In the National Geographic Magazine (May 2006 issue), in its cover story, The Judas Gospel, Professor Eliane Pagels of Princeton University claimed that the so-called gospel of Judas “changes the history of early Christianity.” Even UP Professor Randy David took notice of the Judas Gospel: “Strictly from a sociological standpoint, I think the discovery of the Gospel of Judas makes Christianity a far more interesting religion than what centuries of metaphysical theology has made of it.” (A Gospel for the Postmodern, Phil. Daily Inquirer, April 16, 2006)
That’s why I spoke in our Young Pro Fellowship a few days ago on God Knows Judas Not Pay (A Biblical Response on the Judas Gospel). I believe opportunities like this hype on the Judas Gospel or the Da Vinci Code opens a door for us to share the true Gospel. For those who did not attend last Thursday, let me share briefly why we reject the Judas gospel. I came up with the acronym
Judas was portrayed as a traitor in the Bible. The Bible consistently presents Judas as the betrayer. Jesus once called him a “devil” (John 6:70-71). He also referred to Judas as “one doomed to destruction” (John 17:12), a term used only here and in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 where it refers to the Antichrist. So the Bible never called Judas a hero.
Unorthodox teachings in the Judas gospel. The Judas gospel is full of Gnostic philosophy. The Gnostics (they got their name from the Greek word, gnosis, which means “knowledge”) believes that knowledge leads to salvation. Gnostic scholar Elaine Pagels wrote, “Whoever achieves gnosis becomes no longer a Christian but a Christ.” But that was what Satan told Eve when he tempted her in Eden (Genesis 3:4-5).
Denounced by the Bible and church history. The New Testament condemns Gnosticism. For example, Gnostics claim only a few can understand the hidden knowledge of God. But the Bible teaches that God gave all believers the ability to understand His Word (1 John 2:20, 27). Plus, Gnosticism was condemned as heresy by church leaders in the past.
Authentic fraud, not an apostolic document. Yes, you read it right. It’s a genuine fake. First, Judas Iscariot did not write it. Even National Geographic admitted that Gnostics might have used Judas as a pseudonym or a pen name. Second, it was written about 150 years after the death of Christ. So it is not written by an apostle or a companion of an apostle. Apostolic connection is a requirement for a book to become a part of the New Testament.
Supplants the true Gospel. It is clear that the Judas Gospel runs counter to the Bible. And the apostle Paul warned us: “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!” (Galatians 1:8)
Brethren, our eternity is at stake. Make sure you hold on to the true Gospel!
Note: Here in the Philippines, we see this warning on bumper stickers in jeepneys and buses: “God knows Judas… ‘who does’… not pay.” It was a play of words to warn those who are tempted not to pay their fare.