Judas and Fencing the Table

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Charles Johnson

Puritan Board Sophomore
Hi brothers,

How do you interpret the following verses? (Mt. 26:25-26). Did Christ administer the supper to Judas after calling him a devil, and thus declaring him unregenerate? If Christ did knowingly and purposefully give the supper to an unregenerate and evil man, does that have any implications for our practice of the supper? Interested in hearing your thoughts.

25 Then Judas, which betrayed him, answered and said, Master, is it I? He said unto him, Thou hast said.
26 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
Interestingly, George Gillespie's view in Aaron's Rod Blossoming contradicts Article 35 of the Belgic Confession:

... Further, though the sacraments are connected with the thing signified, nevertheless both are not received by all men: the ungodly indeed receives the sacrament to his condemnation, but he doth not receive the truth of the sacrament. As Judas, and Simon the sorcerer, both indeed received the sacrament, but not Christ, who was signified by it, of whom believers only are made partakers. ...
 

Charles Johnson

Puritan Board Sophomore
Interestingly, George Gillespie's view in Aaron's Rod Blossoming contradicts Article 35 of the Belgic Confession:

... Further, though the sacraments are connected with the thing signified, nevertheless both are not received by all men: the ungodly indeed receives the sacrament to his condemnation, but he doth not receive the truth of the sacrament. As Judas, and Simon the sorcerer, both indeed received the sacrament, but not Christ, who was signified by it, of whom believers only are made partakers. ...
I know Simon Magus is often referenced in discussions of baptism. Is it possible that the Lord's Supper is not being reference here?
 

joep

Puritan Board Freshman
I'm inclined to agree with @Reformed Covenanter on the confession referring to the Lord's Supper.

I wonder if a part of it is in that Judas's betrayal, the act as a whole, hadn't taken place. What the Lord knew he knew by revelation or prescience (cf. Matthew 26:24), something that isn't available to ministers for particular situations. Judas at this point was still numbered among the twelve.

I'm not versed in the Greek, but Christ speaks in the future in the translations of Matthew 26:21 and Matthew 26:23: "shall betray me", "will betray me".

Q. 82 of the Heidelberg Catechism, which is answered in the negative, says, "Are they also to be admitted to this supper, who, by confession and life, declare themselves unbelieving and ungodly?" Since the apostles at the time knew of nothing against Judas, one can surmise that Judas had not shown himself, as far as ordinary evidence known to the disciples goes, to be as wicked as he was by either confession or life. Christ knew of his wickedness by supernatural means and the prophecies of Scripture.
 

alexandermsmith

Puritan Board Junior
Gillespie's argument is very convincing to me. I see no theological reason why Judas needs to have partaken of the Supper and a number of problems if he did. I think it's too dismissive to say "Christ knew Judas was reprobate, the son of perdition by prescience or omniscience therefore it doesn't count". The fact is Christ did know that, He knew it infallibly, and therefore for Him to have known that and still say to Judas "this is my body broken for you, my blood shed for you" makes a nonsense of the whole thing. Do our ministers and elders not bar from the supper those who are under discipline even though ordinarily they would have a right to partake? Well then surely Christ would bar from the supper him whom He knew, infallibly, was reprobate.

Admittance to the supper is based on what the session knows of the applicant. They admit an applicant if they, to the best of their knowledge and discernment, believe him to be one of the Lord's people. I see no problem with Christ applying the same standard to the institution of the supper.
 

joep

Puritan Board Freshman
@alexandermsmith I did not mean to be dismissive! -- on the contrary, I was saying that the means by which these things were known do play a part. But I'll let better men speak.

On problems with Christ applying the same standard, cf. Aquinas, Summa, Q. 81, Article 2, "Whether Christ gave His body to Judas?":
I answer that, Hilary, in commenting on Matthew 26:17, held that Christ did not give His body and blood to Judas. And this would have been quite proper, if the malice of Judas be considered. But since Christ was to serve us as a pattern of justice, it was not in keeping with His teaching authority to sever Judas, a hidden sinner, from Communion with the others without an accuser and evident proof. lest the Church's prelates might have an example for doing the like, and lest Judas himself being exasperated might take occasion of sinning. Therefore, it remains to be said that Judas received our Lord's body and blood with the other disciples, as Dionysius says (Eccl. Hier. iii), and Augustine (Tract. lxii in Joan.).

Also, ibid.:
Objection 2. Further, what the Lord commanded, He Himself fulfilled, as is said in Acts 1:1: "Jesus began to do and to teach." But He gave the command (Matthew 7:6): "Give not that which is holy to dogs." Therefore, knowing Judas to be a sinner, seemingly He did not give him His body and blood.
Reply to Objection 2. The wickedness of Judas was known to Christ as God; but it was unknown to Him, after the manner in which men know it. Consequently, Christ did not repel Judas from Communion; so as to furnish an example that such secret sinners are not to be repelled by other priests.

I am only quoting these arguments with respect to the elements, specifically as a counter-point to, "Well then surely Christ would bar from the supper him whom He knew, infallibly, was reprobate." Not that I am saying he partook of the thing signified; I do hold to the Reformed view of the sacraments, as Article 35 of the Belgic Confession says,
Moreover, though the sacraments and what they signify are joined together, not all receive both of them.
The wicked certainly take the sacrament, to their condemnation, but do not receive the truth of the sacrament, just as Judas and Simon the Sorcerer both indeed received the sacrament, but not Christ, who was signified by it.
He is communicated only to believers.

Perhaps Brown mediates best in his Q & A on the Shorter Catechism?
Q. Did not Christ admit Judas to the Lord’s supper?
A. It doth not appear that he did; but though he did, that only infers that hypocrites may be admitted.
 

alexandermsmith

Puritan Board Junior
@alexandermsmith I did not mean to be dismissive! -- on the contrary, I was saying that the means by which these things were known do play a part. But I'll let better men speak.

On problems with Christ applying the same standard, cf. Aquinas, Summa, Q. 81, Article 2, "Whether Christ gave His body to Judas?":


Also, ibid.:


I am only quoting these arguments with respect to the elements, specifically as a counter-point to, "Well then surely Christ would bar from the supper him whom He knew, infallibly, was reprobate." Not that I am saying he partook of the thing signified; I do hold to the Reformed view of the sacraments, as Article 35 of the Belgic Confession says,


Perhaps Brown mediates best in his Q & A on the Shorter Catechism?

Dismissive might have been too harsh a term. Apologies for that. I only wished to make the point that Christ's knowledge, to me, would be relevant. But it is only a argument. I wouldn't rest my position on that alone. I'm convinced by the exegesis of the passages that Judas did not partake and I would say there was a reason he did not partake, or was not permitted to partake.
 

joep

Puritan Board Freshman
Dismissive might have been too harsh a term. Apologies for that. I only wished to make the point that Christ's knowledge, to me, would be relevant. But it is only a argument. I wouldn't rest my position on that alone. I'm convinced by the exegesis of the passages that Judas did not partake and I would say there was a reason he did not partake, or was not permitted to partake.

No offense taken! :) Yes, I think the exegetical arguments, and the argument from the words of institution are quite weighty. I haven't studied or read enough yet, particularly when dealing with the former, to really engage much with them.
 

timfost

Puritan Board Senior
Gillespie's argument is very convincing to me. I see no theological reason why Judas needs to have partaken of the Supper and a number of problems if he did. I think it's too dismissive to say "Christ knew Judas was reprobate, the son of perdition by prescience or omniscience therefore it doesn't count". The fact is Christ did know that, He knew it infallibly, and therefore for Him to have known that and still say to Judas "this is my body broken for you, my blood shed for you" makes a nonsense of the whole thing. Do our ministers and elders not bar from the supper those who are under discipline even though ordinarily they would have a right to partake? Well then surely Christ would bar from the supper him whom He knew, infallibly, was reprobate.

Admittance to the supper is based on what the session knows of the applicant. They admit an applicant if they, to the best of their knowledge and discernment, believe him to be one of the Lord's people. I see no problem with Christ applying the same standard to the institution of the supper.

I think there is an alternative to the positions you have listed. Judas was part of the visible church and at that point of time was an apostle in good standing. Christ did shed His blood for the church. Jesus' statement was true of Judas insofar as he was part of the church. Likewise, if a member in good standing at our church commits sin and it comes to my attention the night before communion, even though there may be time to start the process of restoration (including rebuke), but until due process is followed, that person is a member in good standing and should not necessarily be barred from the table.
 
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Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Which is weird, because there is 0 reason to believe that Simon Magus ever took the Lord's Supper.
Why would you say that, since there is time mentioned as passing in Act.8, beginning with v13 where SM was baptized, and "he continued with Philip...." The following v also indicates the passage of some time, "When the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard" about the revival in Samaria (so there was news that had to travel back down south); then after the time it took to meet as a council of apostles and elders, "they sent Peter and John to them."

Why would the new Christian assembly in Samaria have baptism, but not the Lord's Supper? Because there wasn't enough time? Enough for what? Why wouldn't this fellowship be keeping the same patterns as in Jerusalem? Wouldn't that be exactly what the Jerusalem delegation hoped to see when they arrived? I.e. right preaching of the word, right administration of the sacraments, that is the marks whereby the church is recognized? So they wouldn't have to set such a deficiency to right? As it was, they performed early church discipline with regard to SM.

Bottom line, while there is no record of or absolute necessity for us to say "there was unquestionably the L.S. in Samaria, and likely included SM;" neither is there any good reason to doubt it; and more than a little reason to expect it.
 
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