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  • Love and Liberty

Was Judas Predestined to Betray Christ? (4)


Let us now examine another passage: “They [the soldiers] said, therefore, among themselves, Let us not rend it [his ‘coat’], but cast lots whose it shall be; that the Scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted my garments among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots.” (John xix, 24.) The best commentators, says Dr. Bloomfield, are of opinion that the words in this text rendered, “that the Scripture might be fulfilled,” mean, thus was fulfilled the scripture; but they are not agreed, he adds, whether in Psalm xxii, 18, the clauses “they part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture,” were originally intended to refer to Christ or not. He says, “Most of the recent commentators, however, think they were not so intended, and they take these words to relate solely to King David and to events in the rebellion of his son Absalom. They think that they are only introduced here by way of application or accommodation to the present purpose.” Adam Clarke remarks that “the thing so fell out that such a Scripture was exactly applicable to it.” “A secret disposal of Providence,” says Joseph Benson, “led them to a remarkable correspondence to the divine oracle.” “In the twenty-second Psalm, where this text is found,” says Dr. Tholuck, “David speaks only of his own sorrows.” De Wette regards the words as purely historical and not all prophetical. The subject of this Psalm, says Dr. J. W. Alexander, “is the deliverance of a righteous sufferer from his enemies, and is applicable to any of the class described. The speaker is an ideal person, but his words may be appropriated by any suffering believer, and by the whole suffering Church as they have been in all ages.”

The passage in Psalm xxii, 16, “They pierced my hands and my feet,” Dr. Alexander translates thus: “they surround my hands and my feet [that is, the instruments of my defense or of my flight] as a lion would; or they have wounded my hands and my feet as a lion would.” He concedes that there is no sacred or classical evidence whatever that it was the custom in crucifying to nail the hands and feet both. None of the evangelists quote the words, “they pierced my hands and my feet.” Lange says that “in the Orient the dogs, which were half wild, roved around in troops, and attacked travelers; and it is characteristic of them, that they are accustomed to first gnaw off the flesh of the hands, feet, and head.” Alford says, “By law the garments of the executed were the perquisites of the soldiers on duty.” We thus see that the best critics deny to this Psalm any prophetic allusion to the events of the crucifixion.

But the text of Scripture which, at first sight, seems most inconsistent with the theory here presented respecting the foreknowledge of God is found in Acts i, 16: “Men and brethren, this Scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit, by the mouth of David, spake before concerning Judas, who was guide to them that took Jesus.” The Scriptures to which he refers as being fulfilled are found in the twentieth verse: “Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein; and his bishopric let another take.” These Scriptures are quoted from Psalm lxix, 25: “Let their habitation be desolate; and let none dwell in their tents”” and from Psalm cix, 8: “Let his days be few, and let another take his office.” Now there is not the slightest indication in the Old Testament that these passages were originally spoken of Judas, or that they had any reference to him. Matthew says, “They were in Egypt till the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord, saying: “Out of Egypt have I called my son.” We have shown that the Scripture to which Matthew here refers had no reference to Jesus Christ, and there is no more evidence that these texts quoted by Peter in the passage before us had original reference to Judas Iscariot. Lange says, “Peter does not assert that David distinctly or consciously referred to Judas in these Psalms.” The second verse preceding the one Peter here cites (Psalm lxix, 23), Paul quotes (Romans xi, 10,) as applicable to the unbelieving Jews in general: “Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see.” Peter, in his quotation, changes that which had been spoken in the plural number of the enemies of God in general into the singular number, thus applying to a particular case that statement which had been made relative to many or to a specified class.

Dr. Bloomfield says that “most of the recent commentators decide, that what is here quoted from David, and which was spoken by him of his treacherous companions, is applied by Peter to Judas by way of accommodation, on account of the marked coincidences between the two cases.”.........Peter here means, that these Holy Scriptures, with which those whom he addressed had been so familiar from their youth, were illustrated and fulfilled or acted out, in the treachery of Judas Iscariot. That is, as Judas had proved himself to be unworthy the Gospel ministry, and of the holy apostleship, and had illustrated the terrible punishment certain to follow disobedience, and the abuse of distinguished privileges, and had now by suicide, gone to his own place, it was now the solemn duty of the remaining eleven to select someone to take that part of this ministry which had been so graciously proffered to their once cherished but now fallen brother. The inspired Psalmist spoke of the enemies of God in general, and of the judgments which God’s providence was certain to bring upon them especially upon those who were pre-eminent in their enmity and wickedness. Judas was of this number. The Scripture cited was especially applicable to him: it was aimed at men of his type. It was needful, therefore, that that Scripture should have complete fulfillment in his history, and in the proceedings of the Church in reference to him.

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