Who was Judas Iscariot?
The majority of answers are: "He was the Disciple who betrayed the Lord Jesus Christ." - "He was a man of Kerioth." (A city 15 miles south of Hebron) - "He was a thief." These are all correct answers found in the Bible, but they tell us nothing about the man. Where did he come from? Nowhere in the Gospels is there any mention of him being called by Jesus to follow him, as were the other Apostils. He just sort of seems to have just been hanging with the group of disciples that were following Jesus at the time. But the Bible does mention that Jesus did specifically select him when He ordained the twelve:
"And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease. Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him."
(Matthew 10:1-4 KJV)
The Bible does tell us something else about Judas Iscariot that is quite unique. That other thing is also somewhat of an eyebrow raiser:
"Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve."
(John 6:70-71 KJV)
The word "devil" is a New testament term that can refer to either THE DEVIL (Satan) a.k.a. that "WICKED ONE" (see: Matthew 13:19,38; 1 John 2:13-14; 1 John 3:12; 1 John 5:18) or "Beelzebub" (Matthew 12:24). The term "devil" or "devils" refers to the wicked spirits (see Luke 4:33) that could and did possess unfortunate people. These spiritual entities are frequently referred to as "Demons" but that word is not in the English KJV Bible. It comes from the Greek: daimónion
From Strong's Greek Dictionary: 1139. daimonizomai (daimonízomai); to be exercised by a dæmon:—have a (be vexed with, be possessed with) devil(-s). verb
Notice that the Greek word 'dæmon' is a verb, denoting possession by a "devil" - it is NOT an adjective that describes the nature of the entity itself. The King James Bible's definition is used correctly to describe the type of entity. It is a DEVIL.
In looking up the words "devil" and "devils" in the New Testament there are many references. Of those, when you discount all direct references to the person of The Devil (Satan), every other reference denotes someone who is possessed by a devil, with only one exception. That was John 6:70 (above). That verse does not say Judas was possessed by a devil, it says he WAS "A DEVIL" and that is a statement right out of the Lord's mouth. Why? Was Judas not a man? Certainly he was born in the flesh of a man. After all, the following verse says he was "the son of Simon" so how can he also be "a devil"?
A brief explanation involves reference to an event before Noah's Flood, when some evil Angels left their first estate and copulated with human women, injecting their seed (and DNA) into the human genetic code.
"There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown."
(Genesis 6:4 KJV)
Of course, there is no indication in the Bible that Judas Iscariot was any kind of a giant, but there is the genetic possibility that he could have been the latent product of one of those seeds. That is speculation, but the that is not the only possibility. (You can learn more specifics about this matter in a complete treatment on the Angels at this page: The Doctrine of Angels.)
In the meantime, just take the Lord's word for it as fact, however that came about. This brings us to the next question: Who, exactly, is this "Simon" that was the biological father of the man called Judas Iscariot? There are multiple Simons listed in the four Gospels. Here is a breakdown by identification, by Gospel book:
Matthew (AD 85–90) Mt 4:18 Simon called Peter
Mt 10:4 Simon the Canaanite
Mt 13:55 Simon (a brother of Jesus)
Mt 26:6 Simon the leper
Mt 27:32 man of Cyrene, Simon
Mark (AD 66–70) Mr 3:16 Simon surnamed Peter
Mr 3:18 Simon the Canaanite
Mr 6:3 Simon (a brother of Jesus)
Mr 14:3 Simon the leper
Mr 15:21 Simon a Cyrenian
Luke (AD 85–90) Lu 5:8 Simon Peter
Lu 6:15 Simon called Zelotes
Lu 23:26 Simon, a Cyrenian
John (AD 90–110) Joh 6:68 Simon Peter
Joh 6:71 Judas Iscariot the son of Simon
Joh 12:4 Judas Iscariot, Simon's son
Joh 13:2 Judas Iscariot, Simon's son
Joh 13:26 Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon
Although there are multiple people named Simon in the Gospels according to Matthew, Mark and Luke, there is only Simon named Peter specifically mentioned in the Gospel according to John, in addition to this mystery "Simon" who is referred to as the father of Judas Iscariot. In John's Gospel story, the author's four references to this mystery "Simon" are presented in a literary manner that assumes the reader should know which "Simon" he is talking about. Had the author had someone else in mind, he certainly would have been more specific, unless that was not even an issue to him. And the author makes the point four times, as if to emphasize the importance of the matter.
Therefore, the Holy Bible's evidence concerning this question points to a clear and simple answer: Judas Iscariot WAS the biological son of the man Simon, who is also called Peter. This revelation raises two very valid questions: 1) Why is this clearly stated ONLY in the Gospel of John and, 2) What practical purpose does it serve to even know and teach this answer? Let's answer those questions in the order presented.
First, notice from the dates of when these individual Gospel books were believed to be penned that the Gospel account of John was written much later than the Gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark and Luke. Although Peter and John had known each other since their days as fishermen on the Galilee, their friendship extended throughout their time with Jesus, through the post-resurrection period of the early Church, and long after the documented Acts of the Apostles (see: Mt 10:2; Mt 17:1; Mr 5:37; Mr 9:2; Mr 13:3; Mr 14:33; Lu 6:14; Lu 8:51; Lu 9:28; Lu 22:8; Joh 1:40; Ac 1:13; Ac 3:1,3-4,11; Ac 4:13,19; Ac 8:14). Paul's writing in the book of Galatians, about the point in Church history where the disciple's ministry diverged into two separate and distinct mission directions, reveals that Peter and John even continued working together afterwards:
"And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision."
(Galatians 2:9 KJV)
While Paul and Barnabas and their group would take the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, James, Peter and John would take the Gospel to the diaspora of Jewish peoples. (BTW, "Cephas" was Peter, see John 1:42). Paul, of course, finally ended up in Rome. Peter, on the other hand, finally ended up in Babylon in Mesopotamia (1 Peter 5:13), according to the Holy Bible. John and Peter traveled together for many years before they finally parted ways. It was only after those days that the Gospel of John was written.
It would be a safe bet to assume that John knew Simon Peter better than anyone else in the Bible, other than the Lord Himself. John was acquainted with Peter going all the way back to what country folks would call the young man's hell raisin' days, so he probably knew a thing or two about the old boy and his ways. But, if I was a betting man, I'm inclined to think that John did not learn the truth about this particular matter until much later in their relationship. More than likely, Peter only shared this truth with his lifelong friend John when the two were alone, possibly sitting around a fire on a dark night along a lonely shoreline or forest near the Aegean Sea. I'm talking about one of those times when a man has something gnawing at his conscience that is hurting him so bad that he just has to talk with a trusted friend and get it off his chest. Regardless of where and when, John knew about it and the Holy Ghost made sure the matter was included in the Gospel according to John.
As for the second question, knowing about this doctrinal truth from the Gospel according to John benefits your personal studies of the Holy Bible. It provides a backstory insight into the life of Simon Peter that can help the reader correctly discern an answer to these three important questions in the Gospel accounts:
One - What did the Lord Jesus Christ mean when he told Peter this?:
"And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren."
(Luke 22:31-32 KJV)
Two - What was the real reason that the faithful Peter denied Jesus on the night He was arrested?:
"And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death. And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me."
(Luke 22:33-34 KJV)
Three - What was the real motivation that made Judas betray the Lord Jesus Christ?:
"Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover. And the chief priests and scribes sought how they might kill him; for they feared the people. Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve. And he went his way, and communed with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray him unto them. And they were glad, and covenanted to give him money."
(Luke 22:1-5 KJV)
In regards to the last question, I'll give you a couple of clues to point you in the right direction. It was not for money. It was for a more personal reason, which the Spirit of Truth will reveal to you if you seek out the answer with an honest heart and objective reasoning. The 'clues' are found in these two Bible verses:
"Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame."
(Song of Solomon 8:6 KJV)
"Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?"
(Proverbs 27:4 KJV)
The possible backstory involves these key elements, a son born to Simon Peter before he was married (or possibly outside of the marriage), Peter's love for that 'secret' son, and the grown son's need for a father's love and attention.
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Gaines R. Johnson, D.D., D.Th.
The Bible, Genesis & Geology Ministry
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