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Was Judas Saved or Lost?

October 9, 2023

By far the overwhelming opinion among Christian evangelicals is that Judas was lost. They point to a number of scriptures. For example:

(1) Matthew 26:24, Jesus Himself says of Judas, “The Son of Man goes as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” So, in order for Judas to have been better off not being born, he must have gone to hell.

(2) There’s no evidence that Judas ever truly repented of what he did. He may have felt some remorse and returned the money. But then he goes out and commits suicide, never going to Jesus and asking for forgiveness.

(3) Jesus calls Judas “a devil” (John 6:70) and Satan enters into Judas (Luke 22:3) – reminder that Jesus also told Peter “Get behind me, Satan.”

(4) Acts 1:25 the other disciples thought that Judas made a willful choice that took him to a different fate than them, saying that “Judas turned aside to go to his own place.”

(5) Judas character called into question in the John 12:3-8 incident involving Mary and the costly perfume: “[Judas] said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief and having charge of the moneybag, he used to help himself to what was put into it” (John 12:6) – reminder that one of the men executed alongside Jesus and who gets saved (Luke 23:42-43) is identified as a “criminal” and a “robber.”

(6) In His high priestly prayer in John 17 Jesus refers to Judas (though not by name) as “the son of destruction (perdition)” and says that he is lost.

Those who believe Judas was lost and went to hell and who also hold fast to the doctrine of eternal security have no choice but to default to the argument that, “Judas was never saved to begin with.” Those who believe one can lose their salvation will hold Judas up as the poster child of their position because there are many scriptural passages that seem to indicate that at one time Judas was a true follower, but fell away and ended up going to hell.

I personally am not in either of these two camps. I believe Judas was saved at one point in the sense that he was a follower of Jesus. I don’t believe that he necessarily went to hell. And I don’t believe he lost his salvation. Consider the following passages:

(1) There’s evidence in scripture to indicate that Judas was at one time saved, a true disciple of Jesus (Luke 6:16, Matthew 10:5-16, Matt 14:32-33, John 12:4, John 14:22, Acts 1:17). In affirming the doctrine of eternal security, then, Judas could not have lost His salvation by betraying Jesus or any other terrible sin he could have committed.

(2) In Jesus teaching about what it means to be a true disciple of His (Luke 14:26-33) He describes what in fact all 12 of His disciples, including Judas, had done at one point in time, counted the cost, left friends and family behind and followed Jesus for 3½ years of His ministry.

(3) Judas does in fact make a confession of his sin in the temple to the religious leaders saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood” (Matt 27:4). He is more than merely sad or remorseful. He is a broken man.

(4) Jesus draws a distinction between those so-called disciples who do not believe in Him as the Son of God and Judas, who would later betray Him (John 6:64). So, interestingly, Jesus does not lump Judas in with the larger unbelieving group. It may be subtle, but I think it is an indication that Judas was, in fact, a true believer.

(5) Jesus, knowing the heart of man (John 2:24, 6:64), even so considered Judas to be His close friend whom He trusted (see Psalm 41:9 – this is a messianic reference later applied by Jesus to Judas in John 13:18).

(6) We don’t judge Peter harshly for having denied Jesus 3 times even though Jesus taught, “But whoever denies Me before men, I also will deny before My Father who is in heaven” (Matt 10:33). The fact is that JESUS FORGIVES! Jesus forgave Peter who denied him (John 21:15-19) and the other apostles who had abandoned him. We have no indication that Jesus forgave Judas because Judas killed himself before he could have a confrontation with the risen Lord. But isn’t it possible? Sure, it is.

Judas is an enigma to be sure! The bottom line is this: none of us knows for sure whether Judas really was saved or not. That is a heart issue and only Jesus is the Judge of our eternal destiny. But unlike my evangelical friends I am not so quick to throw Judas into the flames of hell.

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