Series 44


STUDIES IN ACTS (Chapters 1 – 3)
by Francis Dixon
Study verses: Acts 1:15-26

The most tragic name in human history is that of Judas Iscariot. This name is a synonym for all that is treacherous and unholy. Of all the sad accounts in God’s Word, what we are told about Judas makes the saddest reading. We can think of the sin of Cain, David, Saul, Samson, Ananias and Sapphira – but Judas! What a chill that name sends through one’s spirit! He is referred to in a number of places in the Gospels, but here we have the man’s history summarised:


1. Judas never was a converted man.

This is not the case of a backslider, of one who really knew and belonged to the Lord and who became side-tracked. Judas fell from his privileged position (verse 25) – not that he fell from grace (for that is not possible – look up John 10:28-29). Judas was a professor but not a possessor – look up 2 Timothy 3:5.


2. Jesus knew all about Judas when He chose him.

In verse 16 there is a reference to Psalm 41:9, which should be read in conjunction with John 2:25; John 6:64; John 6:70. This is a mystery, but we are left in no doubt that from the beginning Jesus knew all about Judas – look up Psalm 139:23-24 and compare John 1:47-48.


3. Judas was chosen as one of the Twelve (verse 17).

The question arises, Why did Jesus choose Judas? Joseph Parker’s answer to this question was, ‘The greater mystery is, why did Jesus choose me?’


4. Judas sold the Lord for a paltry sum of money (verse 18).

This should be read in conjunction with Zechariah 11:12-13; Matthew 26:14-16; 21-25; 47-50. Judas betrayed the Lord Jesus, the Son of God and the Saviour of the world, for thirty pieces of silver – the price in those days of a slave.


5. Judas betrayed the Lord with a kiss.

Verse 16 says that he “served as a guide for those who arrested Jesus”. How would the soldiers know who Jesus was, so that they could arrest the right one? Well, Judas would kiss Jesus. Think of it!


6. Judas, filled with remorse, hanged himself.

One of the most solemn verses in the whole Bible is Acts 1:18. Should this verse be read in conjunction with Matthew 18:3-8? Feel his remorse as you read Matthew 27:3-10.


7. Judas died and went to Hell.

There is a clear statement about this in verse 25, and it ends the sad record of Judas Iscariot. How different his end was from that of the repentant thief (Luke 23:42-43)! How sad it was in the light of John 14:2!


So we have seen in this portion of scripture a summary of the life, death and destiny of Judas Iscariot. What lessons should we learn from all this?


1. Helpful environment and spiritual privileges and benefits alone do not produce changed hearts.

Think of the privileges Judas had in being with the Lord and His disciples for three years, yet his heart was unchanged. We must always thank God for the privileges of church membership and of Christian fellowship, but it is possible to enjoy these and still be lost – look up Matthew 7:21-23.


2. There is no salvation in outward morality.

Outwardly Judas was a moral and good-living man. The disciples evidently never suspected him; he was even chosen to be their treasurer, an office which is always filled with special care! But morality and status do not save – look up and compare John 3:3 and 5; Ephesians 2:8-10; Titus 3:5.


3. Often, very little value is put upon the Lord Jesus and His love.

Judas was willing to sell the Lord for a very small sum. How much is He worth to you? Sometimes He is denied, and His love and grace are spurned by a small thing such as friendship or a business deal. What little things keep some people away from the Lord! – look up Luke 9:57-62.


4. One sin unrepented of may lead to perdition.

Was it in Judas’ case the love of money? He was certainly not a notorious sinner in the sense that he had committed a long list of crimes. His was the sin of covetousness and of hypocrisy – look up Matthew 6:19-23; John 12:6.


5. Opportunities and warnings persistently spurned spell final disaster.

No man had more or better opportunities for knowing and loving the Lord, yet Judas was lost – look up Proverbs 27:1, and face up to 2 Corinthians 13:5.


6. At death we shall go to a prepared place for which we are prepared!

God has two prepared places – turn again to John 14:2 and compare Matthew 25:41. Then turn to Revelation 20:11-15 and Revelation 22:1-5.


7. All of us are known for something!

Acts 1:19 gives us a word picture of the tombstone over Judas’ grave. What a memorial! The late Dr J. Stuart Holden once said, ‘What a warning flare is the story of this man, a flare whose warning none of us dare disregard! If we do so, it is at our peril. For unhappily there is nothing very exceptional in a divided heart, on the part of those who profess the faith of Christ. Judas only did what many another does, and seems to get away with.’ But, thank God, no-one needs to tread this dreadful path to Hell – and indeed, no truly saved soul ever will. If you are not sure of your own salvation, you can make sure now! – look up John 3:16; John 5:24; John 6:37; John 10:9 and Romans 10:9-13.