HOW JUDAS ISCARIOT REFUTES CALVINISM

In this post I will use the case of Judas Iscariot to refute the Calvinistic doctrine of T.U.L.I.P.(1) by showing that the God-breathed Scriptures emphatically teach that Christ chose him for the express purpose of saving him, even though the Lord knew that he was a devil whom Satan would tempt to betray God’s uniquely begotten and beloved Son:

“Jesus answered them, ‘Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?’ He spoke of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, for it was he who would betray Him, being one of the twelve.” John 6:70-71

JESUS DIES FOR JUDAS’ SINS

According to Luke’s Gospel, on the night of Jesus’ betrayal our Lord offered the broken bread and the cup which pointed to his sacrificial death to all those who were present, telling them that he was doing this for them.

What makes Luke’s account rather interesting is that Judas was present and actually partook of the Lord’s Supper!

“And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is My body which is given for YOU; do this in remembrance of Me.’ And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, ‘This cup which is poured out for YOU is the new covenant in My blood. But behold, the hand of the one betraying Me is with Mine on the table. For indeed, the Son of Man is going as it has been determined; but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!’ And they began to discuss among themselves which one of them it might be who was going to do this thing.” Luke 22:19-23

This proves that Jesus had come to die for Judas to atone for his sins in order to save him from everlasting judgment.

Now if Christ wanted to exclude Judas he could have easily done so by qualifying his statements, much like we find in John’s Gospel when he washed the feet of the twelve Apostles:

“Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. During supper, the devil having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray Him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God, got up from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself. Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. So He came to Simon Peter. He said to Him, ‘Lord, do You wash my feet?’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter.’Peter said to Him, ‘Never shall You wash my feet!’ Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.’ Simon Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, then wash not only my feet, but also my hands and my head.’ Jesus said to him, ‘He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, BUT NOT ALL of you.’For He knew the one who was betraying Him; for this reason He said, ‘Not all of you are clean.’ So when He had washed their feet, and taken His garments and reclined at the table again, He said to them, ‘Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them. I do not speak of all of you. I know the ones I have chosen; but it is that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘He who eats My bread has lifted up his heel against Me.’” John 13:1-18

Christ’s statements that not all of his followers were clean, or that he wasn’t speaking about all of them, show that our Lord had no qualms about making sure that his audience knew he wasn’t referring to all of them. Yet no such qualification appears in our Lord’s words to the disciples when offering them the bread and the cup as a token of his sacrificial death on their behalf.

The foregoing, perhaps, explains why Biblical scholars readily admit that Judas personally partook of the Lord’s Supper:

Verse 21

The hand of him that betrayeth me, etc. – What can be desired more, says Dr. Lightfoot, as a demonstration that Judas was present at the eucharist? And, whereas the contrary is endeavored to be proved out of John 13, nothing is made out of nothing; for there is not one syllable throughout that whole chapter of the paschal supper, but of a supper before the feast of the Passover. (Adam Clarke’s Commentaryhttp://www.studylight.org/com/acc/view.cgi?bk=41&ch=22; bold emphasis mine)

Verse 21

But behold the hand of him that betrayeth me,…. By the “hand” is meant, not figuratively the counsel, contrivance, and conspiracy of Judas to betray him, as the word is used in 2 Samuel 14:19 but literally the hand of Judas, which was then dipping in the dish with Christ, Matthew 26:23 and it follows here, is with me on the table; and is an aggravation of his sin, that one that sat with him at his table, ate bread with him, and dipped his morsel in the same dish, should be the betrayer of him, according to the prophecy in Psalm 41:9 as well as describes and points at the person that should do this action, even one of his disciples; for which disciples, he had just now said, his body is given, and his blood is shed. The phrase, “with me”, is left out in the Syriac and Persic versions. From Luke’s account it appears most clearly, that Judas was not only at the passover, but at the Lord’s supper, since this was said when both were over. (John Gill’s Exposition of the Whole Biblehttp://www.studylight.org/com/geb/view.cgi?bk=41&ch=22; bold emphasis mine)

“… By referring to Judas’s betrayal after the Lord’s supper rather before (Mark 14:18-21; Matt 26:21-25), Luke revealed that participation in the Lord’s Supper does not guarantee membership in God’s kingdom. Compare John 13:26 and 13:27-30. Luke presented similar teachings elsewhere (see comments on 8:4-15; 13:22-30, ‘The Lukan message’).” (Robert Stein, Luke: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture (New American Commentary) [B&H Publishing Group, 1993], p. 546; bold emphasis mine)

“The introduction of a betrayer in v 21 is pregnant with significance. First, it is stunning simply that the inner circle of Jesus’ followers, those who constitute the kin group with whom he has chosen to share Passover, includes a betrayer (cf. 21:16). Though Luke does little linguistically to point his audience in this direction, we may nonetheless hear reverberations of the tragedy detailed with respect to the suffering righteous, including the travesty of treachery by a table intimate (Ps 41:9). Second, although ‘hand’ often has the transferred sense of ‘power,’ this term has also been used in reference to those who stand over against Jesus, those seeking his demise. That such a person is present even at Passover with Jesus is illustrative of the openness of his practices of table fellowship, but is also reminiscent of his earlier warning: Sharing table fellowship with Jesus, even listening to his teachings – these are no guarantee of entry into eschatological redemption (13:22-30)…” (Joel b. Green, The Gospel of Luke (The New International Commentary on the New Testament) [William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1997], pp. 764-765; bold emphasis mine)

JUDAS’ NAME WRITTEN IN HEAVEN

Luke also records the Lord’s statements that Judas was one of the disciples whose name had been written in heaven:

“After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go… Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.’ And He said to them, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because YOUR names are written in heaven.’” Luke 10:1, 17-30

For Judas’ name to be recorded in heaven means that God desired to save him from wrath and destruction.

Notable NT scholar Darrell L. Bock explains why he thinks that the twelve Apostles were included among the seventy disciples whom the Lord sent forth to evangelize:

The Mission of the Seventy-two (10:1–24)* The ministry of proclamation is not limited to the Twelve. In 9:1–6 they were sent out on a mission to preach the kingdom, but now a larger group of seventy-two is sent. Jesus does not limit ministry to a select few (see 9:49–50, 60–61). Disciples are called to preach the hope of the kingdom. Luke 22:35 refers back to these instructions when Jesus is addressing the Twelve at the Last Supper. So it appears that the Twelve are part of the seventy-two. They travel two by two to prepare different towns for Jesus’ arrival. It is clear from what Jesus says that the task ahead of them is large. There will be rejection, but they can also anticipate a large harvest. (Bock, Luke (Lk 10:1–24), InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL 1994; bold emphasis mine)

The following passage corroborates that Judas was one of the seventy that rejoiced at the fact that even demons were subject to them because of Christ’s authority:

“And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease.Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother;Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed Him. These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: ‘Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as you go, preach, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. Provide neither gold nor silver nor copper in your money belts, nor bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor staffs; for a worker is worthy of his food.’” Matthew 10:1-10

Moreover, the Holy Scriptures teach that God erases or blots out the name of any individual who falls away from God’s grace or refuses to repent and turn to him:

“Now it came to pass on the next day that Moses said to the people, ‘You have committed a great sin. So now I will go up to the LORD; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.’ Then Moses returned to the LORD and said, ‘Oh, these people have committed a great sin, and have made for themselves a god of gold! Yet now, if You will forgive their sin—but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written.’ And the LORD said to Moses, ‘Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book.’” Exodus 32:30-33

“Add iniquity to their iniquity, And let them not come into Your righteousness. Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, And not be written with the righteous.” Psalm 69:27-28

“He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.” Revelation 3:5

The risen Lord’s words imply that he will blot out the name of any Christian who fails to endure and overcome.

This is brought out clearly from the fact that the Bible plainly says that Christ will refuse to confess and acknowledge any person who is too ashamed to confess and acknowledge the Lord:

“Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 10:32-33

“For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” Mark 8:38

“For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will beashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels.” Luke 9:26

“If we endure, We shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us.” 2 Timothy 2:12

The aforementioned texts show that the risen Lord will indeed blot out the name from the Book of Life and refuse to confess anyone who falls short of enduring till the end and/or denies the Son before others.

This is essentially what happened to Judas. I.e., since Judas fell away by betraying Christ, God ended up blotting out his name from the Lamb’s Book of Life.

JUDAS PROMISED TO REIGN WITH CHRIST IN THE AGE TO COME

The final proof that Jesus desired to save Judas, not condemn him to everlasting destruction, comes from Matthew’s Gospel:

“Then Peter answered and said to Him, ‘See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?’ So Jesus said to them, ‘Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on TWELVE thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life.But many who are first will be last, and the last first.’” Matthew 19:27-30

Judas is included in Christ’s promise that the twelve Apostles will rule over the twelve tribes of Israel in the age to come, when the Son physically descends from heaven to renew and transform the earth.

This shows that Judas was destined for salvation, but chose to turn away from Christ and therefore forfeited his right to everlasting life.

In other words, it wasn’t the Son who rejected Judas or predestined him for eternal wrath, as Calvinism would have us believe. Rather, Judas chose to cut himself off from the grace of the Lord Jesus by betraying him, thereby relinquishing the gift of salvation that Christ had come to bestow on him and the entire human race.    

FURTHER READING

John Calvin and Particular Redemption

The Case for Unlimited Atonement Pt. 1

LIMITED ATONEMENT DEBATE PT. 2

CHARLES HADDON SPURGEON VS. JAMES WHITE

ENDNOTES

(1) Here is a helpful post explaining what T.U.L.I.P. means: What is TULIP in Calvinism? What are the five points of Calvinism?.

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