Did the devil destroy Judas forever?

If Judas, the one who betrayed Jesus, was destroyed by Satan forever, what does that say about God? That the devil is more powerful than God? Or that God doesn’t have the power to save some people?

But if that’s true, how can anyone preach the gospel with a clear conscience? The gospel is supposed to be the good news of God sending Jesus to save us, with no exceptions – a point Jesus himself emphasized in John 18:9 when he said, “I have not lost one of those you gave me.” Not one.

Ah, but didn’t Jesus also say in John 17:12, “None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction”? So there was an exception, right? Jesus did lose somebody. But did Jesus lose Judas because he was unable to save him? No, verse 12, Judas was lost “so that Scripture would be fulfilled.” It was already predicted in Scripture that someone would betray Jesus, and Judas ended up being the one. Judas, therefore, wasn’t one of those God gave to Jesus for salvation. God had another purpose for Judas.

But if Judas wasn’t lost forever because he’d never been given to Jesus for salvation in the first place, why did Jesus use the term “lost” to describe Judas at all? Because in context Jesus meant he lost Judas as a disciple (verse 12). Not lost him forever, but lost him as one of the twelve.

But what about Matthew 26:24 where Jesus says of Judas, “Woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.” Well of course it would have been better if Judas had never existed, knowing what he did, but is there any mention in this verse of Judas being lost forever? No.

Jesus talks of the exact opposite happening to Judas, in fact, in verse 28, when Jesus describes the cup of wine they shared as the “blood of my covenant which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” Judas drank from that cup too, and did Jesus exclude Judas from the forgiveness of sins it pictured? No.

So when Judas admits “I have sinned,” Matthew 27:4, was his sin the one exception to God’s forgiveness? If it was then we must preach that Christ’s blood does not cover every sin, and that God can’t save some people because the devil’s managed to destroy them, which is saying the devil is more powerful than God. But is that the picture of God we preach? No, we preach the good news of John 3:16-17.

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The worst thing Judas did wasn’t betraying Jesus

The worst thing Judas did wasn’t betraying Jesus, because someone had to betray Jesus “to fulfill the scripture; ‘He who shares my bread has lifted up his heel against me,'” John 13:18. Jesus was quoting Psalm 41:9, and David’s lament that “Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me,” a probable reference to Ahithophel, David’s personal confidante and “counselor” (2 Samuel 15:12), who joined Absalom’s rebellion against David.

Jesus lifted that scripture from Psalms to predict that someone was going to betray him, just like Ahithophel betrayed David. Jesus knew who that someone was too, as early as John 6:70-71, when he told his disciples, “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot).” Jesus also knew that Judas’ betrayal of him would be the devil’s doing, and in John 13:2, “the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus.” So it all happened exactly as Jesus knew it would: the betrayal, who would do the betraying, and who inspired it. Judas’ betrayal of Jesus, therefore, wasn’t the worst thing in the world; it was, in fact, fulfilling a necessary part in the Father’s plan, and it didn’t shock Jesus at all when it happened.

The worst thing Judas did was to commit suicide after it happened, because he didn’t have to. In Matthew 27:3-4, “he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and elders. ‘I have sinned,’ he said, ‘for I have betrayed innocent blood.'” When he realized what he’d done he repented, publicly admitted his fault, and he tried to make amends by returning the money. And when the priests wouldn’t take the money back “Judas threw the money into the temple and left,” verse 5. Even Judas’ biggest problem, his love for money, disappeared.

Unfortunately, Judas then “went away and hanged himself.” I say “unfortunately,” because there were other people just as responsible for Jesus’ death as Judas was, but they didn’t kill themselves, and nor did they need to. When Peter yelled out: “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” in Acts 2:36, he didn’t tell all those guilty of crucifying Christ to go away and commit suicide, even though they’d killed Christ too. Their sin was just as bad as Judas’ sin, but Peter simply told them to “Repent,” verse 38.

But Judas HAD repented. He’d done what Peter said. Killing himself, therefore, was the worst thing Judas did, because his repentance, just like Israel’s repentance, would have been accepted.