Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.” He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the twelve, was going to betray him.” (John 6:70-71).
The Lord’s sovereignty is a predominant theme within the beginning and middle of John 6. The subject also frames the conclusion of the chapter. Jesus teaches the twelve, including Judas, that He and the Father are in complete control of all the circumstances not only surrounding the sinner’s salvation but also of the means of which that salvation is secured.
Jesus poses His own rhetorical question to the twelve in response to what was spoken to Him by Peter, the leader of the twelve. “Did I not choose you?” Obviously, He did! We have seen the selection to follow Him occur in John 1. But Jesus did more than just select them to be His human followers. He chose them to be divinely saved souls unto eternity (John 6:37, 44. 65). Not even a whimper of human pretension or the sinner’s self-exaltation is acceptable in light of God’s sovereign election.
Then Jesus clearly indicates He knows who the traitor among them is. While He does not come out and say it, although John inserts his divinely inspired editorial comment after the fact, Jesus clearly knows the circumstances of betrayal which He will face and who will be responsible for it. This is another example of His omniscience (cf. 1:47; 2:24–25; 6:15, 61). Judas Iscariot will betray Him.
Iscariot means “man of Kerioth.” This is a name of a village in Judah. Judas will soon be designated by another name or title: traitor.
The word “devil” (διάβολος; diabolos), from which we derive our English word diabolical, means a slanderer or a wicked person. One commentator explains that, “Satan’s working in Judas was tantamount to Judas being the devil. In 6:70 the Greek does not have the indefinite article “a,” so it could be translated “one of you is Satan (devil).” See Mark 8:33; Luke 22:1-3; John 13:2, 27; 17:12.
Dr. John MacArthur explains that, “The word “devil” means “slanderer” or “false accuser.” The idea perhaps is better rendered “one of you is the devil.” This meaning is clear from 13:2, 27; Mark 8:33; Luke 22:3. The supreme adversary of God so operates behind failing human beings that his malice becomes theirs (cf. Matt. 16:23). Jesus supernaturally knew the source and identified it precisely. This clearly fixes the character of Judas, not as a well intentioned but misguided man trying to force Jesus to exert his power and set up his kingdom (as some suggest), but as a tool of Satan doing unmitigated wickedness (see notes on John 13:21–30).”
Another commentator states, “Later in the Upper Room, Jesus again said one of the Twelve would betray Him (13:21). John called Judas “the traitor” (18:5). The disciples later could reflect on this prophecy of His and be strengthened in their faith. Judas was a tragic figure, influenced by Satan; yet he was responsible for his own evil choices.”
As we will see in John 10, Jesus was in full control of His circumstances. He would not be surprised by anything which occurred in the events leading up to, during, and following His crucifixion.
I would encourage you re-read John and meditate upon the doctrine of the Father’s sovereign choice for you to be His gift to the Son. What a wonderful present by the Father in giving us to His Son and giving up His Son for us.
Soli deo Gloria!