Why Did Judas Betray Jesus? Exploring the Motives Behind One of the Bible’s Most Infamous Betrayals

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Published by Kimberly Wall


Co-Founder, Disciple Group Leader, Author

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The betrayal of Jesus by Judas Iscariot, one of His most devoted disciples, is a story that has been debated for centuries. Various interpretations have been presented as to why Judas committed the ultimate act of disloyalty against Jesus.

While some speculated that it was an instrument used to carry out God’s will[1], others argued it was out of greed or anger. Despite the numerous explanations that have been proposed, there is still no definitive answer to the question: Why did Judas betray Jesus?

Key Takeaways

  • Despite various interpretations, Judas Iscariot’s betrayal of Jesus was driven by a combination of greed, spiritual disappointment, and resentment.
  • Judas’ story highlights the dangers of succumbing to temptation, pride, and envy, emphasizing the importance of staying true to God’s will and avoiding actions contrary to it.
  • The article offers tips like regular scripture study, active worship participation, constant prayer, and inviting others to avoid spiritual drift.

What Does The Bible Say About Judas?

“But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.” Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely you don’t mean me, Rabbi?” Jesus answered, “You have said so.”

— Matthew 24–25

The Bible sheds some insight into why Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus. According to Matthew 26:24–25, during a meal with the twelve apostles, Jesus identified Judas as the one who would ultimately betray him. Jesus knew then that it was going to be Judas Iscariot. This serves as a reminder of how evil forces can influence and enter our lives if we don’t remain committed to the Word of God.

Though Judas’ betrayal may have seemed unjustified at first, it was actually part of a larger plan by God. As Paul explains in Romans 8:28, “All things work together for good.” Ultimately, even this act of betrayal was meant to serve a higher purpose.

The Gospel of Luke provides an additional layer to this question. In chapter 22, it is revealed that Satan entered Judas, and he became motivated by greed when he agreed to betray Jesus for financial gain. Judas wanted to benefit from being associated with the increasingly popular figure and chose his own ambitions over faithfulness (Luke 22:3–4). This serves as a cautionary tale about the consequences of choosing material gain over faith.

A digital illustration capturing Judas Iscariot's betrayal, with intricate detailing in the characters' expressions and body language.

Why Did Judas Betray Jesus?

The betrayal of Jesus Christ by Judas Iscariot has been a subject of intense scrutiny throughout the centuries. The Gospels provide various explanations as to why one of Jesus’ most trusted disciples would turn against Him and make a deal with the chief priests to arrest him, ultimately leading to His trial and crucifixion.

In the Gospel of Matthew, Judas is presented as a betrayer from the start; he is referred to as “the one who will betray me” (Matthew 26:21) before it is revealed that he is the one responsible for handing Jesus over to Roman authorities. In Luke 22:3–6, Judas agrees to betray Jesus in exchange for money. This passage indicates that greed was an integral component of his decision-making process in betraying Jesus.

In the Gospel of John, a more complex explanation is given for Judas’ betrayal. Jesus told Judas that he was “controlled by Satan” (John 13:27), suggesting that his role in betraying Jesus was predetermined, perhaps even divinely ordained.

This idea fits into the larger context of the Bible, which presents Jesus as fulfilling God’s plan to bring salvation to humanity. In such an interpretation, Judas can be seen as playing an important part in this plan by helping to initiate Jesus’ crucifixion.

An oil painting portraying Judas Iscariot's betrayal, with dramatic lighting highlighting the intense expressions on the characters' faces.

What Are Judas’ Motives?

To comprehend Judas’ motives, it is necessary to examine the biblical setting. In Matthew’s Gospel, soon after Jesus reveals that He will be betrayed, Judas Iscariot volunteers (26:15). This leads a lot of people to believe his motivation was money or greed. It is also possible that Judas had political ambitions; as a prominent member of the disciples, he might have viewed Jesus’ death as an opportunity to emancipate his people from Roman domination.

However, there is no conclusive evidence in Scripture that these were Judas’s real motives. Rather, it appears more likely that his motive stemmed from spiritual disappointment and resentment toward Jesus.

Judas was the only disciple from Judea and had a rightful claim to authority. Yet instead of taking him in as an equal, Jesus gave preference to the Galilean disciples and kept Judas aloof. This sense of alienation could have seethed into resentment within Judas’ heart, eventually driving him to betray Jesus.

How Can We Learn From Judas’ Mistakes?

Judas Iscariot’s betrayal of Jesus is one of the most infamous acts in human history. It serves as a reminder that even the most devout of believers can succumb to temptation and stray from God’s will. This mistake teaches us to be wary of temporal desires’ power over our spiritual convictions, no matter how strong they may be.

Another key lesson we can learn from Judas’ story is that pride and envy can lead us astray. When Mary anointed Jesus with expensive oil, Judas was quick to criticize the wastefulness, demonstrating his pride and envy in his own heart. In turn, Judas’ envy of Jesus’ popularity and power led him to betray Him for thirty pieces of silver. We must be wary of allowing such emotions to lead us astray if we are to remain true to God’s will.

Lastly, Judas’ story is a cautionary tale about the consequences of our actions—an example of what can come when we do not act according to God’s plan. When Judas realized his terrible mistake, it was too late—he could no longer take back his decision. This serves as a reminder that every action we take has consequences, and all humans should strive to make choices that are in line with God’s will and can bring joy to everyone.

Overall, Judas Iscariot’s story is a powerful reminder of the importance of staying true to God’s will, avoiding pride and envy, and the consequences of our actions. If we take these lessons to heart, we can avoid making the same mistakes Judas did and strive for righteousness instead. This can help us lead more meaningful lives devoted to serving God and bringing glory to His name.

A watercolor painting capturing Judas Iscariot's betrayal of Jesus, showcasing dynamic brushstrokes to depict the emotional turmoil and conflict

Practical Tips To Avoid Suddenly Turning Away From Jesus

Believers often worry that one day they will suddenly drift away from Jesus, a fear that some have sadly experienced. This can leave them feeling scared, confused, and guilty.

1. Spend Time In His Word

One of the best ways to stay connected to Jesus is by investing time each day into reading His Word—the Bible. Doing this regularly helps build our understanding of who He is and what He stands for, guiding us on how we should live our lives according to His teachings. Additionally, studying scripture can give us strength and encouragement when times are tough or when we are struggling with aspects of our faith.

2. Participate In Worship

Regularly attending church or participating in other forms of worship will help keep our relationship with Jesus strong and vibrant. Not only does it help us stay focused on Him and His mission for our lives, but it also provides a sense of community that can be uplifting and supportive when needed. Also, by joining prayer groups or Bible studies, we can become more deeply rooted in the Word and grow as disciples of Christ.

3. Pray Constantly

Prayer is an essential part of any Christian life; it helps us stay connected to God, conveying our thoughts, worries, and anxieties directly to Him, no matter how small they may seem. Pray constantly, and don’t forget to thank God for His blessings. As Jesus Christ said in Luke 18:1, “He told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.”

4. Invite Others Along You

Many people find their faith journey easier if they are part of a group, such as church friends or a Bible study group. Not only will this provide accountability, but it also provides an outlet for questions and concerns regarding spiritual matters, which may prevent sudden turning away from Jesus.

Invite others to join in your faith journey and walk with you. When inviting people to a Bible study group, some churches offer an invite system so everyone can be welcomed on the same level. This can also be beneficial if you are new to attending church and are looking for a group of like-minded individuals who are also exploring their faith.

An illustration depicting the moment of Judas Iscariot betraying Jesus


In the end, the betrayal of Jesus by Judas Iscariot serves as a powerful warning to all believers. It is a reminder that even the strongest of faith can be tested, and it is essential to stay vigilant in order to remain true to God’s will.

In addition, we should always strive to live according to His teachings, remembering that our actions have consequences that cannot be taken back. Thankfully, there are practical steps each of us can take to avoid turning away from Jesus suddenly, such as spending time in His Word or participating in worship or prayer regularly.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why was Judas the one to betray Jesus?

Judas Iscariot’s betrayal of Jesus is commonly attributed to motives such as greed, misunderstanding, or disillusionment. Whether driven by financial gain, political aspirations, or personal frustration, the precise reasons behind Judas’ actions remain a topic of debate, blending theological interpretations with historical speculation.

Did Judas get money for betraying Jesus?

Yes, according to the Bible, Judas Iscariot accepted thirty pieces of silver in exchange for betraying Jesus, symbolizing greed and betrayal in the narrative.

Who replaced Judas?

After Judas Iscariot’s betrayal and death, Matthias was chosen to replace him among the Twelve Apostles through a process of prayer and casting lots described in the Acts of the Apostles.

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