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Was it better for Judas not to have been born? What is his fate?

“But woe to the man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.” (Matthew 26:24) 

In looking at both translations of this verse in Matthew 26:24 and Mark 14:20 we found that most modern English translations have reversed the order of the original Greek text. Our main source for the information below is an article by L. Ray Smith, “Was it better for Judas had he not been born?” 

The Emphatic Diaglott Interlinear of Mark 14:21 reads,

“The indeed son of the man goes away, even as it has been written concerning him; woe but to the man that through whom the son of the man is delivered up; good it was to him, if not was born the man that.”

The word order of the Greek manuscript is: “. . . good it was to him, if not was born the man that.”

The translators changed the inspired Greek word order from

“ . . . good it was to HIM,” to

“ . . . good it was for THAT MAN.”

Some may ask if it really matters. We believe proper translation always matters. 

When the word order is changed to: “good were it for that man if he had never been born, “he” and “that man” has to be the same person. We know that man is Judas. Therefore, translated wrongly, it surely would mean that it would be better for Judas if Judas had never been born.

But that is NOT the inspired word order. The manuscript word order is: “good were it for him if that man had never been born.” In that order ‘him” and “that man” are NOT the same person.

In the scripture’s proper word order it is easy to distinguish between “him” and “that man.” Jesus is referred to as “Him” and the “Son of Man.” The words of Jesus are consistent. He did not use the pronoun “him” to represent himself and Judas, just himself. He refers to himself in the third person as him and him—both times, and he refers to Judas as that man and that man—both times. A better translation might read: 

“Truly the Son of Man (Jesus) goes as it has been written concerning him (Jesus), but woe to that man (Judas) by whom the Son of Man (Jesus) is betrayed! It were good for him (Jesus) if that man (Judas) had never been born.” 

Should we hate Judas or only his actions? Judas was one of Jesus’ Twelve disciples. He spent precious time over a three-year period with the Master. His betrayal of our Lord is almost inconceivable to us and we are often drawn to hate not only his actions, but him as well. Although God hates sin and hates those who sin (Psalm 5:5), we are not God and must be very careful before passing judgment on another. 

Therefore, rather than concentrate on hating Judas and wondering if he is in second death, we, as consecrated Christians, should view him as an example or type representing second death for the consecrated (even though Judas himself may or may not be in second death). Judas was in Jesus’ inner circle (just as we are in the Body of Christ) and yet he fell from grace. What happened to Judas should be a reminder to us to guard our hearts and minds at all times from our fallen natures and the wiles of the Adversary. 

What is Judas’ fate? First, let us say that many are divided on the fate of Judas. Some believe that Judas is in second death (even though he died before receiving the Holy Spirit at Pentecost) and will not be resurrected on earth to repentance. Others believe that since he did not have the holy spirit he will come forth from the grave and have an opportunity to repent. Therefore, we choose not to express an opinion one way or the other. We are happy to leave Judas’ fate to God who understood his fallen mind and heart condition at the time of his sin. Whatever his fate, it is just.

To learn more about Judas’ betrayal listen to, “What Happened at the Last Supper?”

To learn more about how we can avoid Judas’ heart condition listen to, “How Can Resentment Lead to Death?”