(Juʹdas) [from Heb., a form of the name Judah].
1. An ancestor of Jesus in the line from Nathan through Mary. The son of Joseph and father of Symeon, Judas was the seventh generation from David’s son Nathan and so lived prior to the Babylonian exile.
2. Judas the Galilean, referred to by Gamaliel in his address to the Sanhedrin. (Ac 5:37) At the time of the registration identified with Quirinius governor of Syria in 6 C.E., Judas led a Jewish uprising. Josephus mentions him a number of times and states that he “incited his countrymen to revolt, upbraiding them as cowards for consenting to pay tribute to the Romans and tolerating mortal masters, after having God for their lord. This man was a sophist who founded a sect of his own, having nothing in common with the others.” (The Jewish War, II, 118 [viii, 1]) In one place Josephus called Judas a Gaulanite, which some would relate to an area E of the Sea of Galilee. Yet in other places the same historian says Judas was a Galilean, as did Gamaliel. (Jewish Antiquities, XVIII, 4 [i, 1]; XVIII, 23 [i, 6]) These rebels stressed liberty, but they did not succeed in getting it. Judas “perished, and all those who were obeying him were scattered abroad.” (Ac 5:37) Some of his descendants were also involved in uprisings.
3. One of the 12 apostles, also called Thaddaeus and “Judas the son of James.” In the listings of the apostles in Matthew 10:3 and Mark 3:18, James the son of Alphaeus and Thaddaeus are linked together. In the listings at Luke 6:16 and Acts 1:13 Thaddaeus is not included; instead we find “Judas the son of James,” leading to the conclusion that Thaddaeus is another name for the apostle Judas. The possibility of confusing two apostles named Judas might be a reason why the name Thaddaeus is sometimes used. Some translators render Luke 6:16 and Acts 1:13, “Judas the brother of James,” since the Greek does not give the exact relationship. But the Syriac Peshitta does supply the word “son.” Consequently, numerous modern translations read “Judas the son of James.” (RS, AT, NW, La) The only Biblical reference to Judas alone is at John 14:22. This verse refers to him as “Judas, not Iscariot,” thus providing a means of distinguishing which Judas spoke.
In the King James Version at Matthew 10:3 “Lebbaeus, whose surname was” is inserted before “Thaddaeus.” This is based on the Received Text, but the Westcott and Hort text omits this, for it is not in manuscripts such as the Sinaitic.
4. Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon and the infamous apostle who betrayed Jesus. The Bible provides little direct information about the family and background of Judas. Both he and his father were called Iscariot. (Lu 6:16; Joh 6:71) This term has commonly been understood to indicate that they were from the Judean town of Kerioth-hezron. If this is so, then Judas was the only Judean among the 12 apostles, the rest being Galileans.
Judas is introduced into the Gospel accounts in the listing of the apostles sometime after Passover 31 C.E. and about a year and a half after Jesus began his ministry. (Mr 3:19; Lu 6:16) It is logical to conclude that Judas had been a disciple for a time before Jesus made him an apostle. Many writers paint an entirely black picture of Judas, but evidently for a while he had been a disciple who found favor with God and with Jesus; his very selection as an apostle indicates that. Furthermore, he was entrusted with caring for the common finances of Jesus and the 12. That reflects favorably on his dependability at the time and his ability or education, especially since Matthew had had experience with money and figures but did not receive this assignment. (Joh 12:6; Mt 10:3) Nonetheless, Judas did become completely, inexcusably corrupt. No doubt it is for this reason that he is placed last in the list of the apostles and is described as the Judas “who later betrayed him” and “who turned traitor.”
Became Corrupt. Near Passover 32 C.E., Judas, with the other apostles, was sent out preaching. (Mt 10:1, 4, 5) Shortly after Judas’ return, and less than a year after he had been made an apostle, he was publicly denounced by Christ, though not by name. Some disciples left Jesus, being shocked over his teachings, but Peter said that the 12 would stick with Christ. In response Jesus acknowledged that he had chosen the 12 but said: “One of you is a slanderer [Gr., di·aʹbo·los, meaning “devil” or “slanderer”].” The account explains that the one who already was a slanderer was Judas, who “was going to betray him, although one of the twelve.”
In connection with this incident John says: “From the beginning Jesus knew . . . who was the one that would betray him.” (Joh 6:64) From Hebrew Scripture prophecies Christ knew that he would be betrayed by a close associate. (Ps 41:9; 109:8; Joh 13:18, 19) God also, by use of his foreknowledge, had seen that such a one would turn traitor, but it is inconsistent with God’s qualities and past dealings to think that Judas had to fail, as if he were predestined. (See FOREKNOWLEDGE, FOREORDINATION.) Rather, as already mentioned, at the beginning of his apostleship Judas was faithful to God and to Jesus. Thus John must have meant that “from the beginning” of when Judas started to go bad, started to give in to imperfection and sinful inclinations, Jesus recognized it. (Joh 2:24, 25; Re 1:1; 2:23) Judas must have known he was the “slanderer” Jesus mentioned, but he continued to travel with Jesus and the faithful apostles and apparently he made no changes.
The Bible does not discuss in detail the motives for his corrupt course, but an incident that occurred on Nisan 9, 33 C.E., five days before Jesus’ death, sheds light on the matter. At Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, Mary, Lazarus’ sister, anointed Jesus with perfumed oil worth 300 denarii, about a year’s wages for a laborer. (Mt 20:2) Judas strongly objected that the oil could have been sold and the money “given to the poor people.” Evidently other apostles merely assented to what seemed to be a valid point, but Jesus rebuked them. Judas’ real reason for objecting was that he cared for the money box and he “was a thief . . . and used to carry off the monies” put in the box. So Judas was a greedy, practicing thief.
Betrayal Price. Judas was undoubtedly stung by Jesus’ rebuke about the use of money. At this time “Satan entered into Judas,” likely in the sense that the traitorous apostle gave himself in to the will of the Devil, allowing himself to be a tool to carry out Satan’s design to stop Christ. A few days later, on Nisan 12, Judas went to the chief priests and temple captains to see how much they would pay him to betray Jesus, again showing his avarice. (Mt 26:14-16; Mr 14:10, 11; Lu 22:3-6; Joh 13:2) The chief priests had that day met together with “the older men of the people,” the influential men of the Sanhedrin. (Mt 26:3) The temple captains may have been brought in because of their influence and to lend legal flavor to any planned arrest of Jesus.
Why did the Jewish religious leaders offer just 30 pieces of silver for the betrayal of Jesus?
Thirty pieces of silver ($66, if shekels) was the price offered. (Mt 26:14, 15) The sum fixed by the religious leaders appears designed to show their contempt of Jesus, viewing him as of little value. According to Exodus 21:32, the price of a slave was 30 shekels. Carrying this forward, for his work as a shepherd of the people, Zechariah was paid “thirty pieces of silver.” Jehovah scorned this as a very meager amount, regarding the wages given to Zechariah as an estimation of how the faithless people viewed God himself. (Zec 11:12, 13) Consequently, in offering just 30 pieces of silver for Jesus, the religious leaders made him out to be of little value. At the same time, though, they were fulfilling Zechariah 11:12, treating Jehovah as of low value by doing this to the representative he had sent to shepherd Israel. Corrupt Judas “consented [to the price], and he began to seek a good opportunity to betray [Jesus] to them without a crowd around.”
Last Night With Jesus. In spite of having turned against Christ, Judas continued to associate with him. He gathered with Jesus and the apostles on Nisan 14, 33 C.E., for the celebration of the Passover. While the Passover meal was in process Jesus ministered to the apostles, humbly washing their feet. Hypocritical Judas allowed Jesus to do that to him. But Jesus said, “Not all of you are clean.” (Joh 13:2-5, 11) He also stated that one of the apostles there at the table would betray him. Perhaps so as not to appear guilty, Judas asked if he was the one. As a further identification, Jesus gave Judas a morsel and told him to do quickly what he was doing.
Immediately Judas left the group. A comparison of Matthew 26:20-29 with John 13:21-30 indicates that he departed before Jesus instituted the celebration of the Lord’s Evening Meal. Luke’s presentation of this incident evidently is not in strict chronological order, for Judas had definitely left by the time Christ commended the group for having stuck with him; that would not fit Judas, nor would he have been taken into the “covenant . . . for a kingdom.”
Judas later found Jesus together with the faithful apostles in the garden of Gethsemane, a place the betrayer knew well, for they had met there before. He led a great crowd, including Roman soldiers and a military commander. The mob had clubs and swords as well as torches and lamps, which they would need if clouds covered the full moon or if Jesus was in the shadows. The Romans probably would not recognize Jesus, so, according to a prearranged sign, Judas greeted Christ and in an act of hypocrisy “kissed him very tenderly,” thus identifying him. (Mt 26:47-49; Joh 18:2-12) Later Judas felt the enormity of his guilt. In the morning he attempted to return the 30 pieces of silver, but the chief priests refused to take them back. Finally, Judas threw the money into the temple.
Death. According to Matthew 27:5, Judas hanged himself. But Acts 1:18 says, “pitching head foremost he noisily burst in his midst and all his intestines were poured out.” Matthew seems to deal with the mode of the attempted suicide, while Acts describes the result. Combining the two accounts, it appears that Judas tried to hang himself over some cliff, but the rope or tree limb broke so that he plunged down and burst open on the rocks below. The topography around Jerusalem makes such an event conceivable.
Also related to his death is the question of who bought the burial field with the 30 pieces of silver. According to Matthew 27:6, 7, the chief priests decided they could not put the money in the sacred treasury so they used it to buy the field. The account in Acts 1:18, 19, speaking about Judas, says: “This very man, therefore, purchased a field with the wages for unrighteousness.” The answer seems to be that the priests purchased the field, but since Judas provided the money, it could be credited to him. Dr. A. Edersheim pointed out: “It was not lawful to take into the Temple-treasury, for the purchase of sacred things, money that had been unlawfully gained. In such cases the Jewish Law provided that the money was to be restored to the donor, and, if he insisted on giving it, that he should be induced to spend it for something for the public weal [well-being]. . . . By a fiction of law the money was still considered to be Judas’, and to have been applied by him in the purchase of the well-known ‘potter’s field.’” (The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, 1906, Vol. II, p. 575) This purchase worked to fulfill the prophecy at Zechariah 11:13.
The course that Judas chose was a deliberate one, involving malice, greed, pride, hypocrisy, and scheming. He afterward felt remorse under the burden of guilt, as a willful murderer might at the result of his crime. Yet Judas had of his own volition made a bargain with those who Jesus said made proselytes that were subjects of Gehenna twice as much as themselves, who were also liable to “the judgment of Gehenna.” (Mt 23:15, 33) On the final night of his earthly life, Jesus himself said, actually about Judas: “It would have been finer for that man if he had not been born.” Later Christ called him “the son of destruction.”
Replacement. Between Jesus’ ascension and the day of Pentecost 33 C.E., Peter, applying the prophecy in Psalm 109:8, explained to a group of about 120 assembled disciples that it seemed appropriate to select a replacement for Judas. Two candidates were proposed and lots were cast, resulting in Matthias being chosen “to take the place of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas deviated to go to his own place.”
5. One of Jesus’ four half brothers. (Mt 13:55; Mr 6:3) Evidently he was with his three brothers and his mother Mary early in Jesus’ ministry when, at Cana, Jesus performed a miracle, and he later traveled with Jesus and his disciples to Capernaum for a short stay. (Joh 2:1-12) Well over a year later he apparently accompanied Mary and his brothers when they sought out Jesus. (Mt 12:46) Nonetheless, in 32 C.E., Jesus’ brothers, including Judas, were “not exercising faith in him.” (Joh 7:5) Shortly before dying, Jesus turned his believing mother over to the care of the apostle John, strongly suggesting that neither Judas nor his brothers had yet become disciples. (Joh 19:26, 27) Perhaps it was the resurrection of Christ that helped convince Judas, though, because he was among the apostles and others who, between the time of Jesus’ ascension and the day of Pentecost 33 C.E., met together and persisted in prayer. (Ac 1:13-15) Logically, then, Judas would have been among the believers who first received holy spirit. Evidently Judas is the same as the Jude who, about 65 C.E., wrote the Bible book by that name.
6. A man of Damascus who had a home on the street Straight. While blind immediately after his conversion, Saul (Paul) resided in Judas’ home, and it was there that Ananias was sent to lay his hands on Saul. (Ac 9:11, 17) The account does not say whether Judas was a disciple at the time, but this seems unlikely since Ananias and others who were disciples hesitated to approach Saul in view of his reputation as a persecutor, yet Judas accepted Saul into his home.
7. Judas, also called Barsabbas, was one of the two disciples sent by the governing body in Jerusalem to accompany Paul and Barnabas when they delivered the letter about circumcision (c. 49 C.E.). Both Judas and his companion Silas were considered “leading men among the brothers.” (Ac 15:22) The letter was addressed to “those brothers in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia.” Judas and Silas were mentioned only as being in Antioch, and there is no record that they went farther. They were to confirm by word of mouth the message in the letter. Judas was a ‘prophet,’ and as a visiting speaker he gave many discourses to the brothers in Antioch, encouraging and strengthening them.
Acts 15:33 indicates that Judas and Silas returned to Jerusalem after they had “passed some time” with the Christians in Antioch. Certain manuscripts (such as Codex Ephraemi, Codex Bezae) contain verse 34, reading, with variations: “But it seemed good to Silas to remain there further; however Judas alone departed for Jerusalem.” This verse is omitted in older reliable manuscripts (Sinaitic, Alexandrine, Vatican MS. No. 1209). Probably it was a marginal note intended to explain verse 40, and in time it crept into the main text.
Some commentators have suggested that Judas called Barsabbas was the brother of “Joseph called Barsabbas,” a disciple proposed to take the place of Judas Iscariot. (Ac 1:23) But there is no evidence supporting this, other than mere similarity in name. Judas is not mentioned again in the Bible after he returned to Jerusalem.