Did Judas really betray Jesus?
As most of us realize from the rest of the gospels, Jesus is speaking of Judas, one of the twelve close disciples of Jesus. The phrase, “betray me” is translated* from the Greek word παραδίδωμι (paradidōmi).
But the lexicon clearly states that the word means, “to give into the hands (of another)” and “to deliver up one to custody.” Yes, there is an element of betrayal here, as it states, “to deliver up treacherously.” But it can also mean “to permit or allow” and “to commit.”
And we know from the events that truly, Judas did have Jesus arrested. This is the fact.
But we must ask the question: If Jesus knew that Judas beforehand and did nothing to prevent it, was it a betrayal? If Jesus knew about it, and did not kick Judas out of his inner circle, then he permitted it to happen. So is this a betrayal or not?
An even more key question to ask here is that if Jesus knew Judas would have Jesus arrested, then why didn't he leave the area? Why didn't he avoid the arrest if he knew beforehand - as this verse and others indicate? Why didn't he take off and leave the Jerusalem area, and go into hiding for a few days?
In Matthew, for example, it discusses how Jesus withdrew when he became aware of being in danger:
But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus. Aware of this, Jesus withdrew from that place. (Matt. 12:14-15)So we know from this and elsewhere that Jesus would escape those who were a threat. Why did he stick around this time if he knew he would be arrested?
Jesus had many disciples and students. He did not only have twelve. It is clear from the scriptures that he taught to thousands of people, and many of those followed him. And he sent out 72 disciples to teach to others:
After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. He told them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.” (Luke 10:1-3)But we also know that some twelve students came to be his close disciples, who he sometimes revealed confidential information about his teachings:
When he was alone, the twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables. He told them, "The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables" (Mark 4:10-11)And Judas was one of this select group, and one of the "twelve." This brings up a key question: Why would Jesus keep such a person as a close disciple, who shared dinners with him and performed personal services for Jesus? Did he not realize Judas would "betray" him?
We also know that Judas was the treasurer for Jesus –
who kept the money bag (John 12:6)Jesus could have easily not invited Judas to be with him and his close disciples at that dinner. He could have also not allowed Judas to know he would go to Gethsemane - where he was arrested.
The Gospel of Judas
The answer to this may have come in the form of an ancient text discovered in Egypt. The text was named the "Gospel of Judas." The text was carbon-dated by scientists to have been written in the 2nd or 3rd centuries, and other texts indicate it existed at least prior to 180 AD, because a bishop wrote a letter about it in 180 AD. In other words, the text was originally written close to the time the four gospels were also written.
This text reveals an explanation of why Judas was kept as a close disciple even though Jesus knew he would arrange for his arrest. The text indicates that Judas arranged for Jesus' arrest at the request of Jesus. The text indicates that Judas complied with Jesus' request as part of his service to Jesus.
While this commentary is not confirming nor denying the validity of the Gospel of Judas, this fact that Judas' arrangement for Jesus' arrest was done in the service of Jesus is confirmed by Jesus himself in the Book of John as he spoke to Judas a minute later, after he confirmed to everyone that it was Judas who would betray him by handing bread to Judas after saying that he would hand bread to the one who would betray him (John 13:26):
"What you are about to do, do quickly," Jesus told him, but no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. (John 13:27-28)This clearly indicates two things:
1) That Jesus was instructing Judas to arrange for his arrest.
2) That Jesus authorized Judas' arranging for his arrest.
Since Jesus' other disciples did not understand what Jesus was doing, we can now dismiss other interpretations and/or mistranslations that indicate Judas' act was an act of betrayal.
The alternate translation*
The word being translated* to "betrayal" does not mean being "betrayed." The Greek word παραδίδωμι (paradidōmi) means, according to the lexicon, "to give into the hands (of another)." For example, this word was also used by Jesus in this verse: "The man with the two talents also came. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.'" (Matt. 25:22)
Here the word "entrusted" is being translated from παραδίδωμι (paradidōmi). There are also other verses where this Greek word is used, applying it to something being honorably handed over to another, or simply being arrested. The word can also be used to describe someone who hands someone over "treacherously," but such "treachery" must be indicated outside the use of the word.
In other words, the handing over could be done "treacherously" or with permission ("entrustingly"), and Jesus' statement in John 13:21 does not include any indication of "treachery." Rather, the translators have assumed this.
Jesus' arrest was allowed
The bottom line is that the combination of Jesus' statements to Judas and his disciples, together with the fact that Judas was a close disciple, indicates that Jesus' arrest was arranged. While Jesus did not make the guards arrest him, he knew they - encouraged by the Jewish high priests - wanted to. He knew it was going to happen at some point, and he knew that this was God's will and arrangement. So Jesus simply steered the event by instructing Judas to turn him in at a particular point.
Many ecclesiastical sectarian teachers propose that Jesus' arrest was done by "satan," based on this verse:
As soon as Judas took the bread, satan entered into him. (John 13:27)This brings the question: Is God somehow out of control, and this person, "satan" somehow is able to manipulate events out of God's control?
This is a contradiction. It would mean that God is not the Supreme Being. God means omniscient being, one who is in complete control. Having a person called "satan" running around, entering people and getting them to do things against God without God's permission means that God is not in control.
This idea that "satan" had Jesus arrested against God's will contradicts Jesus' statements, as well as Jesus' three prayers before his arrest, where he confirms that his coming arrest and persecution is God's will:
"My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may Your will be done." (Matthew 26:42)Since Jesus' crucifixion was willed by God, this indicates that Jesus' arrest was also willed by God.
God is not out of control. No one usurps His authority. God owns and controls everything, and nothing happens without His consent. This is confirmed by Jesus' statement after Judas left on Jesus' instruction to "what you are about to do, do quickly:"
"Now" indicates that Judas' departure signals the beginning of events to unfold that would serve to glorify the Supreme Being. This confirms, along with Jesus' statements and his prayers, that not only was the arrest ordained and arranged by God, but its ultimate purpose was to glorify God, and glorify God's representative - whose focus was to glorify God.
Why is Jesus explaining this to his disciples?
Because they didn't understand what was happening and why. They did not realize that Jesus’ arrest was the result of the Supreme Being allowing the freedom to love Him or not. This gives those who don’t want to love Him the ability to reject Him and His representative.
Just consider, for example, if a government sends an ambassador to another country. The ambassador will only enter the country if he is accepted by the country. The country can, for example, not accept the ambassador, and send him home. That is the country’s prerogative.
But just consider if the ambassador was forced upon the other country. Say the country sending the ambassador was a big country and threatened the other country, ‘if you don’t accept our ambassador, we will attack you.’ What kind of person would do that? A bully of a country.
In the same way, the Supreme Being does not force Himself upon us. God is not a bully. He is a kind, gentle God – contradicting the Biblical translations of ecclesiastical scribes. Nor does God force us to accept His representative. We always have the freedom to accept or reject God and His representative.
This is in fact why so many of God’s representatives have been persecuted by people. Because God does not want to force Himself nor his representative upon anyone.
In fact, if God did not allow those around Jesus the freedom to reject His representative – or threaten us if we didn’t – then how could we truly love God? We couldn’t. We would be forced.
And love cannot be forced.
Therefore, by Jesus accepting the freedom of choice by those who were willing to persecute him – and the freedom of his disciple to value the money he would be paid – Jesus was being glorified and he was glorifying the Supreme Being.
When most people think of glory, they think of a king that conquers an enemy and is victorious.
But the type of glory that Jesus is speaking of regards love. Kindness. Being loveable.
For the Supreme Being loves us so much that He only wants us to love Him when we make the choice.
He even presents us with so many reasons not to. He presents us with material gains, sexual gratification, fame and so many other temptations. Why? If God wanted to force us to worship Him why would He present to us so many temptations?
Because He only wants those who are serious about re-developing their loving relationship with Him.
The "evil one" in fact, is selfishness - and the illusion that follows, believing that we will become happy by chasing our selfish desires. Selfish desires manifested into consciousness and events that allow those selfish desires to be carried out.
God certainly has the ability to interfere with our selfishness if He wants. But He doesn’t. He wants us to make the choices.
But doesn’t allowing God’s representative to be persecuted mean the Supreme Being is mean or doesn’t care?
Certainly not. We must understand that Jesus is not his physical body. That body was a temporary vehicle of Jesus. The pain that was experienced by Jesus was actually Jesus’ service to the Supreme Being.
And this was a source of pleasure to Jesus. His body certainly suffered. But within his spiritual self he maintained his glory - sacrificing his body for the Supreme Being.
Jesus came to the physical world to glorify God.
Jesus knew he would be taking on a body that would be subjected to many pains – thirst, hunger, soreness and so many other problems. But Jesus accepted this as part of his service to God. He wanted to please God.
Jesus – the spiritual person – left his physical body at the time of death.
Jesus confirms this in the Gospel of Judas, as he tells Judas as he instructs him to have him arrested:
"You will sacriﬁce the man that clothes me.”This “man” – from the ancient Coptic language – better translated to “body” – is the temporary physical body that Jesus was wearing – just as he indicates with the phrase “clothes me.”
Certainly the Gospel of Judas – which was carbon-dated to have been written sometime between 150 AD and 280 AD – around the age of the oldest manuscripts that were accepted as Biblical texts – has been disavowed by the organized churches, including the Roman Catholic church.
However, these organized churches continue to crucify Jesus, as they display his body in agony on the cross. They wear these crosses, and they worship these crosses – some even with depictions of Jesus’ body dying on them.
As such, they are worshiping the torture of Jesus’ body. Why?
So they can be saved. They could care less about Jesus’ suffering. They just want to be saved and feel purified. So they ignore Jesus’ teachings while they worship his persecution.
So how do Jesus' arrest and the murder of his physical body glorify God?
Because it illustrated that Jesus loved God to the extent that he would allow his body to be tortured and killed on behalf of his teachings. It illustrated that His teachings and His relationship with God were important enough to "die" for.
While Jesus did not "die" - only his physical body died - sacrificing one's physical body for another is the greatest sacrifice known in the physical dimension. The event serves to illustrate the extent of the loving relationship that exists between Jesus and God.
Precisely how does this glorify God? Jesus' persecution illustrates how wonderful a loving relationship with God truly is. It shows us how satisfying such a loving relationship with the Supreme Being is, that Jesus would consider his physical body so unimportant in the face of pleasing the Supreme Being.
While the torture and murder of God's loving servant were surely demoniac, the event precisely illustrated the importance of Jesus' 'first and greatest' teaching:
"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matt. 23:37-38)
*Here is the translation of Jesus' statement from the Gospels of Jesus:
After Jesus said this, his spirit became troubled, and he explained, saying, “Very truly, I say to you that one of you will have me arrested.” (John 13:21)