A Commentary On The Gospel Of Judas


Translated by Rodolphe Kasser, Marvin Meyer, and Gregor Wurst, in collaboration with François Gaudard. With a commentary in italics by Ryan Goodwin.




The secret account of the revelation that Jesus spoke in conversation with Judas Iscariot during a week three days before he celebrated Passover.


The introduction provides an interesting look into the spirit of this text. Why is it that no other Biblical writings describe themselves as “secret accounts?” Is there something about this text that needed to remain secret until 180 A.D. when it was supposedly first written? Is there something in it that should remain secret today? If it is a secret, then why did God reveal it at all? Indeed, the Lord spoke in secrets often (parables, metaphors, etc.), but even those are explained at some point in the Bible, often by Jesus Himself to the twelve. Why is Judas’ gospel different? If God is the author, then is this writing any less important than the other scriptures?




When Jesus appeared on earth, he performed miracles and great wonders for the salvation of humanity. And since some [walked] in the way of righteousness while others walked in their transgressions, the twelve disciples were called.


It is interesting that the Gospel of Judas in no way tries to diminish the power of Jesus Christ as the Son of God. Liberal scholars have jumped onto this text, however, and have claimed that it cuts at the very heart of core Christian beliefs about the deity of Jesus.


He began to speak with them about the mysteries beyond the world and what would take place at the end. Often he did not appear to his disciples as himself, but he was found among them as a child.


Not corroborated by any other New Testament writings. In fact, it is stated clearly that Jesus lived His entire as a physical human being with recognizable characteristics (1 John 1:1-2, Isaiah 53:2). Nowhere does the Bible indicate that Jesus changed forms before His crucifixion. And even in Luke 24:16, 31 it was not the form of Jesus that changed, but the disciples’ ability to recognize Him.


SCENE 1: Jesus dialogues with his disciples: The prayer of thanksgiving or the eucharist


One day he was with his disciples in Judea, and he found them gathered together and seated in pious observance. When he [approached] his disciples, [34] gathered together and seated and offering a prayer of thanksgiving over the bread, [he] laughed.


Why is Jesus presented as a cynic? Throughout the text of this supposed gospel, Jesus constantly mocks His disciples, doubts their motives, and laughs at their attempts to be pious and religious. In the Bible, Jesus never laughs at the attempts of His followers, but feels compassion for them and guides them in loving edification and admonition. Even when the twelve were wrong about certain ideas, Jesus never laughed.


The disciples said to [him], “Master, why are you laughing at [our] prayer of thanksgiving? We have done what is right.”


He answered and said to them, “I am not laughing at you. <You> are not doing this because of your own will but because it is through this that your god [will be] praised.”


This language is incongruent with the Bible. Jesus never accuses the disciples of believing in a ‘god’ that is not the true Father, but recognizes that they believed in and followed the same Father as Him. See Matthew 6:9, 6:32, 23:9, Luke 24:49.


They said, “Master, you are […] the son of our god.”


Their confession of Jesus as the Son of God is also recorded in Matthew 16:13-20. And yet in this Bible  verse, the disciples are applauded for their confession. In Judas’ gospel, Jesus seems to approach the confession with cynicism and skepticism, as if He does not believe in their profession of faith, or that they do not understand what they are saying. It seems pretty clear from the Bible that the disciples knew exactly who Jesus was, and were well aware of His saving grace as the one true Messiah (John 6:66-69).


Jesus said to them, “How do you know me? Truly [I] say to you, no generation of the people that are among you will know me.”


This directly contradicts Luke 9:27, in which the Lord states that there would be people who would not taste death until they saw the kingdom of Heaven. Also how can Jesus’ statements be true when so many were converted in the days of Acts? Were there not 3,000 souls added to the Lord on the Day of Pentecost, and these were alive during the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry. Many of them, most likely, had even witnessed Jesus being crucified only a few months before.




When his disciples heard this, they started getting angry and infuriated and began blaspheming against him in their hearts.


While Peter and the other disciples are often pictured as passionate people, does this, in any way, seem consistent with their attitudes in the Bible?


When Jesus observed their lack of [understanding, he said] to them, “Why has this agitation led you to anger? Your god who is within you and […] [35] have provoked you to anger [within] your souls. [Let] any one of you who is [strong enough] among human beings bring out the perfect human and stand before my face.”


They all said, “We have the strength.”


Why is it that the disciples are suddenly proclaiming their strength to Jesus after being insulted by Him and becoming angry with Him only moments before? From a strictly literary standpoint, the Gospel of Judas makes very little sense. It does not flow the way the inspired writings do. It is not compelling. Rather, it is insulting.


But their spirits did not dare to stand before [him], except for Judas Iscariot. He was able to stand before him, but he could not look him in the eyes, and he turned his face away.


Consistent with the basic tenants of the Cainites, a group of deviant believers in the second century, the villain of the story of Jesus is presented as the lone hero. Some historians, including second-century church leaders such as Irenaeus, the Bishop of Lyons, actually attribute the writing of Judas’ gospel to this sect. In 180 A.D., Irenaeus accuses the Cainites of lauding the evildoers of the Bible and believing that Judas understood secret mysteries about Christ. Along with Judas, the Cainites adored the Sodomites, Esau. Korah, and the murderer Cain. This text simply upholds what the Cainites wanted to believe, and instantly makes its legitimacy suspect. 


Judas [said] to him, “I know who you are and where you have come from. You are from the immortal realm of Barbelo. And I am not worthy to utter the name of the one who has sent you.”


Judas’ humility is interesting. This is quite a change for a man who is documented in the Bible as being rather brazen and proud, even to the point of correcting the Lord in John 12:1-8 over the matter of the woman who anointed Jesus’ feet with the costly perfume.




Knowing that Judas was reflecting upon something that was exalted, Jesus said to him, “Step away from the others and I shall tell you the mysteries of the kingdom. It is possible for you to reach it, but you will grieve a great deal. [36] For someone else will replace you, in order that the twelve [disciples] may again come to completion with their god.”


So it was possible for Judas to reach the Kingdom, but not the other twelve? Based on this, what does it take for one to enter the kingdom of God? First, one must not be born of mortal flesh, as we will read in later portions of this strange piece of literature. But also, at least if we take the story of Judas literally, we must betray Jesus unto crucifixion. If that is what it took for Judas to be the only disciples worthy enough to reach the Kingdom, then what is the expectation for the rest of us who are a couple thousand years too late to betray Jesus?


Judas said to him, “When will you tell me these things, and [when] will the great day of light dawn for the generation?”


But when he said this, Jesus left him.


I must admit that I laughed hard at this point in the story. Does it make any sense that Jesus would take Judas aside for the purpose of telling him “the mysteries of the kingdom” and then disappear? If Jesus’ purpose is to be cruel, then He succeeds. He promises revelation to Judas, but as soon as He is asked a question, leaves the supposed hero of the story. Where in the Bible does Jesus ever do this? Are honest, genuine questions ever left unanswered?


SCENE 2: Jesus appears to the disciples again


The next morning, after this happened, Jesus [appeared] to his disciples again.


They said to him, “Master, where did you go and what did you do when you left us?”


Jesus said to them, “I went to another great and holy generation.”


His disciples said to him, “Lord, what is the great generation that is superior to us and holier than us, that is not now in these realms?”


The Gospel of Judas has a primary flaw which seems to infect the rest of the story: it is a book of questions and no answers. What a ridiculous piece of literature! Does any book of the Bible leave us with more questions than answers? Does any book of the Bible fail in its goal to somehow reveal Truth and make our spirits more complete in the knowledge of God? 2 Timothy 3:16-17 asserts that the point behind Scripture is to train the believer in righteousness, and make the man of God complete and equipped for good works. A book full of questions, though, does not do this.


When Jesus heard this, he laughed and said to them, “Why are you thinking in your hearts about the strong and holy generation? [37] Truly [I] say to you, no one born [of] this aeon will see that [generation], and no host of angels of the stars will rule over that generation, and no person of mortal birth can associate with it, because that generation does not come from […] which has become […]. The generation of people among [you] is from the generation of humanity […] power, which [… the] other powers […] by [which] you rule.”


Instead of simply answering the question, Jesus seems to skirt the issue by laughing and telling His disciples that they need not concern themselves with such weighty matters. The “generation” in question seems to be a grand spiritual people that exist apart from this world. They are more authoritative than angels, are not of humanity, and are too inaccessible for human beings to be associated with them. This is not the church, obviously, or else no person born as a mortal (as all Christians are) would be able to enter it.


When [his] disciples heard this, they each were troubled in spirit. They could not say a word.


Is this not how all of us feel when reading the words of the Gospel of Judas? It is a troubling book that makes little sense and leaves the reader discouraged and confused.


Another day Jesus came up to [them]. They said to [him], “Master, we have seen you in a [vision], for we have had great [dreams …] night […].”


[He said], “Why have [you … when] <you> have gone into hiding?” [38]


The missing pieces throughout this text make it difficult to understand. The very fact that this is the best translation that can be produced is evidence of this story’s lack of inspiration. Why is it that God would allow an inspired text to go so poorly maintained that this is the best we can figure from its manuscript, while other books of the Bible literally have hundreds of nearly complete and perfectly congruent manuscripts?




They [said, “We have seen] a great [house with a large] altar [in it, and] twelve men—they are the priests, we would say—and a name; and a crowd of people is waiting at that altar, [until] the priests [… and receive] the offerings. [But] we kept waiting.”



[Jesus said], “What are [the priests] like?”


They [said, “Some …] two weeks; [some] sacrifice their own children, others their wives, in praise [and] humility with each other; some sleep with men; some are involved in [slaughter]; some commit a multitude of sins and deeds of lawlessness. And the men who stand [before] the altar invoke your [name], [39] and in all the deeds of their deficiency, the sacrifices are brought to completion […].”


After they said this, they were quiet, for they were troubled.




Jesus said to them, “Why are you troubled? Truly I say to you, all the priests who stand before that altar invoke my name. Again I say to you, my name has been written on this […] of the generations of the stars through the human generations. [And they] have planted trees without fruit, in my name, in a shameful manner.”


Jesus said to them, “Those you have seen receiving the offerings at the altar—that is who you are. That is the god you serve, and you are those twelve men you have seen. The cattle you have seen brought for sacrifice are the many people you lead astray [40] before that altar. […] will stand and make use of my name in this way, and generations of the pious will remain loyal to him. After hi another man will stand there from [the fornicators], and another [will] stand there from the slayers of children, and another from those who sleep with men, and those who abstain, and the rest of the people of pollution and lawlessness and error, and those who say, ‘We are like angels’; they are the stars that bring everything to its conclusion. For to the human generations it has been said, ‘Look, God has received your sacrifice from the hands of a priest’—that is, a minister of error.


But it is the Lord, the Lord of the universe, who commands, ‘On the last day they will be put to shame.’” [41]


Jesus said [to them], “Stop sac[rificing …] which you have […] over the altar, since they are over your stars and your angels and have already come to their conclusion there. So let them be [ensnared] before you, and let them go [—about 15 lines missing—] generations […]. A baker cannot feed all creation [42] under [heaven]. And […] to them […] and […] to us and […].


Jesus said to them, “Stop struggling with me. Each of you has his own star, and every[body—about 17 lines missing—] [43] in […] who has come [… spring] for the tree […] of this aeon […] for a time […] but he has come to water God’s paradise, and the [generation] that will last, because [he] will not defile the [walk of life of] that generation, but […] for all eternity.”


With so many lines missing, it is difficult to interpret what Jesus is trying to say. As has already been stated, why would God allow His scripture, if this is indeed inspired, to be so poorly maintained throughout the generations? Did not Christ say, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35)?


The best that can be gathered from this text is that Jesus is rebuking His disciples for leading many people astray with their falsehoods. The vision that is seen by the disciples involves twelve false priests offering sacrifices while condoning and participating in a number of immoral activities. Interpreting the vision, Jesus claims that the time had come for the disciples to stop offering sacrifices of vanity and proclaim the Truth.


The problem with this passage is that no place in the Bible ever indicates that the disciples were preaching falsehood while wandering with Jesus during His earthly ministry. In fact, if there was ever a time that the disciples surely preached and practiced the highest degree of truth, it would have been while Jesus was in their midst teaching them daily and guiding them. If the disciples were guilty of so much apostasy, then why did the Lord feel confident enough in them to send them out by twos to preach the Good News (Matthew 10)? In fact, in that chapter, the seventy returned to Jesus with great joy, claiming that their miraculous powers were abundant. Later, Jesus proclaims, quite proudly, to the Father that He had sent the disciples into the world, just as He had been sent by God (John 17:18).


In the Bible, there seems to be no indication that Jesus is ever ashamed of the work that the disciples accomplished during this time period.




Judas said to [him, “Rabb]i, what kind of fruit does this generation produce?”


Making reference to the “generation” that had been discussed by the disciples earlier. Jesus, for His part, had avoided the conversation until then.


Jesus said, “The souls of every human generation will die. When these people, however, have completed the time of the kingdom and the spirit leaves them, their bodies will die but their souls will be alive, and they will be taken up.”


These sayings make little sense. First, Jesus does not answer Judas’ question, it seems, in any way. The soul ascending to heaven is not a fruit that is produced. And why is it here asserted that human souls die? While Jesus is correct in saying that the souls of Christians never die, but are taken into heaven, He contradicts Himself when he asserts that the souls of human generations do die. In John 5:29 Jesus states that even the souls of the evildoers will participate in the resurrection on the last day. Furthermore, of the wicked ones of the world, Jesus says, “And these will go away into eternal punishment…” (Matthew 25:46). If punishment is eternal, then spiritual death never occurs for those who are evil.


Judas said, “And what will the rest of the human generations do?”


Jesus said, “It is impossible [44] to sow seed on [rock] and harvest its fruit. [This] is also the way […] the [defiled] generation […] and corruptible Sophia […] the hand that has created mortal people, so that their souls go up to the eternal realms above. [Truly] I say to you, […] angel […] power will be able to see that […] these to whom […] holy generations […].”


Is it only a little suspicious that the most broken, incomplete sections of text are those that would probably be the most revealing? Why would God allow this? Why would God inspire a text and then allow the most important portions to go into disrepair?


After Jesus said this, he departed.


Jesus certainly does not stick around for questions from the crowd very often, does He?


SCENE 3: Judas recounts a vision and Jesus responds


Judas said, “Master, as you have listened to all of them, now also listen to me. For I have seen a great vision.”


When Jesus heard this, he laughed and said to him, “You thirteenth spirit, why do you try so hard? But speak up, and I shall bear with you.”


What? In what way was Judas the “thirteenth spirit”? At this point, he was still one of the twelve, so would not Matthias, who was chosen to replace Judas in Acts 1:26 be the thirteenth apostle? Furthermore, why is Jesus “bearing with” Judas when He already was supposedly aware of Judas’ capacity for higher understanding? One would think that something as important as visions would not be treated so flippantly by the Lord!


Judas said to him, “In the vision I saw myself as the twelve disciples were stoning me and [45] persecuting [me severely]. And I also came to the place where […] after you. I saw [a house …], and my eyes could not [comprehend] its size. Great people were surrounding it, and that house <had> a roof of greenery, and in the middle of the house was [a crowd—two lines missing—], saying, ‘Master, take me in along with these people.’”


The imagery is likely meant to illicit sympathy for Judas. Rather than being considered the most notorious villain and betrayer of all time, Judas is pictured as a sincere, sensitive, inquisitive whipping boy, who willingly accepts the taunts of his fellow disciples to fulfill an important role in the plan of salvation. Judas, though he sacrifices all for Jesus, is seen being left out of the grand banquet of the kingdom in his vision.


[Jesus] answered and said, “Judas, your star has led you astray.” He continued, “No person of mortal birth is worthy to enter the house you have seen, for that place is reserved for the holy. Neither the sun nor the moon will rule there, nor the day, but the holy will abide there always, in the eternal realm with the holy angels. Look, I have explained to you the mysteries of the kingdom [46] and I have taught you about the error of the stars; and […] send it […] on the twelve aeons.”


No, Jesus has not “explained” the mysteries of the kingdoms. At least not adequately. The last time Judas asked Him about the mysteries of the kingdom, Jesus pulled a disappearing act and never answered the disciple’s question. Also, we once again encounter this peculiar doctrinal discrepancy which seems to say that nobody of mortal birth can enter the church. If this is true, then the church would be inhabited by, well, nobody I know.




Judas said, “Master, could it be that my seed is under the control of the rulers?”


“Rulers” might be the rulers of the world or the rulers of iniquity, i.e., Satan and his angels. This question really cuts to the chase in the debate over the free will agency of Judas. However, the very fact that he asks the question is evidence of his moral free agency!


Jesus answered and said to him, “Come, that I [—two lines missing—], but that you will grieve much when you see the kingdom and all its generation.”


But Judas never say the kingdom and all its generation, for he commits suicide before the church is established in Acts 2.


When he heard this, Judas said to him, “What good is it that I have received it? For you have set me apart for that generation.”


Jesus answered and said, “You will become the thirteenth, and you will be cursed by the other generations—and you will come to rule over them. In the last days they will curse your ascent [47] to the holy [generation].”


So Judas rules the church? It is likely that modern day interpreters and scholars would look to these words to confirm their theories about Christians suppressing the Gospel of Judas.




Jesus said, “[Come], that I may teach you about [secrets] no person [has] ever seen. For there exists a great and boundless realm, whose extent no generation of angels has seen, [in which] there is [a] great invisible [Spirit], which no eye of an angel has ever seen, no thought of the heart has ever comprehended, and it was never called by any name.


It is disturbing that Christ would teach so many secrets to only one of the disciples while neglecting the others. Even more disturbing is the fact that all of these mysteries died with Judas when he committed suicide. Why would Jesus invest so much energy into educating a man who would be dead in less than a week and would never be able to spread these “secrets.” In John 14:26, Jesus states that the Holy Spirit would come to the aid of the apostles and inspire them to remember all the words of Jesus, and yet none of these “secrets” are ever divulged to the other apostles. Are these secrets even important, then? They are obviously not important enough to teach to the disciples. They are not important enough to be recognized by the Holy Spirit. They are not important enough to be included in the Bible. They are not important enough for us to know. Also, if “no thought of the heart has ever comprehended” this realm, then does not that fact make its understanding just a little inaccessible to human minds, let alone Judas Iscariot?


“And a luminous cloud appeared there. He said, ‘Let an angel come into being as my attendant.’


Old news. Peter, James, and John got to witness the transfiguration months before in Matthew 17:1-8.


“A great angel, the enlightened divine Self-Generated, emerged from the cloud. Because of him, four other angels came into being from another cloud, and they became attendants for the angelic Self-Generated. The Self-Generated said, [48] ‘Let […] come into being […],’ and it came into being […]. And he [created] the first luminary to reign over him. He said, ‘Let angels come into being to serve [him],’ and myriads without number came into being. He said, ‘[Let] an enlightened aeon come into being,’ and he came into being. He created the second luminary [to] reign over him, together with myriads of angels without number, to offer service. That is how he created the rest of the enlightened aeons. He made them reign over them, and he created for them myriads of angels without number, to assist them.


No angel is self-generated, for even they are created beings, subject to the judgments of God (Jude 6). This text is considerably more convoluted than the Revelation of John, for there are no explanations given as to the meaning of these sights and events. Are they literal? Are they figurative? What is Christ trying to accomplish by explaining these peculiar visions?




“Adamas was in the first luminous cloud that no angel has ever seen among all those called ‘God.’ He [49] […] that […] the image […] and after the likeness of [this] angel. He made the incorruptible [generation] of Seth appear […] the twelve […] the twentyfour […]. He made seventy-two luminaries appear in the incorruptible generation, in accordance with the will of the Spirit. The seventy-two luminaries themselves made three hundred sixty luminaries appear in the incorruptible generation, in accordance with the will of the Spirit, that their number should be five for each.


What is a luminary? This is never explained. We are left to wonder what Jesus is trying to say in these passages of text. Although it becomes clear later that He is attempting to explain the origins of the cosmos and the secrets of what existed before the creation, these beings are never discussed in the Bible. Even if such explanations of the origin of the universe were true, they do not edify or engage us spiritually. It seems that the writers of the Gospel of Judas were more interested in satisfying their curiosity about preexistence and the psyche of Judas than they were about producing a text that is concise, clear, and applicable to Christians.


“The twelve aeons of the twelve luminaries constitute their father, with six heavens for each aeon, so that there are seventy-two heavens for the seventy-two luminaries, and for each [50] [of them five] firmaments, [for a total of] three hundred sixty [firmaments …]. They were given authority and a [great] host of angels [without number], for glory and adoration, [and after that also] virgin spirits, for glory and [adoration] of all the aeons and the heavens and their firmaments.


While this text just might make an excellent word problem on an algebra exam, it seems to have little spiritual significance.




“The multitude of those immortals is called the cosmos— that is, perdition—by the Father and the seventy-two luminaries who are with the Self-Generated and his seventytwo aeons. In him the first human appeared with his incorruptible powers. And the aeon that appeared with his generation, the aeon in whom are the cloud of knowledge and the angel, is called [51] El. […] aeon […] after that […] said, ‘Let twelve angels come into being [to] rule over chaos and the [underworld].’ And look, from the cloud there appeared an [angel] whose face flashed with fire and whose appearance was defiled with blood. His name was Nebro, which means ‘rebel’; others call him Yaldabaoth. Another angel, Saklas, also came from the cloud. So Nebro created six angels—as well as Saklas—to be assistants, and these produced twelve angels in the heavens, with each one receiving a portion in the heavens.


These explanations are unclear, the language being too tortuous and complicated to provide any real sense of direction in thought. The angel named “Self-Generated” is given powers to create, as well as his assistant luminaries. The luminaries, in fact, seem to be self-producing beings, able to create each other without outside assistance from the Father. The Father is hardly mentioned throughout the text. In only a trite role God the Father seems to exist less as the catalyst and creator of the creation of the universe and more a witness to all of the chaotic activities being undertaken by Self-Generated and his army of self-created luminaries, angels, and aeons.  




“The twelve rulers spoke with the twelve angels: ‘Let each of you [52] […] and let them […] generation [—one line lost—] angels’: The first is [S]eth, who is called Christ.


“Seth” who is supposedly Christ has not been mentioned until now, so we must assume that Self-Generated, Saklas, and the other more prominent figures in this peculiar realm of chaos are not Christ. Does the Son even have anything to do with creating mankind? It appears not, which contradicts the clear teaching of Genesis 1, in which the Father and the Son seem to be working in harmony in the creative process. Why is it that the story of creation in Genesis is so very simple and easy to understand, and yet the explanation provided in this text is very complicated – quite possibly the most needlessly complicated, most convoluted, least valuable piece of religious literature ever.


The [second] is Harmathoth, who is […].


The [third] is Galila.


The fourth is Yobel.


The fifth [is] Adonaios.


These are the five who ruled over the underworld, and first of all over chaos.


How very odd that all of Jesus’ explanations are discussed as linear events. Before creation, neither time nor space existed. This fact is exactly why we are never told what pre-creation existence was like: we are incapable of comprehending a realm that is not ruled by the linear constraints of this world. Yet Jesus seems quite comfortable describing these five rulers as being in charge of the administration of “chaos” for a seemingly linear time frame.




“Then Saklas said to his angels, ‘Let us create a human being after the likeness and after the image.’ They fashioned Adam and his wife Eve, who is called, in the cloud, Zoe. For by this name all the generations seek the man, and each of them calls the woman by these names. Now, Sakla did not [53] com[mand …] except […] the gene[rations …] this […]. And the [ruler] said to Adam, ‘You shall live long, with your children.’”


This mysterious figure named Saklas, along with his angels, is given credit for fashioning Adam and Eve, an obvious contradiction to the creation account in Genesis. So did God create man, or did Saklas? We have two very different accounts – one that makes sense, and one that does not.




Judas said to Jesus, “[What] is the long duration of time that the human being will live?”


Why is this question asked? Either Judas is asking about the lifespan of Adam, or of humans in general. If he is curious about the lifespan of Adam, he should look it up in Genesis 5:5, a text that would have been readily available in almost any Jewish synagogue. If he is asking about the determined lifespan of his contemporaries, he would need only observe the ages of those dying around him.


Jesus said, “Why are you wondering about this, that Adam, with his generation, has lived his span of life in the place where he has received his kingdom, with longevity with his ruler?”


In the same way that He always does, Jesus skirts the issue and does not answer Judas’ question. As usual, He instead provides an annoyingly complex explanation of an issue that has not been raised.


Judas said to Jesus, “Does the human spirit die?”


Why ask this question when the answer is so clear? If Judas had been with Jesus at all during His ministry, he would have heard the Lord say that souls, after the cessation of physical life, do not die (Luke 20:36).


Jesus said, “This is why God ordered Michael to give the spirits of people to them as a loan, so that they might offer service, but the Great One ordered Gabriel to grant spirits to the great generation with no ruler over it—that is, the spirit and the soul. Therefore, the [rest] of the souls [54] [—one line missing—].


As has become a constant issue in reading this text, it seems suspicious that what would be the most revealing portion of a verse is missing.




“[…] light [—nearly two lines missing—] around […] let […] spirit [that is] within you dwell in this [flesh] among the generations of angels. But God caused knowledge to be [given] to Adam and those with him, so that the kings of chaos and the underworld might not lord it over them.”


Judas said to Jesus, “So what will those generations do?”


What generations? The problematic issue is that Jesus and Judas have been talking so long that it is unclear what either is talking about at this point. From a strictly literary perspective, the Gospel of Judas is very poorly written.


Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, for all of them the stars bring matters to completion. When Saklas completes the span of time assigned for him, their first star will appear with the generations, and they will finish what they said they would do. Then they will fornicate in my name and slay their children [55] and they will […] and [—about six and a half lines missing—] my name, and he will […] your star over the [thir]teenth aeon.”


“The stars bring matters to completion?” What is this supposed to mean? Are we to look to the stars for the answers to life? Or do the great body of celestial beings use the stars to fulfill their wills? The generations in question could be the apostate Christians of the early church. Because the Cainites were a sect of Christianity that would have been opposed to the established church of the second century, it would be no surprise that the Gospel of Judas would include in its pages a harsh rebuke of contemporary Christians. But without a proper explanation of who Saklas is, and what he is trying to accomplish in his span of time, no further explanation can be offered. If Saklas is Satan, as some might suspect, than that presents the problem that Saklas helped create Adam and Eve, and that he found his creation in Nebro as an assistant in the universal creative process.


After that Jesus [laughed].


If Jesus would do less laughing and more explaining, the Gospel of Judas might just prove to be more valuable to its readers than a bad joke.


[Judas said], “Master, [why are you laughing at us]?”


A good question. Why does Jesus find these matters so hilarious?


[Jesus] answered [and said], “I am not laughing [at you] but at the error of the stars, because these six stars wander about with these five combatants, and they all will be destroyed along with their creatures.”


This has come from nowhere, it seems. Leading up to this point, there has been no discussion of “six stars” and “five combatants,” along with their mysterious creatures. Why is this funny to Jesus? Will He not fill the rest of us in on the joke? In any case, why is error comical to the Son of God at all?




Judas said to Jesus, “Look, what will those who have been baptized in your name do?”


Jesus said, “Truly I say [to you], this baptism [56] […] my name [—about nine lines missing—] to me. Truly [I] say to you, Judas, [those who] offer sacrifices to Saklas […] God [—three lines missing—] everything that is evil.


It is too difficult to piece together what Jesus is saying here. It is unfortunate that the question that is most pertinent to the Christian is left in a state of garbled confusion.


“But you will exceed all of them. For you will sacrifice the man that clothes me. Already your horn has been raised, your wrath has been kindled, your star has shown brightly, and your heart has […]. [57]


Is it Judas who will exceed all people who have been baptized? How can that be if Judas himself was not baptized after the crucifixion for the remission of sins? He would have been only acquainted with the baptism of John at this point, and this was not acceptable in the eyes of God for those who wished to be truly converted to the Way of Christ (Acts 19:1-5). The point is that if Judas had never become a Christian, then there is no way he would ever “exceed” the glorious people of God under the New Testament. Jesus Himself states that the lowest of all people in the kingdom would be far more glorious than even John the baptist (Luke 7:28).


“Truly […] your last […] become [—about two and a half lines missing—], grieve [—about two lines missing—] the ruler, since he will be destroyed. And then the image of the great generation of Adam will be exalted, for prior to heaven, earth, and the angels, that generation, which is from the eternal realms, exists. Look, you have been told everything. Lift up your eyes and look at the cloud and the light within it and the stars surrounding it. The star that leads the way is your star.”


The contradiction still exists: if this great and glorious “generation” is supposed to be the church, then why does Jesus state twice that no person born of mortal flesh can be associated with it? Second, even if we do assume that this generation is the church, then are we to take these verses and believe that those who are saved have existed before the creation of the universe? What about those who are not saved? Did they only begin existing at birth? This section of text runs dark with the stain of predestination.


Like the primary tenant of the Cainites states, the evildoer has become the hero. While Judas is guilty of betraying the Lord and being an active participant in enabling His execution, his “star” is seen leading all of the others. It is the grand star that burns bright with the honor of God.


Judas lifted up his eyes and saw the luminous cloud, and he entered it. Those standing on the ground heard a voice coming from the cloud, saying, [58] […] great generation […] … image […] [—about five lines missing—].




It seems that a large portion of text is missing here, but we are to assume that it fits chronologically with the time period immediately after John 13. As Jesus and the disciples are eating the Passover, the Lord turns to the betrayer and indicates that it is time to fulfill his duty. “What you do, do quickly” (John 13:27). Leaving the other disciples, Judas hurries to the high priests and offers them Jesus for a certain portion of silver. However, the story develops differently according to this text. In the following lines, Judas is caught by the high priests and accused of being a disciple.


[…] Their high priests murmured because [he] had gone into the guest room for his prayer. But some scribes were there watching carefully in order to arrest him during the prayer, for they were afraid of the people, since he was regarded by all as a prophet. They approached Judas and said to him, “What are you doing here? You are Jesus’ disciple.” Judas answered them as they wished. And he received some money and handed him over to them.


Instead of being a villain, Judas is seen as a man of great self-sacrifice. He willingly accepted the role of betrayer so that he could help enable the crucifixion. This text wants us to believe that without Judas selflessness and absolute willingness to obey Jesus at all costs, salvation would never have been offered. But what of the fact that Judas still takes the money? If he had indeed been conspiring with Jesus to do this mission, then why would he need the money? Why not just hand over Jesus free of charge. Second, why commit suicide? If Judas had only been doing what was necessary, and if he really did have the kind of heart that set him apart from the other disciples, then why did he not find the strength to continue living and take responsibility for his actions?


The problems inherent in this text are pervasive and glaring. It is confusing, complicated, poorly written, and terribly maintained. We are left with more questions than answers in the end, and huge revelations are made without adequately providing background information. It is as if Jesus just assumes that we know what aeons, luminaries, and who goofy characters like Saklas and Yaldabaoth are.


Judas is a villain, nothing more. What an absolute shame it would be to ever elevate the most vile betrayer of all time to the status of hero. For thirty pieces of silver, this thief, this cynic, this man of evil betrayed the Son of God. There will never room for sympathy in heart of God for those who deny Him and act contrary to the righteous expectations of every believer. There is no inspiring spirit in the Gospel of Judas. It has nothing in its words that motivates a Christian to better himself. It has no practical advice or application. It provides nothing for its readers but the feelings of unfulfilled curiosity. Instead of answering the needs of Christians, it just convolutes issues and contradicts a perfectly harmonious Bible. Let us not allow such things to confuse us or lead us away from the beauty of the Gospel, which is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16). Remember the exhortation of Paul in 2 Corinthians 11:3, “But I am afraid, lest as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds should be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.” 


Ryan Goodwin

www.sweethomechurch.com     ryanladdy@hotmail.com