Judas left during the last supper. Then Jesus went to Gethsemane and prayed. After that, Jesus saw Judas again in

Matthew 26:47 While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. 48Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.” 49Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him.

50Jesus replied, “Do what you came for, friend.”

Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. 51With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.

What did Jesus mean by "friend"?

6 Answers 6


Matthew earlier used the same Greek word "hetairos" (ἑταῖρος):

“But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? — Matthew 20:13


He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless. — Matthew 22:12

Notice that in both instances, a conflict is occurring and the speaker doesn't want it to escalate. The usage is almost certainly ironic.

It's not unreasonable to think the same situation is happening here between Jesus and Judas.

On the other hand, Jesus may very well have considered Judas to be his friend, and so used the word in a sense of sadness, or even reassurance.

I don't think there is an obviously correct answer to this based strictly on the text and common Greek usage. If a "true" answer is needed, I think it can only be in a doctrinal form (Christianity.SE).

  • 1
    Good answer. +1
    – Dottard
    Commented Dec 25, 2020 at 19:29
  • 3
    Am I alone in thinking "ironic" is the wrong word here? It's probably not intended to point out that he meant the opposite, rather meant in a "despite everything I still think you're a friend" way
    – JollyJoker
    Commented Dec 25, 2020 at 23:20
  • @JollyJoker, it felt a bit strange when I wrote it, but I can't think of a more appropriate word. "Sarcasm" seems a bit too strong though; the speaker is reminding the person of their place, but isn't trying to insult them. Commented Dec 25, 2020 at 23:47
  • @RayButterworth I think both sarcasm and irony technically mean that the opposite is implied. I'd argue the word is meant literally, as a reminder, here.
    – JollyJoker
    Commented Dec 25, 2020 at 23:50
  • @JollyJoker, I used the word "ironic" only for the first two quotations. For 26:50 I said it might be the same situation, not that it was. Commented Dec 25, 2020 at 23:53

No, Jesus' words are not sarcastic.

Jesus never did any harm to Judas, only good. Tremendous privilege was bestowed upon Judas, massive potential and the best education a man could ever hope for on this earth.

Grace was continually offered, healing was ever there to be asked for, help of every kind was at hand.

Judas spent those years at the side of the Son of God, following his very steps and hearing the words which came from his own lips.

And even at the end, just moments before betrayal, Jesus called him 'Friend'.

In that very moment, Judas could have broken down, changed his path. Maybe confessed his sin of betrayal and his previous sins of theft : and been forgiven and healed.

No stumbling block was put in his path.

Even at the end, not a bad word was said to him . . . .

. . . . . and yet still he chose to transgress.

Hardened and unrepentant in the face of kindness, privilege, love and grace, Judas went out and betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver.

  • 2
    Straightforward, crisp, and clear. Certainly deserves my upvote. Commented Dec 26, 2020 at 4:19

Mat. 20:8-16, KJV shows Jesus's response to those (Jews) who murmured at the lord of the vinyard. In verse 13, notice that his answer:

But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? (My emphasis)

Again, in Matthew 22:12-13, the king who made the marriage for his son, after seeing a man which did not have a wedding garment, said the following:

And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

And, of course, after being kissed by Judas, Mat 26:50 again repeats as follows: And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come? Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus, and took him.

Each of these instances reveals a special application of the word, "Friend". Remember, just a very short time earlier, Jesus, who knew Judas was to betray Him, had just washed the feet of Judas, along with the other disciples. Verse 13:10-11 is very instructive concerning that feet washing:

Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all. For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean.

Then, immediately after explaining what He had just done unto them, verse 21 reveals:

When Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.

One of who? This is clearly one of the special applications of the use of the word, ἑταῖρε, or Friend. Notice that most versions use an upper case "F" here, so this is indeed special. Remember, Abraham was the "Friend of God", forever (2 Ch 20:7) Abraham was the father of all Jews, including David who sheds MUCH LIGHT upon this use of the word, "Friend" in the 35th Psalm, in verse 14:

I behaved myself as though he had been my friend or brother: I bowed down heavily, as one that mourneth for his mother. (My emphasis)

So Jesus washed Judas' feet, as Psalm 109:4 directs:

For my love they are my adversaries: but I give myself unto prayer.

  • 1
    It's worth remembering that Koine Greek has another word that is rendered as friend in English translations: φιλος, and in that case its usage applies only to close associates.
    – EvilSnack
    Commented Dec 25, 2020 at 22:44
  • @EvilSnack Yes, thank You. This is clearly not the case of a close associate, but the case of Jesus knowing for three years--at the very least--that Judas was a devil (John 6:70): Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? Commented Dec 26, 2020 at 3:55
  • That's a big assumption to make. Köstenberger for example would put John 6 only 1 year before he was betrayed.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Dec 26, 2020 at 7:14
  • @curiousdannii It would be foolishness to say that Jesus learned about Judas being a devil one year before the betrayal, when he had chosen Judas three years before the betrayal. Are you saying that Jesus did not believe the 109th Psalm? Oh, yah, Jesus was duped again. Someone in the 21st century should have been there to teach Him intelligent words. Again, what gives you the idea that Jesus only spoke about something when He finally stumbled across it? I thought you were working toward the pursuit of a Hermeneutics. THAT must have been only a poor assumption on my part. Commented Dec 26, 2020 at 18:01

Was Jesus being sarcastic when he called Judas “friend” in Matthew 26:50?

No. The word is ambiguous. Even today, they use it ambiguous in the Middle East.

Bengel's Gnomen

Matthew 22:12. Ἐταῖρε, comrade) A word of ambiguous meaning, which is also applied to those with whom we are not on terms of intimacy or friendship.

In the Parable of the Wedding Banquet, the "friend" is thrown out to hell just like Judah.

Matthew 22:11“But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless.

13“Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ M


A friend is not always those who praise you, give to you; the things we ascribe to friendship. Rather, they will do or say what is necessary to make you your best self. My best friend of 50 years will tell me something I may not want to hear; call me out on my stuff. She says, “ you might not like what I’m about to say but”. Most of the times it is something I didn’t want to hear but it turns out for my betterment. The plan of salvation; the road to the cross was paved already. Judas’ identification of Jesus, the kiss, was necessary for the Roman soldiers to arrest the right person. I’ve always felt sorry for Judas because he was so hard on himself for doing what he was predestined to do; that is to point the way (Jesus is the way) to the cross. Judas was a friend indeed.

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Friend of Destiny Aside from Jesus using a normal appellation for dialogue between acquaintances, an interesting point was made by the Rev. T.D. Jakes:

Peter was rebuked and was called "Satan" by Jesus, after Peter contradicted Jesus about suffering and being killed by the chief priests:

Get thee behind me Satan; thou art an offence to me! (Matthew 16:22-23)

Whereas, when Judas was about to hand Jesus over to those same chief priest, Jesus called him a friend!

So what gives? Why? Rev. Jakes commented: Peter was standing in the way of Jesus's God-ordained destiny, whereas Judas was helping Jesus fulfil His destiny!

So true "friendships" are those people---no matter who---that help us fulfil the purpose and reason why God has placed us on earth. Ultimate existential purpose (teleos) over-rides temporal pleasure or conveniences---including hanging out with disciples.

Those who have set their affections on things above can comprehend this. Earth-minded souls will be stunned at this.

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