Did Judas know that high-priests and elders' goal was to have Jesus killed? Gospel of Matthew tells us that he committed suicide before Jesus was crucified:

Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What [is that] to us? see thou [to that]. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself. (Matthew 27:3-5)

which means that Judas never learned of Jesus' death and resurrection. However, the fact that he committed suicide may suggest that he knew that what had happened to Jesus because of his betrayal would imminently bring Jesus to death.

On the other hand, when he was receiving 30 pieces of silver he might've not known or not fully realized that the ultimate goal of high-priests and elders was to have Jesus killed. He might've even been fooled by them, for example, they could've told him that a lawful investigation was needed and that would bring clarity into people's claim for Jesus to be the Messiah.

So, do such passages like this one:

Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, And said [unto them], What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him. (Matthew 26:14-16)

and the similar ones, from other three Gospels, those that are telling us of how Judas conspired with high-priests, imply that Judas knew that they wanted to kill Jesus?

  • Can you clarify your last sentence to me? I would conclude otherwise: If he had known the outcome, why would he have killed himself after he first took the money?
    – hannes
    Aug 4, 2013 at 9:42
  • @hannes - My point in the last sentence is this (sorry if I've expressed my thought vaguely): Judas might've thought that elders and high-priests would only threaten Jesus and make Him stop spreading His teaching, but not kill Him. In other words, they might've hidden away from Judas their actual intention to finally kill Jesus. However, when Judas saw that Jesus was wrongfully condemned of blasphemy in the Sanhedrin, he understood that now there was no way for Jesus to escape from death, thus, he felt extremely guilty and killed himself. This goes along with Matthew 27:3-5.
    – brilliant
    Aug 4, 2013 at 12:25
  • Thanks. Now it's clear to me. They may have even concealed their motives as far as persuasion could possibly go: That a lawful investigation would bring clarity into people's claim for him to be the Messiah. From the rebuke of Peter the betrayer could have known how mistaken and inimical human reasoning can be.
    – hannes
    Aug 4, 2013 at 15:13
  • 3
    I'm torn between asking you to add some scripture to use our awesome hermeneutic skills on OR suggest that your question is a truth question and not something that can be answered here. Maybe BOTH! Aug 6, 2013 at 20:05
  • @DanAndrews - I'll add the Scriptures that I am referring to in my question.
    – brilliant
    Aug 7, 2013 at 1:22

4 Answers 4


Did Judas know?

John 6:64 KJV reveals:

But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. (My emphasis)

So, was Judas merely a Mr. nice guy who made a mistake, then afterward repented of that little kiss? Not according to verse 70 (in that same context):

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

Matthew 13:34-35 reveals that during the time that Judas was with him, Jesus spoke to the multitude in parables—uttering things kept secret from the foundation of the world:

All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.

Believers were clearly taught "many things" by Jesus’ parables as we see in Mark 4:2:

And he taught them many things by parables, and said unto them ….

But those secret things from the foundation of the world were kept hidden from the “princes of this world” according to 1 Cor. 2:7-8, including one certain prince of this world that we are now ready to discuss:

But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory

Was Judas one of the "princes of the world"?

Jesus used parables to keep the unbelievers—especially unbelieving Judas—from knowing this hidden mystery which was carefully tucked away in those parables according to Luke 8:10:

And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.

In John 12:27-29 we read about that certain prayer by Jesus:

Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour. Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again. The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to him.

This glorifying of the Father's name is extremely important--enough so that it is not only pointed out here, but we are given notice that it will be "glorified again". So we must watch out for that next glorifying again.

Then, in the very next three verses, Jesus said that He was going to die by being “lifted up,” distinguishing Himself from that certain “prince of this world” by the phrase, “And I,” …. Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said, signifying what death he should die. (My emphasis)

It was Judas who was given the sop and accordingly was immediately cast out by Jesus in verses 30 and 31:

... He then having received the sop went immediately out: and it was night.

Therefore, in verses 31 and 32, Jesus tells us about that promised glorifying again by the Father together with that specifically associated casting out of the “prince of this world” required in chapter 12 v. 27-29 above. This clearly incriminates Judas because this glorifying again happened because Judas—that prince of this world—had now been cast out.

Therefore, when he was gone out, Jesus said, Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him. (My emphasis)

However, after Judas was gone out, Jesus abruptly stopped speaking in parables. In John 14:30-31, after that prince of this world "who had nothing in Jesus" had now been cast out, Jesus told his disciples:

Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me. But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence.

Above, Jesus effectively told his disciples to pay attention—that from that time forward He would have little time to talk with them because that “prince of this world” who had just been cast out and who had nothing in Jesus, was now coming. He told them to arise and go with Him “hence”—to the place where that prince of this world was coming to. We find in John 16:25-29 that while they were going hence—after three years of speaking to them in proverbs while Judas was present with them—Jesus now spoke plainly—no longer in adages:

… These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall shew you plainly of the Father…. His disciples said unto him, Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no proverb….

Starting at John 15:1, right on through John 17:26, no man “cometh” and no geographic location of such a place where the prince of this world was “coming-to” is revealed. Because Judas was now cast out from them, Jesus continued to speak plainly to those eleven remaining disciples all the way to their destination. Finally, in John 18:1-3 we discover both the place, and also the name of that prince of this world who was coming to that place:

When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples over the brook Cedron, where was a garden, into the which he entered, and his disciples. And Judas also, which betrayed him, knew the place: for Jesus ofttimes resorted thither with his disciples. Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons. (My emphasis)

It was Judas that “cometh thither.” Judas then betrayed that “innocent blood” of Jesus Christ and then quickly died by hanging himself (Mat 27:3-5) that he might go to his own place (Acts 1:25).

Acts 1:16-20 clearly implicates Judas with Psalm 109. they are both speaking of this same Judas. Psalm 109:2 speaks of two specific mouths--the mouth of "the wicked" and the mouth of "the deceitful":

For the mouth of the wicked and the mouth of the deceitful are opened against me: they have spoken against me with a lying tongue.

Throughout tiis Psalm, Judas clearly is the "wicked"--that wicked of 2 Thessolonians 2:8-9:

And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: (My emphasis)

In addition, Psalm 109:6 reveals the third member of this threesome:

Set thou a wicked man over him: and let Satan stand at his right hand. (My emphasis)

So we have that wicked Judas, a wicked man who is over Judas, and Satan standing at Judas's right hand. Do we need two or three witnesses? YES. These three constitute the same threesome of Revelation 16:13—each one having a mouth, and each one listed in their exact same order of their chain of command in the "future" rule of anti. And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. (My emphasis)

The three mouths are identified. Yes, Judas knew, and so did Jesus.


Judas almost surely knew that he was betraying Jesus unto death. Jesus told his disciples numerous times prior to his death that this would happen. Lets look through the book of Matthew.

Matthew 16:21

21 From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.

Matthew 17:22-23

22 As they were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men, 23 and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day.” And they were greatly distressed.

You could argue that Judas happened to be absent from the group of disciples in the above two verses. However, the next verse clearly states that Jesus spoke to the twelve disciples, which certainly included Judas. Jesus says in no uncertain terms that he will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes to be condemned to death.

Matthew 20:17-19

17 And as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside, and on the way he said to them, 18 “See, we are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death 19 and deliver him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.”

One last time just before the betrayal, Jesus again says that he will be delivered up to be crucified in two days.

Matthew 26:1-2

26 When Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said to his disciples, 2 “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.”


I agree that Judas' remorse and suicide in Matthew 27:3-5 should be evidence that he had not known that the intention of the high priests was to have Jesus killed. Yet to believe they only wanted to reason with Jesus, or investigate his claims, requires incredible naiveté on Judas part, since their willingness to pay thirty silver coins, a small fortune at a time when peasants generally only used the lesser bronze coins, should have been clear evidence of foul intent.

We should also look at Acts of the Apostles, which seems to show Judas as well pleased with himself, using the blood money to buy a farm, although by a humiliating misadventure he was unable to enjoy the fruits of his betrayal. Since in this account he displays complete unconcern that Jesus had been crucified, we could say that in this account, Judas was also unconcerned at the time of the betrayal whether their intention was to have Jesus killed, in fact would surely have known this, and would not have naively tried to convince himself otherwise:

Acts 1:18: Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.


Judas began following Jesus for much the same reason as other followers of His; he believed that Jesus might wind up being king someday. Judas was clearly angling for a position of wealth and/or prestige when Jesus obtained the throne (and he certainly wasn't alone in this). The idea that Jesus' kingdom would be spiritual never entered his thinking. At some point he concluded that Jesus was never going to become king, and decided to bail out and get something for his trouble as he went.

It's entirely possible that he simply did not think about what would happen to Jesus once the temple authorities got hold of Him. People can be like that when they are planning a crime; their thinking appears to stop with the commission of the crime, with no thought about the after-effects other than enjoying the gains from the act.

But when the prospect of Jesus' actual execution became apparent, it was impossible for Judas to avoid this knowledge, and having not really listened to Jesus' teachings, he saw no way out of his moral state, which became unbearable to him.

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