Now Judas and Silas, themselves being prophets also, exhorted and strengthened the brethren with many words. (Acts 15:32)
A Man Named Judas
The name Judas is synonymous with betrayal as the apostle of Jesus betrayed the Lord for thirty pieces of silver. The Lord chose Judas Iscariot to be in the inner circle of the disciples of Christ. He was a good man who stood out among his peers as a leader and someone that was to be groomed for the great work of establishing the church. The circumstances of his calling to the apostleship are unknown. Jesus had retreated to a mountain to pray and called those He wanted to serve as the Twelve that He might be with them and send them out to preach. Judas Iscariot was part of that number.
As part of the twelve apostles, Judas Iscariot was a gospel preacher. The Lord sent him out to preach the kingdom of heaven. The Holy Spirit gave Judas the power to cast out unclean spirits, heal every sickness and disease, cleanse the lepers, and raise the dead. Judas went out with the eleven to fulfill the command of Jesus. The son of Simon was a part of the ministry of Jesus to carry out the kingdom of heaven message to the nation of Israel. Judas helped pass out the bread and fishes when Jesus fed the five thousand. He was in the boat when Peter walked on water. Lazarus came out of the tomb, and Judas was there to witness the miracle. Jesus taught the multitudes and challenged the Jewish leaders, and Judas was there for every occasion.
Somewhere along the way, Judas, son of Simon, lost his way. His heart turned in pride to covetousness and greed. For whatever reasons that will never be known, he agreed with the chief priest to hand Jesus over to the Jewish leaders for thirty pieces of silver. He led the mob to a place where he knew Jesus would be. It was a place the Lord often went to pray. How sad that Judas would use a familiar place of prayer to betray Jesus. The mob carried the Lord away and killed Him. Judas was overwrought with grief. He returned the silver and went and hanged himself. The four gospel writers would later refer to Judas as the betrayer.
Judas had a good name, but his deeds manifested a spirit of betrayal for which, two thousand years later, he is remembered. There were other men named Judas in scripture. Jesus had a brother named Judas. One of the twelve apostles also was called Judas but is better known as Thaddaeus or Lebbaeus, the son of James. Gamaliel tells the story of a Judas of Galilee who rose up in the days of the census (probably started by Caesar Augustus B. C. 8 to 6) and drew away many people after him. He was killed, and all who followed him were scattered and came to nothing. When Saul of Tarsus came to Damascus after being blinded by the Lord, he stayed in the house of a Christian named Judas, who cared for him until Ananias arrived. Judas witnessed the new birth of the apostle Paul. And finally, there was a Judas (surnamed Barsabas) who was a prophet sent to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. Judas was a leader in the early church. Judas and Silas, both being prophets, spoke at length to the believers, encouraging and strengthening their faith. They stayed for a while, and then the believers sent them back to the church in Jerusalem with a blessing of peace.
What is in a name? Judas Iscariot had a good name but his actions defined his life with betrayal. A man like Judas Barsabas is remembered as a devout disciple who was influential in the development of the early church. The character of a man defines how his name will be remembered. It is not in the accolades of human wisdom that last through the centuries but the influence of a godly character that is eternal. God knows the names of those who are His. God’s truth stands firm like a foundation stone with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and He knows their names.