One of the Twelve and the Betrayer: Qualifying Judas in the Gospel of Matthew

In Matthew’s account of the Gethsemane scene involving Judas and Jesus, the narrator says, “While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people” (Matt. 26:47).

One of the twelve. Let that sink in. Matthew doesn’t think the reader has forgotten that Judas was from that band of brothers. He highlights this point because it is so outrageous that one of Jesus’ own disciples would betray him. The betrayer was one of the twelve!

In the Gospel of Matthew, whenever the name Judas is used, there is a qualifier which focuses either on Judas being the betrayer or being numbered with the twelve disciples.

  • 10:4, “…and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him
  • 26:14, “Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot”
  • 26:25, “Judas, who would betray him, answered…”
  • 26:47, “While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve…”
  • 27:3, “Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned…”

To summarize, in the Gospel of Matthew (1) Judas’ name appears five times, (2) every mention of Judas’ name also has a qualifier, (3) this qualifier focuses either on his status as the betrayer or as one of the twelve disciples, and (4) the qualifiers appear in an alternating sequence (in 10:4 he’s the betrayer, in 26:14 one of the twelve, in 26:25 the betrayer, in 26:47 one of the twelve, and in 27:3 the betrayer).

Judas would forever be linked to that treacherous deed. And in order for us to truly see the outrage of Judas’ betrayal, the narrator reminds us he was one of the twelve.

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One thought on “One of the Twelve and the Betrayer: Qualifying Judas in the Gospel of Matthew

  1. Pingback: 13 Posts on Gethsemane | Unto Him

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