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Judas Iscariot was the betrayer of Jesus. He was the son of Simeon Iscariot. Scholars have long debated the real reason for Judas’s betrayal of Jesus —suggesting as possible motives everything from greed to disillusionment.
Some believe Judas did it for the money. The blood payment, thirty pieces of silver, equaled four months’ salary.
According to John’s Gospel, Judas was a thief who liked to “help himself” to money set aside to support Jesus’ ministry (John 12:6). Another theory notes that Judas was one of the only non-Galilean disciples. His surname, Iscariot, likely indicates his birthplace—Kerioth, a town in southern Judah. As an outsider, Judas may have felt alienated from the group.
Others insist that Judas was a Zealot, part of a Jewish guerilla movement bent on driving out the Romans by any means necessary. As it became clear that Jesus had no intention of waging a war, Judas grew disillusioned or fearful (or both) and began looking for a way out.
A variant on this theory suggests that Judas didn’t mean to betray Jesus at all—that Judas was merely trying to force His hand, convinced Jesus would give the call to arms once He was confronted in the garden of Gethsemane. Still others chalk it up to demonic possession, noting—as Luke does— that “Satan entered Judas” shortly before the betrayal (Luke 22:3) and leaving it at that.
Whatever the real reason (or reasons), it is clear that Judas did not see the world as Jesus did. In one of the only stories to mention Judas outside of his betrayal, he scoffed at the so-called waste of expensive perfume by the woman from Bethany (see John 12:1–11). Jesus saw the woman’s gift as an act of devotion, preparing Him for His impending death and burial. Judas only saw money being poured down the drain— money he wanted for himself. Judas demonstrated greed, hypocrisy, and an unwillingness to associate himself with Jesus’ death—values that have no place in God’s kingdom.
The disciples’ first order of business after Jesus’ ascension was replacing Judas. In the book of Acts, Luke chose not to spare his readers the grisly details of Judas’s suicide, noting that the betrayer’s “body burst open and all his intestines spilled out” (Acts 1:18).