Was Judas saved and then lost?

File:Gustave Doré - Study for "The Judas Kiss" - Walters 371387.jpg

Gustave Doré – Study for “The Judas Kiss” (courtesy wikimedia commons)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

Judas Iscariot and Peter were both picked by Jesus specifically to cast out devils, heal the sick, and preach the gospel (Matthew 10:1-27). I would not expect Jesus to choose men who were not in the kingdom and were not promoters of the kingdom of God.

Jesus placed his public approval upon these men when he picked them to be His Apostles and commissioned them to preach His gospel. This is a very important series of verses (Mt 10:1-27): note v 20, especially, ‘For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you’ (ESV).

So God’s Spirit was speaking through all 12 apostles, including Judas. Therefore Judas was of such a spiritual ranking that God’s Spirit spoke through him. Even though this is prior to Jesus’ death on the cross, it is made clear that the Spirit was working in and through Judas. In New Testament terms, he was a saved man.

Was Judas chosen for the kingdom of God and then lost his status or was Judas never ever chosen by Jesus for the kingdom? Or, was Judas chosen for destruction and damnation as ‘one of you [Judas] is a devil’?

What better place to start than with the Scriptures?

Good Book


 What do the Scriptures state?

Judas was first numbered among the Twelve apostles (Lk 6:13, 22:3; Acts 1:16-17). Acts 1:17 is clear about Judas’ role: ‘He was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry’. Therefore, this issue is unquestioned: Judas was ‘chosen’ by Christ Himself, and as the apostle Judas was one of the 12 chosen by Jesus (Lk 6:13; 22:3).

Luke 22:3: ‘Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was of the number of the twelve’ (ESV). That’s very clear. He was one of the twelve apostles chosen by Jesus.

John 6:70, Jesus asks the rhetorical question to His twelve apostles, ‘Did I not choose you, the Twelve? And yet one of you is a devil?’

Matt. 26:23-24 He answered and said, ’He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me will betray me. The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born’.

In Luke 12:32 Jesus says to His disciples, “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”
This Scripture states that Matthias’ place was ‘to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place (Acts 1:25).
Jesus Himself provided the answer in John 17:12, ‘While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled’.

Matthew 27:3-5, ‘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’ (KJV).

The words ‘repented himself’ here (from the King James Version) are not the best possible translation of the underlying Greek. The Greek word means ‘regret’ or ‘remorse’ but it does not necessarily imply a change like the word for ‘repentance’ does. The World English Bible translates Matthew 27:3 as, “Then Judas, who betrayed him, when he saw that Jesus was condemned, felt remorse, and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders” (WEB).

‘Then they [Judas was there] that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God’ (Matthew 14:33 KJV).

Here we learn that Judas, with the others, was an unbeliever, and then the Lord Jesus adds in John 6:70-71 these words, “Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve.”

Church Fathers (courtesy Wikipedia)

Let’s check out a few of the church fathers

Irenaeus (ca AD 125-202),[1] bishop of Lyons in Gaul about the year AD 180, wrote in Against Heresies (about AD 185), of Judas [2]

who was expelled from the number of the twelve, and never restored to his place…. but Judas was deprived [of his office], and cast out, while Matthias was ordained in his place….

But Judas having been once for all cast away, never returns into the number of the disciples; otherwise a different person would not have been chosen to fill his place. Besides, the Lord also declared regarding him, Woe to the man by whom the Son of man shall be betrayed; Matthew 26:24 and, It were better for him if he had never been born; Mark 14:21 and he was called the son of perdition John 17:12 by Him. (Against Heresies, 2.20.2, 5).

Chrysostom (ca AD 347-407),[3] was born and ministered in Antioch, Syria, and was the golden-mouthed expositor and orator. He wrote, ‘For Judas too was a child of the kingdom, and it was said to him with the disciples, You shall sit on twelve thrones; Matthew 19:28 yet he became a child of hell’ (Homily 26 on Matthew).

Ambrose of Milan (ca AD 340-397), [4] administrator and preacher, said, ‘For both Saul and Judas were once good…. Sometimes they are at first good, who afterwards become and continue evil; and for this respect they are said to be written in the book of life, and blotted out of it’ (cited from The Works of John Fletcher, p. 137).

St Augustine of Hippo (ca AD 354-430),[5] philosopher and theologian, in his Tractate 62 (John 13:26-21) had quite a bit to say about Judas and his condition. This is but a sample:

It was after this bread, then, that Satan entered into the Lord’s betrayer, that, as now given over to his power, he might take full possession of one into whom before this he had only entered in order to lead him into error. For we are not to suppose that he was not in him when he went to the Jews and bargained about the price of betraying the Lord; for the evangelist Luke very plainly attests this when he says: Then entered Satan into Judas, who was surnamed Iscariot, being one of the twelve; and he went his way, and communed with the chief priests. Luke 22:3-4. Here, you see, it is shown that Satan had already entered into Judas. His first entrance, therefore, was when he implanted in his heart the thought of betraying Christ; for in such a spirit had he already come to the supper. But now, after the bread, he entered into him, no longer to tempt one who belonged to another, but to take possession of him as his own.

But it was not then, as some thoughtless readers suppose, that Judas received the body of Christ. For we are to understand that the Lord had already dispensed to all of them the sacrament of His body and blood, when Judas also was present, as very clearly related by Saint Luke; Luke 22:19-21 and it was after this that we come to the moment when, in accordance with John’s account, the Lord made a full disclosure of His betrayer by dipping and holding out to him the morsel of bread, and intimating perhaps by the dipping of the bread the false pretensions of the other. For the dipping of a thing does not always imply its washing; but some things are dipped in order to be dyed. But if a good meaning is to be here attached to the dipping, his ingratitude for that good was deservedly followed by damnation (Tractate 62.2-3).

So Augustine regarded Judas as a man of ‘false pretensions’. Thus, it is inferred that Judas was not a genuine believer when he was tempted to betray Jesus. Irenaeus regarded Judas as being cast away from the 12, never to return. For Chrysostom, Judas was a child of the kingdom who became a child of hell. He was written in the book of life was Ambrose’s perspective and then Judas was blotted out of the book of life – he lost his salvation.

So for these church fathers, some believed Judas was never saved and was a pretender, but for others, Judas was saved and lost again.

A heretical forgery, a Gnostic gospel, ‘the Gospel of Judas‘, was found in the 1970s in an Egyptian cave.


Green Salvation Button

Tut tut says the Calvinist: Satan could not enter a believer

I was engaged in some interaction on Judas’ godly status or otherwise, on a Christian forum. One fellow, a Calvinist, responded: ‘Satan can enter believers? More heresy’.[6]

My response was:[7]

I do wish your presuppositions wouldn’t blind you to the facts recorded in the Gospels. Another person wrote:

Yes, he was a believer. Even Calvinists will tell you unbelievers want nothing to do with the gospel, the kingdom, and the King Himself. If he wasn’t a believer, he would have turned away from Jesus just as other disciples did. Judas fell away when Satan entered him.[8]

So what did one of these posters do? He labelled my post as ‘heresy’ because he believes that ‘Judas fell away when Satan entered him’
Let’s check out the Gospel facts. In Matthew 10, we note these Gospel details in the authoritative Scriptures:

  • ‘These twelve [including Judas] Jesus sent out, instructing them’ (Matt 10:5). How did Jesus describe these 12?
  • ‘Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves’ (Matt 10:16). So Jesus regarded Judas as one of his ‘sheep’.
  • ‘For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you’ (Matt 10:20). So all of the 12, including Judas, had the Holy Spirit of YOUR heavenly Father speaking through them. So, for Judas, God was HIS Father.

What happened later to Judas? ‘Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was of the number of the twelve’ (Luke 22:3).

Earlier, in response to another post, the person claimed: ‘I have my view. But if you believe that Satan can inhabit believes (sic), then you believe a heresy’.[9]

My reply was:[10]

That is a false claim in relation to Judas, as I showed in the thread on that forum.

Why must this person impose his own presuppositions on the biblical text and make it mean what it does not say? In hermeneutics (biblical interpretation), this is called eisegesis.

Judas was elected by Jesus as one of the 12, sent out to preach by Jesus and cast out demons, and the heavenly Father was Judas’s Father. The Spirit of the Father spoke through Judas. Then Satan entered Judas.

These are biblical facts and not heretical facts.

Based on these facts and those I have provided, this Calvinistic poster was engaging in eisegesis, but he called a poster a promoter of heresy because he believes Satan entered Judas and that can’t happen to a believer. However, the facts as recorded in the Gospels are that Satan entered Judas. I’m sticking with the biblical facts when I maintain that Judas was chosen by Jesus as one of the 12 to enter the kingdom, but he fell away when he allowed Satan to enter him and he denied association with Jesus – three times.

Scarlet Salvation Button

Calvinists refuse to accept loss of salvation

Calvinists have large problems with Judas being chosen as an apostle and then losing his chosen status when Satan entered him. Why? They are unable to accommodate anyone losing his/her salvation. It doesn’t fit with the presuppositions of a TULIP view of salvation.

Matthew Slick, a Calvinist, explained the P of the acronym, ‘Perseverance of the saints’:

You cannot lose your salvation. Because the Father has elected, the Son has redeemed, and the Holy Spirit has applied salvation, those thus saved are eternally secure. They are eternally secure in Christ. Some of the verses for this position are John 10:27-28 where Jesus said His sheep will never perish; John 6:47 where salvation is described as everlasting life; Romans 8:1 where it is said we have passed out of judgment; 1 Corinthians 10:13 where God promises to never let us be tempted beyond what we can handle; and Phil. 1:6 where God is the one being faithful to perfect us until the day of Jesus’ return.[11]

For an alternative – from an Arminian perspective – regarding salvation, see Brian Abasciano and Martin Glynn’s response to TULIP, represented by the acronym FACTS:

Freed by Grace (to Believe)
Atonement for All
Conditional Election
Total Depravity
Security in Christ

This view by Abasciano and Glynn provides this explanation of ‘security in Christ’:

  • Since salvation comes through faith in Christ, the security of our salvation continues by faith in Christ.
  • Just as the Holy Spirit empowered us to believe in Christ, so he empowers us to continue believing in Christ.
  • God protects our faith relationship with him from any outside force irresistibly snatching us away from Christ or our faith, and he preserves us in salvation as long as we trust in Christ.
  • Arminians have differing views of whether Scripture teaches that believers can forsake faith in Christ and so perish (the traditional view, held by most Arminians), or whether God irresistibly keeps believers from forsaking their faith and therefore entering into eternal condemnation (as unbelievers).[12]


The biblical evidence – as articulated above – points to Judas being chosen by Jesus, being a member of God’s kingdom and then losing his salvation when Satan entered him and he denied Jesus. I cannot conclude otherwise from an inductive study of Scripture.

Judas Iscariot (right), retiring from the Last Supper, painting by Carl Bloch, late 19th century (courtesy Wikipedia)

Works consulted

Cairns, E E 1981. Christianity through the centuries: A history of the Christian church. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.


[1] Lifespan dates are from ‘St Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons: Biography’, Christian Classics Ethereal Library. Available at: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/irenaeus (Accessed 29 December 2013).

[2] These details of Irenaeus are from Cairns (1981:110), who stated that he ‘was born in Smurna, had been influenced by Polycarp’s preaching while Polycarp was bishop of Smyrna’. Against Heresies is his ‘greatest work’ and ‘was done in the field of polemics writing against Gnosticism’ (Cairns 1981:10).

[3] Lifespan dates are from Cairns (1981:141).

[4] Lifespan dates are from Cairns (1981:145).

[5] Lifespan dates are from Cairns (1981:146).

[6] Hammster#22. 13 October 2013, Christian Forums, General Theology, Soteriology, ‘Does Matthew 13:11 support election and reprobation?’ Available at: http://www.christianforums.com/t7779586-3/ (Accessed 27 December 2013).

[7] Ibid., OzSpen#29.

[8] Ibid., Ask Seek Knock#20.

[9] Ibid., Hammster#25.

[10] Ibid., OzSpen#30.

[11] Matthew J Slick 2012. Calvinist Corner, ‘The five points of Calvinism’ (online). Available at: http://www.calvinistcorner.com/tulip.htm (Accessed 28 December 2013).

[12] ‘Security in Christ (Article 5)’ 2013, An Outline of the FACTS of Arminianism vs. The TULIP of Calvinism, February 28. Society of Evangelical Arminians. Available at: http://evangelicalarminians.org/an-outline-of-the-facts-of-arminianism-vs-the-tulip-of-calvinism/#ASC (Accessed 28 December 2013).


Copyright © 2014 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 18 November 2015.