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Did Judas commit apostacy? Arguments from both sides

Updated on February 5, 2013

 Apostasy is the forfeiture of salvation by the believer. The Free Will Baptist denomination holds the view that apostasy of the believer is possible, but not probable. Many other denominations hold the view of unconditional eternal security. The word apostasy is simply taboo in many churches today. These churches especially loathe the argument over Judas’ salvation. His salvation is key in the argument over eternal security. Judas, the twelfth disciple, must have been a saved man at some point in time, because God’s Word records his calling, his power, and his falling away. If this is true, these churches have been lying to their congregations for years. They argue that Judas was never saved, but he was an impostor from the beginning. Judas must have been a saved man at some point in time, because God’s Word records his calling, his power, and his falling away.

Judas Iscariot’s name shows up ten times in the Bible.[1] Wherever Judas’ name appears, a reference is made to his betrayal of Christ. In Matthew 10:1-4 the Bible says that Jesus called unto Himself twelve disciples. It explains that He gave them power against unclean spirits, and the power to heal all manner of sickness. The passage then gives a list of the twelve disciples that were given these powers. Judas’ name appears at the end of this list. It is easy to understand that Jesus Christ called all twelve disciples, including Judas, unto the ministry of discipleship. All of the listings of the twelve disciples in the Bible place Judas at the end of the list.[2] This could be because Judas was probably the only disciple that was not a Galilean.[3] It may also be due to the fact that Judas was the betrayer. The name Iscariot is usually translated as “man of Kerioth.” Kerioth was a small village in Judah.[4] The name, Judas, means “praise of the Lord.”[5]

Judas was one of the twelve original disciples called by Jesus Christ Himself. Judas, being numbered with eleven other saved disciples, was given the same powers and commission as they were given, as referenced by Matthew 10. Many have argued that Jesus chose Judas for the part of the betrayer, as an actor is chosen for a part in a play. This theory is weak, due to the fact that it relieves Judas of the responsibility for his action.[6] Judas was not chosen simply to play a part in an act. He was originally chosen for the same reasons that the other disciples were chosen. They were to take the Gospel to the nation of Israel, healing the sick and casting out devils. Judas’ purpose was stated in Matthew 10:1. This scripture does not record a different purpose for Judas. It simply records a purpose for all twelve. The fact that Judas was called by Christ cannot be denied. For Jesus to call Judas unto Himself, Judas had to be a saved man. Another argument that most eternal security believers use is the fact that every other disciple has a recorded personal calling by Jesus Christ in scripture. It is true that no where in scripture will one find a recorded, one-on-one calling of Judas by Jesus Christ. However, Matthew 10:1 simply states that Christ called twelve unto Himself. Therefore, all twelve were called by Christ.

Judas not only had the same calling as the other disciples, but he also had the same powers given unto him. These disciples were all called apostles, and they were all given power against unclean spirits and sickness.[7] Matthew 10:1 uses the word they, when describing who was given these powers. Therefore the Bible explains that Jesus gave them all the same powers. Judas received the same power that Peter and James received. There is no list of separate powers given to individual disciples. There is only this passage that states that they all received the same power.

Judas received power against unclean spirits. This power was given only to true followers of Christ. Had Judas simply been an impostor, the devils that he attempted to cast out would have treated him as the demons treated the vagabond Jews in Acts 19:13-16. Had Judas been a devil from the beginning, he would have contradicted what Christ said to the pharisees in Matthew 12:24-28. These pharisees accused Christ of casting out devils through the power of Beelzebub. Christ remarked that a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand. Judas was given power over devils by God, not Satan. The pharisees themselves also serve as proof of Judas’ true salvation. If Christ so openly rebuked and hated the pharisees’ hypocrisy, He would never have called a hypocrite to be His friend, and disciple.[8]

Judas was also given the power over sickness and disease. This power is spoken of in I Corinthians 12:6-9. These verses explain that certain gifts, as well as the gift of healing, were given to certain believers by God. The key to this passage is that these gifts were all given by the same Spirit. They were also only given to believers. Therefore, Judas was given an ability only given to believers. An impostor would not care about the sick and dying, yet Judas was given the power to help these individuals. Christ would not have given Judas this power, if He knew that Judas was an impostor from the beginning. Judas would not have been granted this power, had he truly been unsaved all along.[9]

An important aspect to consider is that Judas was also called to preach. Matthew10:7 records Jesus commanding the disciples to go, preaching the kingdom of God.  Also in Mark 3:14 the Bible records Christ ordaining te twelve to preach..Jesus Christ ordained Judas, and gave him the power to preach. It is well known that there are countless preachers who are not saved, but these preachers are not called by God. Christ called all of the disciples to preach. Judas is included in this list of disciples who were called to preach. He went out preaching about the kingdom, which, sadly, was one thing that he would never be able to enjoy. No impostor would be given a command to preach the Word. The above powers listed can only be bestowed upon a saved man. One would not be able to accomplish the things that he accomplished, without believing.[10]

Lastly, Judas was given one power that was exclusive to him. He was placed in charge of the money. This office would be his ultimate demise, but he was, nonetheless, the treasurer. Had Judas been an impostor from the outset, surely one of the other disciples would have questioned his office. However, there is no such occasion. The other disciples never suspected him of any wrongful actions. Even at the Last Supper, the other disciples displayed total ignorance of his treachery. Some theologians use John 12:6 to argue that Judas was a thief all along. However, this verse does not clarify one way or the other. It simply states that he was a thief. Had he been a thief all along, surely the disciples would have observed it from the beginning. Judas did abuse his office, but it is never stated that he abused it from the beginning. If he was a thief all along surely he would never have joined Christ. A thief would know that Christ’s ministry was not going to produce a lot of money.

 Judas was a trusted man among men, as proved by the trust placed in him by the other disciples. It should also be noted that on the night of the Last Supper, Christ told the disciples that one would betray Him. However, none of the disciples pointed a finger at Judas.[11] Matthew 26:22 states that all of the disciples asked Christ if they were the one who would betray Him. After Judas left to betray Christ, the disciples were still oblivious to his intentions. In John 13:28-29, John explains that none of the disciples understood why Judas left that night. According to John they simply assumed that Judas left to get more food, or that he was giving money to the poor. There is an argument offered for the disciples’ ignorance. It is that Judas was a greatly skilled deceiver. This may seem logical to some, however, in Mark 6:7, the Bible says that Christ sent the disciples out in pairs of two. It may be possible to fool a crowd, but surely Judas could not have fooled his companion in the ministry. It is suggested that Simon the Zealot was his partner. This is assumed because their names always appear together in the listings.[12] They would have been together day and night for months. It is simply too presumptuous to believe that Judas could fool all of these men, including the one he lived with day and night. He was trusted and well thought of by all of the disciples. Nothing in his ministry had distinguished him as a traitor.[13]

The most powerful verse in the argument over Judas’ salvation is found in the book of Acts. Acts 1:25 says that Judas fell away from the ministry and apostleship by transgression. Judas is recorded to have fallen away. This expression indicates that he disqualified himself. The necessary corollary is that he was previously qualified.[14] He lost his ministry, and the power that Christ had given him.[15]

 He also fell away from the apostleship. Judas forfeited his gifts, position, and salvation. The Bible is clear on this issue of apostasy. Hebrews 6:4-6 addresses the issue head-on. There is no denying the fact that it is possible to forfeit one’s salvation. Salvation is a gift, and any gift can be forfeited. Judas simply decided to forfeit his eternal gift for a mere amount of about twenty dollars.[16] He was a saved individual at the beginning. Later, he is called a devil in John 6:70. It does not say, however, that he was a devil from the beginning. This mistake comes from a disregard for context in John 6:64. Jesus said in that passage that He knew who believed not from the beginning. According to the King James Version of the Bible He was talking to His disciples. However, the word disciples here does not mean the twelve disciples. It refers to His followers in general. He was addressing a crowd of followers in the synagogue. He knew that some of these followers were nonbelievers. In verse sixty-six, John records that many quit following Him that day. The only nonbelievers from the beginning were those in the crowd, not Judas.[17] Judas is still recorded to have followed Him after this falling away. Jesus then asks the twelve disciples if any of them will also turn away in verse sixty-seven. This question by Jesus makes it evident that Judas was not the only one capable of the dastardly deed of betrayal.[18] Jesus asked all of them if they would turn away also. He made it clear that none of the disciples were above the other. Judas was equally qualified with the other disciples.[19] Jesus knew that any one of the disciples could fall away. Peter could have just as easily betrayed Christ, but it was ultimately Judas who committed the act. Christ then announces that one of them is a devil. This statement was made nearly a year after Judas was chosen. It was also many months after the preaching tour. This left ample time for Judas to have fallen away from his true faith.[20]

Judas fell away from his ministry and apostleship by transgression. He did not lose his salvation, or even accidentally fall away from God. Judas made a decision in his heart that has caused him pain to this very day. It is quite hard to discern when, or where Judas forfeited his salvation. It may have been when he first contacted the pharisees. A very possible time would be the exact moment that he kissed Jesus. Maybe he could have repented before that point. The deed which Judas committed is one of the most mysterious and inexplicable in the Bible. The Gospel narratives do not record the reason that Judas betrayed Christ. They simply record the wicked deed.[21]

The Bible says that he fell away by transgression. The worst possible transgression would seem to be the actual betrayal of the Son of God. It is uncertain exactly when he decided to betray Christ. Some theologians suppose that Judas may have possibly been a disillusioned disciple who simply expected Christ to come off of the cross.[22] It is known that the disciples supposed Christ to free them from the bonds of the Romans. These theologians suppose that Judas was simply forcing Jesus to be the Messiah that the Jews had imagined. This theory simply seeks to take some of the blame off of Judas. For Judas to kiss Christ and make such a mockery of Him with that kiss, seems to be the act of a traitor, not a disillusioned man. This kiss was a passionate, ostentatious kiss that illustrated Judas’ malicious heart.[23] Judas made a decision that is not seen often in God’s Word. He chose to forfeit everything Godly after he had tasted of salvation.

Judas Iscariot serves as a constant reminder of what sin can do to an individual. His name has been associated with betrayal for over two-thousand years. Jewish women feign think of naming their children “Judas” anymore. He ruined what was once a very popular Jewish name.[24] His actions will forever cost him. His entire existence has been marred as referred to by Matthew 26:24. He forfeited the call of God and the power of God by falling away from the apostleship. His life will forever be associated with apostasy and betrayal.

[1]John G. Butler, Jesus Christ: His Disciples (Clinton, IO: LBC Publications, 2004), 133.

[2]Ralph Earle, “Instructions To the Twelve,” in Beacon Bible Commentary, ed. A. Elwood Sanner and Charles L. Childers (Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press, 1964), 105.                                        

[3]Herbert Lockyer, All the Men of the Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1958) ,210

[4]Earle, 107.

[5]Lockyer, 210.                                                                        

[6]A. B. Bruce, The Training of the Twelve (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1988), 369.

[7]Earle, 105.

[8]Robert Shank, Life In the Son (Springfield, MO: Westcott Publishers, 1961), 180.

[9]Rev. Finis Jennings Dake, God’s Plan For Man (Lawrenceville, GA: Dake Bible Sales Inc., 1949), 686.

[10]Ibid, 686.                 

[11]Shank, 180.

[12]David Sper, Judas: Son of Darkness (Grand Rapids: RBC Ministries, 2004), 20.

[13]Shank, 180.

[14]Ibid., 179.

[15]Dake, 685.

[16]Ibid., 686.

[17]Shank, 182.

[18]Ibid., 182.

[19]Dake, 685.

[20]Shank, 180.

[21]Bruce, 372.

[22]Charles A. Brown, These Twelve (New York: Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1926), 195.

[23]Butler, 152.

[24]Brown, 184.


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    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 6 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      This is a very interesting hub...there are so many debates about this subject..very good points you brought out...great read voted up...debbie