John 6:70
Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?
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(70) One of you is a devil.—But even the brightness of His hope in them is not uncrossed by a shadow; and this shadow is seen in its fearful darkness by the light of the truth, which, like a flash of inspiration, has come to Peter’s heart, and has been spoken in the names of all. No human joy is for the Man of Sorrows unmarred. The very height to which these eleven have risen, through doubt and difficulty, in honest hearts and earnest lives, shows the depth to which one, with like power and capacity, like call and opportunity, had fallen. The order of the words is emphatic in the sadness which asks the question, Did I not choose you twelve, and of you one is devil? There was the same choice for all, and the choice made, as it is always made, from their fitness and promise for the work for which all were chosen. And of even twelve, one who was subject for hope then is beyond hope now. There may be mystery connected with this life of Judas which none of us can understand; there are certainly warnings connected with it which none of us can refuse to heed.

A devil.—The meaning would be more exactly given, perhaps, if the word were simply rendered devil, but this can hardly be expressed in English. See Note on Matthew 16:23, and, further on Judas, see Notes on Acts 1:16-25.

John 6:70-71. Jesus answered them — And, yet even ye have not all acted, nor will you act, suitably to this knowledge and faith. For, have I not chosen, or elected, you twelve — To the honour and happiness of a peculiar intimacy with me, and to a station of the most distinguished eminence and importance in my church? And yet one of you, as I well know, is a devil — Is now influenced by one, and will become my accuser and betrayer. As the word διαβολος, rendered devil, sometimes signifies a false accuser, Mr. Locke considers our Lord as intimating here, that the reason why he had not more plainly declared himself to be the Messiah, was, because he knew Judas would, on that ground, have accused him of rebellion against the Romans. But, as Dr. Doddridge observes, “there does not appear to be any proof that Judas from the beginning intended to betray Christ. It is more than probable, that he at first engaged with him in expectation of secular advantages, and finding those views disappointed, he might now begin to form that detestable scheme which he afterward executed. If this was the occasion on which he first entertained the thought, as it probably might be, one would imagine that such an intimation of his secret wickedness must have struck him to the heart.” He spake of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon — He meant Judas, though he did not at this time think fit to name him. Christ called Judas a devil, because he foresaw that he would be an apostate and a traitor. So likewise in rebuking Peter, who had expressed an utter aversion to his suffering at Jerusalem, he called him Satan, on account of that one act, by which he opposed the great design of his coming into the world. And he might much more give Judas the name of devil, who resembled Satan so nearly, in the wickedness of his dispositions and actions.

6:66-71 When we admit into our minds hard thoughts of the words and works of Jesus, we enter into temptation, which, if the Lord in mercy prevent not, will end in drawing back. The corrupt and wicked heart of man often makes that an occasion for offence, which is matter of the greatest comfort. Our Lord had, in the foregoing discourse, promised eternal life to his followers; the disciples fastened on that plain saying, and resolved to cleave to him, when others fastened on hard sayings, and forsook him. Christ's doctrine is the word of eternal life, therefore we must live and die by it. If we forsake Christ, we forsake our own mercies. They believed that this Jesus was the Messiah promised to their fathers, the Son of the living God. When we are tempted to backslide or turn away, it is good to remember first principles, and to keep to them. And let us ever remember our Lord's searching question; Shall we go away and forsake our Redeemer? To whom can we go? He alone can give salvation by the forgiveness of sins. And this alone brings confidence, comfort, and joy, and bids fear and despondency flee away. It gains the only solid happiness in this world, and opens a way to the happiness of the next.Have not I chosen you twelve? - There is much emphasis in these words. Have not I - I, the Saviour, the Messiah, chosen you in mercy and in love, and therefore it will be a greater sin to betray me? Chosen. Chosen to the apostolic office; conferred on you marks of special favor, and treason is therefore the greater sin. You twelve. So small a number. Out of such a multitude as follow for the loaves and fishes, it is to be expected there should be apostates; but when the number is so small, chosen in such a manner, then it becomes every one, however confident he may be, to be on his guard and examine his heart.

Is a devil - Has the spirit, the envy, the malice, and the treasonable designs of a devil. The word "devil" here is used in the sense of an enemy, or one hostile to him.

70. Have not I chosen … and one of you is a devil:—"Well said, Simon-Barjonas, but that 'we' embraces not so wide a circle as in the simplicity of thine heart thou thinkest; for though I have chosen you but twelve, one even of these is a 'devil'" (the temple, the tool of that wicked one). Chosen, not to eternal life, but to the great office of an apostle. I chose but twelve amongst you, Matthew 10:1-4, and of those twelve one is diabolov, an accuser, or informer; a name by which the devil (who is the grand accuser of the brethren) is ordinarily expressed in holy writ.

Jesus answered them,.... The disciples, taking Peter's answer to his question, as delivered in the name of them all, and as expressing their mind and sense:

have not I chosen you twelve; not to grace and glory, to holiness and happiness; though this was true of eleven of them, but to be apostles:

and one of you is a devil? or like to one, is a deceiver, a liar, and a murderer, as the devil is from the beginning; all which Judas was, and appeared to be, in the betraying of his master. The Syriac, Persic, and Ethiopic versions read, "is Satan"; which name, if given to Peter, as it once was on a certain occasion, Matthew 16:23, might very well be given to Judas; who, notwithstanding his profession of faith in Christ, was in the hands and kingdom of Satan, and under his influence and power: and this our Lord said, partly that they might not too much presume upon their faith and love, and steady attachment, and be over confident of their standing; and partly, to prepare them for the apostasy of one from among them.

{16} Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?

(16) The number of the professors of Christ is very small, and among them also there are some hypocrites, and those worse than all others.

John 6:70-71. Not a justification of the question in John 6:67, nor any utterance of reflection generally, but an outburst of grief at the sad catastrophe which He foresaw (John 6:64), in the face of that joyous confession which the fiery Peter thought himself warranted in giving in the name of them all.

The question extends only as far as ἐξελεξ.; then comes with the simple καὶ the mournful contrast which damps the ardour of the confessing disciple. Comp. John 7:19.

Observe the arrangement of the words, ἐγώ and ἐξ ὑμῶν impressively taking the lead: Have not I (even I, and no other) chosen you the twelve to myself? And of you (this one chosen by myself) one is devil! not the devil, but of devilish kind and nature. Comp. θεός, John 1:1. In what an awful contrast the two stand to each other! The addition of τοὺς δώδεκα to ὑμᾶς heightens the contrast, laying stress upon the great significance of the election, which nevertheless was to have in the case of one individual so contradictory a result.

διάβολος] not an informer (Theophylact, De Wette, Baeumlein), not an adversary or betrayer (Kuinoel, Lücke, B. Crusius, and earlier writers), but, in keeping with the deep emotion (comp. Matthew 16:23), and the invariable usage of the N. T. in all places where διάβ. is a substantive (in John 8:44; John 13:2; 1 John 3:8; 1 John 3:10): devil, whereby antagonism to Christ is set forth in its strongest manner, because in keeping with its demoniacal nature. That John would have written υἱὸς, or τέκνον διαβόλου (John 8:44; 1 John 3:10), is an arbitrary objection, and does not adequately estimate the strength of the emotion, which the expression employed, never forgotten by John, fully does.

John 6:71. ἔλεγε δὲ τὸν, κ.τ.λ.] He spoke of, like John 9:19; Mark 14:71; see Stallb. ad Plat. Rep. p. 363 B. As to the name Ἰσκαρ.,[255] man of Karioth, see on Matthew 10:4. Observe the sad and solemn emphasis of the full name Ἰούδαν Σίμωνος Ἰσκαριώτην, as in John 13:22. Ἰσκαριώτην itself is used quite as a name, as forming with ἸΟΎΔ. ΣΊΜΩΝΟς one expression. Bengel, therefore, without reason desiderates the article ΤΌΝ before ἸΣΚΑΡ., and prefers on that account the reading ἸΣΚΑΡΙΏΤΟΥ (see the critical notes).

ἬΜΕΛΛΕΝ, Κ.Τ.Λ.] traditurus erat, not as if he was already revolving it in his mind (see, on the contrary, John 13:2), but according to the idea of the divine destiny (Ellendt, Lex. Soph. II. p. 72). Comp. John 7:39, John 11:51, John 12:4; John 12:33, John 18:32; Wis 18:4 : οδιʼ ὧν ἤμελλεδίδοσθαι; Jdt 10:12. Kern has erroneously lowered the expression to the idea of possibility.

ΕἿς ὪΝ, Κ.Τ.Λ.] although he, etc. Still ὤν is critically doubtful (omitted by Lachmann), and without it the tragic contrast is all the stronger.

[255] Not equivalent to איש שקרים, man of lies, as Hengstenberg maintains, after Proverbs 19:5; the Greek form itself already forbids this.

Note 1.

With respect to the psychological difficulty of Jesus having chosen and retained Judas as an apostle, we may remark: 1. That we cannot get rid of the difficulty by saying that Jesus did not make or intend a definite election of disciples (Schleiermacher, L. J. p. 370 ff.), for this would be at variance with all the Gospels, and in particular with John 6:70. 2. Jesus cannot have received Judas into the company of the apostles with the foreknowledge that He was choosing His betrayer (Hengstenberg; comp. Augustine in Psalms 55 : electi undecim ad opus probationis, electus unus ad opus tentationis); this would be psychologically and morally inconceivable. He must have had confidence that each one of the twelve, when He selected them according to the variety of their gifts, temperaments, characters, etc., would become under His influence an effective supporter of His work; and, at any rate, the remark in John 6:64 is only a retrospective inference from the inconceivableness of so hideous an act in the case of one selected by the Lord Himself. The view in question also goes too far in this respect, that it attributes the crime not to the dangerous disposition of Judas, but to the knowledge of Christ from the outset, which would logically lead to the outrageous and inadmissible thought of Daub, that He purposely chose Judas, in order that he might betray Him. Comp. Neander, Lücke, Kern, Ullmann (Sündlosigk.), Tholuck, De Wette, Ewald, and many others. 3. Although the bent of the man, and his inclination towards an unhallowed development,—which, however, did not lead to a complete rupture until late (John 13:2),—must have been known to Christ, the reader of all hearts, yet it may have been accompanied with the hope, that this tendency might be overcome by the presence of some other apostolic qualification possessed by Judas, perhaps a very special gift for external administration (John 12:6, John 13:28). 4. As it became gradually evident that this hope was to be disappointed when the care of the money affairs became a special temptation to the unhappy man, it was the consciousness of the divine destiny herein manifesting itself (John 6:70-71; Acts 4:28) which prevented Jesus from dismissing Judas, and so disturbing the further progress of the divine purpose; while on the part of the Lord, we must, in conformity with His calling, suppose a continual moral influence bearing upon Judas, though this to the last remained without effect, and turned out to his condemnation,—a tragic destiny truly, whose details, besides, in the want of sufficient historical information concerning him before the commission of his bloody deed, are too far removed from the reach of critical judgment to enable them to lend any support to the difficulties arising therefrom as to the genuineness of John 6:70-71 (Weisse, Strauss, B. Bauer), or to warrant the assumption of any modification of the statement, which John, in accordance with his later view, might have given to it (Lücke, Ullmann, and others).

Note 2.

The aim of Jesus in the discourse John 6:26 ff. was to set before the people, who came to Him under the influence of a carnal belief in His miracles, the duty of seeking a true and saving faith instead, which would secure a deep living reception of and fellowship with Christ’s personal life, and that with a decision which, with an ever-advancing fulness, lays open this true work of faith in the appropriation of Himself to the innermost depth and the highest point of its contents and necessity. Baur’s opinion, that the discourse sets forth the critical process of the self-dissolution of a merely apparent faith, so that the latter must acknowledge itself as unbelief, has no such confession in the text to support it, especially as the ὄχλος and the Ἰουδαῖοι are not identical. See, besides, Brückner, p. 143 ff. Regarding the difficulty of understanding this discourse, which even Strauss urges, it may partly be attributed to the Johannean idiosyncrasy in reproducing and elaborating his abundant recollections of the words of Jesus. The difficulty, however, is partly exaggerated (see Hauff in the Stud. u. Krit. 1846, p. 595 ff.); and partly it is overlooked that Jesus, in all references to His death and its design, had to reckon on the light which the future would impart to these utterances, and sowing, as He generally did, for the future in the bosom of the present, He was obliged to give expression to much that was mysterious, but which would furnish material for, and support to, the further development and purification of faith and knowledge. The wisdom thus displayed in His teaching is justified by the history.

John 6:70. ἀπεκρίθηἐστιν; this reply of Jesus to Peter’s warmhearted confession at first sight seems chilling. Peter had claimed for himself and the rest a perfect loyalty; but this confidence of Peter’s carried in it a danger, and must be abated. Also it was well that the conscience of Judas should be pricked. Therefore Jesus says: Even in this carefully selected circle of men, individually chosen by myself from the mass, there is not the perfect loyalty you boast.—ἐξ ὑμῶν εἷς διάβολός ἐστιν. Even of you one is a devil. Lücke, referring to Esther 7:4; Esther 8:1, where Haman is called ὁ διάβολος, as being “the slanderer,” or “the enemy,” suggests that a similar meaning may be appropriate here. But Jesus calls Peter “Satan” and may much more call Judas “a devil”. Besides in the present connection “traitor” is quite as startling a word as “devil”.

70. Have I not chosen you twelve] Or, Did not I choose you the Twelve (comp. John 13:18)? Here probably the question ends: and one of you is a devil is best punctuated without an interrogation; it is a single statement in tragic contrast to the preceding question. It would be closer to the Greek to omit the article before ‘devil’ and make it a kind of adjective; and one of you is devil, i.e. devilish in nature: but this is hardly English. The words contain a half-rebuke to S. Peter for his impetuous avowal of loyalty in the name of them all. The passage stands alone in the N.T. (comp. Matthew 16:23), but its very singularity is evidence of its truth. S. John is not likely to have forgotten what was said, or in translating to have made any serious change.

John 6:70. Τοὺς δώδεκα) The article has great force.—ἐξελεξάμην, I have chosen) There is therefore a kind of election, from which one can fall away.—ἐξ ὑμῶν, of you) from among so few.—εἷς, one) This indefinite disclosure excited all the others, and proved the truth of their confession, as made by Peter, but excluded Judas, although not contradicting that confession. Here was the point where Judas ought to have repented. [The wretched man had been offended, John 6:61, (Jesus had said to the murmuring disciples) “Doth this offend you?” Wherefore that exclamation of Peter, “To whom shall we go?” did not after this square with his views. He did no doubt go, but it was to the chief priests.—V. g.]—διάβολος, the devil) not merely evil to himself, but even dangerous to others.

Verse 70. - The answer of the Lord is one of the most solemn and heart-rending character, and a further hint from his own lips of what the evangelist had uttered on his own account. It is an outburst of bitter grief over the moral imperfections which are developing under this strong revelation of the Divine glory. Did I not choose - I, even I the Holy One of God - you the twelve to myself (ἐξελεξάμην), and of you one is a devil? This "choice" is repeatedly referred to (John 13:18; John 15:16; cf. Luke 6:13; Acts 1:2, 24). "He appointed twelve to be with him, that he might send them forth to preach, and to have power to cast out daemons" (Mark 3:14). This choice was made in the full human self-consciousness and knowledge of their peculiarities. It is morally inconceivable that he, in his Divine foreknowledge, chose Judas to special reprobation, knowing him then to be devilish in his nature, and so that he might have his character demoralized by this close contact with Christ's holiness, and thus be trained for the damnation of the traitor's sin and doom. Yet this choice, to Christ's human nature and self-consciousness, was early seen to be one which was not softening but hardening the heart of Judas. He brought him nearer to himself, and gave him fresh opportunity of acquiring just ideas of the kingdom and its methods, and by these warnings the Lord was giving him chance after chance of escaping from what, even to the Lord's prophetic human foresight, looked like his destiny. "One of you," says he - "one is devil." Official relation to me is not salvation. Even the admission that I am the Holy One of God is not eternal life. We may compare Christ's severe rebuke to Peter, when, after the grand confession (Matthew 16:16), he counted himself worthy to disapprove the methods of his Lord's mercy, "Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence to me; thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men." Judas did far worse - he wanted to use the Divine power of his Master for his own personal ends. John 6:70A devil (διάβολος)

See on Matthew 4:1. The word is an adjective, meaning slanderous, but is almost invariably used in the New Testament as a noun, and with the definite article. The article is wanting only in 1 Peter 5:8; Acts 13:10; Revelation 12:9; and perhaps Revelation 20:2. It is of the very essence of the devilish nature to oppose Christ. Compare Matthew 16:23.

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