Sovereignty and Responsibility in Judas

Acts 1:15-16 – 15 In those days Peter stood up among the brothers (the company of persons was in all about 120) and said, 16 “Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus.

Acts 1:24-25 – 24 And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen 25 to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.”

In Acts 1, we see the response of the disciples to the death of Judas. Once the risen Lord Jesus had ascended into heaven, and the disciples were awaiting the arrival of the Holy Spirit, they needed to deal with the fact that there were 11 and not 12 apostles. Peter broaches the topic and the group prays before casting lots to choose Judas’ replacement.

As Peter speaks, he first tells us that the Scripture had to be fulfilled regarding Judas. Peter shows us here how we should be thinking about Scripture. Scripture must be fulfilled. God’s word is solid and sure. God will always fulfill what he promised. And this is true of what happened with Judas.

Looking at what Peter said about Scripture, we see the sovereignty of God in play. What God had predicted regarding Judas had to happen. There was no way that this would not take place. God is fully sovereign.

But later, when the group prays, they point out that Judas, by his own will, turned aside to go his own way, to his own place. Judas was free to choose his path. The Lord did not force Judas away. Judas did what Judas wanted to do. And in doing so, Judas did what God sovereignly decreed would happen in the word.

Grasp, friends, that God is sovereign. The Lord will always, absolutely always, accomplish his will for his glory. At the same time, know that we are fully responsible for the choices that we make. The only exception that I would make to this is the good and glorious choice that we make to trust in Jesus. After all, we are dead in sins before our salvation, and only God can make us alive. That good decision we must credit to the Lord. But in all other areas of life, we must own the proper responsibility for what we do.