The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Judas Iscariot better off not being born

So, I’m becoming pretty compelled by Universalist arguments. The main thing still holding back is about Judas.

Outside debating Unversalism Judas fate is debated a lot. I firmly believe he is Damned in the sense that he will enter the Lake of Fire. In fact my theory is he’s The False Prophet.

But it’s only 1 verse about Judas I want to discus here. Mark 14:21 Jesus says of Judas.

If Judas is eventually Saved, this seems like over the top hyperbole. Which it could be, but still. Saying he’d be better off not being born seems justified only if there is absolutely no light at the end of the Tunnel.

So how do the Universalists here view this statement?

Well yeah, that’s simply what it is… “hyperbole”. And given your penchant for ‘eternal security’ surely this is a given in the light of…

Surely ‘Eternal security’ IF held to with any consistency must give space for restoration beyond his own place of self condemnation (regret), Mt 27:3-5.

I still like L Ray Smith’s take on it.

I maintain that I don’t think the Bible it saying that it was good for Judas to have not been born. It would have been good for Jesus had Judas not been born… That said, even if we call this disputed, George MacDonald goes into this a bit on his Unspoken Sermons with the traditional translation and he still argues a case that the phrase doesn’t automatically mean that Judas is lost forever.

Judas was never a True Believer, he was “chosen” in a sense by Jesus even though he was a Devil.

Cool find Gabe, thank yo.

God both punishes and purifies. He destroys the old self in the “Lake of Fire” and creates a new one. It would have been better had the old Judas had not been born. So, God will destroy him as he is baptized in the lake of fire then resurrected to new life and given a new name -son of God. No longer is he the son of perdition.

The phrase is a cry for pity on the object elsewhere in the scriptures.

I do think the Greek grammar (not necessarily the word order) points toward Jesus saying ‘better for Judas if Judas had not been born’, but the phrase is used for other people no one thinks is lost forever. My ExCom article on Matt 26:25 and parallels (including at GosMark).

Peter quoting Psalms in condemning Iscariot would be more worrisome to me, if Acts showed that Peter even after Pentacost was always right on the money about God’s intentions for not saving people Peter doesn’t expect to be saved. But there’s a whole chapter on Peter admitting he was wrong about who ought to be evangelized, and that’s after Pentacost, not before. I somewhat doubt that it’s a coincidence that King David is being quite principally inconsistent in those Psalms about expecting God to patiently forgive him for his murderous betrayal but not to save those other traitors over there (who after all are dissing him on the same issue God Himself is judging against David – the betrayal of his great friend and ally Uriah.) The Son of David might be regarded as better than David on this and other matters. :wink: My ExCom article on Acts 1:15-26. Also some notes on Psalm 69.

What I regard as decisive is a composite argument about Jesus’ intentions toward Iscariot, and what He expects from His apostles (which on the evidence we have they don’t appear to have followed through with!), from John 13 - 17. Part 1 here, Part 2 here. John 17 is also part of a larger argument stretching back at least as far as John 5 on Jesus’ own goals and intentions on raising those who do the evil things to judgment, and what He expects the results to be eventually. This naturally includes Iscariot. But put shortly, while Jesus lost “the son of perdition” in one way (who was out right that moment betraying Him) so that the scriptures would be fulfilled, Iscariot was still given to Jesus in order for Jesus to give him eonian life, and this shall also be fulfilled. Temporary loss is loss, but it’s also temporary.

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I think that whatever is meant by those words, they do not override the statements of scripture in other places like Eph 1:9-11; Col 1:15-20; John 12:32; 1 Cor 15:26-28; Phil 2:9-11; Rev 21:5, etc. The theology underlying the restoration of all things just becomes more and more conclusive as one studies the word(imo) and so the occasional obscurity, altho it may serve to keep us humble and leave room for God to be God and do whatever He wants come the time, cannot overturn the whole.

I would never interpret a larger body of verses through one obscure statement. Once the foundation is securely laid it becomes thankfully more difficult to reverse field based on exceptions that are open to interpretation.

Judas was an “apostle” chosen by Jesus and fully “part of” Jesus’ ministry (Acts 1:17, 25).

One CANNOT fall from a position one is not already in or a vital part of; it is a logical impossibility. The same goes for becoming “lost” (Jn 17:12)… again an impossibility IF one is already truly lost – Judas wasn’t; he was part of Jesus’ apostolic inner circle. Hence as Jason correctly notes, Jesus’ “cry for pity”.

This is the most literal translation I can come up with:


I added the word “it would be” for clarity.

The question is, "For whom would it have been good if the betrayer had not been born? As has been pointed out, the reference could be to the son of man. If Judas had not been begotten and born, then Jesus may not have been delivered over to be crucified, and that would have been good for Him as far as His personal well-being was concerned.

George MacDonald explains that the passage basically means that Judas didn’t get any good out of this world. Incidentally, MacDonald elsewhere (in Lilith, I think) states that this is true of most of us: We waste our entire lives on sin and thereby do not get the good God wanted to give us in this world. We might as well not have been born into this world, since we made a total hash of our earthly lives.

Judas was only given that position so that the Scriptures would be fulfilled that Jesus would be betrayed.

Makes sense to me.

Of relevance here is Matthew 26:24. This is the wording according to the NIV.

The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.

Potential ambiguity exists for the antecedent of the pronoun him in the last sentence. Most people think the antecedent is Judas, the man who betrayed the Son of Man, Jesus. But some do not. In fact, in one Bible version, Jesus seems to be the assumed antecedent of both occurrences of Him because both of them are capitalized.

The Son of Mankind is indeed going away, according as it is written concerning Him, yet woe to that man through whom the Son of Mankind is being given up! Ideal were it for Him if that man were not born. (Concordant Literal Translation)

George MacDonald “It shall not be forgiven”

This is what MacDonald actually said. He acknowledged the traditional translation (which, as stated, I think is wrong) and yet still didn’t interpret the verse the way infernalists do.

Yep, that’s the MacDonald passage I was thinking of, but I couldn’t remember which sermon it was in. Thanks for posting it! :slight_smile:

Yes he was “given that position” just like the rest of the apostles; he was called and appointed… he simply betrayed that calling “that the Scriptures would be fulfilled” and paid the unfortunate consequences thereof in terms of losing his life.

He was a Diabolos when Jesus chose him, not a word He’d use of a Believer.

I’d like thank everyone for their insights, I think I feel this matter is settled. Everything said about Judas can still be consistent with Universalism.

If anyone is curious about the False Prophet theory I mentioned it’s here.

Part 4 is where I talk about Judas, but I draw on arguments from the previous 3 parts. The fifth part was added very recently.

Yeah, Jesus would never ever ever use a term like “you Satan” for a person He had chosen to be a true apostle. :unamused: :wink:

And if any number of apostles betrayed and abandoned Jesus, down to cursing themselves to denounce Jesus, so that the scriptures would be fulfilled, surely they must be lost after that: Jesus would never ever go after them to restore them to fellowship, once they’ve served their purpose of being traitors, which must be the only purpose Jesus ever had in calling such eventual traitors.

Right? :smiling_imp:

(I can’t accept arguments of that sort against Iscariot, because they fit the other apostles just as well: the principles being appealed to are falsified in Jesus’ practice regarding them. Even when I thought Iscariot must be lost, I didn’t think so due to such arguments.)

I’m reminded of a passage by G. K. Chesterton about the papacy of Rome. He said it was unnecessary for Protestants to reject the papacy because of the sinfulness of various Popes throughout history. Chesterton said that one need go no further than Peter (the first Pope in Roman Catholic thought) to find grounds for rejecting the papacy. After all, Peter committed a sin unthinkable for any of the later Popes: He claimed that he didn’t even know who Jesus was!

Not being born doesn’t equate to not existing. Could this passage mean that it would have been a better situation at that point for Judas if he had died in the womb? (He would still have existed.)