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Which Judas Iscariot?

Pastor David L. Brown, Ph.D.
April 30, 2006

Is the name Kerioth or Carioth familiar to you? Likely not, however, it is listed as a town of the Tribe of Judah in Joshua 15:25. We know the town was still in existence in Christ’s day however, there is no town in Palestine today that carries that name. Bible scholars identify it with the ruins of el-Kureitein, which is about 10 miles south of Hebron.

Kerioth is important to us because it is used to identify specifically the notorious betrayer of our Lord Jesus Christ – Judas Iscariot.

The Judas Iscariot of the New Testament

  • Some Basic Facts About Judas Iscariot

We know the meaning of the name Judas

Judas is the Greek form of the Hebrew word for Judah, meaning praise.

We know who the father of Judas Iscariot was

Turn in your Bibles to John 6:71 "He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve." His father is also identified in John 12:4 and John 13:2 & 26

We know where Judas Iscariot was from

The first mention of Judas, the betrayer of Jesus, is in the listing of the 12 Disciples of Christ found in Matthew 10:1-4. He is called Judas Iscariot. The Greek word is – iskariwthv – Iskariotes, pronounced in Greek as - is-kar-ee-o’-tace and means a man of Kerioth.

  • The Other Men Named Judas In The New Testament

You might wonder why it is important to know that Judas was from Kerioth. It helps us so we do not confuse him with the other men named Judas in the New Testament. Let’s take a look at some of the other men named Judas

The half-brother of Jesus - Matthew 13:55 "Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?"

Judas one of the 12 Apostles, but not Iscariot - Luke 6:16 "And Judas the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot, which also was the traitor." The same as the Judas of Acts 1:13.

Judas not Iscariot - John 14:22 "Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?" Who is this Judas? It is probably the same as Thaddeus Lebbeus (Matthew 10:3), the brother of James, and author of what is called the Epistle of Jude (Jude 1:1). Note: The actual Greek word behind the word Jude is Ioudav which transliterated is Ioudas, Joudas or Judas. It is my thought that the Apostle Judas who is the brother of James, the Judas, not Iscariot, Thaddeus Lebbeus and the author Jude of the Epistle of Jude are very likely the same person.

Judas the Revolutionary - Acts 5:37 "After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed."

There is Judas who owned the house Saul/Paul stayed in shortly after his conversion - Acts 9:11 "And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth,"

Judas Barsabas along with Silas were chosen accompanied Paul and Barnabas to the Church of Antioch to tell them of the decision of the Jerusalem Council - Acts 15:22, 27, 32 "Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren:"

Since there are numerous men named Judas in the New Testament, I am thankful that, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Judas the traitor is identified as Judas Iscariot or Judas which betray him.

  • The Prophecy of The Traitor

Jesus Knew of David’s Prophecy & Knew Judas Would Betray Him

It is important to draw to you attention that Jesus knew, right from the beginning, which of the twelve disciples it was that would betray Him. Turn in your Bibles to John 6:64-66 "But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. 65 And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. 66 From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him."

Our Lord Jesus Christ clearly indicates that Psalm 41:9 – "Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me." - was a prophetic reference to the fact that one of his friends, one of his disciples would betray him. John 13:18 "I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me."

The Apostles Believed Judas’ Betrayal Was A Fulfillment of Prophecy

Apostles saw the betrayal of Judas as a fulfillment of Psalm 41. Turn to Acts 1:16 "Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus."

  • Facts About Judas

The name if Judas Iscariot is always listed last in the Synoptic Gospels – Matthew 10:2-4; Mark 3:14-19; Luke 6:13-16.

Judas is a prime example of a person who professed to be a believer who fell into absolute apostasy. He followed the Lord Jesus Christ three years along with the other disciples and pretended to be one of them. I think he must have considered himself to be a believer, at least at the beginning, because if he didn’t I doubt that he would have joined the other eleven. He, like the others, must have left everything to follow Christ. He must have initially thought Christ was the Messiah and shared in the hope of the Kingdom. But what happened?

Judas Iscariot was the treasurer & thief

John 13:29 "For some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast; or, that he should give something to the poor."

I think it is possible that the greed of Judas was the beginning of his downfall, which ultimately led to his betrayal of Christ. John 12:3-6 "Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. 4 Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, which should betray him, 5 Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? 6 This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein."

Judas Iscariot did not confess that Jesus was Lord

Turn to Matthew 26:20-25 "Now when the even was come, he sat down with the twelve. 21 And as they did eat, he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. 22 And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord (kurie - kurie), is it I? 23 And he answered and said, He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me. 24 The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born. 25 Then Judas, which betrayed him, answered and said, Master (rabbi - Rabbi), is it I? He said unto him, Thou hast said."

Judas Iscariot was possessed by Satan.

We see this in John 13:27.

Judas Iscariot negotiated with the Chief Priests to betray Jesus

Mark 14:10-11 "And Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went unto the chief priests, to betray him unto them. 11 And when they heard it, they were glad, and promised to give him money. And he sought how he might conveniently betray him."

Matthew 26:14-16 "Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, 15 And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. 16 And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him."

Have you ever given any thought why Judas betrayed Jesus? What was his motive? While we do not know for sure, there are some good possibilities in my mind…

Was it that he was angry at the public rebuke given him by Christ at the supper in the house of Simon the leper? (See Matthew 26:6-14)

Was it because he was greedy & covetousness? He did it for the thirty pieces of silver, because we know that he was a thief (John 12:6).

Was it because he was disappointment because Christ insisted on foretelling his death instead of receiving his kingdom. He began to fear that there was to be no kingdom, after all?


Was it because he abandoned what increasingly seemed to be a failing cause and hoped he would gain honor and a position of influence in the Pharisee party?

Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss

Matthew 26:47-50 "And while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people. 48 Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast. 49 And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, master; and kissed him. 50 And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come? Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus, and took him."

  • The regret of Judas

Matthew 27:3-8 "Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented [ himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, 4 Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. 5 And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself. 6 And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood. 7 And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter's field, to bury strangers in. 8 Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day."

The key word here is repent. This verb (first aorist passive participle of metamelomai) really means to be sorry afterwards. But mere sorrow avails nothing unless it leads to change of mind and life (metanoia), the sorrow according to God (2Corinthians 7:9). This sorrow Peter had when he wept bitterly. It led Peter back to Christ. But Judas had only remorse that led to suicide.

  • The end of Judas

Let’s look at Matthew 27:5 one more time - "And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself." However, there are some who think there is a conflict between what Matthew writes and what Luke wrote in Acts 1:18-19 "Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out. 19 And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood."

Judas first hanged himself, perhaps over the valley of Hinnom. The rope or branch likely gave way causing Judas to fall headlong, hitting the rocks below causing hom to burst and all his bowels to spill out. According to Acts 1:25 Judas "went unto his own place." There is no doubt in my mind that the reference is pointing to Hell.

This is the picture of Judas Iscariot of the New Testament.

The Judas Iscariot of The "Gnostic Godpel of Judas

The so-called Gospel of Judas, that is making the rounds so to speak, was written in Coptic (Egyptian language in Greek letters) somewhere between 300 and 400 AD. Many scholars believe that it is a translation of an earlier letter by the same name written in Greek. Early church pastor Irenaeus of Lyon, warned of a writing called the Gospel of Judas. We do not know if it really is the basis of the Coptic pseudo-gospel.

Here is part of the warning of Irenaeus –

Some "declare that Cain derived his being from the Power above, and acknowledge that Esau, Korah, the Sodomites, and all such persons, are related to themselves. . ..They declare that Judas the traitor was thoroughly acquainted with these things, and that he alone, knowing the truth as no others did, accomplished the mystery of the betrayal; by him all things, both earthly and heavenly, were thus thrown into confusion. They produce a fictitious history of this kind, which they style the Gospel of Judas."

Let me explain the meaning of his warning. Gnostic groups were not averse to rewriting other people's scriptures. They would put their own spin on them. That is what Irenaeus was saying. In his day there was a Gnostic sect called the Cainites that worshipped Cain as a hero. The Cainites, like many Gnostic groups, believed that the God of the Old Testament was evil and inferior to the deity that created the universe. This group, like many Gnostic groups, glorified and worshipped the biblical characters that rebelled against the creator God Jehovah and sought to discover secret knowledge. They would vilify the biblical heroes and undermine biblically accepted interpretations of the Bible. I should also note that so called "Christian" Gnosticism began about 150 AD and virtually disappeared by 600 AD.

The Coptic "Gospel of Judas" clearly makes Judas a hero.

Some Things You Should Know About The Gospel of Judas

First, virtually all scholars agree that the Gospel of Judas is a Gnostic Gospel; therefore it is opposed to biblical Christianity.

Second, virtually all scholars agree that the Judas Iscariot of the Bible did not write this so-called Gospel.

Third, this gospel was NEVER in the running to be included with Matthew, Mark, Luke and John for several reasons, none the least is that it was written at least a century after the other for Gospels, which were already accepted by the early church.

How Judas Is Portrayed In This Gnostic Gospel

It says that Judas is the favorite disciple of Christ. That is not what the Bible indicates. Peter, James and John are the "inner circle" for

Christ’s friends (Matthew 17:1). John describes himself as "the disciple that Jesus loved (John 13:23; John 20:2; John 21:7,20).

Further, Judas is portrayed to be the only disciple who really understands Jesus. Here is how the introduction to The Gospel of Judas reads -- "Unlike the other disciples, who misunderstand Jesus…Judas understands who Jesus is, and takes his place before him and learns from him." (The Gospel of Judas – Kasser, Meyer & Wurst; p. 4) We also read that Jesus took Judas aside for some special instruction – "Step away from the others and I shall tell you the mysteries of the kingdom."

Like many Gnostic writings, the Gospel of Judas claims to be an esoteric (hidden, secret) revelation that Jesus secretly spoke to Judas Iscariot. The opening verse says – "The secret account of the revelation that Jesus spoke in conversation with Judas Iscariot during a week three days before he celebrated the Passover." (The Gospel of Judas – Kasser, Meyer & Wurst; p. 19)

How diametrically different this Gnostic gospel is compared to the purpose John wrote his Gospel. John 20:31 "But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name."

Gnostic secrets are CLANDESTINE, written for a select enlightened few. The Gospels are written to reveal the person and work of Jesus Christ so that all have an opportunity to believe.

The Gospel of Judas portrays Judas as a reluctant hero. In this pseudo-gospel, Judas betrays Jesus at his urging. Jesus states to Judas, "You shall be cursed for generations – and you will come to rule over them all. In the last days they will cures your ascent to the holy [generation]. (The Gospel of Judas – Kasser, Meyer & Wurst; p.33) On page 33 we read that Christ says, "You will sacrifice the man that clothes me."

This pathetic gospel closes, "He received the money and handed him over to them."

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