In Mat 27:3, Judas "seeing he had been condemned' felt remorse..." and hanged himself. But in 2 Cor 7:9 one can be saddened to repentance. Was Judas incapable of this saddening because, as Jesus said in John 17:12 "that the scriptures may be fulfilled..."? Are the original text of these words different or were they chosen to suit the context of the passages in which they occur?

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    + 1... although once again I think you need to work on the headline question. Would this be better? -- "Was Judas capable of the kind of sadness that leads to repentance? (Mat 27:3; Cor 7:9; John 17:12)" Commented Dec 31, 2023 at 20:31
  • reminder: Please also work on the headline of your question about Lk. 11 vs Num 21 Commented Dec 31, 2023 at 20:34
  • @DanFefferman - Yes, this is really what I wanted to ask! However, I am currently incapable of "funneling" my questions in the format you have suggested. I am reading many questions and answers and will eventually get to it.
    – Omowright
    Commented Dec 31, 2023 at 20:51
  • Interesting question, + 1. Commented Jan 1 at 1:03
  • Notwithstanding that there are multiple words in both English and Greek that convey some form of sadness, I think this question expresses a misconception. There is no kind of emotion that necessarily, in and of itself, produces repentance and saving faith. In 2 Cor 7, Paul is characterizing the Corinthians' sorrow by the outcome, not by the nature of the emotion itself. Commented Jan 1 at 16:23

3 Answers 3


Let us examine the two verses in the OP's question.

Matthew 27:3

Τότε ἰδὼν Ἰούδας ὁ παραδιδοὺς αὐτὸν ὅτι κατεκρίθη μεταμεληθεὶς ἔστρεψεν τὰ τριάκοντα ἀργύρια τοῖς ἀρχιερεῦσιν καὶ πρεσβυτέροις = Then Judas, the one having delivered Him up, having seen that He was condemned, having regretted [it], he returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders,

The verb here is μεταμέλομαι (metamelomai) = literally to change the mind, ie, regret. This word occurs six times in the NT (Matt 21:29, 32, 27:3, 2 Cor 7:8, Heb 7:21) but is never associated with repentance for sins.

2 Corinthians 7:9

νῦν χαίρω, οὐχ ὅτι ἐλυπήθητε, ἀλλ' ὅτι ἐλυπήθητε εἰς μετάνοιαν, ἐλυπήθητε γὰρ κατὰ θεόν, ἵνα ἐν μηδενὶ ζημιωθῆτε ἐξ ἡμῶν. = Now I rejoice, not that you were grieved, but that you were grieved into repentance. For you were grieved according to God, so that you might suffer loss in nothing through us.

The verb here is λυπέω (lupeó) = I pain, grieve, vex, distress; it occurs 26 times in the NT and sometimes results in repentance (2 Cor 7:9) and sometimes not (Matt 19:22).

Thus, the verbs involved in each verse are different.

  • In the first case, we are told that Judas regretted his actions but that did not bring him to repentance
  • In the second case, Paul reports that their grief (at their sin) resulted in repentance.

Thus, the NT makes a stark difference between mere regret for actions (that does not result in repentance) and grief for sin (that does result in repentance).

Fulfilled Scripture

The question about whether Judas was incapable of repenting because the Scripture had to be fulfilled (John 17:12) is very controversial. For Calvinists, the answer is "Yes" because God had already decided that Judas would not be saved.

However, this ignores the substantial Bible evidence to the contrary such as:

  • John 12:47, “… for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.”
  • Acts 17:30, “God … commands all people everywhere to repent.”
  • Rom 5:18, “Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all people, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all people, resulting in justification of life.”
  • Rom 11:32, “For God has imprisoned everyone in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all.”
  • 2 Cor 5:14, “…we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.”
  • 1 Tim 2:3, 4, “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
  • 1 Tim 2:6, “[Jesus Christ] gave Himself as a ransom for all people.”
  • 1 Tim 4:10, For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Saviour of all people, especially of those who believe.
  • Titus 2:11, “For the grace of God appeared bringing salvation to all people.”
  • Heb 2:9, “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.”
  • 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
  • 1 John 2:2, “He Himself [Jesus] is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours [Christians to whom John writes] only but also for the whole world.”

Thus, Jesus did not want anyone to perish, especially Judas. [This is a theological misstep made by some, that God's foreknowledge means predestination.] All it means is that God knew what would happen but that does NOT force anyone to do anything.

  • Really good answer, + 1. Commented Jan 1 at 0:51

A person can reach repentance both through sadness and remorse. In fact the English word "remorse" is closer to repentance because it means "deep regret or guilt for a wrong committed." Sadness can come from many other things than an awareness of guilt. (Many translators use the English word "grief" here btw, but all three states can lead to repentance if they are accompanied by an awareness of sin.)

In any case, repentance alone does not result in forgiveness unless the offended party (either God or Jesus of Nazareth in this case) responds with mercy. Whether Judas felt remorse or sadness, he did did not ask for forgiveness. He had reached a point of despair in which he knew he did not deserve mercy and, instead of turning to God in sorrowful repentance, acted to destroy himself.

Regarding the second part of the question, this is a matter of opinion. One can read "that the scriptures may be fulfilled" as implying that Judas was predestined to betray Jesus. This would imply that in this moment he was incapable the type of sadness that would lead to repentance and forgiveness. On the other hand, one could read it as meaning that if Judas had repented, the scripture would be fulfilled in another way. In that case he was definitely capable of the type of sadness mentioned in the OP.


Judas Iscariot was in charge of the money bag (John 13:29). He thought he could make some quick money by showing Jesus to the Sanhedrin. He thought either Jesus would save Himself, as usual, or the Sanhedrin would give some punishment to Jesus and then release. But it seems he never thought that his Master would be “condemned” to death.

“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.” (Matt 27:3-4).

This shows clearly that Judas was capable of repentance. After all God created man capable of repentance and Judas is no exception:

“Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool” (Is 1:18).

But unfortunately he didn’t wait long enough for God’s mercy and committed another sin; of destroying his own God-given life.

One cannot finish the answer without wondering the following:

Was Judas predestinated to be the betrayer? It seems the answer from the Scripture may be, ‘yes’.

Was Judas predestinated to be lost for ever? The answer may be, ‘no’. Why?

Because “it is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost” (Matt 18:14).


One thing is sure: Judas Iscariot did not receive the Holy Spirit ever. The other disciples received the Holy Spirit for the first time on the day of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit is called “the Spirit of Truth” who “will guide you into ALL Truth” (John 16:13).

This opportunity was NOT given to Judas Iscariot. Judas never knew the “ALL Truth” because he perished before the coming of the Holy Spirit. It seems God has shut him in “unbelief” so that He can show “mercy” to him later (Rom 11:32).

Who will be lost eternally?

“For if we are willfully sinning AFTER receiving the FULL knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice concerning sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment and zealous fire being about to consume the adversaries” (Heb 10:26-27).

After receiving the full knowledge of the Truth means after receiving the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth who led them into the full knowledge of the Truth.

“For it is impossible for those once having been enlightened, and having tasted of the heavenly gift, and becoming sharers of the Holy Spirit, and tasting the good Word of God, and the works of power of a coming age, and having fallen away, it is impossible for them again to renew to repentance, crucifying again for themselves the Son of God, and putting Him to open shame” (Heb 6:4-6).

This is why Jesus said as a matter of principle (Jesus knew the Pharisees were blind anyway – Matt 15:14):

“If you were blind (without knowledge of Truth), you would have no sin. But now you say, We see (have knowledge of Truth); therefore, your sin remains” (John 9:41).

No wonder Jesus said the people of Sodom and Gomorrah will find it more bearable in the Judgment Day (Matt 10:15).

So, it becomes obvious that Judas Iscariot did NOT receive the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth who leads into the ALL Truth, the FULL knowledge of the Truth.

So it seems to me that Judas sinned NOT “willfully” because he lacked the full knowledge of the Truth! Scripture says God examines the hearts (thoughts) of people.

So in my “opinion” Judas Iscariot is not lost (condemned) eternally. He simply died waiting to be resurrected back to life (Acts 24:15).

  • Is it only those who say they know the truth or have received the Holy Spirit that can be lost eternally? Compare Mat 12:24, 28, 31-32.
    – Omowright
    Commented Jan 1 at 14:10
  • Besides Heb 6:4-6 and 10:26-27, please see Ephes 4:30 and 1 Thess 5:19. David sincerely prayed, "do not take Your Holy Spirit from me" (Psalms 51:11). Commented Jan 1 at 17:37

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