Judas Iscariot

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Why was Judas Iscariot predetermined as the traitor apostle?

I know it sounds this way when you read the Gospels and the beginning of Acts, but Judas was not predetermined to be the traitor apostle. It was prophesied in a few places in the Old Testament that the Messiah would have a close traitor.

However, we must remember that the gospel Gospels and Acts were written after the fact of the historical events of Judas’ betrayal of Jesus. What I mean by this is that the writers of the New Testament are relaying these events after the fact.

Even they were unaware at the time of Judas’ betrayal that he was the traitor of the Messiah Jesus. They only write it that way in the Gospels and Acts because they know as they right after the events that he is the one who betrays Jesus.

So he is not predetermined to be the traitor apostle. Judas made his own choices and decisions in the first century AD well before any of the other apostles knew about them. As far as they were concerned at the time Jesus was walking the earth, Judas was like the other eleven apostles.

However, I think they make a great attempt to put you into that former time before they are writing the Gospels and Acts. The way that I read these books of the New Testament, I see them only leaving parenthetical hints that Judas is the betrayer.

Take yourself back to the first time you read the Gospels. You had no idea who Judas really was until toward the end near the passion narratives. Once you read it for the first time, you already know what’s coming. When the apostles lived the events they recorded in the Gospels and Acts, they had no idea who Judas was.

Look very closely at the upper room narratives right before Jesus is arrested. Jesus even tells them that one of them will betray him. Their reaction isn’t, “Oh yeah, it’s Judas. Everybody knows that.” Instead, they are asking one another what Jesus said and who his betrayer is.

Jesus even tells them it’s the guy he is sharing the cup that he is dipping the bread into. At least John the Beloved disciple would have seen Judas dip the bread into the same cup is Jesus. And yet, even the Gospel of John written later than the other three tells you Judas did it, but there is no impression that everyone else saw it.

My point is that Judas was not predetermined to be the traitor apostle. He had to choose to do so. There are theological arguments that God knew he would be the one to betray Jesus.

But we must take the Gospels and Acts as historical accounts of what happened when Jesus was walking with the disciples. If we do that, it is more like watching a story play out then it is saying that all the characters had no choice and were predetermined to play their parts.

We are all very hard on Judas Iscariot. But there are reasons he chose to do what he did. Even he did not realize he was betraying Jesus to such an extent. He had remorse. He tried to give the money back to the priests.

He committed suicide over the whole matter. So he had remorse. I don’t know how far that goes as far as his eternal destiny, but that’s not my decision to make about him.

Scholars believe that his name, “Iscariot” may have been a reference to this siccarii. This was a small sword almost like a dagger that many of the rebels of Israel used to assassinate Roman collaborators among the Jews.

They snuck up on anyone they believed to be working with Rome instead of loyal to Jewish belief, stabbed them with the sword, pulled it out, and walked away like nothing happened. If Judas was originally part of this group, he expected Jesus as the Messiah to be the one to free them from Roman rule.

When Jesus preached and taught the way he did, Judas probably realized Jesus was not the type of Messiah he thought him to be. This could have been a motive for wanting to force him to free the Jews through military efforts.

But it didn’t work out that way. Even Jesus taught that his kingdom is not of this world. Jesus had no intention of freeing the Jews militarily. He wanted to free them from sins so they, and all who believe in Jesus, can have a relationship with God.

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