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Used with permission: Character by Character compiled by Selwyn Hughes and Trevor Partridge. Copyright © CWR (www.cwr.org.uk).




Scripture passages referenced and linked in this lesson are written out for your convenience on this page.

UB David + I'll B Jonathan, Inc.


Character by Character

Lesson 11: Judas Iscariot

Judas Iscariot

Scripture passages referenced and linked in this lesson are written out for your convenience on this page.

Judas Iscariot: "Judas" means "Without help"; "Iscariot" means "Of Kerioth"

One of the Twelve

Matthew 10:4, Mark 3:19 & Luke 6:16 (click the link to read the passages)

one of those He selected was Judas Iscariot

We are told by Luke that Jesus spent a whole night in prayer prior to choosing His band of twelve disciples (Luke 6:12), and one of those He selected was Judas Iscariot—the man who later betrayed Him. During Jesus’ public ministry, Judas travelled everywhere with Him and lived in close proximity to Him, but never seemed to share His spirit. Some have suggested that Jesus got His directions wrong in choosing Judas to be one of His disciples. This cannot possibly be so, however, for one of Christ’s divine qualities was His ability to know what was in every man (see John 2:25). Whatever was His reason for choosing Judas, we can be sure it was not because of a mistake.

For thought and contemplation:

What do you think about the selection of Judas as one of the twelve? Was it a mistake? Did Christ know Judas’ traits, yet hope he would improve? Or did He permit it for a sovereign purpose? Think the matter through carefully, or talk it over with a friend, and come to a conclusion.

“You did not choose me, but I chose you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.” (John 15:16, NIV)


John 12:4-6 & Matthew 26:14-16

His continued presence in the apostolic band must have daily involved him in hypocrisy

Having chosen Judas to be one of the disciples, Jesus gives him a position of trust as keeper of the common purse. He proved, however, to be unworthy of that trust, taking for himself the money which had been donated to support Jesus and the disciples. Judas’ greed and hypocrisy were also shown by his willingness to betray the Son of God for the price of a slave (Exodus 21:32), and in his pretended concern for the welfare of the poor when he criticised Mary of Bethany for anointing Jesus’ feet with costly ointment. His continued presence in the apostolic band must have daily involved him in hypocrisy as his heart became increasingly turned away from Jesus.

For thought and contemplation:

Billy Sunday, the quaint old preacher, used to say: “Hypocrites in the church? Yes, and in the home. Don’t hunt through the church for a hypocrite; go home and look in the mirror. Then see that you make the number one less.”

“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46, NIV)


Luke 6:16 & John 6:70, 13:10-11, 17:12

the betrayer of Jesus

The Gospel writers, on almost every occasion when Judas’ name is mentioned, refer to him as the betrayer of Jesus. The betrayal of Christ was indeed a heinous crime, and there can be no doubt that Judas acted as the instrument of Satan in perpetrating it. In fact, in one place Jesus describes Judas as a devil (John 6:70), and it appears that Satan entered into him following his rejection of Jesus’ final gesture of love at the Last Supper (John 13:27). He is also described by Jesus as “the son of perdition” (John 12:17, RSV), and nothing good is ever said about him except, perhaps, that he was capable of feeling remorse after seeing the result of his evil crime.

For thought and contemplation:

Dr. W.E. Sangster, when writing of Judas’ betrayal of Christ, said: “Every Christian should periodically question his own soul: ‘Am I really in this because of my devotion to my Lord? Would I stand if a crucial test came?’” Good questions to ask before you start the day!

“They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him.” (Titus 1:16, NIV)

Betrayal foretold

Matthew 26:20-25 & Mark 14:17-21

He does something similar with Judas Iscariot

Jesus, being the person He was – the divine Son of God – knew both the strengths and weaknesses of every one of His disciples. He took steps also to alert them to the evil possibilities that lay deep in their hearts. When Peter insisted that he would never deny Him, Jesus tried to prepare him for the next hours by telling him that he would deny Him, not just once or twice, but three times. He does something similar with Judas Iscariot on the eve of His betrayal, as if He wants to give him an opportunity to repent of his evil intentions. As we know, however, Judas is so bent on evil that he remains unmoved even when treated as an honoured guest at the Last Supper.

For thought and contemplation:

How grateful we ought to be for the love of Christ that pleads with us when we are bent on some course of action that will dishonour His name. Where would we be now if, at our first fingering of sin, He had not pleaded with us… where would we be?

“…Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.” (John 13:1, NIV)

Kerioth was a town in South Judea

Another apostle bore this common Jewish name, but “Judas” now means the Betrayer of Jesus. His sin has stamped the word with such evil significance that it has become the class-name of perfidious friends who are “no better than Judas.”

Iscariot is understood to be equivalent to ish-Kerioth, that is, “man of Kerioth.” Kerioth was a town in South Judea. The other disciples were all from Galilee. The southern Jews regarded the northerners with a certain superiority. Is it possible that some of this spirit of superiority alienated Judas from his fellow disciples? If it did, it is psychologically probably that Judas would attribute the lack of sympathy to them. They would appear reserved and unsociable, and in his own view he would seem the injured one. Such blindness is almost invariably characteristic of the pride which causes estrangement.

Betrayal accomplished

Matthew 26:47-56 & Mark 14:43-50

Judas’ offer of betrayal was an opportunity

Following the raising of Lazarus from the dead, the high priest and the Jewish leaders were deeply concerned that Jesus might recruit more followers to His cause, and determined to put Him to death. Jesus’ high level of popularity at this time, however, meant that they must go about their plans with great care and caution. Judas’ offer of betrayal was an opportunity that was too good to miss. His knowledge of Jesus’ movements would enable him to lead the soldiers to a place where they could arrest Him without too many of the populace being aware of it. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Judas greets Jesus with the word, “Master!” followed by a spurious show of affection, which results in Christ’s arrest.

followed by a spurious show of affection

For thought and contemplation:

A kiss is usually the symbol of love and affection. But was ever the symbol of love so utterly prostituted as when Judas kissed Christ into the soldiers’ arms? Such is the nature of evil—it twists the highest into the lowest, the best into the worst.

“The kisses of an enemy may be profuse, but faithful are the wounds of a friend.” (Prov. 27:6, NIV)


Matthew 27:3-10

Once Christ has been condemned and it becomes obvious that He is to die on a cross, the full weight of what he has done bursts in upon Judas’ conscience. Returning to the temple, he pleads with the priests to take back the money, confessing “I have betrayed innocent blood” (v. 4, NIV). They coldly reply that his problems are his own affair and that it means nothing to them.

throws the thirty pieces of silver

Judas then throws the thirty pieces of silver at their feet and, overcome by remorse, goes out and hangs himself. He has served the priests’ unholy enterprise and, having no further use for him, they abandon him to the perdition which his rejection of Christ has made inevitable.

For thought and contemplation:

In discussions among God’s people, the issue is often raised: if Judas had gone to Jesus and asked Him for forgiveness—would he have received it? Knowing what you know of the forgiveness of God, what you do you think?

“If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning.” (2 Peter 2:20, NIV)


Acts 1:15-26

As a result of Judas’ suicide, the number of the disciples is reduced to eleven. Peter quotes prophecies from the Scripture which, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he applies to Judas. These Scriptures (Psalm 69:25 & 109:8) show that the vacant office should be filled by a suitable person—the qualifications being that he should have accompanied the apostles during the time of Jesus’ public ministry, and that he was a witness of the Resurrection. Two candidates are selected and, after prayer, lots are cast. The one on whom the lot falls is Matthias, who then becomes the new twelfth apostle. Nothing more is said of Matthias as an individual, only corporately as one of the twelve.

For thought and contemplation:

The one thing above all others to which the apostles were asked to attest was the resurrection of Christ from the dead. Why was that so supremely important? Know the answer? If you don’t, then read this verse: “If Christ had not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17, RSV).

“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.” (Ephesians 1:4, NIV)

The lesson to be learned from Judas Iscariot

the danger of allowing personal interests to outweigh the interests of Christ

Any lesson we draw from the life of Judas must, in the nature of things, be a negative one. In other words, we see in him, not a picture of how to do things, but of how not to do things. The reasons for Judas’ actions have perplexed Christians from the first. The Gospels offer several ‘explanations’, suggesting that one might not be sufficient to account for the behaviour of this unfortunate man.

Without doubt, the main lesson we can draw from Judas is the danger of allowing personal interests to outweigh the interests of Christ and His cause. John the Baptist cried: “He must become greater; I must become less” (John 3:30, NIV). Unfortunately, Judas Iscariot never came through to that important discovery—and as a result, lost not only his life, but his eternal soul.

Used with permission: Character by Character compiled by Selwyn Hughes and Trevor Partridge. Copyright © CWR (www.cwr.org.uk).

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