• Jesus Loves Traitors

Mordechai Vanunu. Gaius Cassius Longinus. Mir Jafar. Guy Fawkes.

Do these names ring a bell? They all have something in common.

What about Judas Iscariot and Benedict Arnold? There's the bell! Yes, everyone listed here ranks among the greatest traitors in history.1

Since the dawn of civilization, people have conspired against people, countries, and even God.

The betrayals we experience on a more personal basis tend not to be matters of national significance, but that doesn't make them less painful. In fact, because of its personal nature, treason needs to be dealt with biblically and in a spirit of love."

You could argue that treason predates human history, beginning with Satan's rebellion against God. Satan, the original traitor, inspired treason in the first two humans in the garden of Eden: Adam and Eve disobeyed God, choosing their will over God's command and betraying their Creator.

Of course, the New Testament introduces us to the greatest traitor in history—Judas Iscariot. Though a disciple of Christ, Judas turned Jesus over to religious leaders for money, betraying Jesus with a kiss. Though God's purposes were in it, the name Judas is forever associated with treason.2

Benedict Arnold was born and bred in Connecticut, but he became the young nation's most infamous turncoat. He began as a member of the American militia and helped the Continental Army when the Revolutionary War began, becoming a trusted leader and soldier. Due to his ability, he was promoted to brigadier general, earning the confidence of General George Washington.

He sounds like the perfect American, right? And yet, he turned. Why?

History.com reveals the reason: "On September 21 of [1780], Arnold met with British Major John Andre and made his traitorous pact, in which the American was to receive a large sum of money and a high position in the British army. However, the conspiracy was uncovered and Andre was captured and killed. Arnold fled to the enemy side and went on to lead British troops in Virginia and Connecticut. He later moved to England, though he never received all of what he'd been promised by the British. The former American hero and patriot died in London, in relative obscurity, on June 14, 1801."3

It appears that Benedict Arnold become a traitor for money, just as Judas did. But there's probably more to the story; some have surmised that he felt he was underappreciated.4 The motive for a traitor's actions range from rebellion to broken relationships to riches, but their reputation remains and resonates through time.

The bottom line is that betrayal hurts; it destroys relationships, trust, and sometimes governments and life itself. Traitors are universally hated, and yet, Jesus loves traitors. He died for them and can redeem them. Traitors often suffer the consequences of their deeds—shame, imprisonment, execution—but Jesus' blood can cover them.

The betrayals we experience on a more personal basis tend not to be matters of national significance, but that doesn't make them less painful. In fact, because of its personal nature, treason needs to be dealt with biblically and in a spirit of love.


The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a traitor as "a person who is not loyal to his or her own country, friends, etc.: a person who betrays a country or group of people by helping or supporting an enemy."5

The word is derived from the Old French word traitour, taken from the Latin tradere, meaning to hand over.6

In the Old Testament, treason is conveyed in a couple different words: qesher (meaning conspiracy) and maal (to act unfaithfully or treacherously). Luke described Judas as prodotés (Greek for a betrayer).


The Bible has a lot to say regarding betrayal and mistrust; various texts give insight and instruction, describing the betrayer, the betrayed, encouragement for right living, and God's staggering forgiveness. Here's a sampling:

  • "So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings" (Genesis 3:6-7).
  • "And [God] said, 'Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?' Then the man said, 'The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.' And the Lord God said to the woman, 'What is this you have done?' The woman said, 'The serpent deceived me, and I ate'" (Genesis 3:11-13).
  • "When Delilah saw that [Samson] had told her all his heart, she sent and called for the lords of the Philistines, saying, 'Come up once more, for he has told me all his heart.' So the lords of the Philistines came up to her and brought the money in their hand" (Judges 16:18).
  • "David went out to meet them, and answered and said to them, 'If you have come peaceably to me to help me, my heart will be united with you; but if to betray me to my enemies, since there is no wrong in my hands, may the God of our fathers look and bring judgment" (1 Chronicles 12:17).
  • "Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, 'What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?' And they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver. So from that time he sought opportunity to betray Him" (Matthew 26:14-16).
  • "And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise" (Luke 6:31).
  • "And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you" (Ephesians 4:32).
  • "If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men" (Romans 12:18).
  • "But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin" (1 John 1:7).


When developing a plan for coping with betraying someone or being betrayed, remember the following acronym: GRACE.

G—Go to God with the betrayal. If you were the betrayer, ask for forgiveness, seeking God's counsel and correction. If you were betrayed, go to God on behalf of the other person. Pray for a repentant and restored heart for both of you.

R—Remember that you have been forgiven and called to forgive. Don't get mired in the memories; you must move on to what God has for you next.

A—Accept that the situation has happened. Learn to turn it over to God's care, seeking reconciliation with the other person. Don't isolate yourself from them or the problem. Deal with it biblically.

C—Consider. Ask yourself, "Did I have a role in the betrayal? Did I do something to cause pain or lose trust?" If so, ask God to give you wisdom in moving toward restoration.

E—Experience—allow, if you will—God's corrective hand working in the situation. Betrayals will happen in life; allow the pain to teach you wisdom and help you grow. Encourage others by your godly example.

Jesus loves traitors. Will you?