“Lost for nearly 1,700 years, a crumbling papyrus manuscript presents the most hated man in history in a new light.”
With that opening teaser the April 2006 issue of National Geographic introduced its feature article on The Gospel of Judas.
The Gospel of Judas is a Gnostic gospel, the text of whose five-year reconstruction was completed in 2006. It has a strong positive focus on Judas Iscariot, but doesn’t claim to have been written by him. According to the New Testament gospels, Judas betrayed Jesus to the Jewish authorities, who then turned Him over to the Roman authorities to be crucified. The Gospel of Judas portrays this act positively, as one performed in obedience to the instructions of Jesus, rather than a betrayal. This positive portrayal follows the Gnostic notion that the human form is imprisoned and Judas set in motion events that would release the spirit of Christ from its physical constraints.
The Gospel of Judas doesn’t claim the other disciples were in agreement with such teachings. On the contrary, its message is that the disciples had not learned the true Gospel, which Jesus taught only to Judas. The opening line of the ﬁrst page reads, “The secret account of the revelation that Jesus spoke in conversation with Judas Iscariot…” It continues: “Knowing that Judas was reflecting upon something that was exalted, Jesus said to him: Step away from the others [the disciples] and I shall tell you the mysteries of the Kingdom…”
Wayne Jackson has observed: “Ever since the second century A.D. there have been efforts to cast Judas Iscariot (the traitor who delivered Jesus over to the Roman authorities) into a redesigned mold of historical revisionism. From the so-called ‘Gospel of Judas,’ exposed by Irenaeus (c. A.D. 130-200) as a ‘fictitious history’ (Against Heresies 1.31.1), to the era of modern musicals, fantasy novels, and National Geographic specials, radical journalists have attempted to rehabilitate Christ’s betrayer, transforming him from the rogue he was, into a character deserving of adulation…Oddly, Judas increasingly is becoming a sympathetic figure in the minds of the rabble. He has been transformed into a romantic character who was closer to the Lord than the other disciples, and in fact, is being portrayed as ‘the most loyal of all the disciples.’ Amazing! There is not a shred of evidence for this bizarre theory.
“Neither the ancient Gnostics (with their ‘Gospel of Judas’), nor Hollywood with its perversion of history, nor the National Geographic Society with its anti-Christian agenda, can alter the facts of antiquity. History is what it was, and nothing can change that. And of that traitor, Christ hauntingly said: ‘The Son of man goes, even as it is written of him: but woe unto that man through whom the Son of man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born’ (Matthew 26.24).” (The Christian Courier, April 18, 2006).
In the context of writing about forgiveness, Paul makes this observation: “And we do this so that we may not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs” (2 Corinthians 2.11).
Satan has many devices, and he uses them all effectively. One is turning people’s minds away from the Scriptures or confusing them about the Scriptures, as is the case with the so-called Gospel of Judas.
Jesus said in John 8.31, “If you continue in My word, then are you truly My disciples.” The Scriptures reveal God, inform us of God’s plan to save us in Jesus, His Son, and furnish us with a guide for living consistent with His will for us.
Again Jesus said, “Sanctify them [that is, “set them apart”] in the truth; Thy word is truth” (John 17.17). Disciples of Christ are “set apart” – identified as belonging to Christ by the “truth” – the Word of God – the Scriptures.
Paul declared in Romans 10.17 that “faith comes from hearing and hearing by the word of Christ.” Our faith in Christ and our salvation through Christ is solely and exclusively dependent on Scripture. And that’s why the Scriptures, the Bible, the Word of God is always under constant attack.