There are three Judases in the New Testament that are often confused. Here are my conclusions.
- Judas Thaddaeus. By comparing with Luke we see that “Lebbaeus, who was surnamed Thaddaeus” must be Judas the brother of James. Since there were only two sons of Zebedee, it must mean that he was the brother of James the Less! He was martyred near Beirut in A.D. 72.1
- Judas the Lord’s Brother. He was the “the brother of James” (Jude 1)! This is where the confusion comes in… there were two men who could be called “Jude the brother of James”. It is likely that he was the author of the Epistle of Jude, because he identifies himself with a “James” that was most likely the prominent one, the bother of the Lord. But it is hard to be certain.2
- Judas Iscariot. He was the betrayer, the Son of Perdition. He is identified in John as “Simon’s son” (John 12:4; 13:2). Five Psalms speak prophetically of him; Psalm 35:14; Psa. 41:9; Psalm 55:12-14; Psalm 69:4; and Psalm 109:1-20.3
See the closely related subject of the three Jameses.
There are actually three other Judases in the New Testament that are mentioned only once or twice.
- Judas of Galilee. He came into prominence in Israel in the days of the taxing (Acts 5:37). He led a resistance to the census imposed for Roman tax purposes (Luke 2:1) and gained a large following. He was killed and his followers with him, and the band was broken up. Josephus blamed him partly for the Judaeo-Roman Wars (A.D. 66-70).
- Judas of Damascus. The one with whom Paul lodged after his conversion (Acts 9:11).
- Judas surnamed Barsabas. A ‘prophet’ sent from Jerusalem to Antioch with the decision of Acts 15. He was a “chief man among the brethren” (Acts 15:22, 27, 32).
- References for Judas Thaddaeus. Luke 6:16; Acts 1:13
- References for Judas the Lord’s Brother. Matt. 13:55; Jude 1
- References for Judas Iscariot. Matt. 10:4; Matt. 26:14; Matt. 26:25; Matt. 26:47; Matt. 27:3; Mark 3:19; Mark 14:10; Mark 14:43; Luke 6:16; Luke 22:3; Luke 22:47; Luke 22:48; John 6:71; John 12:4; John 13:2; John 13:26; John 13:29; John 14:22; John 18:2; John 18:3; John 18:5; Acts 1:16; Acts 1:25