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Is Judas a Son of Perdition?

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Note: This article is currently being reviewed and edited. Feel free to leave feedback!

Due to an interesting back-and-forth discussion in Sunday school today, I decided to consolidate some useful information to help our ward get on the same page about a topic that seems to come up every spring.

What does “Son of Perdition” mean?

Perdition is another name for Satan. Doctrine and Covenants 76:25-27 says:

25 And this we saw also, and bear record, that an angel of God who was in authority in the presence of God, who rebelled against the Only Begotten Son whom the Father loved and who was in the bosom of the Father, was thrust down from the presence of God and the Son,

26 And was called Perdition, for the heavens wept over him—he was Lucifer, a son of the morning.

27 And we beheld, and lo, he is fallen! is fallen, even a son of the morning!

References to “Perdition” typically refer to Satan himself, not his followers. The term “Son of Perdition” or “child of the devil” (contrasted with “Children of Christ” or “Children of the Covenant”) refers to those who have made the devil their shepherd. Alma 5:38-41 says:

38 Behold, I say unto you, that the good shepherd doth call you; yea, and in his own name he doth call you, which is the name of Christ; and if ye will not hearken unto the voice of the good shepherd, to the name by which ye are called, behold, ye are not the sheep of the good shepherd.

39 And now if ye are not the sheep of the good shepherd, of what fold are ye? Behold, I say unto you, that the devil is your shepherd, and ye are of his fold; and now, who can deny this? Behold, I say unto you, whosoever denieth this is a liar and a child of the devil.

40 For I say unto you that whatsoever is good cometh from God, and whatsoever is evil cometh from the devil.

41 Therefore, if a man bringeth forth good works he hearkeneth unto the voice of the good shepherd, and he doth follow him; but whosoever bringeth forth evil works, the same becometh a child of the devil, for he hearkeneth unto his voice, and doth follow him.

The Topical Guide to the Scriptures says:

The followers of Satan who will suffer with him in eternity. Sons of perdition include (1) those who followed Satan and were cast out of heaven for rebellion during premortality and (2) those who were permitted to be born to this world with physical bodies but then served Satan and turned utterly against God. Those in this second group will be resurrected from the dead but will not be redeemed from the second (spiritual) death and cannot dwell in a kingdom of glory.

To make matters a little confusing, Cain was called Perdition (as opposed to “Son of Perdition”) in Moses 5:24 in anticipation of a time when Cain would enter into a covenant with the devil and fight against God.

24 For from this time forth thou shalt be the father of his lies; thou shalt be called Perdition; for thou wast also before the world.

Moses 5:24

It’s not immediately obvious whether this was a shortened title when “Son of Perdition” may actually be more accurate, or if becoming “the father of his [Satan’s] lies” qualified Cain to receive the same title as Satan himself—all others following being called “Sons of Perdition.” My opinion harmonizes with the latter scenario. I believe God is selective with who He calls “Perdition” vs a “Son of Perdition.”

How does someone become a Son of Perdition?

NOTICE: I should begin this section by saying that it is not our place to judge whether another person has qualified to become a Son of Perdition. IF God has already judged that person as a Son of Perdition and that has been clearly revealed to us through someone acting as a prophet, seer, and revelator, then—and only then—it is appropriate for us to call them a Son of Perdition 1) when necessary, and 2) in reference to that revelation. The purpose of listing the qualifications for becoming a Son of Perdition is generally to make sure that we, individually, avoid that dark path ourselves, not so that we can judge people like Judas.

Doctrine & Covenants 76:31, 35

31 Thus saith the Lord concerning all those who know my power, and have been made partakers thereof, and suffered themselves through the power of the devil to be overcome, and to deny the truth and defy my power

35 Having denied the Holy Spirit after having received it, and having denied the Only Begotten Son of the Father, having crucified him unto themselves and put him to an open shame.

According to Doctrine and Covenants 76, these are the conditions for becoming Sons of Perdition:

  1. Know God’s power
  2. Become a partaker of God’s power
  3. Become overcome by the devil
  4. Deny the truth
  5. Defy God’s power
  6. Deny the Holy Ghost after having received it
  7. Deny Jesus Christ
  8. Put Christ to an open shame

Read more about the significance of becoming a Son of Perdition in the Appendix below.

Did Judas Iscariot become Perdition?

The short answer is “Maybe, but the Final Judgment hasn’t happened yet, so we will see.”

“1) We don’t know, we don’t have enough information. 2) It’s not our place to make that determination.”

The New Testament Student Manual says:

The Greek word from which “perdition” is translated (apōleia) indicates a condition of being lost or destroyed. Elsewhere in the New Testament, apōleia is translated as “destruction” (Matthew 7:13; Romans 9:22), “waste” (Matthew 26:8; Mark 14:4), and “damnation” (2 Peter 2:3). These terms seem appropriate as applied to Judas Iscariot. Speaking of the condition of Judas Iscariot, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said:

“We know the divine plan required Jesus to be crucified, but it is wrenching to think that one of His special witnesses who sat at His feet, heard Him pray, watched Him heal, and felt His touch could betray Him and all that He was for 30 pieces of silver. Never in the history of this world has so little money purchased so much infamy. We are not the ones to judge Judas’s fate, but Jesus said of His betrayer, ‘Good [were it] for that man if he had not been born.’ [Matthew 26:24]” (“None Were with Him,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2009, 86).

President Joseph F. Smith (1838–1918) wrote about whether or not Judas is a son of perdition, after first referring to Doctrine and Covenants 76:31–37, 43, which describes the knowledge that must be understood and then rejected by those who become sons of perdition: “That Judas did partake of all this knowledge—that these great truths had been revealed to him—that he had received the Holy Spirit by the gift of God, and was therefore qualified to commit the unpardonable sin, is not at all clear to me. To my mind it strongly appears that not one of the disciples possessed sufficient light, knowledge nor wisdom, at the time of the crucifixion, for either exaltation or condemnation; for it was afterward that their minds were opened to understand the scriptures, and that they were endowed with power from on high; without which they were only children in knowledge, in comparison to what they afterwards became under the influence of the Spirit” (Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. [1939], 433).

In the quote above, President Joseph F Smith was responding to a letter by a member of the Church and it was published in the Improvement Era.

A Word of Criticism

President Joseph F. Smith, City.

My Dear Brother:—By your verbal request I have read carefully your sermon delivered Jan. 20, 1895, in Franklin, Idaho. I consider it one of the choicest doctrinal discourses I have listened to. Parts of it, that are not in accord with my ideas, are where you say, “I do not believe that he (Peter) had ever received the gift of the Holy Ghost,” meaning during the life of the Savior.

I believe that Peter had received the gift of the Holy Ghost prior to his denial of the Savior.

Then you say, speaking of Judas, “And I am not sure but he atoned for his sin before he passed into the other world. I do not know that did not; I do not know that he did. At any rate I believe that he lamented his sin although he was a devil.”

I believe Judas to be a son of perdition without hope, who will die the second death.

Trusting you will not be offended with a junior brother for entertaining views different from yours quoted above,

With unbounded love for you, I remain, Your Brother and Colaborer.

Salt Lake City, March 1, 1895.

President Smith’s reply:

My Dear Brother:—You further say: “I believe Judas to be a son of perdition without hope, who will die the second death.” This is a clear-cut statement and, of course, you should have, and perhaps have, undoubted evidence to reach such a conclusion.

I have no such belief, because I have never seen nor heard evidence sufficient in favor of your view to produce such a conviction in my mind. On this point, however, I wish to repeat, that I do not say that he did, nor that he did not commit the unpardonable sin, for I do not know. But the following word of God I do believe and know, by the promptings of the Holy Spirit, to be true:

Thus saith the Lord, concerning all those who know my power, and have been made partakers thereof, and suffered themselves, through the power of the devil, to be overcome, and to deny the truth and defy my power—they are they who are the sons of perdition: * * * * Having denied the Holy Spirit after having received it, and having denied the Only Begotten Son of the Father—having crucified him unto themselves, and put him to an open shame. These are they who shall go away into the lake of fire and brimstone with the devil and his angels, and the only ones on whom the second death shall have any power; yea, verily, the only ones who shall not be redeemed in the due time of the Lord, after the sufferings of his wrath; for all the rest shall be brought forth by the resurrection of the dead, through the triumph and glory of the Lamb.

Now, if Judas really had known God’s power, and had partaken thereof, and did actually “deny the truth” and “defy” that power, “having denied the Holy Spirit after he had received it,” and also “denied the Only Begotten” after God had “revealed Him” unto him, then there can be no doubt that he “will die the second death.”

That Judas did partake of all this knowledge—that these great truths had been revealed to him—that he had received the Holy Spirit by the gift of God, and was therefore qualified to commit the unpardonable sin, is not at all clear to me. In view of the facts recorded in the scriptures, setting forth the mental or spiritual condition of the apostles at the time of, and immediately subsequent to the crucifixion, it would strongly appeal to my mind that not one of them was qualified or prepared at that time either for life or death, nor for their ministry, and much less for eternal life nor the second death.

Of poor Judas Iscariot it is thus recorded (Matt. 27:3-6): “Then Judas, which had be trayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. * * * And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself.” This was not only confession of sin, but repentance of sin and atonement, too, so far as lay in his power.

Note: This is a portion of a long letter. President Smith goes on to demonstrate how little faith any of the apostles had at the time of Christ’s death, explaining that in his opinion, none of the apostles had qualified to become Sons of Perdition. To read the full letter, view the Appendix below or visit this link and skip to page 732 of the pdf.

In Jesus’ great Intercessory Prayer, Christ

12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.

(John 17:12)

It appears that Jesus is saying that he has “kept” all of his apostles in the fold, except for Judas, “the son of Perdition.” However, that “son of Perdition” was not interpreted as

there has not been a single General Conference talk

Jesus the Christ:

That the silver was actually paid to Judas, either at this first interview or at some later meeting between the traitor and the priests, is demonstrated by after events.

He had pledged himself to the blackest deed of treachery of which man is capable, and from that hour he sought the opportunity of superseding his infamous promise by its more villainous fulfilment. We are yet to be afflicted by other glimpses of the evil-hearted Iscariot in the course of this dread chronicle of tragedy and perdition; for the present let it be said that before Judas sold Christ to the Jews, he had sold himself to the devil; he had become Satan’s serf, and did his master’s bidding.

How should we feel about Judas?

If Judas has actually become a Son of Perdition, then this statement by Brigham Young may prove helpful:

One of the brethren, yesterday, felt so rejoiced, under like reflections, that he said he could pray for the devils in hell, if it would do any good. It is not for us to pray for them, because they have become sons of perdition. You may pray for your persecutorsfor those who hate you, and revile you, and speak all manner of evil of you, (Matt. 5:11) if they do it ignorantly; but if they do it understandingly, justice must take its course in regard to them; and except they repent, they will become sons of perdition. This is my testimony.

(Universal Salvation, Journal of Discourses)

Appendix

Joseph F. Smith’s Letter

My Dear Brother:—You further say: “I believe Judas to be a son of perdition without hope, who will die the second death.” This is a clear-cut statement and, of course, you should have, and perhaps have, undoubted evidence to reach such a conclusion.

I have no such belief, because I have never seen nor heard evidence sufficient in favor of your view to produce such a conviction in my mind. On this point, however, I wish to repeat, that I do not say that he did, nor that he did not commit the unpardonable sin, for I do not know. But the following word of God I do believe and know, by the promptings of the Holy Spirit, to be true:

Thus saith the Lord, concerning all those who know my power, and have been made partakers thereof, and suffered themselves, through the power of the devil, to be overcome, and to deny the truth and defy my power—they are they who are the sons of perdition: * * * * Having denied the Holy Spirit after having received it, and having denied the Only Begotten Son of the Father—having crucified him unto themselves, and put him to an open shame. These are they who shall go away into the lake of fire and brimstone with the devil and his angels, and the only ones on whom the second death shall have any power; yea, verily, the only ones who shall not be redeemed in the due time of the Lord, after the sufferings of his wrath; for all the rest shall be brought forth by the resurrection of the dead, through the triumph and glory of the Lamb.

Now, if Judas really had known God’s power, and had partaken thereof, and did actually “deny the truth” and “defy” that power, “having denied the Holy Spirit after he had received it,” and also “denied the Only Begotten” after God had “revealed Him” unto him, then there can be no doubt that he “will die the second death.”

That Judas did partake of all this knowledge—that these great truths had been revealed to him—that he had received the Holy Spirit by the gift of God, and was therefore qualified to commit the unpardonable sin, is not at all clear to me. In view of the facts recorded in the scriptures, setting forth the mental or spiritual condition of the apostles at the time of, and immediately subsequent to the crucifixion, it would strongly appeal to my mind that not one of them was qualified or prepared at that time either for life or death, nor for their ministry, and much less for eternal life nor the second death.

After the women had been to the sepulchre and found it open, and saw “two men there in shining garments,” who asked them “why they sought the living among the dead,” and declared, “he is not here but is risen; remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, saying the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again,” they, the women, declared these things to the apostles of whom, notwithstanding all they had seen and heard, it is said, “And their words seemed to them as idle tales and they believed them not.”

Then Peter and John went to the sepulchre and proved for themselves the truth of what the women had told them, “and departed, wondering in themselves at that which was come to pass.”

The same day “two of them,” Cleopas or Simon (and doubtless John) went to Emmaus, and Jesus accompanied them and listened to their aimless chatter about “the things which are come to pass in Jerusalem in these days,” until he felt, I might say, sick and disgusted with them, and exclaimed, , “O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have written,” etc., etc.

For three years Jesus had been teaching them that Christ came to suffer all these things, that he might enter into his glory; for three years he had expounded to them the Scriptures relating to these great events, from Moses to the prophets, and notwithstanding all this they did not comprehend him, but said to him on this occasion, after his resurrection: “But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel.”

At Emmaus the Lord opened their eyes that they knew him, and disappeared, and straightway they returned to Jerusalem and related to the other disciples all that had occurred on their way to Emmaus, and while doing so, Jesus stood in the midst of them, and “they were terrified and affrighted;” but he calmed their fears, and then and there, and at no previous time, so far as the scriptures reveal it, did Jesus open their eyes, or inspire their minds, “that they might understand the scriptures,” concerning the great plan of redemption. “Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all the nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” “And,” said he to them, “behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you; but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endowed with the power from on high” (Luke 24:49). The apostle John (20:9), referring to this matter, says: “For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead.”

Now, if these and many other scriptures can be relied upon, of which I have no doubt, relating to the unenlightened condition of all the apostles, even after the resurrection of Christ, concerning his great mission on earth, namely: the redemption of the world not only from sin but from the grave, then how much more knowledge or wisdom did Judas Iscariot possess before the crucifixion, than all the rest? To my mind it strongly appears that not one of the disciples possessed sufficient light, knowledge, or wisdom, at the time of the crucifixion, for either exaltation or condemnation; for it was afterward that their minds were opened to understand the scriptures, and that they were endowed with power from on high; without which they were only children in knowledge, in comparison to what they afterwards became under the influence of the Spirit. But I heard you say, in Franklin, that a son of perdition “could not repent,” that he was past that chance. Be this as it may, I will not discuss it here; indeed, I firmly believe that a real son of perdition will have no chance for repentance, having sinned away the day of grace. Of poor Judas Iscariot it is thus recorded (Matt. 27:3-6): “Then Judas, which had be trayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. * * * And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself.” This was not only confession of sin, but repentance of sin and atonement, too, so far as lay in his power.

Saul, of Tarsus, possessing extraordinary intelligence and learning, brought up at the feet of Gamaliel, taught according to the perfect manner of the law, persecuted the Saints “unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women;” and when the blood of the Martyr Stephen was shed, Saul stood by keeping the raiment of those who slew him, and consented unto his death. And “he made havoc in the Church, entering into every house, and hailing men and women, comitted them to prison.” And when they were put to death, he gave his voice

cam. he gave his voice against them,” and he “punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme, and be ing exceedingly mad against them, he perseuted them even unto strange cities, and yet this man committed no unpardonable sin, because he knew not the Holy Ghost.

While, for the crime of adultery with Bathsheba, and for ordering Uriah to be put in the front of battle in a time of war, where he was slain by the enemy, the priesthood, and the kingdom were taken from David, the man after God’s own heart, and his soul was thrust into hell. Why? Because “the Holy Ghost spake by the mouth of David” or, in other words, David possessed the gift of the Holy Ghost, and had power to speak by the light thereof. But even David, though guilty of adultery and the murder of Uriah, obtained the promise that his soul should not be left in hell. Which means, as I understand it, that even he shall escape the second death.
While suspended upon the cross, in the agonies of death, as he was about to yield up his spirit, our gracious, glorious Savior breathed this memorable and merciful prayer: «Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

What is the significance of Perdition?

Perdition is also called “the second death.” Physical death is “the first death,” and total spiritual death (complete separation from God) is called “the second death.” When we sin, we begin to die spiritually and we become a Son of Perdition when we have become completely spiritually dead.

We have been taught that those who become Sons of Perdition have sinned away their capacity to repent. The atonement only covers them to the degree that they are resurrected before being brought before the judgment bar of God, but they have no claim to Christ’s mercy.

3 Nephi 29:7 says:

7 Yea, and wo unto him that shall say at that day, to get gain, that there can be no miracle wrought by Jesus Christ; for he that doeth this shall become like unto the son of perdition, for whom there was no mercy, according to the word of Christ!

Doctrine & Covenants 76: 32-34, 36-38, and 43-48 says:

32 They are they who are the sons of perdition, of whom I say that it had been better for them never to have been born;

33 For they are vessels of wrath, doomed to suffer the wrath of God, with the devil and his angels in eternity;

34 Concerning whom I have said there is no forgiveness in this world nor in the world to come

36 These are they who shall go away into the lake of fire and brimstone, with the devil and his angels

37 And the only ones on whom the second death shall have any power;

38 Yea, verily, the only ones who shall not be redeemed in the due time of the Lord, after the sufferings of his wrath.

43 Who glorifies the Father, and saves all the works of his hands, except those sons of perdition who deny the Son after the Father has revealed him.

44 Wherefore, he saves all except them—they shall go away into everlasting punishment, which is endless punishment, which is eternal punishment, to reign with the devil and his angels in eternity, where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched, which is their torment—

45 And the end thereof, neither the place thereof, nor their torment, no man knows;

46 Neither was it revealed, neither is, neither will be revealed unto man, except to them who are made partakers thereof;

47 Nevertheless, I, the Lord, show it by vision unto many, but straightway shut it up again;

48 Wherefore, the end, the width, the height, the depth, and the misery thereof, they understand not, neither any man except those who are ordained unto this condemnation.

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About Jacob

Obsessed with learning new things. Trying to learn and defend truth.

Living in Idaho, graduated in Financial Economics from BYU-Idaho, and getting ready to launch several civic education projects.

I own a website and marketing business called ArcFires. Keep an eye out for my upcoming civic education projects: Liberty Library and the American Center for Civic Training.

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