Regarding Matthew 27:3-4, when Judas saw that Jesus was condemned... then something changed. Judas returned the silver and said "I have sinned, for I have betrayed innocent blood". This question examines whether Judas gained some new insights about his sin and whether it was his ignorance that caused him to sin.

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    Huge volumes have been written on this question; there are even volumes in the pseudepigrapha (eg, the gospel of Thomas and the Gospel of Judas, among others) that discuss this question. Many contain truly elaborate theories but little can be deduced from the text of scripture.
    – Dottard
    Commented Nov 23, 2023 at 20:32
  • I think it is interesting that the gospel writers left so little discussion about his motivations. The most about the reasons we CAN glean seem so trivial. And maybe this is the point. Personally, the sins that have caused the greatest harm in my life have been the most trivial ones.
    – Steven
    Commented Nov 25, 2023 at 2:30
  • He may have thought they wanted to only interrogate Jesus, not kill him.
    – Michael16
    Commented Nov 25, 2023 at 6:19

2 Answers 2


The answer to the main question is yes. Judas knew he was betraying Jesus and that this would result in Jesus' arrest. But this is a different question from "whether Judas gained some new insights about his sin." I would say yes to this question as well.

As the OP points out, in Matthew's Gospel, Judas felt remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the temple authorities. However, he apparently did not know how much he would be given for betraying Jesus until he asked. (26:15) The question arises as to whether Judas knew this to be "blood money," or whether he believed Jesus would be arrested for a non-capital crime. Thirty pieces of silver is the amount paid to God's "rejected shepherd" in Zech. 11:12. It is also the amount to be paid to as compensation for a slave who has been gored by an ox. (Ex 21:32) Matthew 27:9-10 explains the thirty pieces of silver as a fulfillment of the prophecy of Jeremiah:

And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the value of a man with a price on his head, a price set by some of the Israelites, and they paid it out for the potter’s field just as the Lord had commanded me.

However this is not a direct quote from Jeremiah. It is apparently an interpretation of several verses of it combined with the quote from Zechariah. It is doubtful that Judas was aware of Matthew's interpretation. I submit that Judas may not have known this was "blood money" until after fact. This hypothesis is supported by the fact that Judas killed himself only after Jesus had been brought to Pilate and condemned. (27:3)

Conclusion: Judas knew he was betraying Jesus to be arrested. Jesus had recently disrupted commerce at the Temple, and that would be considered a "crime." However, it was not a capital offense. The narrator tells us the authorities were looking to put Jesus to death, but whether Judas knew this or not may a matter of hindsight. Only after Jesus was condemned to die, did Judas return his payment and kill himself, according to Matthew's Gospel. Moreover, even if Judas did know he was betraying Jesus to die, it seems clear that his conscience convicted him only later, and he thereby gained new insight into the seriousness of his sin.

Note: Matthew does not mention Satan in connection with Judas' betrayal, but John and Luke say that Satan "entered" him just prior to this. If we follow these accounts, then Satan directly influenced Judas' betrayal and we may infer that the devil's withdrawal from him opened the way for his conscience to provide insight into his sin.

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    (I was about to give a similar answer, but now I don't need to.) ¶ "Only after Jesus was condemned to die" — The NLT version makes this even more obvious: "When Judas … realized that Jesus had been condemned to die, he was filled with remorse.", and of course by then Satan had abandoned him. Commented Nov 24, 2023 at 16:25
  • Good point about Matthew 27:3. Judas probably thought there was no way that Jesus could be found guilty of murder in a fair court. He didn't account for the fact that this was a political trial and the fix was already in.
    – Austin
    Commented Nov 24, 2023 at 16:57
  • @RayButterworth - Motive is another interesting question. Luke and John imply the devil made him do it. Matthew sows that Judas felt Jesus was a hypocrite in the use of money. I've suggested the possibility of jealousy that Jesus was being intimately ministered to by Mary of Bethany. And as Dottard mentioned, there are many truly elaborate theories.' Commented Nov 24, 2023 at 16:58
  • @Austin - The reason for Jesus' arrest is a good question but no one accused him of murder. The immediate reason may have been related to his actions against the moneychangers. The high priest declares "blasphemy!" as a result of his interrogation, (26:65) but the charge for which he was executed under Roman law was was trying to make himself king. Commented Nov 24, 2023 at 18:39

In Matthew 27:4; when Judas said "I have betrayed innocent blood", he had an understanding of Jesus' innocence.

From Matthew 26:8 and John 12:4 we see that Judas and the disciples were angry and indignant about the use of perfume to anoint Jesus. At that time Judas went to the chief priests to betray Jesus (Mathew 26:14).

When Judas was angry there was no understanding concerning the innocence of Jesus. I say this with confidence, because nature of anger always thinks that the person we are angry at...is guilty about something. Therefore, it is reasonable to deduce that Judas did not fully understand the innocence of Jesus until he realized that he had betrayed innocent blood.

The ignorance of Judas is significant because it raises the question as to whether Judas should be held responsible for all the things he did not understand.

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    I created paragraphs and it should be easy now for you to hit "edit" and adjust them. I think the problem had something to do with your attempt to indent each new paragraph rather than to but an extra line between them. Commented Nov 24, 2023 at 14:18
  • Thank You Dan Fefferman! Commented Nov 24, 2023 at 15:04
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    @StevieC. Spaces can be significant in markdown. Leading spaces (as you had) cause what's followed to be taken literally without formatting it (in particular not joining or breaking any lines). This is typically used for preserving the original formatting of computer code. Another one to look out for is putting two spaces at the end of a line. You can't see them, but they cause what follows to start a new line. Commented Nov 24, 2023 at 16:11
  • @Ray Butterworth I want to thank you all for giving me your consideration Commented Nov 24, 2023 at 19:24
  • My hat is off to all of you. Great question and discussion
    – RHPclass79
    Commented Nov 24, 2023 at 22:10

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