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Judas Iscariot

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Question #1:   I read your studies every day. Thank you for your efforts, God has been blessing you! I have a question about Luke 22:1-7. Verse 3 states that "Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot". My question is did Judas have an actual Satanic possession? Had Judas invited a demon to take him over? I know it was the will of the God to fulfill His Word, but did Judas give an invitation? Satan's action in that Scripture sure is a scary thing! Waiting eagerly for an answer. God bless you.

Response #1:  Thank you for your question, your encouragement, and especially for your faithfulness in studying the Word of God.

In addition to Luke chapter 22, John chapter 13 also talks about the possession of Judas by Satan. And Jesus, while predicting Judas' betrayal earlier, also calls him "a devil" (Jn.6:70-71; Greek: diabolos [from which we get "diabolical", etc.]). The word is, in fact, the exact verb form used for Satan entering Judas in both Luke 22:3 and John 13:27: Satan "went into" Judas. However, in the Luke passage, the possession occurs just before Judas goes to the chief priests to organize Jesus' arrest, while in the John passage, it happens just before Judas goes out to summon the soldiers to come and arrest Him. This is not a contradiction. John, aware of the first "entrance", tells us before this second entering of the devil into Judas that Satan had already "filled his heart" (Jn.13:2). As far as I am aware, the translations all miss this point, usually rendering it something like "put it into his heart", etc. But the Greek word ballo (which incidentally is cognate to diabolos) is often intransitive, especially in the perfect tense which we have here. So the idea really is more of Satan himself "having rushed [personally] into his heart already", rather than merely putting an idea in his head. The difference is not huge, but it is of some importance to our inquiry, for it shows that John also understood Judas' first stage in the betrayal to have been mediated by a Satanic possession.

We can glean a couple of important points from all this: 1) Satan did possess Judas, not once but twice; 2) this means that in between the agreement with the priests and the re-entrance of Satan during the last supper, Judas was not physically indwelt by the devil; 3) but, nonetheless, Judas did not change his mind, or warn anyone of what he had done, or take any steps to remedy his actions, even though his will was not in any way under the devil's direct control during the interim.

What does all this mean? One thing that we can state with assuredness is that this betrayal of Jesus, a betrayal that gave time for reflection in between the two crucial steps, was something that Judas was at least not averse to - it may not have been his idea, but he clearly seems to have felt it was a prudent thing to at least make some money off the death of our Lord, since He was likely to be killed anyway. Horrible as this is to contemplate, it makes a point about the issue of possession which is central to your question, namely, demon possession (not to mention possession by the devil himself) does not come out of nowhere. People are not heading one way then suddenly possessed and so they head the other. No, demon possession only occurs in cases where, at least initially, the will of the individual participates with the satanic purposes of the demon forces they essentially welcome in. This is one reason why believers in Jesus Christ are never demon-possessed. We may be observed, harassed, even influenced directly or indirectly by satanic forces abroad in the world in moments of spiritual weakness. But one cannot drink of the cup of Christ and that of the devil at the same time (1Cor.10:21). No one speaking in the Spirit can say "Jesus be cursed" (1Cor.12:3). No one who is truly committed to following Jesus Christ can turn around and give him/herself over to the power of the devil the next moment (cf. 1Cor.12:2). Judas had been an unbeliever a long time, possibly from the beginning. When Jesus calls him "a devil" (i.e., given over to the devil in his allegiance; Jn.6:70-71), that final Passover was still over a year away (cf. Jn.6:4).

The first step in any sort of demon involvement is always turning away from the truth. Clearly, desiring or allowing or even being open to the idea of having some foreign ungodly influence come into one's heart is an indication that a person is already well down the road not only of unbelief but of rejection of God's laws for life on earth that apply to unbelievers as well as to believers. And without such openness, there can be no possession. As to the form an "invitation" might take, scripture is silent, but it is fair to say from scripture and observation that any sort of dalliance with the occult or idolatry or anything that looks to the ungodly supernatural for answers, solutions, or entertainment is a very, very dangerous thing. In the ancient world, drugs played a big part of the ecstatic mystery cults, and inquiry of the gods (demons) at pagan shrines, and prayers and magic directed to or empowered by such gods and cults. Needless to say then, anyone who would avoid demon possession should avoid drugs. Ouija boards, seances, witchcraft (however "white"), and any and all contact with the occult are all things used by the devil to open a person up, to make a person more willing to accept demon influence on a more personal level than mere suggestion (i.e, through possession).

The possession of Judas is a special case. Betraying the Son of God Himself is clearly no small matter. Like Pharaoh who had to be given a special allowance of "hardness" by God in order to be able to oppose Him to the extent that he did (cf. Ex.14:4; see Exodus 14: Hardening Pharaoh's Heart), Judas probably could not have brought himself to do this egregious thing – even though he wanted to – without such a possession. It is also clear that Satan does not generally involve himself on the front lines of the earthly battle as he does here. The devil 1) did tempt Eve, 2) did tempt Christ, 3) did possess Judas, and 4) will spawn antichrist - all of these activities represent critical points in Satan's attempt to thwart the plan of God and establish his own kingdom instead, and in each of them, God has worked things in His perfect way to thwart the devil's design and bring about respectively 1) the proliferation of believers, 2) the demonstration of our Lord's perfect walk, 3) the salvation of the world, and 4) the complete annihilation of the forces of evil when our Lord returns.

There is more on demon possession in general to be found at the following links:

The Satanic Rebellion: Part 4: Satan's World-System, V.4 "Demon Possession".

The demon possessed girl in Acts 16.

Judas' "demonic children".

Judas and the plot to kill Christ.

Judas as a type of antichrist.

The so-called "Gospel of Judas".

Hope this helps with your question.

Yours in our Lord Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #2: 

How did Judas Iscariot hang himself and also die of his intestines bursting? Did he hang himself and hang there so long that as the body decomposes the blotting occurred and he burst from this? Honestly now, how did this happen?

Response #2: 

Well, that this happened as a result of decay over time is, from the strictly human point of view, the most likely scenario, given that Matt.27:5 definitely says Judas hanged himself (in the Greek - the translation "impaled himself" suggested by some is, in my opinion, not valid). Peter's comment at Acts 1:18-19 "having ended up on his head (probably = having fallen head-first), he burst in the middle" could suggest that some time had past. This is not without precedent in the ancient world, where, generally speaking, deaths of this sort whether at the hands of the state or at one's own hands were not "cleaned up" after the fact (unless a loved one was so inclined; cf. 2Sam.21:1-14). Bodies were generally left where they were – as an example. The crucifixion is an exception because "the place was near the city" Jn.19:20 and so "the Jews did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath" Jn.19:31.

However there is no need to assume that this "splitting open" was a result of purely natural processes. To be sure, this result certainly would be a fitting divine rejection of Judas' sorry act of penance in killing himself (compare 2Chron.21:14-19 where divine judgment upon the evil king Jehoram provides an identical result – although without him hanging himself). To suffer this end reminds me of the curse in Psalm 109:18-19: "He wore cursing as his garment; it entered into his body like water, into his bones like oil. May it be like a cloak wrapped around him, like a belt tied forever around him" (NIV). Psalms 109 and 69 (quoted by Peter in Acts 1:20), after all, are the very ones quoted by Peter here in Acts chapter one in his pronouncement upon Judas (and the other curses contained in these two Psalms bear reading in this regard as well). So that for Judas to suffer an especially ignoble end of this sort was, if anything, highly appropriate.

Yours in Him in whom we have a sure and certain hope of resurrection and eternal life, our Lord Jesus


Bob L.

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