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 '13 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 '13 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 '13 at 15:13
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    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! – The Freemason Aug 6 '13 at 20:05
  • @DanAndrews - I'll add the Scriptures that I am referring to in my question. – brilliant Aug 7 '13 at 1:22

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.”

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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.

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