on Matthew 26 :24
The Son of man goeth - That is, is about to die. Going, going away, departing, etc., are frequently used in the best Greek and Latin writers, for death, or dying. The same words are often used in the Scriptures in the same sense.
It had been good for that man - Can this be said of any sinner, in the common sense in which it is understood, if there be any redemption from hell's torments? If a sinner should suffer millions of millions of years in them, and get out at last to the enjoyment of heaven, then it was well for him that he had been born, for still he has an eternity of blessedness before him. Can the doctrine of the non-eternity of hell's torments stand in the presence of this saying? Or can the doctrine of the annihilation of the wicked consist with this declaration? It would have been well for that man if he had never been born! Then he must be in some state of conscious existence, as non-existence is said to be better than that state in which he is now found. It was common for the Jews to say of any flagrant transgressor, It would have been better for him had he never been born. See several examples in Schoettgen. See the case of Judas argued at the end of Acts 1 (note).
on Matthew 26 :24
The Son of man, goeth - That is, the Messiah - the Christ. See the notes at Matthew 8:20.
Goeth - Dies, or will die. The Hebrews often spoke in this manner of death, Psalm 39:13; Genesis 15:2.
As it is written of him - That is, as it is "written" or prophesied of him in the Old Testament. Compare Psalm 41:9 with John 13:18. See also Daniel 9:26-27; Isaiah 53:4-9. Luke Luk 22:22 says, "as it was determined." In the Greek, as it was "marked out by a boundary" - that is, in the divine purpose. It was the previous intention of God to give him up to die for sin, or it could not have been certainly predicted. It is also declared to have been by his "determinate counsel and foreknowledge." See the notes at Acts 2:23.
Woe unto that man ... - The crime is great and awful, and he will be punished accordingly. He states the greatness of his misery or "woe" in the phrase following.
It had been good ... - That is, it would have been better for him if he had not been born; or it would be better now for him if he was to be as "if" he had not been born, or if he was annihilated. This was a proverbial mode of speaking among the Jews in frequent use. In relation to Judas, it proves the following things:
1. that the crime which he was about to commit was exceedingly great;
2. that the misery or punishment due to it would certainly come upon him;
3. that he would certainly deserve that misery, or it would not have been threatened or inflicted; and,
4. that his punishment would be eternal.
If there should be any period when the sufferings of Judas should end, and he be restored and raised to heaven, the blessings of that "happiness without end" would infinitely overbalance all the sufferings he could endure in a limited time, and consequently it would not be true that it would have been better for him not to have been born. Existence, to him, would, on the whole, be an infinite blessing. This passage proves further that, in relation to one wicked man, the sufferings of hell will be eternal. If of one, then it is equally certain and proper that all the wicked will perish forever.
If it be asked how this crime of Judas could be so great, or could be a crime at all, when it was determined beforehand that the Saviour should be betrayed and die in this manner, it may be answered:
1. That the crime was what it was "in itself," apart from any determination of God. It was a violation of all the duties he owed to God and to the Lord Jesus - awful ingratitude, detestable covetousness, and most base treachery. As such it deserved to be punished.
2. The previous purpose of God did not force Judas to do this. In it he acted freely. He did just what his wicked heart prompted him to do.
3. A previous knowledge of a thing, or a previous purpose to permit a thing, does not alter its "nature," or cause it to be a different thing from what it is.
on Matthew 26 :24
26:24 The Son of man goeth through sufferings to glory, as it is written of him - Yet this is no excuse for him that betrayeth him: miserable will that man be: it had been good for that man if he had not been born - May not the same be said of every man that finally perishes? But who can reconcile this, if it were true of Judas alone, with the doctrine of universal salvation?