. Which century Gnostic text written in Greek depicts Judas as a collaborator and close confidant of Jesus?
#7. When Judas betrayed Jesus, he acted as whose instrument?
#8. What New Testament book speaks of Judas's death, telling the story differently from Matthew?
#9. What part of Jesus' body did Judas Kiss as a sign of identification?
#10. What does Judas mean?