Was Judas Saved?

His name is a byword for betrayal. But it never began that way. “Judas” is the Greek form for the Hebrew name Judah—a common designation in ancient Israel.

Was Judas Saved

(Painting: “The Judas Kiss” by Gustave Doré, Public Domain, via Wikimedia)

Judas’s treacherous betrayal came as a complete shock to all who knew him. On the surface, he appeared as dedicated as all the other apostles.

  • Chosen by Jesus.
  • Worker of miracles.
  • Even entrusted as treasurer.

So when Jesus foretold His betrayal at the Last Supper, no disciple at the table pointed and said, “Aha, Judas! I knew there was something about you!” The whole group remained clueless. Each one, in fact, asked, “Surely not I, Lord?” (Matthew 26:22).

Strangely, even Judas asked. Don’t you wonder why?

A Product of Greed or of Evil Influence?

From the human perspective, Judas’s motive for betrayal may have had its roots in the love of money (John 12:6). Pure greed. But from the spiritual perspective, the inspirational source is clear: Satan influenced Judas to betray Jesus (Luke 22:3–4).

Judas descended from the Upper Room in the blackness of night in order to guide the authorities to Jesus. They found the Master in the Garden of Gethsemane, and Judas arranged a sign to identify which man to arrest.

A kiss of greeting.

"The Judas Kiss" by Gustave Doré

(Painting: “The Judas Kiss” by Gustave Doré, Public Domain, via Wikimedia)

Judas approached Jesus in the dark grove and gave his falsehearted kiss of respect. “Greetings, Rabbi,” he blathered. Even his words betrayed his actions. This pretentious kiss of greeting also served as an unwitting farewell.

True, no one expected Judas’s betrayal. No one but Jesus. The Lord knew from the beginning who would betray Him (John 6:64). Jesus’s response to the disingenuous salutation exposed Judas’s intent.

Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss? —Luke 22:48

Jesus’s last words to Judas would echo in his ears for eternity.

After Judas discovered that Jesus faced death, “he felt remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, ‘I have sinned by betraying innocent blood’” (Matthew 27:3–4).

After hurling the lucre into the temple, Judas selected a spot and hanged himself.

Was Judas Saved?

Some have mused whether or not Judas ever truly believed in Jesus. Although God’s grace is big enough to have forgiven Judas, it seems unlikely that the betrayer’s “remorse” resulted in repentance.

Several factors make this clear.

  1. Jesus namelessly called Judas a “devil” (John 6:70) and said it would be better for him had he not been born (Mark 14:21). In referring to the disciples, Jesus told the Father, “not one of them perished but the son of perdition” (John 17:12).
  2. Jesus told the twelve apostles they would rule over the twelve tribes of Israel in Jesus’s kingdom (Matthew 19:28). After Judas’s death, the apostles had Judas’s position replaced by Matthias. However, they did not replace the apostle James after his death. What’s more, Peter implied Judas’s condemnation by saying he “turned aside to go to his own place” (Acts 1:25).
  3. The place Judas chose to die may indicate his expectation for eternity. He committed suicide at Hakeldama, or “Field of Blood” (1:18–19), located in the Hinnom Valley. This was the first-century landfill that Jesus had used as a metaphor for hell (Mark 9:43).
"The Judas Kiss" by Gustave Doré

(Painting: “The Judas Kiss” by Gustave Doré, Public Domain, via Wikimedia)

But What about Peter’s Denial?

The infamous betrayer of Jesus always appears last in the gospels’ lists of the apostles. Peter always appears first. Interestingly, on the same day that Judas betrayed Jesus, Peter committed a sin just as shocking—he denied Christ.

Judas’s regret led to suicide, but Peter’s regret just occasioned a good cry (and a changed life). What made the difference?

The apostle Paul would later write:

The sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death. —2 Corinthians 7:10

Judas’s sorrow led him to a needless, desperate act—bowing to sin’s penalty. But Peter’s sorrow led him to grace . . . and to seeking sin’s remedy.

In Judas’s final words, “I have sinned,” he pronounced his own judgment. His betrayal played a part in Jesus’s death, which would, amazingly, pay for even Judas’s sins. How ironic. How tragic.

And What about Us?

Like Judas, like Peter, like all the disciples who deserted Jesus that night—we have a choice regarding where our sorrow will take us. As we face the raw truth of our carnal hearts, our shame and guilt will lead us in one of two directions:

  1. Toward sin’s penalty in death
  2. To sin’s remedy in grace

Thankfully, God intends the pangs of our sorrow to lead us away from our guilt and toward His grace. No sin is too great for God’s mercy.

But we must receive it.

Question: Do you think Judas could have been saved? To leave a comment, just click here.

Adapted from Wayne Stiles, “Judas’s Sorrow,” in Famous Last Words (IFL Publishing House: Plano, TX, 2013), 57-60.

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  • Tom Troyano

    The question of whether or not Judas was saved seems to me to be an arrogant one. It’s up to God, not us!

    • It could be, Tom. It certainly is presumptuous to make an assertion where the the Bible is silent. But Jesus actually made the call on this one (see above). In light of that, I think it’s actually a helpful question—especially comparing Judas with Peter’s failure—because it shows us God’s grace can be the solution to our shame.

  • Jane Franks

    That’s a hard one. I agree with your interpretation of scripture that it seems entirely unlikely. I also understand Tom Troyano’s comment. It IS up to God. What I think is obvious is that there is no indication that Judas truly repented. Remorse is not the same as repentance. We can be sorry for doing something wrong and even admit it, but true repentance is turning around and going in the opposite direction. If Judas had gone to Jesus and the disciples afterwards and said, I am recommitting myself to follow you and share the gospel along with the other disciples; I will follow and obey you from now on, then that would be different. But he just felt sorry and committed suicide. So I say it looks like Judas was not truly saved.

    The other thing that is hard to consider is that in God’s divine sovereignty, He chose Judas to be the betrayer. That is a theological point that would take hours to unpack, but we have to believe it was in God’s plan, so in some way our finite minds can’t comprehend, it was not, as I see it, in God’s plan for Judas to be a true disciple. At least this is how it appears to us.

    We can ask the Lord when we get to heaven for the final answer, though maybe it won’t make any difference then! We’ll be too focused on His glory to think about these things!

    • You’re right, Jane. We can’t understand the balance between sovereignty and our choices. It’s God’s part of the balance that confuses us most. But we aren’t held accountable to understand that. We’re only accountable for the part that WE play in the deal: accept or reject what God has revealed.

      • Jane Franks

        Yes, that is so true. I find that I have enough to work on with just the things God HAS revealed. And I am more productive and positive when I focus on those things. I enjoy your thoughful studies.

  • I thought about this post all day. Though I had read and knew the things you pointed out in numbers 1, 2, and 3, I had not seen it presented so clearly. I think because I know the depths of my own lack, I always wanted to hold out hope that Judas would find mercy. Reading your post made me realize that the mercy was there waiting, but went left unclaimed. That makes it all the more tragic.

    I like how you contrasted the paths chosen by the two men. It is a sobering reminder to me to make sure that I don’t shrink back from Christ when I let him down, but rather I come running to him with a repentant heart.

    I agree about the difficulty of holding in tension the the issue of God’s sovereignty and our free will. That was actually the topic of my post this week. It seems to be a tender spot for many.

    Thanks for giving me so much to meditate upon!

    • It’s not an easy or pleasant subject, is it Laura? There are so many like Judas who have access to the gospel but who, for some reason, don’t embrace it. Some feel too bound by shame to think they’re “worthy” (as if any of us are).

      Thanks for your post this week. Insightful as always . . . and helpful.

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  • em111

    I have been lead places with a purpose, things falling into place one by one. Thought I could do no wrong, just needed to take the next step in the road that revealed itself. People put into my life, in whom I put trust and my heart. I have been betrayed on more than one occasion, left feeling I wasted time, foolish and ought to have known better. I asked, ‘Why ‘; why put someone in my life to hurt me so, to allow me to be fooled by my own heart and their hidden intentions? My friend told me simply, Judas was put into Jesus ‘ life. It is always the same; the lessons, the hardest things to understand, come down to faith in a purpose for higher good. I wait still.

    • em111

      Sorry, I mean ‘led’ places

    • We’re all waiting for that, I think. But as Job discovered, answers only go so far in minds that can’t comprehend God’s infinite plan. It does, as you say, come down to faith in God’s character in spite of the temporary circumstances that seem so compelling.

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