Why Did Jesus Call Judas To Be A Disciple?

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

Why would Jesus call Judas to be a disciple or an apostle, knowing He would betray Him? He must have had good reason, and He did.

Jesus Calls the Twelve

In Luke 6, we see Jesus selecting the Twelve Apostles, calling “Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor” (Luke 6:14-16). If you read the Book of Acts, these apostles seem to be mentioned by the impact each will have, the Apostle Peter being chief among them. Notice that Judas comes last, so why would Jesus call Judas as an apostle, knowing that He would be the one who would betray Him? Throughout Jesus’ earthly ministry, none of the other apostles had a clue that Judas was the one who would betray Jesus. They didn’t find out until the night Jesus was betrayed as Judas and a large contingent came to arrest Him. It was just as surprising to them as it was to the Jewish leaders when Judas offered to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. Up to then, no one suspected a thing of Judas. Jesus alone knew, so why would Jesus call Judas since He knew that Judas would betray Him? There is a very good explanation for this.

Fulfilled Prophecy

The reason Judas was chosen to be an apostle was because He was not chosen to receive eternal life. I know that sounds like an easy out, but for whatever reasons God may have, He chooses to save some while not saving others. Just thank God that He saved you! Don’t question it. Just because He choose us does not mean we are better than others; we are only better off! It is only because of God’s free gift of grace that any are saved (Eph 2:8). Jesus said on the night He was betrayed, “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 might be fulfilled” (John 17:12). There’s part of the answer…“the Scripture must be fulfilled.” In a Messianic prophecy, the psalmist is clearly talking about Jesus when he writes that “Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me” (Psalm 41:9). This is very similar to what Jesus said of Judas, that “He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me will betray me” (Matt 26:23). The psalmist’s prophecy written 1,000 years before Jesus would be betrayed. At the Last Supper, Jesus did eat break with Judas, and Judas did “lift up his heel” against Him. Luke records Jesus as saying, “But behold, the hand of him who betrays me is with me on the table” (Luke 22:21). Twice Jesus indicates that His betrayer would eat with them and fellowship with them. Psalm 55:13, which appears to be a prophecy about Judas, says that Judas would appear to be “a man, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend,” but he “stretched out his hand against his friends” (Psalm 55:20), likely referring to the disciples.

Chosen by God

Judas Iscariot

Today, there may be other Judas’ among us. Remember, Judas was the church treasurer, and none of the other apostles had any idea that he would be the one who would betray Jesus. At times, they even wondered if it would be them! Why did Jesus call Judas? God uses evil for good (Gen 50:20), however, He is never the author of evil. That evil is from down below and also resides in us, a fallen part of the rest of creation. We do bad things, but God can turn our bad decisions into good for others or for us, somehow, but God does not tempt us to sin. I don’t think any of us need help in that department (Rom 3:10-12). For reasons we cannot explain, God choose some vessels that were fitted for destruction, just as a potter would have a pile useless pottery…only to be thrown into the fire, but He also choose other vessels to be glorified. God’s answer to Moses and God’s answer to the Apostle Paul was the same: “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion” (Ex 33:19; Rom 9:16). We can’t know why and it’s not for us to guess. It was not because we were “special.” God knows why; that’s enough for me. Just thank Him that He choose you at all (John 6:44; Eph 1)!


When we want to see how God operates from eternity past and into the future, one of the best books or epistles of the Bible about that is Ephesians one. Here, God says through the Apostle Paul that He “chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love” (Eph 1:4). We had better not think that God said, “Wow, those two are so special, I think I’ll save him and her.” That won’t hold up in the Supreme Court in Heaven. There’s too much evidence against us (Rom 3:10-12, 23). It was only “In love” that God saved us. There may be other reasons we don’t know about, but I think knowing it was “In love” is enough. We should be the happiest people on the planet. That’s because God “predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will” (Eph 1:5). It was His will, not ours. We don’t have the ability to choose God. Dead people cannot choose anything (Eph 2:1-4), anymore than Lazarus could have helped Jesus in raising him from the dead by moving his little toe (John 11). If God choose us and not someone else, don’t try to explain it. You can’t. It was not because we were lovely, but because the Lovely One loved us first (1 John 4:19).

Here is some related reading for you: Why Did Judas Betray Jesus?

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

How to turn your sermon into clips

Share the truth

Previous post:

Next post: