5-13 Satan Entered Judas

Luke 22:3: “Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve”.

See Section 2-4, “The Jewish Satan”.

Note in passing how “enter” is used in a non-physical sense in Mt. 25:21 “enter into the joy of your Lord”, entering in at the narrow gate (Mt. 7:13), entering into another’s labours (Jn. 4:38). ‘Satan’ enters a man’s heart in the sense that “the lusts of other things enter in” (Mk. 4:19); in this sense we can “enter into temptation” (Lk. 22:46).

The link between Judas and the ‘devil’ is brought out by a consideration of Luke’s comment that Judas “sought an opportune time [eukairan] to betray Jesus” (Lk. 22:6). But Luke earlier used this word in Lk. 4:13 to describe how the “devil” in the wilderness departed from the Lord “until an opportune time” [achri kairou]. The Lord’s victory in the wilderness prepared Him for the victory over the ‘devil’ which He achieved in His final passion. Just as the temptation to ‘come down from the cross’ was a repetition of the temptation to throw Himself down from the temple. John’s Gospel often repeats the history of the other Gospels, but in different language. In Mt. 26:46, the Lord comments upon the arrival of Judas: “Rise, let us be going; my betrayer is coming”. But Jn. 14:30,31 puts it like this: “The prince of this world [a phrase understood as meaning ‘the evil one’, the Devil] is coming… Rise, let us be going”. John is picking up the mythological language of the ‘satan’ figure, and applying it to a real person with real attitudes and sinful intentions- i.e. Judas, who is presented as a personification of the 'Satan' / 'Devil' / 'Prince of this world' principle.

We can easily overlook the huge significance of Mk. 14:21 recording the Lord’s words that Judas personally was guilty for betraying Him, and would suffer accordingly- even though Lk. 22:22 says that Judas did this because the Satan [i.e. the Jews] ‘entered him’. Whatever that means, it doesn’t mean that Judas nor anyone is thereby not personally responsible for their actions.

The translation of the Greek text in Jn. 13:2 has been problematic. “The devil having put into the heart of Judas” doesn’t quite do justice to what the Greek is really saying. The respected expositor and Greek student C.K.Barratt insists that strictly, the Greek means ‘the devil had put into his own [i.e. the devil’s] heart, that Judas should betray Jesus’(1). This translation is almost impossible to make any sense of given the orthodox understanding of the ‘devil’. And so most popular translations ignore the obvious difficulty by glossing over the strict meaning of the Greek. Understanding the ‘devil’ as the innate source of temptation within the human heart, the picture becomes clearer. The idea is surely that the thought of betraying Jesus began within the devil-mind of Judas; he ‘put the thought in his own mind’, as if to stress how Judas conceived this thought totally of himself and within his own mind, just as later Ananias and Sapphira [in an analogous incident] ‘conceived this thing within their heart’. So properly translated, Jn. 13:2 actually supports our general thesis about the devil- it is stressing that the heart of Judas was itself responsible, that heart put the idea of betraying Jesus into itself- and nobody else was responsible. Note how the Lord addresses Judas as if Judas had full responsibility for his actions and control over them- e.g. “What you are going to do, do quickly” (Jn. 13:27), and Mk. 14:21 “Woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! Good were it for that man if he had never been born”. Those two passages alone surely make it clear that Judas was no robot, no puppet on a satanic string. He had full responsibility and choice over his actions, hence these words of the Lord to him. Summing up, we are left with the question: Did Judas betray Jesus, or did Satan , working through Judas, betray Jesus? The answer, surely, is that it was Judas, and he must bear full responsibility for that.


(1). C.K. Barratt, The Gospel According To St. John (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1978) p. 365. Barratt’s view of the Greek is confirmed in D.A. Carson, Divine Sovereignty And Human Responsibility (London: Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1981) p. 131.

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