Judas Iscariot, a character study. Part 1.

This study originated from a Bible study on Hebrews, led by a man I know. During the evening’s bible study my friend, in reference to eternal security, added his thoughts on Judas-Iscariot, by adamantly declaring, Judas Iscariot went to hell.

I have several problems with a statement like that, but the Holy Spirit told me to hold my tongue until after the meeting was over and I could address his out of line and adamant statement quietly. I did just that and told him briefly the reasons why I disagreed with him.

Having spelled out some aspects of what you will find in this rebuttal, my friend responded with, “well, we just don’t know everything,” and I agreed, we don’t. I hoped that he would never speak with such adamancy about something he doesn’t understand. The next day I got a text message from him. In that message, he said, “my wife and I have discussed this, and Judas may have felt remorse, but he never repented;” he added, “there is a difference you know.” and quickly tried to define those differences. I responded with, “I will study this character Judas-Iscariot more closely soon, but not today. Until then, I must continue to err, if that is what I have done, I will do so on the side of mercy.

My friend then sent this link and said, “I get much of my understanding from this website https://www.gotquestions.org/Judas-Iscariot.html. I obtained the arguments against Judas from these people. Assuming, and it’s an easy assumption, that my friend and several thousand others like him, feel just as adamantly about Judas-Iscariot, I decided to pursue this character study on Judas-Iscariot. Let me add, that this is not the first time I have heard such anger, judgment, and lack of understanding about some Biblical character.

I have made comments which can be seen below the bulleted points.

The original document has, for the most part, been turned into bulleted points and highlighted in bold type.

Question:”Who was Judas Iscariot?”

Answer: Judas Iscariot is typically remembered for one thing: his betrayal of Jesus.

If I were to ask you why Judas is only thought of as a betrayer and thief, you might say, well, for one thing, scripture, such as John’s gospel, in particular, directs us to think that way.

Alright, that is a reasonable response, that is until you begin looking at the words, as found in concordances. For there you will see that they can have several meanings and I frequently find that the alternate wording better fits the context.

Let’s say you cling to the KJV as it is often represented as the authorized version. Yes, commissioned by King James, with whom they pleaded against continued efforts as the language alone was outdated by the time they published the limited and expensive copies they could make.

So, the authors answer to his own question is given above, and it states Judas is typically remembered for one thing: his betrayal of Jesus. There are other things about him such as he was one of the original, handpicked, disciples, but you don’t think about that until you do something as peculiar as writing an eleven-page thesis in defense of a man who may not be in hell, as some prescribe.

  • He was one of the twelve disciples who lived with and followed Jesus for three years.

And therefore, a part of the inner circle. As far as I can see you never let the spy or betrayer into the inner circle unless you have a higher, more significant plan; and Jesus did.

  • He witnessed Jesus’ ministry, His teaching, and His many miracles.

They (the disciples) were all given the mission to go out and heal the sick and cast out demons, and Judah Iscariot was included. However, Judas apparently had to be placed at the back of the listing, and Mark, among the others, had to mention the betrayal.

Mark 3:10-19 MKJV For He had healed many, so that they pressed on Him in order to touch Him, as many as had plagues.  (11) And unclean spirits, when they saw Him, they fell down before Him and cried, saying, You are the Son of God! (12) And He strictly charged them that they should not make Him known. (13) And He went up into a mountain and called near those whom He would. And they came to Him.  (14) And He ordained twelve, that they should be with Him, and that He might send them out to proclaim,  (15) and to have authority to heal sicknesses and to cast out demons. (16) And He put on Simon the name Peter.  (17) And He put on James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James, the names Boanerges, which is, the Sons of Thunder.  (18) And He appointed Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alpheus, and Thaddeus, and Simon the Canaanite,  (19) and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him. And they went into a house.

  • He was the treasurer for the group and used this trusted position to steal from their resources (John 12:6).

John was the only one to mention this act. Even under Mosaic law, judgments we make against others, are only legitimized by the mouths of two or three witnesses. Let’s say Judas Iscariot’s stealing from the bag is a true statement, then what am I to gather from it? That this action on the part of Judas was never a concern for Jesus or most of the disciples. When Jesus told the disciples to provide for the thousands gathered on the hillside that first day, they never said, we do not possibly have enough money.

  • Judas was a common name in that era, and there are several other Judases mentioned in the New Testament. One of the other disciples was named Judas (John 14:22), and so was one of Jesus’ half-brothers (Mark 6:3).

The fact that Judas is a common name of the day is an irrelevant point to make; it does, however, address the need to specify which “Judas” you are speaking about.

  • To differentiate, John 6:71 and John 13:26 refer to Christ’s betrayer as “Judas, son of Simon Iscariot.”

Sadly, Judas is always mentioned last in the apostolic lists of names and continuously with the notation that he was the one who betrayed Jesus. There is nothing in the gospels to suggest that he was set aside or treated differently from any of the twelve, even though Jesus knew what his future actions would be.

Scholars have several ideas about the derivation of the surname.

  • One is that Iscariot refers to Kerioth, a region or town in Judea.
  • Another idea is that it refers to the Sicarii, a cadre of assassins among the Jewish rebels. The possible association with the Sicarii allows for intriguing speculation about Judas’ motives.
  • The fact that he made a conscious choice to betray Jesus (Luke 22:48) remains the same.
  • The surname Iscariot is useful because it leaves no doubt about which Judas is being addressed.

None of the above information, concerning his name and the town he is from, is provable and therefore pure speculation.

Here are some of the facts we glean from key verses about Judas and his betrayal:

  • Money was important to Judas. As already mentioned, he was a thief,

If John had not brought it up, would it even be an issue? The assertion that money was important to Judas alone is purely conjecture and irrelevant.

People steal all the time; some steal by cheating on the time clock, or by merely taking a pen from a desk. We all have a sin nature, and it drives us, just as it drove Judas Iscariot.

Peter, as we should be aware, had a family to support and a house to maintain; perhaps he needed a steady supply of money as well, and yet, we see very little money involved in the life of Jesus and the disciples, outside of paying taxes on one occasion, and that money came out of a fishes mouth.

  • And, according to Matthew 26:13–15, the chief priests paid him “thirty silver coins” to betray the Lord.

None of the disciples were there to hear or witness the transaction between the chief priests and Judas; so all we have is an assumption as to how we came to know what happened in that private meeting. It may be that Judas was vocal enough to convey how he felt, and it seems that his greatest motivation was to force Jesus to step forward as the warring Messiah for which they all longed. Since all the theories put forth about why he did it are conjectural, then this statement I made about Judas motivation is as well; but, it is logical and here is why:

When Jesus rode into town on a young colt that no one had ever ridden before He was riding on the best that could be offered for that period, and, it was a very significant event as all of Israel’s kings had done something similar. But this entrance was different, as the first thing He did after the big entrance, was to overthrow the tables of the vendors and money changing thieves, in the outer court of the temple and then verbally accost the Jewish leadership, for two days. The Jews, including Judas, anticipated that He would integrate into their system; and He did not.

Matthew 26:14-16 MSG That is when one of the Twelve, the one named Judas Iscariot, went to the cabal of high priests (15) and said, “What will you give me if I hand him over to you?” They settled on thirty silver pieces. (16) He began looking for just the right moment to hand him over.

The word betray is the Greek word paradidōmi and also means to surrender, that is, yield upentrusttransmit:– commit, deliver(up).

Odd how the primary function of the word is to surrender. Thanks to the Apostle John’s hostility, and some bad choices in translation we are mired down with the idea of betrayal.

For the author of this treatise to try to direct us into a wholehearted acceptance of their thesis demonstrates their lack of faith that we have the ability to think logically when given the facts; that the Holy Spirit is not capable of leading and guiding us into truth, and, it establishes their lack of skill in presenting an apologetic.

Everyone, in the course of writing, and this includes the disciples and great theological minds, are trying to convince or direct you to see things their way. Historians, such as Josephus – a Jew under Roman rule, who had the task of recording the events of the day, had a strong motivation to make the one in control – Caesar or the Roman empire, look good. To do that they occasionally skewed history to make the current leader look better than he really was; such was the case with American history, and this skewing of a historical recollection may be the case with Judas Iscariot.

Bullet points and blocks of copy in bold have been extracted from Got Questions Ministries. I have done this to make their information distinct from my own thoughts and comments.

©Copyright 2002-2018 Got Questions Ministries.


This entry was posted in character study, deception, Dispelling myths, false teaching, forgive, God's character, Gospel of John, grace, Hearing God, Hope, Jerusalem, Jesus, Jews, Judas Iscariot, judgment, Mercy, overtaken, strongholds and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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