by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
“This scripture” refers to the prediction contained in the writings of the Old Testament, which is commonly thought to be the prophecy recorded in Psalm 41:9, “Yea, mine own familiar friend … hath lifted up his heel against me.” This is definitely applied to Judas by our Savior, in John 13:18—“I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me.” This scripture would certainly be fulfilled. But it was not due to a compulsion of any kind; nevertheless, it had to happen, because every prediction of God will be fulfilled. This does not say anything about Judas’ responsibility in the matter; Judas made up his mind without any help from God. A man is just as free to do evil when it is predicted as he is when it is not. Judas, therefore, was not excused because his sinful actions were foretold; he was not compelled to do evil by the prophecy, but only by the wickedness of his own heart.
Peter’s words show a wisdom we did not often see in him before this; the gist of this statement is that Judas didn’t spoil God’s plan, he fulfilled it (this Scripture had to be fulfilled). This is something that only the wise and mature can see when evil happens.
which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas,
“The Holy Ghost;” the third Person of the adorable Trinity.
“The Holy Ghost by the mouth of David” is a strong confirmation of the Divine inspiration of the book of Psalms. They were dictated by the Holy Spirit and spoken by the mouth of David. Here again, as it is consistent throughout the word of God, the prophets and writers of the Old Testament are not represented as originating the words they delivered, but as receiving them from the Lord by means of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, it was not David who spoke, but the Holy Spirit. Jesus himself emphasized this emphatically in Matthew 22.43—“He said to them, ‘How then does David in the Spirit call Him Lord,’” Now we know that David and all the rest of the prophets said only what they were directed to say, by the Holy Ghost; so that they themselves were not the authors of their prophecies, but the Spirit which used their tongues as an instrument.
“Which the Holy Ghost, by the mouth of David, spake before;” even hundreds of years before the event, which shows the omniscience of God, and the deity of the Holy Ghost, and the divine authority of David's Psalms; as well as the honour he received for being the instrument by which the Holy Ghost speaks, and for being His agent. The particular matter referred to, is, "concerning" Judas; who is sometimes called Iscariot, to distinguish him from another apostle with the same name. This is strong evidence that David wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and it confirms the uniform testimony of the New Testament, that the sacred writers spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit—“for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21; NKJV).
which was guide to them that took Jesus.
“Which was guide”
• “And while He was still speaking, behold, Judas, one of the twelve, with a great multitude with swords and clubs, came from the chief priests and elders of the people” (Matt 26:47; NKJV).
• “Then Judas, having received a detachment of troops, and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, came there with lanterns, torches, and weapons” (John 18:3NKJV).
“Them that took Jesus” refers to the band of soldiers and officers, who came with swords and staves to arrest Jesus, as if He were a thief, or a robber; and Judas was at the forefront and identified Jesus with a kiss. And He also advised them to take him and hold him fast, and lead him away safely; therefore, he was not only a guide to take them to Jesus, but a director, and conductor, and manager of the whole affair. And perhaps it should be pointed out, that though Peter affirms the sin of Judas; yet he does not do it in a rough manner, but with tenderness; so that we might learn from this, how we should speak of other men’s sins.
If St. Peter had been addressing only his brother apostles, who were well acquainted with the treachery of Judas, it would not have been necessary to speak of Judas’ treachery; but the circumstances might not have been known or only partly known to many of the hundred and twenty brethren assembled on this occasion; and if so, the reference to Judas's treachery would not be out of place on this occasion.
17 For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry.
For he was numbered with us,
“He was numbered with us” means he was chosen an apostle along with the rest, and was ordained into that office when they were, and was always considered one of the twelve, and his name is listed with theirs when the list of apostles is mentioned (See Luke 6:13-16). This does not mean that he was a true Christian, but that he was considered one of the apostles. Long before he betrayed Him, Jesus declared that he was a devil—“Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?” (John 6:70; KJV). He knew his character when he chose him—Jesus “…had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man” (John 2:25 (NKJV).
If it should be asked why he chose such a man to be an apostle; why he was made the treasurer of the apostles, and was treated as well as the other apostles; we might reply, that there is an important lesson to be learned from having such a man—a spy—among them. It could happen, when the apostles were speaking of the purity of life, of doctrine, and of the purpose of the Lord Jesus; that they might suppress any negative comments about Judas’ attitude, and represent him in a light more favorable than the truth would support. Hence, the testimony of such a man as Judas, if favorable, must be invaluable, because no one could charge him with partiality. If Judas knew anything unfavorable about the character of Jesus, he would have communicated it to the Sanhedrin. If he knew of any secret plot against the government, he would have been easily inducement to talk about it. He had every opportunity to know such things; he was with Him; heard Him speak; was a member of His family, and was privileged to have a personal relationship with Him. Yet even Judas could not be bought or bribed, to testify against the moral character of the Savior. If he had done it, or could have done it, it would have protected Him from the charge of treason; would have entitled him to the reputation of a public benefactor for discovering secret sedition, and would have saved him from the pangs of guilt, and from suicide. Judas would have done it if he could. But he made no such charge; he did not even say a single contemptible word against the good reputation of the Lord Jesus; and his own disparagement of conscience, and his voluntary death—“ saying, "I have sinned by betraying innocent blood." And they said, "What is that to us? You see to it!" Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself” (Matt 27:4-5; NKJV)—furnish the greatest proof that can be found of his conviction that the betrayed Savior was an innocent man. The next verse gives the gruesome details of his death—“… and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.”
This verse makes two important statements:
1. That Judas was numbered with the Twelve.
2. That he "received" his portion of the apostolic ministry.
This means that Judas, at first, was a genuine apostle, he was not less than the others, he was also commissioned to cast out demons and to heal all manner of diseases—“And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease” (Matt 10:1; KJV). This refutes the allegation that Judas was a devil from the beginning.
and had obtained part of this ministry.
“Obtained part of this ministry, means he obtained the “lot” of this ministry; not that he or any of the twelve apostles, was chosen to this ministry by lot, but since “lot” signifies the portion a man has in life; what comes to him by Divine providence, or as a special gift of God‘s goodness. It is used here, as it is in many other parts of the Holy Scriptures, to signify office or station. Consequently, it is certain that Judas was chosen when the providence of God ordered it, according to his eternal purpose and decree; therefore, he was not only called an apostle, and part of their band, but he really had a part in that ministry; he preached, and baptized, and performed miracles; and besides all this, he carried the bag, was the treasurer, and a sort of steward in Christ's family, and an important part of it.
Today, I am sad to inform you that there are many who are numbered with the saints in this world that will not be found among them on the Day of Judgment when the Lord separates the sheep from the goats. What good will it do us to be added to the number of Christians, if we have not received the spirit and nature of Christians? Judas obtained a part in this ministry, but that only aggravated his sin and hastened his ruin, as it will for those who prophesied in Christ's name, and yet were workers of iniquity.
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