And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come? Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus, and took him. (Matthew 26:50).

It would be a strange use of the word “friend” if Jesus had meant a dear or close friend in Matthew 26:50. Was His reference to Judas a knowledgeable, sarcastic, ignorant or careless reference? Bible critics have no answer.

There are three kinds of “friends” in the Bible:

1. A close, personal, and trusted friend.

The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children. (Matthew 11:19)

(The false accusation is blasphemous because their charge is that Jesus participates in all these sins with these types. They claim the gluttons, winebibbers, publicans, and sinners are all close and trusted friends of Jesus.)

These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. (John 11:11)

2. Parties of a recent agreement developed by persuasion.

And Herod was highly displeased with them of Tyre and Sidon: but they came with one accord to him, and, having made Blastus the king’s chamberlain their friend, desired peace; because their country was nourished by the king’s country. (Acts 12:20)

(People from Tyre and Sidon in  some way made a “friend” of Blastus, the King’s chamberlain or keeper of the bedroom. This position was one of a very close nature to the king. Blastus would know of all the king’s escapades.)

3. A comradely association such as:

a. An employee/employer contact.

But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? (Matthew 20:13)

b. A “friendship” created by a general invitation extended to both good and bad.

9 Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage.

10 So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests.

11 And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment:

12 And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.

13 Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

14 For many are called, but few are chosen. (Matthew 22:9-14)

As stated above, it would be a strange use of the word “friend” if Jesus had meant a dear or close friend in Matthew 26:50. Jesus could not use “Friend” in the sense of a close and emotional tie with this devil (John 6:70) but He could claim somewhat common and broad association since Judas Iscariot was an apostle.

Was Jesus’ reference to Judas as ”Friend” sarcastic?

This is not spoken in sarcasm. It is no bitter or taunting term. In such a setting of the garden betrayal our Lord is not bitter but in perfect holiness, resigned to the “cup” He gladly and willingly will drink.

The term “Friend” is not used in ignorance or in a careless manner. Knowing all things (read carefully John 18:4; 19:28; 21:12) Jesus used the term to not only impress upon Judas the severity of his betrayal and to heap “coals of fire” upon his head (Romans 12:19-20) but to also mark the lesson for us. Be as kind as possible to even your enemies. You may not be able to claim a close tie with a betrayer but claim as close as you can without being self-righteous. In some cases, enemies may eventually become close friends. We can use the term “friend” when addressing total strangers at a town gathering, or as a term of endearment to those closest to us. Context always determines the meaning.