Was it better for Judas had he not been born?

[Ray exposes those who contradict God's Word]

There is a Scripture which pastors, teachers, theologians, and even translators have perverted in order to defend their pagan doctrine of eternal torture in a Christian Hell.  Let's read it:

"The Son of man goeth as it is written of Him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born" (Matt. 26:24).

"The Son of man indeed goeth, as it is written of him: but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! good were it for that man if he had never been born"  (Mark 14:21).

I had a stimulating Bible study this weekend with my Web Master's oldest son Keith, who asked how this verse fits in with the teaching that God will save all humanity.  It certainly seems on the surface to contradict that Biblical truth. Let me share with you the answer to this problem verse.  I probably have written more on the Internet to defend the Biblical teaching for the "salvation of ALL" than anyone.  It is maybe the most important Bible truth that I teach.  Does this verse nullify all of the other Scriptures which teach the salvation of all as we do on our bible-truths.com site? You need to know the truth. Too many Christians believe this verse proves it had been better if most sinners had never been born, if what they are facing is an eternity of pain and suffering in the fires of some hell.

Let's first be sure who "that man" of which Jesus spoke really was: 

"Then Judas, which betrayed Him, answered and said, Master, is it I?  He said unto him, Thou hast said" (Matt. 26:25).

If this verse is true as worded above then it does sound like his destiny is so bad that it was better that he had never been born.

So we apparently have two witnesses (Matthew and Mark) showing that Judas (that man) would have been better off if "he" ("that man" Judas) had never been born. But what then would this verse do to the teaching that God will ultimately save all humanity including Judas?  What are the implications if Judas will never be saved, because it was better that he never was born in the first place?  Well for one thing, it would show that millions and even billions of other Judas-like people will also be tormented in some kind of an eternal hell. What is the truth?

For over 400 years Christians have been taught that the crime Judas had committed was so great that he will suffer in some pagan hellhole of fire for all eternity.  According to their argument, both Matthew and Mark prove them right.

Barn's Commentary tells us how most theologians and translators feel about this verse and what it portends:

BARN'S NOTES ON THE BIBLE: In relation to Judas, it [Mark 14:1`] proves the following things:

  1. that the crime which he was about to commit was exceedingly great; 
     

  2. that the misery or punishment due to it would certainly come upon him; 
     

  3. that he would certainly deserve that misery, or it would not have been    threatened or inflicted; and,
     

  4. that his punishment would be eternal.

Yes, this is what all too many Christian teachers wish to prove from this Scripture. They see this as proof that Judas will be punished eternally for his sin, and therefore countless other sinners will also be punished eternally for their sins.  But nowhere does this Scripture corroborate Barn's numbers 2, 3, & 4 assertions.

It is true as Barns states, that this Scripture clearly shows that the sin that Judas was to commit "was exceedingly great."  However, and this is a BIG "however," when understood and properly translated, there is nothing in this Scriptures that shows that a miserable punishment "would certainly come upon him (Judas). Nor does it state that a particular punishment was "deserved" or "threatened."  And of course, nowhere does it show that any punishment was "inflicted" (past tense) as Barns suggests. Neither is there a threat of "eternal punishment" in this Scripture, (or any other Scripture to be found in the Holy Scriptures).

If it would be "good" (or better, wholesome, profitable, or ideal as others translate it) for Judas to have never been born, how can it be thought that God will still save him?  Imagine Jesus telling Judas in the Kingdom of God:  "Well Judas, I see that My Father has saved you, but I still believe that it had been better for you HAD YOU NEVER BEEN BORN!"  Are you serious, that's nonsense.  If a person is saved into the Family of God, surely it is a good thing that he was born.

But millions of Christians have been deceived into believing that God either can not or will not save all of His creatures.

FIRST BE SURE WHAT IT IS SAYING

I have always admonished our readers that before we try to understand what a Scripture means, we must first be sure of what it really SAYS.

So did the Holy Spirit of God inspire Matthew and Mark to write the words: "...good were it for that man if he had never been born?"  Is that how this verse of Scripture ends in the inspired Greek manuscripts?  No it isn't !

If then the Greek manuscripts do not contain the words: "...good were it for that man if he had never been born."  as we find them in Matt. 26:24 and Mark 14:21 in most English Bibles, how should it read?  How should this verse of Scripture end?  Well I have four Greek-English interlinears, so I will show you from each of them how this sentence in question should end.

First understand that a word -for-word translation from any language into another language sounds awkward, and therefore requires proper translation, however, that is not reason to reverse the word order or the order of the statements from the first language into a second language.  See if you can spot the difference.

FOUR GREEK - ENGLISH INTERLINEARS

[1]  "The indeed son of the man goes away, even as it has been written concerning him; woe but to the man that through whom the son of the man is delivered up; good it was to him, if not was born the man that."  (Mark 14:21, Emphatic Diaglott Interlinear).

Most modern English translations have this verse end with the words:
"...good were it for that man if he had never been born."

But did you notice that this Greek manuscript has the word order thus:
"...good it was to him, if not was born the man that."

See how they changed the inspired Greek word order from "...good it was to HIM," to  "...good were it for THAT MAN." 

Some will ask why it should matter?  Is not "that man" and "him" the same person, Judas?  If so, how can it matter which word order is used?  Let's check a few other Greek manuscripts in Interlinear format for a second and third witness.

[2]  "The indeed Son of man goes, as it has been written concerning him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is delivered up;  good were it for him if had not been born that man."  (The Interlinear Greek-English New Testament By Dr. Ricker Berry).

Notice again that this manuscript ends the sentence with "that man," rather than with "him."

 [3]  "The Truly Son of man goes, even as it has been written about Him, woe but man (to) that through whom the Son of man is betrayed, good were it [for him] if not was born man that." (Greek-English Interlinear New Testament, By Jay P. Green, Sr.).

Once again this Greek manuscript has the same word order as the others, and ends with "that man."

[4]  "The indeed SON of the human is under leading according as it has been written about Him woe yet to the human that thru whom the SON of the human is being beside given ideal it was to Him if not was generated the human that." (Concordant Greek Text, Concordant Publishing Concern).

And finally this fourth Greek manuscript also is true to all the others and ends this verse with the words "the human [man] that" rather than with "him."

Even though all interlinears and all translations render some words differently from each other (that's why we have multiple versions & translations), they all at least copy the proper word order and arrangements of words as they are found in the Greek manuscripts when they produce their interlinears.  But with this verse in question a remarkable thing has happened.

We have already seen that in the King James Version, in both Matthew and Mark, the translators have reversed the order and put "him" at the end of the verse rather than "that man."  And again we will ask, Does it matter?  You bet it matters.  Then why would the translators change the order?  If it changes the meaning in some way, aren't they being dishonest by changing the God-inspired order of words in this Scripture?  Yes, they are either dishonest or ignorant. 

TRANSLATORS REVERSE THE ORDER OF MANUSCRIPTS

It may be possible that some of these translators thought they were doing God a favor.  They may honestly believe that changing the order of words is really what God meant.  Based on their pagan beliefs of eternal torment, they may have thought that Jesus really did mean it would be better had Judas not been born.

But why should they assume God had it wrong, but they knew how to fix it?  Two of my four examples change the word order in their own translations.

Emphatic Diaglott Interlinear: 
"...good it was to him, if not was born the man that." (Correct)

Emphatic Diaglott Translation:
"...good were it for that man if he had not been born." (Wrong)

Berry's Interlinear:
"Good were it for him if had not been born that man." (Correct)

Berry's Translation:
"good were it for that man if he had never been born." (Wrong)

On the other hand, we give kudos to Jay Green and the Concordant Publishing Concern for remaining true to the Greek manuscripts:

Green's Interlinear:
"...good were it [for him] if not was born that man." (Correct)

Green's Translation:
"It were good for him if that man had never been born." (Correct)

Concordant Interlinear:
"ideal it was to Him if not was generated the human that." (Correct)

Concordant Translation:
"Ideal were it for Him if that man were not born!" (Correct)

Although most English versions change the divine order of words, certainly not all do. The majority is not always right.  Besides, in this case our real authority is the manuscripts themselves.  Nonetheless, here are a few reputable translations that keep the inspired order:

Douay-Rheims Bibles:
"It were better for him, if that man had not been born."

Whycliffe: 
"It were good to him, if that man had not been born."

Lexham English Bible:
"[It would be] better for him if that man had not been born."

Young's Literal Translation:
"...good were it to him if that man had not been born."

WHY THE WORD ORDER IS PARAMOUNT

When we change the word order to: "good were it for that man if he had never been born, "he" and "that man" has to be the same person.  And we know "that man" is Judas.  So translated wrongly, it surely would mean that it would be better for Judas if Judas had never been born.  But that is NOT the inspired word order.  The manuscript  word order is: "...good were it for him if that man had never been born." In that order "him" and "that man" are NOT the same person.

We already know for a fact that Judas is identified as "that man."  But who then is "him?"  For whom would it have been better or ideal if "that man" -- Judas had never been born?  Maybe we should rather ask for whom did the life of Judas not produce feelings of goodness on that tragic Passover?"  Why Jesus, of course!  Do we not realize that Jesus was a human being with the same sensitive nervous system that all of us have.  That He hurt and feared and pained from inhumane treatment just as all of us would?  Skip ahead a few verses in this same chapter and we will see the mental turmoil Jesus endured before the cross.

IDEAL WERE IT FOR JESUS IF JUDAS HAD NOT BEEN BORN

"And He takes with Him Peter and James and John, and began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy;  And said unto them, My soul is exceedingly sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and watch.   And He went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him.  And He said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto Thee; TAKE AWAY THIS CUP FROM ME: nevertheless not what I will, but what Thou wilt" (Mark 14:33-36).

The same words from other translations:

"...and began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy..."

"began to be greatly amazed, and sore troubled" -- ASV

"greatly distressed and troubled" -- RSV

"He began to feel distress and dread" -- Gspd

He began to be deeply distressed and depressed -- Nor

"Horror and dismay came over Him" -- NEB

"...he...began to be horror-stricken and desperately depressed" -- Phillips

"...And said unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death..."

"My heart is crushed with anguish" -- Wey

"...my heart is ready to break with grief" -- NEB

"My heart is breaking with a death-like grief" -- Phillips

"...and fell on the ground...."

"...and threw Himself on he ground" -- Gspd

"...and flung Himself on the ground" -- Phillips (N.T. Revised Ed.)

"...and prayed if it were possible the hour might pass from Him..."

"and prayed repeatedly that, if it were possible" -- Mon

"...the hour might pass from Him..."

"He might be spared the hour of trial" -- Gspd.

"He might be spared that time of agony" -- Wey

"He might not have to face the ordeal" -- Phillips

PLEASE--let Me not have to drink this cup" -- Phillip (New Testament)

Surely we can see by how agonizing this evening was to our LORD that He would have said of Himself (speaking in the third person) how much better He would have felt were it not for the fact that this Judas was about to expose Him to the greatest beatings and torture that any human could ever go through.  Yes indeed it had been better for Jesus that evening had Judas never been born.

In it's proper order it is easy to distinguish between "him" and "that man."  Jesus is referred to as "Him" and "the Son of man."  And that is how we must translate the word order to make sense and be in harmony with the dozens of other Bible verses supporting the salvation of all.  The words of Jesus are consistent.  He did not use the pronoun "him" to represent Himself and Judas, just of Himself.

"Truly the Son of man [Jesus] goes as it has been written concerning Him [Jesus], but woe to that man [Judas] by whom the Son of man [Jesus] is betrayed!  It were good for Him [Jesus] if that man [Judas] had never been born"

Jesus is consistent in His use of the third person pronoun, Him. The Son of man & The Son of man is Himself.  He refers to Himself in the third person as Him & Him--both times, and He refers to Judas as that man & that man--both times.

NO ONE TALKS LIKE THAT IN ENGLISH

When we translate this verse in the correct word order, "him" cannot possibly also be "that man."  "Him" cannot be Judas.  "Him" has to be someone else, and therefore the argument that it would have been better for Judas if Judas had not been born is fallacious.

We could say:  "It would have been good for Joe if JOE had stayed home."

Or we could  say: "It would have been good for Joe if HE had stayed home."

Or we could say:  "It would have been good for him if HE had stayed home."

But when we say:  "It would have been good for him if Joe had stayed home," then we are speaking of two different persons.  How easy is that? The "him" cannot be "Joe" in our example sentence,  just as the "him" in our problem verse cannot be "that man," Judas.

A few translations that know we don't talk like that, as it is improper grammar, just refuse to translate the two words "that man" at all.  They leave them out and put in their place the one word "him," so it makes sense and is readable.  Here is one:

"Far better for him if he had never been born!" (The New Living Translation).

And there is no word "FAR" in the Manuscripts either.

There is no "he" in this verse. Realizing how untenable it is to say "good were it for him if that man had not been born, they took out the "that man" and inserted "he" so that it is readable but falsely suggests that "him & he" are the same person, when they are not. This is taking translating liberty way too far.

THE DEAD KNOW NOT ANYTHING

Ecc. 9:5-- "...but the dead know not anything." Another point:  Something can be better for someone who exists and is alive, but not for someone who is dead.  How pray tell then could anything be good for something if they never existed in the first place?  If Judas had never been born, that could have been good for some other people, but it could not be good for Judas for if Judas was never born there could be nothing good or bad for him -- HE DOESN'T NOR DIDN'T EVER EXIST! Nothing could ever be of value for anyone who has not even been born.

How foolish of Weymouth who translated this portion of Scripture as follows:  "It had been a happy thing for that man, had he never been born"  (The New Testament in Modern Speech).  How in the world could someone be "happy" who was never even born?  Sometimes we forget to use our God-given minds.

JUDAS REPENTED

Those who teach an eternal hell because they think it would have been better for Judas had he never been born, fail to believe and understand that Judas was so sorrowful that he hanged himself--he repented of his sin.  So why would God send someone to an eternal hell who has repented of his sins?

"When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death: And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor.  Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he [Jesus] was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood.  And they said, What is that to us?  see thou to that.  And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself" (Matt. 27:1-5).

I don't know what judgments might yet be in store for Judas, but one thing is for sure, his dying deeds and thoughts were that of sorrow and repentance for the evil he had done to his LORD.  Perhaps his judgments will be less than what might be inflicted upon those who joyfully teach that Judas is going to hell for all eternity.

"For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged"  (Matt. 7:2).

Remember the conclusion to the Lord's prayer: 

"And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen  For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:  But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses" (Matt. 6:12-15). 

Let's not ever be guilty of disregarding Paul's admonition when he taught: 

"Do you despise the riches of His goodness and forbearance and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?" (Rom. 2:4).

Why did Judas betray Jesus?  For the silver, for the money?  Jesus tells why Judas betrayed Him yet many think it was because Judas was such an incredible sinner--one of the worst humans ever born?  Is that true? Here is why Judas betrayed Jesus: 

"While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Thy Name: those that You gave Me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled" (John 17:12). 

Yes, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.  Judas had to do what he did because the Scripture had to be fulfilled.  Did Judas desire in his heart to betray Jesus?  Did he personally look forward to this deed and the money he would get?  I don't think so!   Isaiah 53:10 tells us that "It pleased God to bruise Him [His Son]."  So in this verse God takes responsibility for the "bruising" [crucifixion] of His Son. So how could Judas be held eternally guilty for this crime?

Let me assure you, that Judas all on his own, even with his carnal mind, did not possess the required evil necessary to betray His LORD with a kiss.  How so?

"Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve. And he went his way, and communed with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray him unto them" (Luke 22:3-4).

This is the only time in the history of the world that we have an account of Satan actually entering into and possessing the mind of another human being.  How pray tell without the power of God is it possible to resist the power of Satan? If Judas could have pulled this whole thing off by his own power and devices, it would not have been necessary for Satan to possess his mind.  When Satan left Judas, Judas REPENTED. Why did he repent?  Do we have any clues?

This is not a mystery, his conscious was killing him!  He recognized his horrible sin, and confessed it:  "I have sinned in that I have betrayed innocent blood."  He confessed that Jesus was innocent and he was guilty, and he tried to make partial amends by returning the thirty pieces of silver.  And lastly, but most importantly, he LAID DOWN HIS LIFE for the Friend that he betrayed.  Jesus was Judas' Friend.  Judas didn't repent just because he was a sinning man. He repented because he shed the blood of his innocent Master.  Judas was very specific in his repentance.  Judas laid down his life for his friend Jesus in the only way he knew how under the distressing, mind--boggling circumstances in which he saw himself--HE HANGED HIMSELF!

How many of us have the guts to hang ourselves for the sins that we have committed?

If Judas did not have feelings of love toward Jesus Whom he publically acknowledged was an innocent Man, he would not have felt guilty, he would not have returned the silver, and he would not have killed himself.  He would have gone out and spent the money.  Now then, who are we to question or doubt the sincerity of his heart-felt repentance?

Does your conscience slay you for the wrongs you have committed?  Have you confessed these sins before God and man?  Have you acknowledged the shedding of Christ's innocent blood for your sins?  Have you done all in your power to make amends for all the wrongs and sins that you have committed?

Have you laid down your life as a living sacrifice to God?    Well if you have done all these, then you may have at least attained to the same level of spirituality as Judas. "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." (Jas. 4:7).  Since Judas did not submit to God, Satan the Devil took him.  When Satan departed, Judas inspired to do the right thing. Who is to say that Judas didn't do the right thing under such a bizarre drama as this?

CAN JUDAS BE FORGIVEN?

God inspired Isaiah to write:

"Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool"  (Isaiah 1:18). 

Since God told the entire nation of Judah that their scarlet and crimson sins could be forgiven, who can stand in condemnation and forbid salvation to one single man, and a man whom we are told repented? 

Where is there a sin that cannot and/or will not be forgiven?  Do you believe there is a sin that will "NEVER" be forgiven?  Do you think there is a Scripture that states such a thing?  See my commentary on "The unpardonable sin." 

The atonement of Jesus covers the sins of "the WHOLE WORLD"  I John 2:2.

John the Baptist said:  "Behold the Lamb that takes away THE SINS OF THE WORLD" (John 1:29).  Yes, it will take God's Judgments to bring about the repentance of the whole world, but this is what God has prophesied:

 "For when [not now, but 'when'] Thy Judgments are in the earth the inhabitants of the world [how many is that?] WILL LEARN RIGHTEOUSNESS" (Isaiah 9:26). 

Oh that Christians would believe the Word of God.

Is it possible for Jesus to forgive Judas?  Possible?  He already has forgiven Judas for his sins!  Need proof?

Listen carefully:  Were those who spit in the face of Jesus;  punched Him in the mouth;  beat Him within an inch of His life;  nailed Him to a rugged cross;  and pierced Him with a spear; somehow guilty of a LESSER crime than that of Judas giving Jesus a KISS ON THE CHECK?!  Give me a break.  How do intelligent theologians come up with such utter nonsense.  What did Jesus say regarding all those involved in His condemnation, torture, and death?  Let's read it:

"Then said Jesus, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34).

FORGIVE THEM!  Who are the "them?"  Don't you think it includes "all of them?"  Who are the "all of them" responsible in one way or another for the crucifixion of our LORD?  Certainly it involved all those who took part in any aspect of His real crucifixion, and that would include not only those who nailed Him to the cross, but those who beat Him; and those who mocked Him; and those priests who falsely condemned Him.  Is not Judas also included in all of "them?"

Who else?  What about the Pharisees of whom Jesus said:  "...Ye seek to KILL Me...."  (John 8:37)?  What about all those who assembled together the chief priests, the scribes, the elders, the people, the high priest, the deputies, the high council, and all those who "Consulted that they might take Jesus by subtility, and KILL Him" (Matt. 26:4)? There were multitudes besides Judas.

What about all those Jews that said, "His blood be on us and on our children"  (Matt. 27:25)?  What about all those Jesus included when we read that "He [Jesus] would not walk in Judea, because the JEWS sought to kill Him" (John 7:1)?  What about the entire nation of Israel?   Were they included in the crucifixion of Jesus?  Answer: "...let it be known to you all and to the entire  people of Israel in the name of Jesus Christ, the Nazarene, Whom YOU [the entire nation] CRUCIFY" (Acts 4:10)?  What about all the Gentiles? Are we guilty as well as the Jews?  Did not Paul say that the sins of the Gentiles were also covered by His crucifixion:

"For I delivered unto you [you Gentile Corinthians & other Gentiles -- see Phil. 3:3] first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins  according to the scriptures" (I Cor. 15:3). The truth is that Jesus was put to the cross by the sins of the whole world. We are all responsible.  But what is Jesus' response to all these sins?  "Forgive them."  In God's heart and mind, we are already forgiven:

 "God Who quickens the dead, and calls those things which are not as though they were" (Rom . 4:17).

The forgiveness of the whole world is not as yet a fact, BUT IT WILL BE.  When? 

"WHEN Thy Judgments are in the earth, [then] the inhabitants of THE WHOLE WORLD will learn righteousness" (Isaiah 26:9).

God has prophesied the outcome of the human race, and that outcome is that there shall be no more pain, death, sorrow or curse (Rev. 21), and that God will be "ALL in all"  (I Cor. 15:28).

Yes, Judas did a evil and cowardly thing, but it was written and prophesied, and therefore someone had to do it.  But let's not think that Judas will be forever doomed to a hellish torture. He will not.  Judas repented and therefore is qualified for salvation: 

"But this Man [Jesus],  because He continues forever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.   Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever lives to make intercession for them"  (Heb. 7:24-25).

The whole human race has this promise.

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