The Difference Between Peter and Judas

Growing up in the Church as I did I had heard the stories of both Peter and Judas. Peter was of course one of closest apostles to Christ and one of the leaders, and some would even say the beginning, of the early Church after Pentecost. Judas on the other hand walked with Christ and was one of the twelve but betrayed Jesus in the end and committed suicide. Because of this as a young person I always viewed Peter as the good guy and Judas as the evil one, but what really was the difference?

Well first we can see similarities, one already stated that they both were part of the 12 apostles that walked with Christ, but they also both betrayed Christ. Peter denied Christ three times and declared that he did not know him. Judas conspired with those that sought to crucify Jesus for money. Christ also predicted both of these incidents telling Peter that he would deny him, and telling Judas to do what he must do quickly.

However there is a clear difference in the way Christ approaches and sees Peter and Judas. We see this difference within the similarity above because even though Christ predicts both betrayals he tells Peter that he will be praying for him. We see this in Luke’s account chapter 22:31 where Jesus says “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail.

So what is the prayer of Jesus like? We see an example right after this encounter with Peter but before His arrest. It is called the high priestly prayer of which I have taken some excerpts from as follows. John 17:6(ESV) – I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Verse 9 – I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. Verse 12 – While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the scripture be fulfilled.

It is clear I think that the difference between Peter and Judas primarily is that Jesus prayed for Peter as he told him he would and there was no prayer offered for Judas. It is also clear that all that were given by the Father were kept and that Judas was not, specifically for the purpose of the fulfillment of prophecy. Judas was not kept and then lost, but Judas was always lost or “destined for destruction” as the Hebraism goes. Judas was part of the “world” that Jesus says he is not praying for and is therefore sifted like wheat as Peter would have been had Jesus not interceded for him on his behalf.

Later in the prayer Christ includes all those who will be saved that are also given of the Father because of His love for the Son before the foundation of the world. Further clarification is given in verse 25 where Christ says “O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me.” It is for this reason that one day Christ will say to those who reject him “depart from me for I never knew you”. Christ does not lose who the Father gives and unless the Father gives He never has a relationship with you.

The difference between Judas and Peter and the prayer of Jesus himself to the Father before his sacrificial death helps us further understand the triune relationship between the God head and to man and how God is glorified from it.

5 thoughts on “The Difference Between Peter and Judas

  1. I loved your explanation of omnipotence. I plan to read your other feeds as well, and I agree with your list of great thinkers at the top of the page. Thank you.

  2. Thanks for your write up. I however have reservations when you say Judas was destined for destruction. Who destined him for destruction in the first place? The Bible clearly says that God’s will is that none of us should perish. Claiming that he was destined to destruction (by God or any natural arrangement ) is alleging favoritism upon God’s righteousness, love and purpose of salvation.

    I think Judas’ heart was entirely steeped in sin just as some people are in our time. His motives in following Jesus might have been all wrong in the first place. Remember , Him and Simon were Zealots. Some sources say that these two initially followed Jesus thinking he was going to Liberate Israel from the Romans the Military way and offer them good ranks in his government. Good for Simon coz he repented .But Judas whose sinful inclination drove to steal the group’s money continued to harden his heart way to betraying his master for 30 cents. Judas had an equal opportunity to repent. It is only a fact that when your heart is cemented in sin, you cannot get broken even with clear opportunities as he had and get saved. Peter had Godly sorrow that leads to salvation while Judas had the Worldly type that the Bible says leads to death.
    Pastor Flash Disc.

  3. Albert….

    As far as I can tell, the only Bible verse you have used to counter those that I used in my post is 2 Peter 3:9 which includes the famous line “God is not willing that any should perish but that all will come to repentance”. I will address this and hopefully you will have the time to address the many verses I have used to support my position at some point.

    The first obvious question regarding this verse is that if God is not willing that any should perish, and we know that some men will perish, assuming you don’t believe in Universalism which is clearly not a Biblical view, then why will men perish? Is it that some men will thwart the will of the Father and others will not?

    I believe this would be your position, that Judas and Peter were given “equal opportunity” for salvation and Peter accepted while Judas did not. Have you ever asked yourself what makes one person accept salvation while another doesn’t? Does one hear the Gospel more clearly? Is one more spiritual then another? You say that Judas could not break through the sin that hardened his heart, but are we not all under condemnation? Is that condemnation not equally laid on us all or is there different levels? If there are different levels then is that not a sort of favoritism as well? If it is all the same and Peter is able to break through and Judas is not then doesn’t that go back to Peter being a better person then Judas on his own merit?

    Those that take your position do not have a good answer for this, so they grab on to a few verses that seem to contradict others and say “what about what it says here”. Then they build their theology around that position and start looking at the Bible through that lens. So let’s look at this verse in 2 Peter and see if it really says that God “wills” or “desires” for “every” human being to come to repentance.

    First, who is Peter writing to? At the beginning of the epistle in the first verse it says “To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing as ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ”. If you just read through the first few chapters leading up to this verse you post, you can tell that the letter is clearly written to those who have been “called to his own glory and excellence”(Verse 3). He tells the recipients of this letter to make their “calling and election sure”(Verse 10). By the time we get to chapter 3, in case anyone may think that Peter has changed gears and moved to a different audience, he repeats his focus by saying in the first verse of chapter 3 “This is now the second letter I am writing to you beloved”. He is clearly talking to those who are brothers and sisters in Christ and furthermore the subject of chapter 3 is the second coming of Christ and not salvation. He is addressing why the Lord might tarry longer then they had hoped. It is in this context that Peter writes the words “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” (ESV).

    Now in that context does Peter not continue to refer to the elect that he has written the letter to in the first place? What is seen here that would lead anyone to believe he has flipped to addressing everyone in the world?

    Furthermore, does this context not line up with other passages like John 17:6,9 that I referred to in my post, and are we not to interpret scripture with scripture? Why would John (And Paul) speak of the Father giving a people to the Son and then Peter address a letter to those people, only to have Peter change gears here and start talking about The Lord not wanting any to perish in a universal sense? This interpretation fails the logic and Biblical test.

    So is this alleging that God “plays favorites” when it comes to salvation? First of all there are many occasions where it is said that God is no respecter of persons as in Romans 2:11, the only question is how can this be so? Paul gives us the answer when he tells us that God will “have mercy on whom he will have mercy”. He would also be just to leave us all in our condemnation but in his mercy and grace he chooses to save. If people have nothing to offer then God can’t play favorites with some and not others. Election is unconditional for this reason because there are no conditions that we can present on our behalf. In fact it would be your position that would make things conditional on our acceptance.

    Remember that Jesus healed some and not others. He brought some people back to life and not others. He said to the one thief that he would be with him in paradise and passed by the other. Why? Why not save everyone? In the parable of the laborers in the vineyard Jesus says at the end “Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity? So the last will be the first and the first the last”.

    No favoritism there….

  4. Thank you I finally see clearly the difference between Judas and Simon Peter. I always thought of them both traders and equally evil, but now I understand the huge difference.

  5. You make very interesting points here! I agree with you on all of them, except I believe that the biggest difference between Judas and Peter lies in their reactions upon discovering that they had sinned. Peter is overwhelmed by guilt upon realizing what he has done, but he has faith in Jesus and His message of absolute forgiveness, so he works to earn redemption by devoting himself to God entirely. Judas killed himself because he believed that what he had done was so awful that he could not possibly be forgiven– he did not understand that Jesus, as the son of God, could forgive him anything.

    While Peter is the only one that Jesus addresses directly, there are several instances in the four gospels in which Jesus prays for all of his disciples. In John 17:12, Jesus prays, “While I was with them, I protected them and guarded them by Your name, the name You gave Me. Not one of them has been lost, except the son of destruction, so that the Scripture would be fulfilled.” The word “lost” used to describe Judas here is the greek word “ἀπόλλυμι”, and it is the same word which appears in Luke 15:4 when Jesus says, “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?” There is no doubt in my mind that, as the shepherd searches for his lost sheep, Jesus would have searched for Judas and done everything he could to bring him back. Whether or not Jesus succeeded in saving Judas from himself is less than clear– his suicide in Matthew could be seen as an act of reconciliation, but again, this is not exactly clear.

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