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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: Does God Know Everything?

Don Stewart :: Did Jesus Know That Judas Would Actually Betray Him?

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Did Jesus Know That Judas Would Actually Betray Him?

Does God Know Everything? – Question 34

The claim of open theism is that God does not know what is going to occur in the future. In other words, the future is open. Therefore, He along with the rest of us has to wait and see what occurs. The problem with this point of view is that there are numerous prophecies in Scripture where God makes specific predictions as to what will occur in the future. One of the most celebrated instances is the prediction of Jesus that He will be betrayed by Judas Iscariot.

Did Jesus Know He Would Be Betrayed and by Whom?

There are those who say that Jesus did not know Judas would actually betray Him, or at least, He was not certain that this would happen. Indeed, when Judas arrived at Gethsemane, Jesus greeted Judas by calling him, “Friend.” To some people this means He did not expect Judas to betray Him. In fact, when Jesus offered bread to Judas after dipping into the same bowl this was supposedly another sign of friendship.

Therefore, we should not read the account of Judas betraying Jesus as a straightforward prediction of what would occur in the future.

Conclusions We Can Make from the New Testament

The New Testament sets out a number of facts in the account of Judas’ betrayal of Jesus. We can make the following observations.

1. Judas Had Met with the Chief Priests about Betraying Jesus

To begin with, we find that the Bible says that Judas initiated a meeting with the chief priests about betraying Jesus. Matthew records what occurred as follows.

Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I betray him to you?” They paid him thirty pieces of silver. (Matthew 26:14-15 NRSV)

Therefore, Judas made the first move. He contacted them, they did not contact him.

2. Satan Entered Judas When He Went to the Chief Priests

The New Testament also says Satan entered Judas Iscariot when he did this deed. We read the following in Luke’s gospel.

Then Satan entered Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve apostles. Judas went to the chief priests and the temple guards and discussed with them how he could betray Jesus. (Luke 22:3-4 God’s Word)

This puts to rest any idea that Judas had some pure motive when he turned Jesus over to the religious leaders. He was offered money to betray Jesus and he took the money. His motive was pure greed.

3. Jesus Predicted His Betrayal by One of His Own Disciples

We also discover that Jesus knew this would happen. He made it clear that He would experience betrayal. Not only did Jesus say that He was going to be betrayed, He said that His betrayal would be done by one of His own disciples. Therefore, it was going to be somebody close to Him who would be the betrayer.

John writes,

After saying this, Jesus was deeply troubled. He declared, “I can guarantee this truth: One of you is going to betray me!” (John 13:21 God’s Word)

Thus, Jesus specifically said that one out of the Twelve would be His betrayer.

Jesus went further. He said it would be one who dipped in the bowl with him. Mark records Jesus saying this. We read,

“It is one of the Twelve,” he replied, “one who dips bread into the bowl with me.” (Mark 14:20 NIV)

Not only would it be one of the Twelve, it would be one who dipped with Him in the dish. The fact that Jesus willingly ate out of the same dish as Judas was no sign of friendship. Rather, it shows the awfulness of the betrayal.

4. Judas Iscariot Was Specifically Mentioned as the Betraying Disciple

Jesus went a step further. He specifically stated that Judas Iscariot would be the disciple who would betray Him. In fact, at the Last Supper, Jesus told His disciples that one of them would betray Him that very night. When Judas asked Jesus if he would be the offending party, Jesus said that he would indeed be the betrayer. Matthew records the highlights of the conversation.

Then Judas, His betrayer, replied, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” “You have said it,” He told him. (Matthew 26:25 HCSB)

Judas Iscariot was specified as the betrayer.

5. Jesus Knew from the Beginning That This Would Happen

The Bible also emphasizes that Jesus knew from the beginning of His ministry that one whom He had chosen as a disciple would betray Him. John records Jesus saying,

“Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. (John 6:64 NIV)

This shows that He knew for about three years that Judas would be the betrayer.

6. Jesus Was Betrayed by Judas

As predicted, Judas did betray Jesus. Matthew records what occurred as follows.

While He was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, suddenly arrived. A large mob, with swords and clubs, was with him from the chief priests and elders of the people. His betrayer had given them a sign: “The One I kiss, He’s the One; arrest Him!” So he went right up to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed Him. “Friend,” Jesus asked him, “why have you come?” Then they came up, took hold of Jesus, and arrested Him. (Matthew 26:47-50 HCSB)

This records the act of betrayal. The fact that Jesus addressed him as friend does not suggest that Jesus was unaware what was about to take place. In fact, Scripture says the following.

“Rise, let us go! Here comes my betrayer!” (Matthew 26:46 NIV)

Judas was identified as the “betrayer” before Jesus greeted him. Furthermore, the Greek word translated “friend” does not have the idea of some deep friendship. Jesus knew why Judas was coming. Therefore, His greeting was not an act of friendship.

In the end, Judas did not enjoy the rewards of his evil deed. Realizing he betrayed an innocent man Judas threw the money in the area of the temple and then went out and hanged himself.

Jesus gave a fitting epitaph to Judas.

“The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.” (Mark 14:21 NIV)

Indeed, it would have been better if Judas Iscariot had never been born.

Conclusion: Jesus Knew What Would Occur in the Future

Therefore, from the above facts, any objective look at the evidence sees Jesus as knowing He was going to be betrayed, specifically predicting who the offender would be, and pronouncing doom upon His evil betrayer.

Thus, the various explanations which advocates of open theism give to the betrayal of Jesus do not fit the facts. To attempt to say that Jesus really did not predict His betrayal ahead of time ignores what the New Testament clearly says. There is no way of getting around it.

Summary – Question 34
Did Jesus Know That Judas Would Actually Betray Him?

The Bible says that Jesus Christ specifically predicted that He would be betrayed by one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot. Some open theists attempt to explain away the fact that Jesus actually predicted Judas would betray Him.

Since they argue that no one, including God Himself, knows exactly what will occur in the future, Jesus could not have predicted His betrayal by Judas. However, their counter explanations really do not fit the details which the New Testament provides to us.

When we examine the Scripture we discover the following facts about the betrayal of Jesus by Judas Iscariot.

To begin with, one of Jesus’ disciples, Judas Iscariot, approached the religious leaders with the idea of betraying Jesus Christ. They agreed to give him a certain amount of money, 30 pieces of silver the price of a slave. We are also told that Satan actually entered Judas when he approached these leaders. This removes all doubt as to Judas’ motivation. He did it for money and he was led by the devil himself.

We also learn that Jesus had predicted that He would be betrayed. Furthermore, Jesus said that this betrayal would be by one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot. Scripture says that Jesus knew this from the beginning of His public ministry. In other words, this was not a surprise for Him for He had known this would occur some three years before it happened.

At the Last Supper, when Jesus announced that He would be betrayed on that very night each disciples asked if it were he who would betray Jesus. When Judas asked the question, Jesus answered in the affirmative. Thus, Jesus specifically said that Judas would be the betrayer.

Following Jesus’ words, Judas went to the religious rulers and brought them to Jesus at the Garden of Gethsemane. The betrayal then took place as the Lord Jesus Christ had predicted.

Thus, each of the specific things which Jesus predicted with respect to His betrayal was literally fulfilled. This is another indication that the future is not unknown to God. Jesus, God the Son, knew in advance the details of His betrayal. The explanation of open theism does not fit the biblical facts.

Does God Know What Will Happen in the Remote Future? ← Prior Section
What Should Our Conclusion Be about Open Theism? Next Section →
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