FAQs: Judas Iscariot
What the four canonical gospels say about the notorious apostle.
BY: Compiled by Sherry Huang
Who was Judas?
There are at least three men named Judas in the New Testament, but the most famous Judas is Judas Iscariot (in John 6:71, he is described as the son of Simon Iscariot). Judas Iscariot was one of the 12 apostles closest to Jesus, and was with him at the Last Supper.
What did Judas do?
According to the four canonical gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), Judas Iscariot agreed to betray Jesus by handing him over to the chief priests to be murdered. In the Gospel of John, Judas Iscariot agreed to lead the chief priests to Jesus and identify him with a kiss on the cheek. In return, the chief priests gave Judas 30 pieces of silver.
Why did Judas betray Jesus?
In the Gospel of Matthew, when Judas goes to the chief priests, he asks: “What will you give me if I deliver [Jesus] to you?” (26:15). This verse suggests Judas betrayed Jesus out of greed. In the Gospel of John, after Jesus gives Judas the piece of dipped bread, “Satan entered into him” (13:27). This verse suggests Satan’s spirit entered into Judas and caused him to do evil.
Did Jesus know that Judas was going to betray him?
Yes. Jesus knew he would die and that he would be betrayed by one of his own. At the Last Supper, Jesus reveals this fact to his 12 apostles: “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me” (Matthew 26: 21). In the Gospel of Matthew, when his apostles ask who it is, Jesus replies: “He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me, will betray me” (v. 23). When the apostles take turns asking who, Judas asks, “Is it I, Master?” Jesus answers, “You have said so” (v. 25). The Gospel of John provides a more detailed account. Jesus reveals Judas is his betrayer by saying: “‘It is he to whom I shall give this morsel when I have dipped it.’ So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot…Jesus said to him, ‘What you are going to do, do quickly.’ Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him” (John 13:26-28, NRSV). While it’s assumed that the other apostles did not know about Judas’ betrayal, Jesus definitely knew.
What did Judas do after Jesus died?
According to the Gospel of Matthew, Judas repented his betrayal (27:4 - “I have sinned in betraying innocent blood”) and tried to return the silver to the chief priests, throwing the coins on the Temple floor. He then committed suicide by hanging himself.
The chief priests took the “blood money” (v. 6) and bought a potter’s field for burying foreigners. The field eventually became known as the “Field of Blood” (v. 8).
The Book of Acts offers a different account of what happened to Judas. It is said Judas purchased a field and fell in headfirst onto the field where “all his bowels gushed out” (1:18).
What is the "Gospel of Judas"?
The "Gospel of Judas" is a document written on papyrus that was discovered near a cave in El Minya, Egypt, in fragmentary form. Found in the 1970s, the document was assembled and translated by a team of scholars over a number of years and released to the public in April 2006. A Gnostic text, it claims that Jesus asked Judas to hand him over. According to Jesus, Judas would set Jesus’ spirit free from his earthly shell so he would ascend to heaven. This act would ensure that Judas was set apart from the other disciples and guarantee him a place above them in heaven.