(Unless otherwise stated, all Bible quotations are from the American King James Version).
Not a few people have wondered about the contrasting fates of Judas and Peter, following their betrayal and denial of Jesus Christ respectively. For betraying Jesus to his enemies leading to his capture and death, Judas ended up in hell. For denying Jesus thrice (and swearing and cursing while doing so), Peter still found forgiveness, and was restored as an apostle and a pillar in the church of Christ. Is there unrighteousness with God in the way both apostles were treated after committing almost identical sins? After all, Jesus had taught that anyone who denied him before men would be denied before his Father and the holy angels. So, why did Peter who thrice denied Christ before men, and cursed while doing so, find mercy before God, while Judas ended up in hell? Is God partial? We shall examine the Scriptures to answer these questions.
The important point to understand in the issues of Judas’ and Peter’s betrayal and denial, respectively, is that neither of them committed the unpardonable sin. The only sin we’re told in the New Testament that’s unpardonable is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Both apostles sinned against the Lord, not against the Holy Spirit, and every sin against the Son of Man (the Lord Jesus) is pardonable. Therefore, both Judas’ and Peter’s sins were not unpardonable. So, if both Peter’s and Judas’ sins were not unpardonable, we must look at the response of both men after they sinned, to find out why one was forgiven and the other was not, after both men had committed almost identical sins against the Lord.
Matthew 12:31 Why I say to you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven to men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven to men.
Matthew 12:32 And whoever speaks a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whoever speaks against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.
Let’s start with Judas. After betraying the Lord and discovering that the Lord’s capture by the Jewish leaders had led to a trial which could result in Christ’s death, Judas felt sorry, repented, and returned the money he was given for betraying the Lord to his enemies. He experienced sorrow which led to repentance, which is a prerequisite for procuring divine pardon by any sinner. If sorrow leads to repentance that moves the repentant sinner to ask for God’s pardon and forgiveness, God will pardon and forgive the sin involved, as long as it’s not the unpardonable sin, which Judas’ sin wasn’t. That is the endproduct of godly sorrow—repentance that leads to forgiveness of sin and salvation. However, instead of asking for forgiveness, Judas’ sorrowful repentance led him to kill himself! He didn’t sorrow unto conversion, but to death! That’s the sorrow of this world and not godly sorrow! So, though Judas sorrowfully repented of his betrayal of Christ, he killed himself rather than seek for forgiveness, adding iniquity to iniquity. Thus, Judas died without obtaining remission for his sins. He died a sinner, and invariably went to hell. Judas could have been forgiven of his betrayal if he had asked for God’s forgiveness, as Jesus had already asked the Father to forgive all those who conspired to kill him. But to receive the forgiveness Christ prayed for, all involved must repent and ask for mercy, which Judas did not do. We see thousands of Jews who had supported and/or encouraged the killing of Jesus repenting and believing the gospel on the day of Pentecost and therafter, and being forgiven and saved. Judas sealed his doom by refusing to appropriate the forgiveness that was readily available for his sin, and killed himself instead.
Matthew 27:1 When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death:
Matthew 27:2 And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor.
Matthew 27:3 Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders,
Matthew 27:4 Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see you to that.
Matthew 27:5 And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.
2 Corinthians 7:8 For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same letter has made you sorry, though it were but for a season.
2 Corinthians 7:9 Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that you sorrowed to repentance: for you were made sorry after a godly manner, that you might receive damage by us in nothing.
2 Corinthians 7:10 For godly sorrow works repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world works death.
Luke 23:33 And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.
Luke 23:34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.
The Acts 2:22 You men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the middle of you, as you yourselves also know:
The Acts 2:23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, you have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:
The Acts 2:24 Whom God has raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be held of it.
The Acts 2:36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God has made the same Jesus, whom you have crucified, both Lord and Christ.
The Acts 2:37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said to Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brothers, what shall we do?
The Acts 2:38 Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
The Acts 2:39 For the promise is to you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call.
The Acts 2:40 And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.
The Acts 2:41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added to them about three thousand souls.
The Acts 3:13 The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his Son Jesus; whom you delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go.
The Acts 3:14 But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted to you;
The Acts 3:15 And killed the Prince of life, whom God has raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses.
The Acts 3:16 And his name through faith in his name has made this man strong, whom you see and know: yes, the faith which is by him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.
The Acts 3:17 And now, brothers, I know that through ignorance you did it, as did also your rulers.
The Acts 3:18 But those things, which God before had showed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he has so fulfilled.
The Acts 3:19 Repent you therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.
Now, let’s turn to Peter. Immediately after denying Jesus, Peter regretted his actions, became sorrowful and wept bitterly. However, he didn’t go about killing himself. He repented and became converted. He accepted the forgiveness that was readily available for his sin and continued loving and following the Lord and hanging out with the rest of the apostles. The Lord saw and recognised this conversion in Peter and even foretold of it before Peter fell. Therefore, after his resurrection, Jesus sent Mary Magdalene to tell the rest of the apostles that he had risen, specifically including Peter among those to be informed, showing that Peter’s denial had been forgiven, with him having repented and received God’s pardon and mercy. When the risen Lord met Peter with the rest of the apostles fishing at the sea of Tiberias, he again confirmed Peter’s conversion, by asking Peter if he loved the Lord. Based on Peter’s confession of love for the Lord, he was commissioned afresh to take care of God’s sheep and to feed his flocks. From that moment onward, we see the rededicated Peter serving God so zealously and ending up as a martyr for the Lord. Thus, Peter’s reinstatement, after his denial of Jesus, was not based on favouritism or partiality on God’s part, but on Peter’s repentance and conversion. This pathway was also available for Judas, but was not utilised by him, with Judas choosing to kill himself instead of repenting and accepting God’s pardon for his transgression.
Luke 22:47 And while he yet spoke, behold a multitude, and he that was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them, and drew near to Jesus to kiss him.
Luke 22:48 But Jesus said to him, Judas, betray you the Son of man with a kiss?
Luke 22:49 When they which were about him saw what would follow, they said to him, Lord, shall we smite with the sword?
Luke 22:50 And one of them smote the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear.
Luke 22:51 And Jesus answered and said, Suffer you thus far. And he touched his ear, and healed him.
Luke 22:52 Then Jesus said to the chief priests, and captains of the temple, the elders, which were come to him, Be you come out, as against a thief, with swords and staves?
Luke 22:53 When I was daily with you in the temple, you stretched forth no hands against me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness.
Luke 22:54 Then took they him, and led him, and brought him into the high priest’s house. And Peter followed afar off.
Luke 22:55 And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the hall, and were set down together, Peter sat down among them.
Luke 22:56 But a certain maid beheld him as he sat by the fire, and earnestly looked on him, and said, This man was also with him.
Luke 22:57 And he denied him, saying, Woman, I know him not.
Luke 22:58 And after a little while another saw him, and said, You are also of them. And Peter said, Man, I am not.
Luke 22:59 And about the space of one hour after another confidently affirmed, saying, Of a truth this fellow also was with him: for he is a Galilaean.
Luke 22:60 And Peter said, Man, I know not what you say. And immediately, while he yet spoke, the cock crew.
Luke 22:61 And the Lord turned, and looked on Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, Before the cock crow, you shall deny me thrice.
Luke 22:62 And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.
Luke 22:31 And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:
Luke 22:32 But I have prayed for you, that your faith fail not: and when you are converted, strengthen your brothers.
Luke 22:33 And he said to him, Lord, I am ready to go with you, both into prison, and to death.
Luke 22:34 And he said, I tell you, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that you shall thrice deny that you know me.
Mark 16:1 And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.
Mark 16:2 And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came to the sepulcher at the rising of the sun.
Mark 16:3 And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulcher?
Mark 16:4 And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great.
Mark 16:5 And entering into the sepulcher, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted.
Mark 16:6 And he said to them, Be not affrighted: You seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him.
Mark 16:7 But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goes before you into Galilee: there shall you see him, as he said to you.
John 21:1 After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise showed he himself.
John 21:2 There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples.
John 21:3 Simon Peter said to them, I go a fishing. They say to him, We also go with you. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing.
John 21:4 But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus.
John 21:5 Then Jesus said to them, Children, have you any meat? They answered him, No.
John 21:6 And he said to them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and you shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.
John 21:7 Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher’s coat to him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea.
John 21:8 And the other disciples came in a little ship; (for they were not far from land, but as it were two hundred cubits,) dragging the net with fishes.
John 21:9 As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread.
John 21:10 Jesus said to them, Bring of the fish which you have now caught.
John 21:11 Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken.
John 21:12 Jesus said to them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples dared ask him, Who are you? knowing that it was the Lord.
John 21:13 Jesus then comes, and takes bread, and gives them, and fish likewise.
John 21:14 This is now the third time that Jesus showed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead.
John 21:15 So when they had dined, Jesus said to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, love you me more than these? He said to him, Yes, Lord; you know that I love you. He said to him, Feed my lambs.
John 21:16 He said to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, love you me? He said to him, Yes, Lord; you know that I love you. He said to him, Feed my sheep.
John 21:17 He said to him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, love you me? Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, Love you me? And he said to him, Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you. Jesus said to him, Feed my sheep.
John 21:18 Truly, truly, I say to you, When you were young, you gird yourself, and walked where you would: but when you shall be old, you shall stretch forth your hands, and another shall gird you, and carry you where you would not.
John 21:19 This spoke he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he said to him, Follow me.
Joseph, a type of Christ in the Old Testament, who himself was betrayed and sold by his brothers into what should have been his death, displayed the Spirit of Christ by readily forgiving his brothers, when he was in a position of power to punish them for what they did to him, when they asked for mercy. If Joseph could readily forgive his brothers who planned to kill him and conspired and sold him into slavery, is it too much for Christ to forgive Judas if he had asked for forgiveness, instead of killing himself? Is it too much to expect Christ, who taught us to love our enemies and to bless those who despitefully use and abuse us, to forgive a man who betrayed him, if that man had repented and sought for forgiveness? Nothing in Christ’s character and teaching suggests he wouldn’t have forgiven Judas and restored him as an apostle, if Judas had repented and asked for forgiveness for betraying the Lord.
Genesis 37:17 And the man said, They are departed hence; for I heard them say, Let us go to Dothan. And Joseph went after his brothers, and found them in Dothan.
Genesis 37:18 And when they saw him afar off, even before he came near to them, they conspired against him to slay him.
Genesis 37:19 And they said one to another, Behold, this dreamer comes.
Genesis 37:20 Come now therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him into some pit, and we will say, Some evil beast has devoured him: and we shall see what will become of his dreams.
Genesis 37:21 And Reuben heard it, and he delivered him out of their hands; and said, Let us not kill him.
Genesis 37:22 And Reuben said to them, Shed no blood, but cast him into this pit that is in the wilderness, and lay no hand on him; that he might rid him out of their hands, to deliver him to his father again.
Genesis 37:23 And it came to pass, when Joseph was come to his brothers, that they stripped Joseph out of his coat, his coat of many colors that was on him;
Genesis 37:24 And they took him, and cast him into a pit: and the pit was empty, there was no water in it.
Genesis 37:25 And they sat down to eat bread: and they lifted up their eyes and looked, and, behold, a company of Ishmeelites came from Gilead with their camels bearing spices and balm and myrrh, going to carry it down to Egypt.
Genesis 37:26 And Judah said to his brothers, What profit is it if we slay our brother, and conceal his blood?
Genesis 37:27 Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmeelites, and let not our hand be on him; for he is our brother and our flesh. And his brothers were content.
Genesis 37:28 Then there passed by Midianites merchants; and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmeelites for twenty pieces of silver: and they brought Joseph into Egypt.
Genesis 50:15 And when Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, Joseph will peradventure hate us, and will certainly requite us all the evil which we did to him.
Genesis 50:16 And they sent a messenger to Joseph, saying, Your father did command before he died, saying,
Genesis 50:17 So shall you say to Joseph, Forgive, I pray you now, the trespass of your brothers, and their sin; for they did to you evil: and now, we pray you, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of your father. And Joseph wept when they spoke to him.
Genesis 50:18 And his brothers also went and fell down before his face; and they said, Behold, we be your servants.
Genesis 50:19 And Joseph said to them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God?
Genesis 50:20 But as for you, you thought evil against me; but God meant it to good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.
Genesis 50:21 Now therefore fear you not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spoke kindly to them.
Matthew 5:43 You have heard that it has been said, You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.
Matthew 5:44 But I say to you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which spitefully use you, and persecute you;
Matthew 5:45 That you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
Matthew 5:46 For if you love them which love you, what reward have you? do not even the publicans the same?
Matthew 5:47 And if you salute your brothers only, what do you more than others? do not even the publicans so?
Matthew 5:48 Be you therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
Thus, it is evident from Scriptures that there’s no partiality or unrighteousness with God. God is no respecter of persons. He honours whoever honours and obeys his commandments, while despising whoever despises his words. Apart from blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, which is the unpardonable sin, there is pardon for every other sin. Though our sins may be as scarlet, they can be as white as snow, if we repent and forsake them, and accept God’s pardon in Christ Jesus. Judas refused to repent and accept God’s pardon for betraying Christ, and decided to kill himself instead, choosing to sorrow unto death thereby. He went to hell because he refused to appropriate for himself the pardon Christ offered on the cross to all those responsible for killing him. Peter, on the other hand, sorrowed in a godly manner, leading to his repentance, conversion and restoration. God was not partial in restoring Peter to his apostolic position, after denying Jesus. God simply responded, as he promised in his word, to every sinner who would repent, forsake his sins and accept his pardon. Whoever does that will be accepted by God and restored to fellowship and communion with him after sinning. That’s a universal law of God that applies equally to all men and can be activated by all sinners. There is no partiality with God when dealing with men’s sins. God has a similar requirement for all men when it comes to what men must do to find favour in his sight after they’ve sinned. God does not delight in the death of the wicked, but wishes that every wicked person would repent and be saved. It’s not his will that any man should perish, but that all should come to repentance. Therefore, it would be against God’s will to refuse to pardon any sinner who repents and forsakes his sins.
1 Samuel 2:30 Why the LORD God of Israel said, I said indeed that your house, and the house of your father, should walk before me for ever: but now the LORD said, Be it far from me; for them that honor me I will honor, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed.
The Acts 10:34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:
The Acts 10:35 But in every nation he that fears him, and works righteousness, is accepted with him.
Isaiah 1:16 Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil;
Isaiah 1:17 Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.
Isaiah 1:18 Come now, and let us reason together, said 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 1:19 If you be willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land:
Isaiah 1:20 But if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD has spoken it.
Proverbs 28:13 He that covers his sins shall not prosper: but whoever confesses and forsakes them shall have mercy.
1 John 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Ezekiel 33:11 Say to them, As I live, said the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn you, turn you from your evil ways; for why will you die, O house of Israel?
Ezekiel 33:12 Therefore, you son of man, say to the children of your people, The righteousness of the righteous shall not deliver him in the day of his transgression: as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall thereby in the day that he turns from his wickedness; neither shall the righteous be able to live for his righteousness in the day that he sins.
Ezekiel 33:14 Again, when I say to the wicked, You shall surely die; if he turn from his sin, and do that which is lawful and right;
Ezekiel 33:15 If the wicked restore the pledge, give again that he had robbed, walk in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity; he shall surely live, he shall not die.
Ezekiel 33:16 None of his sins that he has committed shall be mentioned to him: he has done that which is lawful and right; he shall surely live.
1 Timothy 2:1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;
1 Timothy 2:3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior;
1 Timothy 2:4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
In conclusion, God did not display any partiality or favouritism in his dealings with Judas and Peter, after both apostles betrayed and denied Jesus Christ, respectively. Judas went to hell for betraying Jesus simply because he refused to repent and receive the pardon which was available for his sin. By choosing to kill himself instead of repenting and accepting God’s pardon, Judas died with his sins unremitted, and thus went to hell, where all people who die with unremitted sins go. Peter, on the other hand, repented after denying Jesus, and was converted and restored. The end of both apostles was thus determined by their response after sinning, and not by God. There is therefore no partiality with God when dealing with men’s sins.
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