Judas Was Not Predestined or Foreknown to Betray Christ

It cannot be that God required the damnation of a single soul to provide an Atonement for the rest of humanity.  Who could accept a salvation that was predicated on that damnation?Image

In what follows is a exegesis of important aspects of basic Greek grammar and syntax to show that this passage does not teach that Judas was predestined to betray the Son of God.

“As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever. These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum. Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? b He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve. (Joh 6:57-71)

Analysis of the Greek:

v 61 When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you?
v 61: εἰδὼς δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἐν ἑαυτῷ ὅτι γογγύζουσιν περὶ τούτου οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ

1.) εἰδῷ to know, i. e. get knowledge of, understand, perceive; a. any fact: with the addition of ἐν ἑαυτῷ followed by ὅτι John 6:61.

εἰδὼς … ἐν ἑαυτῷ … ὅτι
having come to know , within Himself ->”that”

Here the used of “εἰδῷ” is emphatic. Christ became aware of what was happening in the hearts of the mumbling disciples. “Knowing” in the Greek here is in the perfect tense of completed action .

In other words, Jesus became immediately conscious of the shift in loyalty that happened in disciples at large and in Judas in particular. His words had polarized those who “believed in him”. In the disciples at large a general defection. But in Judas, it betrayal.

That is shown in this verse:

“But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. (verse 64)

ἀλλ᾽ εἰσὶν ἐξ ὑμῶν τινες οἳ οὐ πιστεύουσιν. ᾔδει γὰρ ἐξ ἀρχῆς ὁ Ἰησοῦς τίνες εἰσὶν οἱ μὴ πιστεύοντες καὶ τίς ἐστιν ὁ παραδώσων αὐτόν.

‘believe not’ (πιστεύουσιν – present tense) : lit., there are some of you who are not believing. Note: this is in response to what just happened. For His part He is telling them, I know that you stopped believing and you are scandalized over my words. IF you could see me ascend where I was before you would not be scandalized.

Then comes the next revelation. The English translation comes across such that the betrayal was known before hand and already a foregone conclusion. But that is incorrect. It merely says that as a result of knowing their hearts Jesus was also cognizant of the added purpose in Judas to betray him .

ἐστιν ὁ παραδώσων αὐτόν – knew from the beginning when betrayal formed in Judas’ heart.

Jesus goes on to challenge them all with “Did I not tell you, that no man can ‘come unto me’, except it were given… It is as much to say: You hearts are not right before the Father, otherwise you would hear my voice and KNOW that I am He. That last appeal went rejected by many. Too awful to contemplate that they were touched by the power of His word and knew it had authority to claim their absolute allegiance, and they turned away.

v 67 Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?

A. T. Robertson’s exegetical remarks on verse 64 are as follows:

“that believe not (hoi ou pisteuousin). Failure to believe kills the life in the words of Jesus. ‘Knew from the beginning’ (eidei ex arches). In the N.T. we have ‘ex arches’ only here and 16:4, but … John does not say here that Jesus knew that Judas would betray him when he chose him as one of the twelve, laeast of all that he chose him for that purpose. What he does say is that Jesus was not taken by surprise and soon saw signs of treason in Judas. The same verb is used of John’ arrest in Matt. 4:12. Once Judas is termed traitor (prodotes) in Luke 6:16. Judas had gifts and was given his opportunity. He did not have to betray Jesus.”

v 70 Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?

[NAS – … and yet one of you is a devil?”] That is, NOW, on of you is a devil.

Again, A. T. Robertson’s exegesis on verse 70:

“And one of you is a devil.” Jesus does not say that Judas was a devil when he chose him, but that he is one now. In 13:2 and 27 John speaks of the devil entering Judas. How soon the plan to betray Jesus first entered the heart of Judas we do not know (12:4). One wonders if the words of Jesus did not cut Judas to the quick.”

This exegesis by the renowned Baptist Scholar is remarkably different from the theological ethos he is reckoned with. His scholarship trumps his theology here and as such places the text before the reader anew. The important nuances of Greek syntax is demonstrated here and seriously undermines the traditional view of Judas’ being either foreordained or foreknown to betray Jesus.

This should be a relief to those who have wondered how in the world Jesus’ betrayal could have anything to do with God’s plan of Salvation.  It does not.

“Nescience of Future Contingencies is Necessary to Safeguard the Wisdom and Candor of the Holy Ghost.”

December 12, 2013 at 12:54am

The following excerpt is taken from a chapter in the book referenced below and represents a penetrating analysis of traditional understandings of God.  I commend it to every reader who has ever felt the pang of of a fiery dart of doubt about the Goodness of God against the backdrop of evil in the world.

Nescience of Future Contingencies is Necessary to Safeguard the Wisdom and Candor of the Holy Ghost.

The Holy Ghost sees now that I am certainly to be lost, if that fate awaits me and prescience be true. From all eternity he has distinctly seen my awful doom. He not only saw me entering the arena of life, but he saw himself entering it with me. He saw himself breathing holy influences upon me when the atmosphere first bathed me, when the light first saluted me, and when my mother pressed me for the first time to her throbbing breast, he saw himself watching tenderly my orphan footsteps, and then with enhanced interest and solicitude as I crossed the line of accountability, and encountered the fearful hazards of a homeless youth.

From all eternity he has seen himself laboring with me, illuminating me, wooing me, beseeching me not to grieve him, not to wrong my own soul, but to be holy and obedient. He has seen himself making these persistent efforts, to describe which even angelic eloquence would be incompetent, and yet from all eternity he has foreknown that he would in the end signally fail in all his endeavors to snatch my soul from endless perdition. He has always known that I would be finally an incorrigible outcast; and yet he has been laboring for my redemption with all the vehemence of infinite love. But what sensible man would remain at tile foot of Mont Blanc for half a century, making unceasing efforts to remove it from its base by the breath of his mouth? Equally unreasonable and indefensible is it for tile Holy Ghost to make incessant efforts, through decades of years, to rescue from eternal ruin one whose name has ever been enrolled on the immutable records of absolute prescience on the dark scroll of fate, and spoken of and calculated upon in all the counsels of eternity, as a vessel of wrath and an heir of death. All the awakenings, illuminatings, renewings, strivings and inspirings which the Holy Ghost has wrought in my sinful soul were wrought there on the clearly assumed fact of my actual avoidability of moral evil. He has made the think and feel that he himself really thinks and feels, that there is for me now an unquestioned avoidability of eternal death. What he has done for me he has done for all men, for “He is the light that enlighteneth every man that cometh into the world.” But is it possible that the Holy Ghost should come to me as though he came in good faith, dealing with me in all candor, entreating me not to quench his light, not to sin, but to embrace his offer of salvation, when at that very moment lie knows that he has already predicated ten thousand specific results and enterprises upon my foreknown choice of resisting him, unto eternal death, and when, too, he knows my choice of death is indispensable to safeguard his own infallible foreknowledge ?

If such views and beliefs do not stultify and dishonor the third person of the adorable Trinity, and render insincere and mockish all his efforts to rescue from ruin perishing souls, then the human mind may instanter abandon thinking as a means of reaching reliable conclusions on any religious subject. But the above inferences are no more startlingly blasphemous, than they are logically inevitable from the undue assumption of absolute prescience. Better surrender prescience at any hazard, than to fasten insincerity upon the Holy Ghost, whom the Father hath sent in the name of his Son.”

From: “Divine Nescience of Future Contingencies A Necessity”, L. D. McCabe