March 28th – Why, Judas, Why?

Father Linsky lead the group in a discussion of betrayal and of the reason(s) that Judas Iscariot chose to betray Jesus.

A search of the NT for words spoken by Judas finds 54 attributed to him. Although his seven last words are in the form of a confession of sin, it is interesting to note the absence of any confession of belief in Jesus. So, maybe that is the reason for the betrayal…he just never believed and had his own agenda. Here are the 54 words, hopefully in chronological order:

“Why was this oil not sold for three hundred days’ wages and given to the poor?” John 12:5  “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?” – Matthew 26:15  “The man I shall kiss is the one; arrest him and lead him away securely.” Mark 14:44  “Hail, Rabbi!” – Matthew 26:49  “I have sinned in betraying innocent blood.” – Matthew 27:4

Key Point: There is one primary thing Judas never said, as far as we know from the New Testament: “I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God.”

Below are the passages from the NABRE containing the 22 mentions in the New Testament of the name Judas, five times in Matthew, three in Mark, four in Luke, two in Acts, and eight in John.  These are screen shots of the online version as explained below.

Three of the 22 mentions are in very similar but not identical synoptic gospel listings of the twelve apostles. All list Simon Peter first and Judas the betrayer last but there are interesting differences in order otherwise.

The next three mentions of Judas Iscariot are in parallel synoptic Gospel accounts of his visit to the chief priests and his offer to betray Jesus. There are interesting differences, especially the Luke comment about Satan entering into Judas at this point.

The next four mentions are also from parallel synoptic gospel accounts about the kiss of betrayal. There are interesting differences here also. Judas is mentioned one time each in Matthew and Mark, and twice in Luke so this brings the total to 10. It is interesting that, in Matthew’s account, Jesus addresses Judas as “Friend.”

Only Matthew gives an account of return of the thirty pieces of silver, suicide of Judas, and purchase of the new burial ground for foreigners.

It is interesting that St. Luke, author of Acts, gives a very different account of the use of the thirty pieces of silver and the death of Judas Iscariot.

Just to stick with the words of St. Luke in Acts before going to the Gospel of John, the name Judas shows up once in the account of the casting of lots to select Matthias as the replacement for Judas. The name Matthias shows up only these two times in the New Testament.

John, the last of the Gospels, probably written around sixty years after the resurrection, accounts for the last eight mentions of the name Judas. It is only there that we learn about his “concern” for the poor and his poor stewardship of the money bag. And, we get more details about the Last Supper.

Note the theologically significant “I AM‘ in John 18:5.

Note: All the screen shots of New Testament passages are from the online version of the New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE). This easily searchable version is linked at and can be found HERE

For more information about the Gospels, the differences among them, help in understanding them, and reconciliation of Scripture and Tradition, supplementary material in The New Testament: New Catholic Version (NCV), Copyright 2015 by Catholic Book Publishing Company is very helpful. 

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