(Acts 1:16, 20) Doesn’t this passage imply fatalism?

CLAIM: Peter said, “the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit foretold by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus” (Acts 1:16). Later, he quotes Psalm 69:26 and 109:8 to support this. If Judas’ decision to betray Christ was predicted in the OT, then doesn’t this eliminate his freewill?

RESPONSE: As we have argued elsewhere, Judas’ decision to betray Christ was not fatalistic. Additionally, we might point out that Peter’s citations from Psalm 69 and 109 do not point toward fatalism.

Both of these psalms are imprecatory psalms of David. John 15:25 quoted verse 4 (“Those who hate me without a cause”). John 2:17 cites verse 9 (“Zeal for Your house has consumed me”). Romans 15:3 cites verse 9 (“the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me”). Matthew 27:34, 48 cites verse 21 (“They also gave me gall for my food and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink”). Romans 11:9-10 cites verses 22 and 23. Why did the NT authors cite this passage so much?

According to this superscription, David is the author of these two psalms. The NT authors cite this passage, because David is a type (or foreshadowing) of Christ. Since David was God’s anointed one, the events that happened to David are seen as prefiguring what would happen to Christ. Just as David (God’s anointed one) was persecuted in the OT, Jesus (God’s ultimate anointed one) was also persecuted in the NT. Just as David’s enemies were judged, so were Jesus’ in this fuller fulfillment.

When you read the context, they speak of multiple false friends and enemies of God’s anointed. Verse 4 states, “Those who hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of my head; those who would destroy me are powerful, being wrongfully my enemies.” Verse 22 states, “May their table before them become a snare.” Thus God’s wrath comes down on anyone who betrays his anointed. Since Judas betrayed Jesus, he fits the description of one who should be under the wrath of God. For more on this topic, see comments on John 13:18.