"I tell you the truth, one of you is going to betray me." (John 13:21)

After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, "Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me." (John 13:21)

Who is Jesus referring to?

Most institutional teachers agree that Jesus is speaking of Judas, one of the twelve closest disciples of Jesus. 

This is assumed because Jesus says, "one of you." Since he is speaking to his disciples at what is referred to as 'the last supper,' it must be one of those in attendance.

But something curious happens. None of Jesus' disciples knew who was going to do this.

Then Jesus says that it is the one that he hands the bread to. Then he hands the bread to Judas.

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.

But we must ask the question: If Jesus knew that Judas would do this 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 and did not go to the place that Judas told the High Priest he would be, then was this a betrayal or not?

An even more critical question to ask here is that if Jesus knew Judas would have him arrested, why didn't he leave the area? Why did he wait at Gethsemane - the spot that Judas told them he would be? 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 followers came to be his administrative disciples, to whom 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 so close, sharing dinners with him and performing personal services for Jesus? Since he apparently (from the above verse) knows that Judas would "betray" him, why did he keep him around?

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.

We know that Jesus did authorize Judas to tell the High Priest where he would be. But Jesus didn't ask Judas to collect 30 pieces of silver for this. Such an act (collecting the money) was a betrayal. Judas was supposed to inform the High Priest where Jesus would be. But he wasn't supposed to collect money for it. That was when greed took hold in Judas - described as "Satan entered into him" in John 13:27.

What about the Gospel of Judas?

An ancient text discovered in Egypt 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.

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 is around the age of some of the manuscripts accepted as Biblical texts – has been disavowed by the organized churches, including the Roman Catholic church.

The Gospel of Judas has been validated and carbon-dated. But it is still being debated by scholars. But the notion that Jesus instructed Judas to arrange for his arrest is consistent with 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 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.

Is 'betray' the right translation?

The word being translated* to "betray" does not typically 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.

Again, the treachery involved was not Judas arranging for Jesus' arrest. The treachery was Judas accepting a ransom for it. That is both treachery and betrayal in anyone's eyes.

Why did Jesus not evade arrest?

The other problem with the notion that Judas (or satan using Judas) betrayed Jesus by arranging his arrest is that Jesus did nothing to evade arrest. He waited in the garden on Mount of Olives to be arrested, while his disciples slept. Jesus knew he was going to be arrested.

If this was the betrayal then Jesus would have simply left that place and evaded arrest. Betrayal means someone is doing something that we don't want to happen. If Jesus didn't want to be arrested he could have easily prevented it by going somewhere else.

But because he had arranged it with Judas, he waited at the spot that the high priest's guards were told to go. Judas told the high priest, after Jesus said, 'what you are about to do, do quickly.'

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 helped arrange his arrest. While Jesus did not make the guards arrest him, he knew the temple high priest Caiaphus - wanted to take Jesus out of circulation.

Jesus knew the high priest was out for him. He knew there was going to be a showdown at some point. He knew the high priest and the other temple priests wanted Jesus out of the picture. It was just a matter of time.

So Jesus, knowing that the Passover celebration was a big event, arranged for it to come to a head.

What about 'satan'?

Many 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 "satan" can manipulate events out of God's control?

This is a contradiction. It would mean that God is not the Supreme Being. The word, "God" means omniscient being - one who is in complete control. Having someone 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:"

Again, the betrayal of Judas was his accepting 30 pieces of silver in ransom (Matthew 26:15) for Jesus' arrest. This was not authorized by Jesus. This was Judas' decision, which was a betrayal.

The element that is translated to "satan" was Judas' greed - in accepting a ransom for arranging Jesus' arrest in advance. Jesus knew that he had done this. This is why Jesus instructed Judas to go ahead with his plan.  


*Here is the translation of Jesus' statement from the Lost 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)