According to the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, Judas identifies Jesus with a kiss (cf. Matt 26:48-49; Mk 14:44-45). This gesture may seem inappropriate given the circumstances—kisses are usually expressions of love rather than betrayal—however, Judas’s kiss underscores Jesus’ role as the King of the Jews and portends his upcoming battle against sin at Golgotha.

When Judas arrives at Gethsemane, he tells the accompanying crowd, “The one I will kiss (φιλήσω; philéso) is he; seize him” (Matt 26:48). Then, Judas “kissed him” (κατεφίλησεν αὐτόν; katephílesen autón 26:49). The Greek word for “to kiss” (φιλέω; philéo) also means “to love,” so it’s ironic that Judas chooses this gesture to mark his disloyalty to Jesus. Luke flags this irony when Yeshua asks, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss (φιλήματι; philémati)?” (Lk 22:48). While, in one sense, the betrayer’s behavior appears out of place, it is also appropriate insofar as the kiss recalls one of the rituals of royal coronation and foreshadows the references to Jesus as “King of the Jews” before his crucifixion.

When Samuel installs Saul as king of Israel, “Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on [Saul’s] head and kissed him (ἐφίλησεν αὐτὸν; epílesen autòn) and said, ‘Has not the Lord anointed you to be prince over his people Israel?’” (1 Sam 10:1 LXX). In the context of Israel’s Scriptures, Samuel kisses Saul in an anointing ceremony, so it is fitting for Yeshua the “Messiah” (משׁיח; mashiach)—literally, the “Anointed One”—to receive a kiss from Judas. Samuel goes on to tell Saul, “You shall reign over the people of the Lord and you will save (σώσεις; sóseis) them from the hand of their surrounding enemies” (1 Sam 10:1). Just as Samuel kisses Saul to inaugurate his job to save his people from their enemies, Judas kisses Jesus before he goes to the cross to “save (σώσει; sósei) his people from their sins” (Matt 1:21). In recapitulating Samuel’s act toward Saul, Judas’s kiss highlights Jesus’ kingship and precedes the messianic mission of salvation.

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56 COMMENTS

  1. Dear Dr Nicholas J. Schaser! Thank you very much for being in His Service. Judas has no eligibility to anoint Our Lord. Warm Regards
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  2. Judas was a sour Pharisee? a man of the land without land? imagine betraying the Son of God with a kiss? how Judas did forfeit his place in the Kingdom to come ... relinquishing any claim to eternal life & with his paltry silver, he purchased a temporal acreage; signifying his desire to found an earthly inheritance, rather than a heavenly ... no greater bitter betrayal than this, after Jesus' suffering in the Garden, yet how did this play out in terms of Destiny of Judas? yet, Judas did not seem to have a conscience about his actions, until afterwards when he died over his own newly purchased land ... yes, this is the highest first of Deceptions, the betrayal of self towards your Saviour Messiah; Jesus, Son of God ... do not betray yourself before your Saviour, by a show of pretense, 'secretly' coveting a plan for an earthly inheritance or glories of this world... kissing between men, is first of natural affection between brothers, also of honour & acknowledging the dignity of person (in Holy recognition; not of ego idolatry) the third is the most interesting as a kiss can signify I beseeching for forgiveness.
  3. Kind of reminds me of the Chicago mafia rituals. A kiss on the mouth meant you were going to be killed. A kiss on the cheek meant you were an equal.Kissing a mobster on the hand was a sign of being subservient to please or keep the boss happy. So which one of the 3 methods was used to kiss Jesus? He most likely did or had loved Jesus as a brother & respected Jesus proior to this. I imagine the kiss was meant to show this to Jesus as well as a signal .Some say it was done out of pride. Jesus even says to Judas "Do you betray the son of man with a kiss?" before He was turned over to the chief priests,etc.Zechariah 11:12,13 prophsies of Jesus' betrayal.Jesus knew what Judas was going to do. We have to remember somebody had to do the dirty deed to fulfill prophecy.Was Judas the weakest link so to speak to carry out the mission? Satan entered him & Jesus tells him to do what he has to do quickly. After the deed was done,Judas killed himself. He could have repented but perhaps thoughts of repurcussions that he might face,the shame & horror as to what he had done, was too great for him to bear If you compare this to Peter, he cut off a man's ear to defend Jesus .Peter also was scoffing that he would deny Christ 3 times.Peter at least repented and went on to serve our Lord.
    • comparing Judas and Peter, Peter repented fast and Judas unable to repent due to his aim on collecting worldly money which it shut ed mind to rethink or repent later, my opinion.
  4. Judas understood that Jesus was aware of his treacherous deed yet he still pretended to veil his intention before the disciples and those witnessing the encounter .
  5. thanks for this article but my my question is if it's samuel that anointed saul and a kiss to him. Judas did not annoit to Jesus then why should we take his kissing of jesus to be as of samuel to king saul enlighten me on that pls
    • Thanks for your question. God anoints Jesus with the Holy Spirit at his baptism, so there's no need for Judas to anoint Jesus in Gethsemane. Judas's kiss is an ironic echo of Samuel's kiss, which shows that even though Judas's kiss was an act of betrayal, it also hinted at Jesus' kingship.
  6. your revelation of the word is always amazing. Thank you for making the scriptures interesting and worth being re-read.
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