Did Judas reject his chance for salvation by betraying Jesus?


In Matthew 26:21, Jesus told the disciples that one of them would betray Him— much to their sorrow (v 22). In verse 25, we read: “Then Judas, who was betraying Him, answered and said, ‘Rabbi, is it I?’ He said to him, ‘You have said it.’”

This betrayal was prophesied in Psalm 41:9: “Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, Who ate my bread, Has lifted up his heel against me.”

We read of this betrayal in Matthew 26:14-16: “Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, ‘What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?’ And they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver. So from that time he sought opportunity to betray Him.”

In Matthew 26:47-49, we read of this betrayal: “And while He was still speaking, behold, Judas, one of the twelve, with a great multitude with swords and clubs, came from the chief priests and elders of the people. Now His betrayer had given them a sign, saying, ‘Whomever I kiss, He is the One; seize Him.’ Immediately he went up to Jesus and said, ‘Greetings, Rabbi!’ and kissed Him.”

So did he commit the unpardonable sin and miss out on salvation?

In our booklet “Do We Have an Immortal Soul?” the following comments are made on pages 29 & 30:

“From other Scriptures we know that there are at least two ways in which the unpardonable sin can be committed.

“Jesus warns us in Mark 3:28–29, not to ‘blaspheme’ the Holy Spirit, regardless of whether we are converted or not. If we do, we reject the only power that can convert and change us. And if we continue with that course of action of resisting God and refusing to repent, then we might reach a point when it will become impossible for us to repent. We will then have made the final, irrevocable decision never to repent and to change. Such an attitude will lead to actual hate and resentment for God and His way. You see, if we don’t want to repent, God will not grant us repentance. And without repentance, there can be no forgiveness. That is why a sin which we refuse to repent of, will not be forgiven.

“In addition, converted people who have received the gift of God’s Holy Spirit, can commit the unpardonable sin, if and when they later fall away and irrevocably reject God’s way of life (cp. Hebrews 6:4–6; Hebrews 10:26–29).

“As long as we have the desire to go God’s way and to change—as long as we hate the wrong things that we do—as long as we want God’s Holy Spirit to enable us to overcome our sinful carnal nature, we have not committed the unpardonable sin. If, on the other hand, we have received understanding and then begin to reject that understanding and God’s way of life, then we are walking on dangerous ground.

“What is our attitude towards sin? Are we indifferent about it? Does it matter to us whether we sin or not? Do we try to justify sin, or to blame others for sin in our lives? This approach will never grant us favor with God—will never allow us to continue repenting of the wrong in our lives.

“On the other hand, if we love God’s way, if we want to go God’s way, if we want God to help us to get rid of what’s wrong with the way we are, then God will help us—and we don’t need to worry whether or not we have committed the unpardonable sin.

“Christ, in His parable as recorded in Luke 16, portrays a rich man who is totally indifferent to sin and to the pain and suffering of others. Although Christ does not give us many details about the wicked life of the rich man (as He does not give us many details about the righteous life of Lazarus, either), it is clear from the context that the rich man has indeed committed the unpardonable sin—he has reached the final point of no return, as he has become unwilling to repent and to change.”

Based on this understanding, Judas could not have committed the unpardonable sin. He realized that he had committed a grave mistake very soon afterwards, as we read in Matthew 27:3-5: “Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, ‘I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.’ And they said, ‘What is that to us? You see to it!’ Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself.”

The record of Judas’ final actions were those not unlike criminals of our day—even those who commit murder and then later on are sorry. However, Judas did not, at that time, repent to God. In fact, Judas killed himself, adding another sin to his previous ones!

In John 20:22, we read the following about Jesus’ actions and His words—all of which happened after His resurrection but before the day of Pentecost: “And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit…’” We note that at this point, Judas Iscariot was already dead, and he was, of course, not among these disciples to whom Jesus promised the giving of the Holy Spirit.

In our Q&A in the Update 217, November 11th 2005, the following was written:

“In John 20:22, we read that Christ, after His resurrection, but before His ascension to heaven and the subsequent Day of Pentecost, breathed upon the disciples and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’ Some erroneously teach that on that occasion, Christ gave His disciples the Holy Spirit (compare Nelson Study Bible and the Ryrie Study Bible, comments to John 20). Others understand correctly that Christ did not give the Holy Spirit to His disciples at that time. The New Bible Commentary: Revised explains: ‘The breathing upon them of the Spirit is understandable since the Greek “pneuma” means both breath and spirit. This would appear to be in anticipation of Pentecost, although some specific assurance of the conveyance of the gift is clearly given here.

”The Bible makes it very clear that Christ’s early apostles and disciples received the Holy Spirit AFTER Christ’s ascension–on the Day of Pentecost, in 31 AD, as recorded in Acts 2. We read in Acts 2:1-4 that they were in Jerusalem (Acts 1:12; 2:5) and that they were filled with the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. In Acts 2:16-18, Peter, in quoting from the writings of the prophet Joel, emphasizes that the Holy Spirit was poured on them on the Day of Pentecost. He also explains in verse 33: ‘Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He [Jesus Christ] poured out this what you NOW see and hear.’ They saw and heard a rushing wind, divided tongues as of fire, and the speaking with other tongues or languages.

”After Christ’s resurrection, but before His ascension, Christ told His apostles and disciples: ‘Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem UNTIL you are endued with power from on high’ (Luke 24:49). In Acts 1:4-5, 8, the risen Christ reiterated His promise: ‘And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you SHALL BE baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now… you SHALL receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem…”

”We read in Acts 1:9: ‘Now when He had spoken these things [promising them the receipt of the Holy Spirit IN THE FUTURE], while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.’ When Christ was taken up to heaven, His apostles and disciples had not yet received the Holy Spirit; but they were commanded to wait in Jerusalem (Acts 1:4) for the receipt of the Holy Spirit ‘not many days from now’ (Acts 1:5). And as we saw, it was in Jerusalem, on the Day of Pentecost, when they received the Holy Spirit.

”While still in the flesh, Christ had promised His disciples on several occasions that the Holy Spirit would be given to them in the future (compare John 14:17, 26; 16:13). That actual event, and the fulfillment of that promise, occurred when the New Testament Church came into existence–on the Day of Pentecost–not before then.”

Jesus had previously said in John 16:7 “‘Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send it to you.’” The Helper, the Holy Spirit was not given until the Day of Pentecost which we read about in Acts 2:1-4. “When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”

In John 6:66, even after all of Jesus’ preaching, teaching and healing, we read: “From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.” And in Acts 1:15, we read that there were only about 120 disciples after the 3½ years ministry of Jesus where He fed 5,000 and did many wonderful things for so many people. None of them had been given the Holy Spirit and, perhaps, were not being called at that time.

Therefore, when Judas betrayed Jesus, the Holy Spirit had not yet been given and he had not received this. Also, the record is that Judas was remorseful when he realized what he had done, but this was human sorrow. It is clear, therefore, that Judas did not commit the unpardonable sin and has not lost his chance for salvation by betraying Jesus. He will be resurrected in the Great White Throne Judgment (the second resurrection) and then will have his opportunity for true godly repentance and for salvation, at that time.

Lead Writer: Brian Gale (United Kingdom)

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