Q&A Forum: Judas (Luke 22:21-22)

Was Judas present when the Lord instituted the Breaking of Bread? (Luke 22:21-22).

This question has been debated by many over the years. It is the conclusion of this writer that Judas was present at the earlier part of the Passover feast, but that he went out prior to the institution of the Lord’s Supper.

We learn from Matthew 26:20 that Judas was present at the beginning of the Passover, for the Lord “sat down with the twelve,” not the eleven. They were all present, and Judas certainly had a position in the Passover feast, for he was a genuine Israelite. It was during that feast that the Lord rose from supper to wash the disciples’ feet (John 13:3). Mr. Darby, in his New Translation of the Bible expresses it as “during supper, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon, Iscariote, that he should deliver Him up, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He came out from God and was going to God, rises from supper.” Our Lord washed Judas’ feet as well as the others, for in verse 11, He says to Peter “ye are clean, but not all,” indicating that “He knew who should betray him; therefore said He, ye are not all clean” (John 13:11). This washing of the disciples’ feet seems to have taken place during the Passover feast, but prior to the Lord’s Supper, for we read in John 13:26-30 that Judas, having been identified to John as the one who would betray Him, went out, and “it was night.”

Mark 14:10-11 and Matthew 26:14-16 indicate that Judas had made his arrangement with the chief priests and elders of the Jews prior to the Passover feast, so that when he went out, it was to finalize the event and gather the soldiers and a great multitude (Matt 26:47) to encounter Christ in the garden, where Judas knew He would go after the Passover (John 18:2).

The difficulty arises with Luke 22:21-22. Luke writes, “And He took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is My body which is given for you … behold, the hand of him that betrayeth Me is with Me on the table … but woe unto that man by whom He is betrayed!” These verses seem to indicate the opposite, that Judas was yet present during the institution of the Lord’s Supper. However, it is also noted that Luke doesn’t always record events in their chronological order, so this may not be placed here to indicate his presence at that time.

To balance that reference, we read in 1 Corinthians 11:23, “For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread.” Vincent’s Word Studies and Henry Alford’s Greek Testament emphasize that it was the night, “in which He was being betrayed.” This use of the imperfect tense would indicate that the process of betrayal was taking place as the Lord was instituting the supper.

John 13:26-30 seems to verify that Judas had gone out prior to the “new thing” that the Lord instituted after the Passover. The dipping of the sop and handing it to Judas would have been a part of the Passover meal, not a part of the Lord’s Supper. John says that after he received that morsel, he “went immediately out, and it was night.”

One would tend to believe that Judas had gone out prior to this memorable event, since the ideal for the celebration of the Lord’s Supper is that it would be carried out only by genuine believers in Jesus Christ. This is not always true, but it is the clear teaching of God’s Word, and only they can truly remember the Lord in His death, until He comes. The preponderance of the evidence seems to indicate that Judas was not present at the institution of the Lord’s Supper.