Does what Jesus said, as recorded in Matthew 26:24, imply that Judas was lost?


The answer is, “No.” In our Q&A published in the Update of April 22, 2011, the question of whether or not Judas committed the “unpardonable sin” is addressed. It was pointed out, among other things, that Judas had never received the Holy Spirit prior to his death. We will now address the specific question that arises from Matthew 26:24, which reads:

“‘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 good for that man if he had not been born.’” Compare Mark 14:21 and Luke 22:22.

Considering how Judas ended his own life by committing suicide (compare Matthew 27:1-10; Acts 1:18-19), what Jesus said addresses the utter waste and grief brought about by Judas’s betrayal. Jesus does not in this verse address the future judgment that Judas will face in the resurrection.

In Job, chapter 3, Job wishes that he had never been born because of the terrible suffering he was experiencing. Throughout the story of Job, we see that Job agonizes in his suffering, but in the end Job came to a true knowledge of God, deeply repented and was then blessed abundantly by God. Likewise, Jeremiah anguishes over his own birth, because of his trials in serving God, saying: “Why did I come forth from the womb to see labor and sorrow, That my days should be consumed with shame?” (Jeremiah 20:18).

Judas was not called to salvation and eternal life to be inherited in the first resurrection; rather, he was chosen because he–being carnal and subject to Satan’s control–would willingly do what he did. However, Judas was not the only one who simply went along for a while with the popularity of Jesus, and as it suited them–not unlike people of our time might do regarding a political personality.

Jesus Himself stated: “But there are some of you who do not believe. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him” (John 6:64).

In fact, we are all responsible for the death of Jesus Christ. Note what Peter told the people who heard him preach:

“So when Peter saw it, he responded to the people: ‘Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified His Servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go. But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses’” (Acts 3:12-15).

Consider, as well, that Peter did deny Christ on three occasions, and that part of the story is recorded quite specifically! Peter repented (compare Matthew 26:69-75), and Peter–like the rest of us are to do–lived out his life, growing “…in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).

Looking more closely at the actions of Judas, we see that his character was evident even before his final betrayal of Jesus:

“Then one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, who would betray Him, said, ‘Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?’ This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it” (John 12:4-6).

Let’s also carefully note that Judas was possessed by Satan (John 13:2, 27) during the Passover evening when he betrayed Jesus, but this wasn’t the first time! In Luke 22:3, Satan entered Judas and Judas then went to the chief priests and captains to betray Jesus for the “reward” of money.

Judas was not the only one who had such influence from Satan. Jesus also indicted the Jews who believed Him, without obeying Him (compare John 8:31):

“‘You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it’” (John 8:44).

Additionally, as mentioned above, “Jesus knew from the beginning” that Judas would betray Him (compare John 6:64, 71; 12:4; 13:11).

Indeed, what Jesus said of Judas stands–that it would have been better had he not been born to this ignominious fate. Remember, he committed suicide and died with the guilt of his actions overwhelming him. Jesus addressed this immediate fate of Judas, while praying to the Father:

“‘While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled’” (John 17:12).

In answering what the meaning of Jesus’ statement in Matthew 26:24 might ultimately imply for Judas, we need to also consider what is stated by God about His creation of mankind when they rebelled against Him:

“And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. So the LORD said, ‘I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them’” (Genesis 6:6-7).

Yet, we know that God’s plan of salvation will allow even the people of this pre-Flood world to come to repentance!

The rest of the story has to do with exactly when is the day of salvation; who is being called to be in the first resurrection; and what is the fate of the incorrigibly wicked–those who will not repent of their sins! Judas died in a state of hopeless remorse, but all that we understand about the plan of salvation indicates that he will come back to life in the second resurrection (Revelation 20:5, 11-12) to confront his carnal actions and receive his first opportunity for salvation.

One more thing, even the ones who crucified Christ and the one who stabbed Him with a spear, causing His immediate death, will have to give account for themselves in the second resurrection–they are specifically mentioned (not unlike Judas) for their actions:

“And again another Scripture says, ‘They shall look on Him whom they pierced’” (John 19:37). Also: “Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, and they also who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen” (Revelation 1:7).

Truly, God the Father, who gave His Son for us, “…is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

Thus, it is God who will ultimately judge—both Judas and all men:

“For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living. But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written: ‘As I live, says the LORD, Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God.’ So then each of us shall give account of himself to God” (Romans 14: 9-12).

Lead Writer: Dave Harris

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