Was Judas Saved? The Vatican Says Yes.

By Mark A. Kellner | Posted April 27, 2021

The name Judas Iscariot is so marinated in ignominy that it is synonymous with betrayal the world over. After all, how many parents today are eager to name their little boy after the disciple who betrayed Jesus to the Jewish leaders and the Romans with a kiss (Luke 22:48)? Indeed, to be “a Judas” today is to be the epitome of unfaithfulness.

Or is it? According to L’Osservatore Romano (“The Roman Observer”), a daily newspaper published by the Vatican as its official “voice,” Judas was forgiven, despite no clear scriptural indication. On April 1, L’Osservatore published an Italian-language editorial, translated into English as “Judas and the Scandal of Mercy.” The editorial, published for Holy Thursday, refers to a painting that Pope Francis reportedly keeps behind his desk: Judas being ministered to by an unclothed Jesus in the afterlife. 

Western media have focused on the “scandalous” nature of the painting of a “nude” Jesus in the pope’s office, something that is certainly offensive to many believers. One news site with a conservative Christian perspective quoted one critical website as saying, “If this isn’t one of the most blasphemous and ungodly images the Roman Catholic Church has ever endorsed—and it has endorsed many—then nothing is. … Pope Francis is by far the most secular, ungodly pope to take the high office of the Roman Catholic Church in modern history.” 

Saved in Sin?

So, is the notion that Judas was somehow “saved” or “redeemed” biblical?

After Judas led the men who wanted to kill Christ straight to Him, he committed suicide by hanging (Matthew 27:5). Are these the actions of a man who believes Christ can forgive and make him anew? Are these the choices of one who repented of his sins and devoted the rest of his life as “a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God” (Romans 12:1)?

Said one Christian writer, “The Lord Jesus could and would have saved Judas as He afterward saved the thief on the cross had Judas yielded and confessed his traitor’s work, even then. How different would have been the history! How freely would Christ have forgiven him.” But the point is that Judas didn’t confess.

The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property—a lay Catholic organization—pointed out, “Judas was not a ‘poor repentant man who did not know what to do,’ as Pope Francis said at the sermon of a Mass in the Chapel of Casa Santa Marta on April 11, 2016. He knew very well what he was doing, for the Savior had continually warned him. However, [Judas] was obstinate in evil.”

And as Christ Himself prayed to God the Father, speaking of His twelve apostles, “Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled” (John 17:12). “The son of perdition” is Judas Iscariot; it is he and he alone of the twelve who is “lost,” not saved. The Messianic prophecy that he fulfilled (13:18) is found in Psalm 41:9: “Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.” Was it not Judas whom Christ named as His betrayer by giving him “a piece of bread” (John 13:26) at the Last Supper? “Having received the piece of bread, [Judas] then went out immediately” (v. 30) to divulge Jesus’ whereabouts to the Jewish leaders.

“He who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil,” said Christ (3:18, 19).

If Jesus were to grant salvation to a man who loved doing evil until the last, then that would mean that Jesus would resurrect that man in his sins. That man, who had no heart change while he lived, would reside in heaven and on the new earth, loving to sin and continuing to sin. Sin would eventually repopulate over the earth, and we’d be right back to where we are now—weighed down in pain, suffering, and death. Does that make any sense? Does that fit with any of the promises God has given us in His Word?

The Bible is clear that a person’s opportunity to be saved is during their lifetime. That’s it—“there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going” (Ecclesiastes 9:10). There is no way to repent after you’re dead, no “get out of jail free” card, no “back door” into heaven.

Writing to early Jewish believers, the apostle Paul declared, “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him, He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation” (Hebrews 9:27, 28). After death is the judgment—in which the saved have no part with sin.

Part of the confusion surrounding grace for Judas is the popular belief that a departed being is “still alive in some form,” as a Bible Talk episode called “Life After Death, Pt. 5,” one of a series of messages on 2 Corinthians, notes. It’s worth knowing the facts about what happens beyond this life—because, as the L’Osservatore article proves, it might just make a difference in your eternal life.

Follow that up with a biblical understanding of the true meaning of God’s mercy in Pastor Doug Batchelor’s revelatory study on “The God of Grace and Judgment.”

Mark Kellner
Mark A. Kellner is a staff writer for Amazing Facts International. He is a veteran journalist whose work has been published in Religion News Service, The Washington Times, and numerous computer magazines.

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