Apostles had an important role in biblical history, Judas Iscariot included, but for all the wrong reasons. Though he and the others cast out demons and preached the kingdom of God (Mark 6:7–13), he is never recorded in a positive light when his name is explicitly mentioned in Scripture.
Of the 44 uses of the Greek Ioudas (Judas), this name is used 22 times to refer to Judas Iscariot. In 12 of these 22 uses, they involve some form of the word betray—he is the one “who would betray him,” “was going to betray him,” was about to betray him,” did so, and was thus “his betrayer,” “a traitor,” and the one “who betrayed him” (Matt 10:4; 26:25; 27:3; Mark 3:19; 14:10; Luke 6:16; 22:48; John 6:71; 12:4; 13:2; 18:2, 5). 3 of these 12 uses are found in three of the four lists of the apostles’ names in which he is always last and described as the one who betrayed Jesus (Matt 10:2–4; Mark 3:16–19; Luke 6:13–16). In the fourth of these lists (Acts 1:13), it is after the resurrection when Judas is absent because he committed suicide.
In the other 10 uses of his name, Judas is described in these verses as somehow going about the act of his betrayal—he was possessed by Satan, went to the chief priests to sell Jesus out, came with a great crowd to arrest Jesus, was identified as the betrayer, or was described as having turned aside to go to his own place, which was no less than eternal destruction (Matt 26:14, 47; Mark 14:43; Luke 22:3, 47; John 13:26, 29; 18:3; Acts 1:16, 25).
Adding insult to injury, of the 34 times that the apostles are referred to as “the twelve,” 9 of these times are used with reference to Judas to highlight just how sinful it was for him to betray our Lord (Matt 26:14, 47; Mark 14:10, 20, 43; Luke 22:3, 47; John 6:70, 71). After the Lord’s resurrection, the reader of Scripture would have thus easily thought who the missing twelfth was when the disciples were called “the eleven” 5 times after the suicide of Judas (Matt 28:16; Mark 16:14; Luke 24:9, 33; Acts 1:26).
Yet worse, Jesus Himself called Judas “the son of destruction” who was “lost,” which meant in context that Judas was not kept by Jesus in the Father’s name, had not been given by the Father to Jesus, and was not guarded by the Savior for eternal life, something he never had (John 17:12).
How painful it is to read of Judas from the lips of Jesus, “It would have been better for that man if he had not been born” (Matt 26:24). May we take heed that, unlike him, we are truly born again who will live forever with the Savior to whom we were faithful.
Pastor David Huffstutler
Pastor Huffstutler regularly writes articles for our Sunday bulletin. See his bio on our pastoral bio page.