Judas the thief

John 12:1-6 - Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus' honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus' feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, "Why wasn't this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year's wages." He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.

I wonder how many disciples knew Judas was a thief. (Jesus obviously knew.) How long had they known? Did they try to catch him at it or stop him from it? Why did they let him continue to be the "keeper of the money bag"?

What did Judas use the stolen money for? Food? Things he wanted but couldn't otherwise afford? Gambling? Paying debts? Other things that were sinful in and of themselves?

On the other hand, it's possible (though it barely seems likely) that he used the money to help others. Though it does say he didn't care about the poor.


John Rhinehart said...

Was Judas a thief? Biblical evidence shows he used to be a thief but there are no indications that at the time of Jesus calling he is a thief. Only John makes reference that Judas "was" a thief. This cannot be confirmed by any other disciple. In the mouth of two or three witness shall every fact be confirmed. Also, depending on which translation of Scriptures you are using, it may say, that he stole and others do not mention it. Thus one witness is not reliable. Thus, we cannot say for certain that Judas was a thief or that he ever stole anything from the bag.

Gary said...

If you trust that every word of the Bible is true, then Judas was a thief. If he was not, then this section about Judas is not true. If this section is not true, how much of the rest of the book of John is not true? As with any questioning of a part of the Bible, once you doubt one part, where do you stop? So I will not doubt that this section is true and continue to believe that it is all God's words written by inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

John Rhinehart said...

Its not questioning the Word of God the makes Judas a thief/stealer, it the translation that one uses to support their claims. The Authorized KJV says nothing to the fact that Judas ever stole from the bag. But some other translations do which is the cause of so much division within the Body of Christ today. Which translation do we rely on? We have only one Authorized Version, the KJV. We could also hold to the argument as you stated, “If this section is not true, how much of the rest of the book of John is not true?” And according to the KJV this statement is not true, that Judas stole from the bag. What now can be our explanation? If all translations don't agree, and they don't, then what does one do to find the truth in God's Word? Good discussion!

Gary said...

I'm using the NIV here which is purported to be a very accurate translation. I looked at a few KJV translations online, including Authorized, and found all of them mention Judas as thief.

John Rhinehart said...

You are correct that all the translations says that Judas was a thief. It is my understanding from research, that in the Greek language structure that this word “Was” is in the Imperfect Tense and is only used in the indicative mood and refers to continuous or linear action in past time and not the present.

We must truthfully ask ourselves this question then, “why is such an alleged thief (and as many claim he was stealing money out of the bag) still acting as the disciples' treasurer to the time of the last supper? Surely there would have been some audit on what happened to the common purse over the three years that Jesus was with the disciples? And why is it that none of the other Gospels mention the pilfering?

In Matt 26:8-10, Jesus “understood" it, knew their intentions and knew their hearts (even the so-called stealing from the bag by Judas?) at what they were driving at, thus there was no “rebuke” and no criticism. As far as Jesus was concerned, he never question Judas about his “so-called stealing,” he was still a disciple and an apostle even with his short fall of loving more money to put into the bag. Why didn’t Jesus confront Judas about his stealing? If that is what he was doing? Would it not make a great teaching moment for the other disciples? Did not Jesus “know all things?”

Again, a great topic .....

John Rhinehart said...

One point I forgot to address, What translation should we use, the NIV which makes Judas stealing from the bag or the Authorized KJV and the likes that says nothing of him stealing from the bag?

Gary said...

There are many questions the Bible doesn't answer - thus this blog. Thank God that none of them have an impact on faith and salvation. For all we know, Jesus did confront Judas about his thefts (past or present).

As to which translation to use, I leave that to the individual. Reading more than one is sometimes encouraged. I have learned from those more scholarly than I, that the NIV is one of the most accurate English versions we have to date.

Anonymous said...

There was never a charge or accusation brought by anyone(including Jesus and the disciples)against Judas as being a thief. Even if Jesus and John were two witnesses to his sin it was never addressed. Judas may have been a thief (or one that manipulated money for his own purposes) in the past and continued with that sin when opportunity presented itself. I believe the reason for not addressing Judas' sin was the same reason that Christ never uncovered the name of the disciple who would betray Him (except with the disciple John because he had asked the Lord who it was). The only thing that would be able to convert the heart of Judas was the transfoming power of grace and truth. The love of God covered the sin of Judas to allow God's grace and truth the opportunity to convert his heart. Peter was openly rebuked in the presence of the disciples because Peter had rebuked Christ before them all in Mark 8:32,33. Jesus ever condemned Peter for his denials but was interested in converting Peter's heart so that he could feed the sheep and lambs. BTW- just because two or three have witnessed sin in a person's life it does not exempt them from covering that sin nor does it obligate them to bring an accusation against the guilty party. It is grounds to bring a charge against, but if it is proven false, the accuser is the one that is to be rebuked and recieve harsh treatment before the others in 1Tim 5:19,20 Deut 19:15-20. The accuser is the one who has sinned for bringing an accusation (against anyone including an elder) that can not be substantiated by 2 or 3 witnesses or is proven to be false. The others that fear are those that will be very careful about bringing an accusation against anyone, especially an elder.

Gary said...


I think you have one typo in your comments. I think you mean to say, "Jesus never condemned Peter...."

journeymantom said...

John wrote almost 30-50 years after the other gospels. By this time, the disciples felt comfortable bringing out the fact that one of their own, one of Jesus' selections, was a thief. How embarrassing to the new Jewish/Christian movement in its infancy!

In the same vein, we can look at John 8. John includes the radical story of shame and grace, a story of great consternation to the Jewish Christians that Jesus would not condemn such a "sinful" woman. By the time John wrote the gospel, the power of the death, burial and resurrection in all it's gospel grace was known so that this story was included. How many others were shamed by their past lives and saved by this same grace of Jesus? Some texts say the story of the woman caught in the act of adultery doesn't belong, but the truth is that John included many such details the other gospels excluded. (See the anointing at Bethany for comparison)

Johnson's Journal said...

Jesus only rebuked His own just as a Father rebukes the son that he loves. It makes it clear as to which side of the fence that Judas stood since Jesus did not even bother to rebuke him though He was no doubt very aware of Judas' heart.

Gary said...

Good points, J.J. That's a great angle from which to consider this.

Anonymous said...

Jesus never made any mistakes... God's planning and timing are always perfect. This means that John included these details in the bible for a good reason as inspired by God. It also means that judas was chose, not corrected, and allowed to stay and be the treasurer for a reason. Christ needed a betrayer to fulfill the prophecies correct? Had Jesus corrected judas with grace early on, would he have been willing to betray with a "new heart"? Doubtful. It was the covetous sin of greed so rampant in judas's heart that
made him the devil's target. And it was God with his perfect plan who allowed the watching Satan to take hold of judas. Also 'was' a their is past tense. John wrote this after so 'was' is applicable. The KJV mentions Lucifer when other translations do not. Why? Does that make it more inspired and accurate or less?

Aaron Matthew said...

Looking up the original Greek, which is pre-translation, we can see the term used to describe Judas is "kleptēs," which is "secret-thief." The word is used 12 times in the NT and in every instance it appears to be present tense and not in the past.

Passages which use kleptēs: Matt. 24:43; Luke 12:33, 39; John 10:1, 10, 12:6; 1 Thess. 5:2, 4; 1 Pt. 4:15; 2 Pt. 3:10; Rev. 3:3, and 16:15.

Gary Sonnenberg said...

Thanks for the info, Aaron.

Cheri said...

One thing I don't see on this blog is showing that Judas was not a real follower of Jesus. He walked and talked with Him but he sinned and when Jesus gave him a chance to confess at the supper, Judas walked away and later betrayed Jesus.

His character might be shown in him being a thief, but his sins weren't forgiven because he didn't ask.

Each of us has the chance to follow Jesus but it takes an act from us. We must make a commitment to Him and ask for forgiveness of our sins.

Gary Sonnenberg said...


There is nothing to indicate that Judas was not a follower; that is, believer in Jesus as his Savior, initially.

Somewhere along the line, he obviously went wrong.

Everyone's sins were forgiven by Jesus when he suffered and died for them. This is sometimes called objective justification.

Not everyone accepts this forgiveness personally. This is known as subjective justification for those who do.

A person can contribute nothing to his salvation. Not even the asking for forgiveness counts here. I am forgiven without actively asking for it. Again, Jesus did that all on the cross. The only "active" thing I can do is to reject personal forgiveness, which is what Judas did.

Judo Jenkins said...

"Judas left to go where he belongs.” - Acts 1:25

"Many antichrists have come. They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going SHOWED that none of them belonged to us." - 1 John 2:18-19

Judas leaving and failing to return proved that he was never REALLY a follower of Jesus.

"To the Jews who had believed Him, Jesus said, “If you hold to My teaching, you are REALLY My disciples. THEN you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” - John 8:31-32

"By THIS everyone will KNOW that you are My disciples, IF you love one another.” - John 13:35

"This is to My Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, SHOWING yourselves to be My disciples." - John 15:8

Judas wasn't concerned with the glory of God, or loving the disciples of Jesus, he was consumed with self, which is the opposite of Jesus' teachings, so he never knew the truth that would set him free, which is why he died in bondage. Ironic, seeing how he was a part of Jesus' ministry, who was the Truth.

Gary Sonnenberg said...

Thanks for your input, Judo.

The fact that Judas ended his life as an unbeliever does not let us extrapolate backwards in time to assume that he was always an unbeliever.

There is nothing that would lead us to believe that he was an unbeliever when Jesus called him.

Was he a believe as a youngster? Maybe. Maybe not. We just don't know.

Judo Jenkins said...

"A time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” - John 4:23-24

I am not saying Judas never believed, I am saying belief is not enough to know the truth, otherwise Jesus wouldn't have addressed those who believed in Him and told them how to be free by holding to His teachings.

"We have come to share in Christ, IF indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end." - Hebrews 3:14

Garry said...

John 6:70-71 "...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." The many schools of thought presented are interesting indeed. Why didn't Jesus correct judas, or chasten him? Of course there's nothing to indicate he didn't. How many times has God convicted our hearts, and we go back to doing the thing or things he's chastened us for?
Nevertheless, the best we can do is speculate to a large degree as scripture does not provide a sure course of action concerning this. We do know, however, Jesus was not ignorant of Judas' thievery. Perhaps he allowed him to continue to show us what happens when money becomes more important than ministry. God bless my friends!

Emmanuel Akabuah said...

If Jesus were to rebuke Judas the way the world or should I say we Christians of today rebuke those who are wrong, it would contradict what He has been preaching to us all along. Jesus said turn the other cheek when someone slaps us; He said forgive 70 times 7 times a sin committed against us in a day; He said we should love one another like He had loved us and He spoke of love as the greatest commandment; on the cross He said Father please forgive them for they know not what they do. The truth is God is able to transform a sinful and hopeless situation around and make it very beautiful, an example is what He did in the life of David, making a seed of Beersheba, Solomon the wisest and richest king ever. There can only be transformation only after genuine repentance. Jesus taught about grace, that grace was available to Judas to take any day after he truly repented and we obviously do not expect Jesus to cast Judas out just because he did not open his heart for true repentance. We all know there is hope for everyone for salvation so long as they are still alive, but the question is that what we Christians of today do? Do we treat sinners as people with hope or we condemn them. Do not praise the other disciples yet because each of them went about their businesses until Jesus began to reveal himself to them that He is indeed alive and has risen from the dead. Even Judas realized his wrong and saw how much he has been consumed by his lust for money, hence he tried to return the money and committed suicide afterwards. The long and short of this is that to be called does not guarantee that one will be chosen; to be chosen does not guarantee that one is saved. God grant us grace to be the Believers He wants us to be, Amen.

Anthony Valle said...

The bible, written by the Holy Spirit is reliable enough.
" and bare what was put in it", meaning he took what was in it.

Anonymous said...

He may be one claiming to be Christian and was not but was trying to climb up some other way. The same is a thief and a river.

Anonymous said...

Using P66 (or any other Greek manuscript) the Greek language clearly implies that Judas reacted because he was being a thief: as the (money) bag holder(treasurer), he had removed what was put into the bag and was carrying it to use for himself. Aside: I implore everyone NOT to take my words as truth, but find a trustworthy interpreter that understands Greek history.

Anonymous said...

very interesting readings. now if it was so oedained that JUDAS was the one to fulfil the prophecy there was absolutely nothing judas could have done about it, up until the crucifixion. something snaped in judas' heart. "I have betrayed inocent blood" he returned the money, went and hanged himself. who are to judge or know that he did not seek forgiveness for his action? Isnt that what jesus himself said that we should not judge? but I guess it suits our purpose to nail Judas to the cross again. I wondered how manytimes we have not sold jesus?

King Blog said...

Indeed, in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall a fact be confirmed (2 Corinthians 13:1).

Thare is a testimony that proves that Judas indeed was a thief or even worse he was unrepentant though he was the disciple of Jesus. At least John's account gives us an indication of what type of an unrepentant person he was.

John 12:6 is the verse that gives us an account of Judas being a thief then John 6:70 is the testimony of Jesus Christ himself saying that one of His disciples is a devil. Given the accounts of Jesus' betrayal it's evident who the devil was.

Right now one may argue that both testimonies are from the same book and why not another book?

The fact that remains is that Jesus Christ and John are both witnesses of Judas' unrepentantness and later on the rest of the desciples. It therefore satisfied the primary condition of accepting a testimony: Judas was a thief.