I will start off by quoting a portion of John 6:70, which says:

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

"Devil" here is "Diabolos, slanderous; with definitive article, "Satan."

It's interesting that "Judas" means "praise," but "Iscariot" means "man of Kerioth," which was a town that was settled by the Tribe of Judas (Joshua 15:25), but especially interesting to note that Judas was the only disciple that was not a native of Galilee (from my understanding), and coming from a geography (Judah) that was the most hostile to Jesus Christ.

Later, the narrative tells us in John 13:27 that "Satan entered into him" after Judas had dipped the sop, which implies that Judas had eaten it(?). There are many commentators that do not subscribe to the fact that Satan literally "possessed" Judas, while others subscribe to the literal interpretation that Satan, in fact, did possess Judas' body. Granted, in John 13:2, Satan had already placed it on his heart to betray Christ, so the proverbial foundation was set. The "entering" seems to be far different than merely "putting it on one's heart," etc. (in Acts 5:3, one reads, "Why hath Satan filled thine heart," etc., but filling one's heart, or 'getting one to do something' [in this case, Satan being the perpetrator, of course); "entering" sounds like "possession".

James Burton Coffman Commentaries says the following [partial quote]:

The entering of Satan into Judas at this time indicates an unusually malevolent entry; because Satan had been in Judas before, as for example, when he bargained for the thirty pieces of silver. Therefore, this indicates that Satan took possession of Judas permanently, in consequence of his judicial hardening, a fact suggested, and even demanded, by the fact of Jesus' command for Judas to act quickly. Until this point, there had been hope for Judas; but, after Satan took him over, his descent into wretchedness and death was swift, dramatic, and irrevocable.

From this particular perspective, one extrapolates that Judas was literally possessed by Satan, and because of this, Judas' doom befell him: Suicide by hanging. Some commentators render it as "madness had overtaken him" and so the act of suicide was in a 'state of mania' to the extent that Judas wouldn't have otherwise known what he was doing, etc. (Same difference with being possessed by Satan?)

The question arises:

If Judas had free will, and he did, and had he not been overtaken by Satan (possession of his body, apparently: "entered in to him"), then would have Judas committed suicide at all? I suppose this is merely speculative, but it's a stout curiosity, in any event.

In Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament, it reads [bold added by me]:

Then entered Satan into him (τοτε εισηλτεν εις εκεινον ο Σατανας — tote eisēlthen eis ekeinon ho Satanas). The only time the word Satan occurs in the Gospel. As he had done before (John 13:2; Luke 22:3) until Christ considered him a devil (John 6:70). This is the natural outcome of one who plays with the devil.

I tend to lean towards the fact that Satan literally entered into Judas in the sense of "possession." With that said, once again:

Was Judas' suicide because of Satan, then (because Judas was possessed by Satan)? or: Was Judas merely overcome with a 'Satanic madness' of some sort (the text implies that Satan entered in to him, so I take that literally)?

Was Satan the mechanism by which Judas went and hung himself, because Satan was literally possessing Judas?

Would Judas have committed suicide if Satan weren't possessing him?

Was Judas outside the means of "free will" if Satan was possessing him and, therefore, caused him (Judas) to go and hang himself?

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    I think this is a matter of opinion, not of hermeneutics, myself.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Dec 15, 2018 at 11:03
  • Nigel J, agreed! Commented Dec 16, 2018 at 5:57
  • 1
    There is another possibility omitted: Judas' free will led him to fall victim to Satan. Commented Dec 16, 2018 at 21:40
  • 1
    @DerrickTyson: As I already wrote, Satan did not enter him against his will (which is what possession is). He was already contemplating on betraying Christ for some time (see the passages from my last comment) before he finally, after much inner struggle, succumbed to the temptation completely.
    – Lucian
    Commented Jan 1, 2019 at 0:44
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    Another possibility is Judas committed suicide because he presumed that was his only solution to rid himself of Satan. Commented Jan 16, 2019 at 17:23

2 Answers 2


At the end are all the scriptures in the New Testament related to Judas Iscariot. First we should note that these scriptures leave many unanswered questions about Judas. If God thought the answers to these questions were important, he would have revealed them to us.

Other scriptures that give us a hint are the temptation to worship Satan:

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “ ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’ ” (Matt 4:8–10, ESV)

This temptation sounds an awful lot like a temptation for Jesus to be what the Jews expected him to be. Then, there is Jesus’ response to Peter’s rebuke of Jesus predicting his death:

And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” (Matt 16:22–23, ESV)

This shows that Peter expected Jesus to be the Messiah that the Jews expected. One that would overthrow Rome and conquer the world. Note also Jesus’ use of the term Satan here.

All we can say from Matt. 27:3–5 is that Judas changed his mind about the betrayal and we can only speculate why. It is reasonable that Judas also expected Jesus to be the Messiah matching Jewish tradition. Matt. 26:20–25 indicated that selfishness motivated Judas. Thus, he followed Jesus for what he could get out of it. Here we enter into speculation, but it’s not unreasonable to see that Judas saw Jesus’ miracles and knew he had the ability to be the traditional Jewish Messiah. Note John 18:6 shows that even the soldiers who came to arrest Jesus were terrified by Jesus’ reputation. Thus, Judas may well have thought Jesus’ arrest would force Jesus to demonstrate his power. When Jesus acted otherwise, Judas felt such sorrow for his actions that he took his life.

Passages related to Judas Iscariot:

Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him. (Matt. 26:14–16, ESV)

When it was evening, he reclined at table with the twelve. And as they were eating, he said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” And they were very sorrowful and began to say to him one after another, “Is it I, Lord?” He answered, “He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me will betray me. The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” Judas, who would betray him, answered, “Is it I, Rabbi?” He said to him, “You have said so.” (Matt. 26:20–25, ESV)

Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.” While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; seize him.” And he came up to Jesus at once and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” And he kissed him. Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do.” Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him. (Matt 26:45–50, ESV)

Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself. (Matt. 27:3–5, ESV)

Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them. 11 And when they heard it, they were glad and promised to give him money. And he sought an opportunity to betray him. (Mark 14:10–11, ESV)

And when it was evening, he came with the twelve. 18 And as they were reclining at table and eating, Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.” 19 They began to be sorrowful and to say to him one after another, “Is it I?” 20 He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread into the dish with me. 21 For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” (Mark 14:17–21, ESV)

Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man. Seize him and lead him away under guard.” And when he came, he went up to him at once and said, “Rabbi!” And he kissed him. And they laid hands on him and seized him. (Mark 14:42–46,ESV)

Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was of the number of the twelve. He went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers how he might betray him to them. And they were glad, and agreed to give him money. So he consented and sought an opportunity to betray him to them in the absence of a crowd. (Luke 22:3–6, ESV)

But behold, the hand of him who betrays me is with me on the table. For the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!” And they began to question one another, which of them it could be who was going to do this. (Luke 22:21–23, ESV)

While he was still speaking, there came a crowd, and the man called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He drew near to Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus said to him, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” (Luke 22:47–48, ESV)

Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.” He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the twelve, was going to betray him. (John 6:70–71, ESV)

But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, 5 “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” 6 He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. (John 12:4–6, ESV)

During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, … For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.” (John 13:2,11)

After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke. One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table at Jesus’ side, so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.” So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that, because Judas had the moneybag, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor. So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night. When he had gone out,… (John 13:21–31, ESV)

While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. (John 17:12, ESV)

When Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, for Jesus often met there with his disciples. So Judas, having procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, went there with lanterns and torches and weapons. Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” They answered him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am he.” Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. 6 When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. (John 18:1–6, ESV)

Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. For he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.” (Now this man acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness, and falling headlong he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. And it became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their own language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) (Acts 1:16–19, ESV)

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    Awesome answer to a question full of land mines. +1 way up!
    – Ruminator
    Commented Jan 15, 2019 at 1:27

Demonology is understood in so many different ways by so many different people it’s impossible to give a short answer and assume we agree even on some basic tentants. Some have no understanding of Biblical demonology yet still have opinions on it.

I will attempt to keep this as short as possible with a qualifier and a Bible verse citation where possible. If you’d like additional verses please ask (and then downvote if that’s what you feel to do. I don’t mind downvotes I mind not learning from my mistakes.)

unclean spirits can implant thoughts

In the case of Peter he took on thoughts (which Peter assumes as his own) that Jesus attributes as having origin in satan and rebukes not Peter but satan for those thoughts.

“But he turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of G-d, but on the things of man."” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭16:23‬ ‭ESV‬‬

No one but G-d can read minds

“Search me, O G-d, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!” ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭139:23‬ ‭ESV‬‬

We see that the motivations are known and the thoughts are known by G-d. This verse alone does not exclude other spirits.

The next passage does not explicitly name spirits but it is understood that magicians utilized the powers of unclean spirits and yet they are unable to read the kings mind, hence the spirits cannot read minds by implication. Also Daniel although He has G-d’s Spirit guiding him, it’s not under his control to know thoughts, it’s exclusive to G-d. (There are more verses needed to be added but I’ll stop at these).

“Daniel answered the king and said, "No wise men, enchanters, magicians, or astrologers can show to the king the mystery that the king has asked, but there is a G-d in heaven who reveals mysteries, and he has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days. Your dream and the visions of your head as you lay in bed are these: To you, O king, as you lay in bed came thoughts of what would be after this, and he who reveals mysteries made known to you what is to be. But as for me, this mystery has been revealed to me, not because of any wisdom that I have more than all the living, but in order that the interpretation may be made known to the king, and that you may know the thoughts of your mind.” ‭‭Daniel‬ ‭2:27-30‬ ‭ESV‬‬

unclean spirits can only demonize

There is a distinction that needs to be made. Unclean spirits are not mentioned as possessing in the ownership sense of the word in Greek but demonizing people which I would list as having the following characteristics

-Entice -Enslave -Torment- spiritual, mental, physical -Compel- compulsive behavior -Defile -Harass -Deceive- misrepresent

In summation they cause restlessness, that is how I would best describe their activity.

unclean spirits can not prevent a person from coming to Jesus

“And when Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit. And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him.” ‭‭Mark‬ ‭5:2, 6‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Someone who has even a legion of demons is not able to be kept away from Jesus. Please note even though the demons would not leave at Jesus’ first command they did leave and knew they had to yield to His authority.

The key point I want to draw attention to is that even though Jesus has full authority to cast them out they will wrestle as much as they can to remain in a body. This is typical behavior of daimons or demons but satan is a daimonion of sorts so he doesn’t have that same desire for inhabiting a body.

If an unclean spirit has legal rights to be in a person due to some ‘pact’ then getting them out is difficult even for Jesus, how much more impossible would it have been for Judas to deliver himself from satan himself? Virtually impossible without Jesus and yet not only was Jesus dead in Judas’ mind, he facilitated the death. (Judas was being led by satan step by step and accepted satan’s guidance. He did so of free will but not full disclosure. Judas was definitely deceived and probably being a revolutionary thought this would catalyze Jesus to kick out the Romans using supernatural means, this is a speculation in terms of Judas’ motivations for selling Jesus).

Now concerning Judas and your question.

Was satan inside or outside of Judas? While the same end could have been achieved in either instance it is a lot easier from the inside than the outside. It’s a lot easier to take a city from within its walls than from without. The Bible specifies that it was from the inside.

Did Judas retain free will? Yes his decisions were his and his alone but that’s not to say that he was not pressured into the act of suicide. After all to have satan himself inside causing restlessness is not something that a human can handle without at some point cracking under pressure and doing something completely out of character or against self preservation interests. It had to be extreme.

It must be made clear that satan not only hated Jesus for trying to save humans but he hates the object of Jesus’ love also, namely humans.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” ‭‭John‬ ‭10:10‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Judas who was deceived through his love of money accepted a fraudulent idea packaged in a way that he later regretted and satan being satan when someone is down kicks them harder not less.

Not only did Judas later realize his mistake and repented, by taking back the money and tried to undo his actions, now satan tormented him and exhausted him so badly that his only escape was to end it all (in his mind). Which was unfortunate because Jesus has the power to release Judas except now as far as Judas was concerned Jesus was dead and he had no hope of escaping this internal unclean spirit, satan himself in this case from tormenting him.

In conclusion

Yes satan entered into Judas. No satan did not possess Judas in the sense of ownership but he demonized him because of a legal right that Judas gave to satan. Did Judas maintain free will? Yes he did but that’s not to say that he was not blinded or deceived and oppressed from seeking help. Judas was so battered mentally that it was extreme. How extreme? Extreme enough that he considered his only viable escape to be death.

And satan has every reason to take his anger out on Judas because Judas failed satan in a sense. And satan was deceived by the very instrument he was deceptively using to prevent the plan of human salvation from being accomplished. Judas unfortunately had to deal with satan’s anger in his head and it drove him to suicide.

“None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭2:8‬ ‭ESV‬‬

When you read rulers it’s not humans in this case it’s the fallen elohim and satan is a fallen elohim. According to Psalm 82 they lost their immortality and they were hoping to thwart the plan of human salvation to prevent their own demise. They were played at their own game and lost!

  • Nice explanation on influence of unclean spirits. But Satan is not unclean spirit. He's most powerful archangel. He's influence on individual could obviously be much stronger.
    – Hrvoje
    Commented May 18, 2021 at 6:21
  • @Hrvoje - What do you mean by "Satan is not unlean spirit?
    – Sam
    Commented Feb 21, 2022 at 5:11
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    @Sam By their nature, Satan and other angles (regardless weather they are fallen or not) were/are called sons of God in Bible. I think that Dr. Peter Gentry nicely explains it in this video: youtube.com/watch?v=qKtHwc3mMY8 while putting emphasis on real matter in the end. Respect and blessings!
    – Hrvoje
    Commented Feb 21, 2022 at 9:07
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    @Hrvoje - Yes, God created Satan as a good Angel, but the good Angel became an evil Angel, just as we, created in God's image, became sinners. The Scripture tells Satan is the Devil, Belial, Beelzebub, Evil One, the Father of lies, and the great accuser- they tell us what he is. Sola Scriptura! is what we need to remember always, not what others say. Blessings!
    – Sam
    Commented Feb 21, 2022 at 9:51
  • @Hrvoje can you show me where I said the Accuser/satan was an unclean spirit? I don’t believe he is, so I’d be surprised to see that I worded it to say that. Thank you Commented Feb 21, 2022 at 13:32

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