Betrayal in the Bible is part of the scripture’s narrative along with the painful consequences that often follow. By studying stories of betrayal in the Bible we can find healing from betrayal in our own lives.
Betrayal is a painful reality to grasp and is never sought, desired, or welcomed whether in Bible times or today. But betrayal happens to everyone. We have been betrayed or betrayed someone ourselves.
Some betrayal is intentional and other times it is an accidental consequence of emotional or spiritual brokenness. Betrayal in the Bible covers both types.
Unfortunately, I have been on both sides of betrayal and have suffered from the pain associated with broken trust.
I consider myself a loyal person, but have made mistakes and hurt others along the way. The ability to recognize our own flaws helps us find healing from betrayal and offer forgiveness.
After a betrayal, on the surface, it may appear we are fine but we can carry deep sorrow in our hearts for a long time.
God is in the business of healing hearts and restoring lives. There is not a betrayal that He can’t heal with unconditional love and infinite trust.
In order to move out of the depths of pain, we need to decide to trust God to heal us and be willing to let ourselves and/or our betrayer be free from the offense.
“Lord, have mercy on us. We have put our hope in you. Protect us day by day and save us in times of trouble.” Isaiah 33:2 GNT
What is Betrayal?
Whether discussing betrayal in the Bible or in our own lives, trust is the foundation of relationships and betrayal is a violation of trust.
The more we trust someone, the harder it is to process and find healing from betrayal.
- Betrayal is one of the most difficult things to get over.
- Betrayal is disruptive and leaves sorrow in its wake.
- Betrayal comes in all shapes and sizes.
There are huge betrayals that are extremely painful and impact every part of us. But we often face subtle, disguised betrayals that are just as painful and erode our trust in people.
To read about betrayal in the Bible is one thing, but to experience a violation of trust firsthand crushes our spirit.
But our relationship with God brings peace and joy back to our spirit. When our identity is planted in Christ, He draws us back to His love and acceptance.
“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart! And the peace I give isn’t fragile like the peace the world gives. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” John 14:27 TLB
What is Betrayal in a Relationship?
The more time and love we share with someone the stronger the cord that connects and unites us.
Of course, betrayal in a relationship happens between acquaintances, but the most grievous betrayal is in our closest relationships; our spouses, family, and good friends.
At times betrayal in a relationship is hard to detect. We may not know about a betrayal or we may not want to face the reality of a betrayal.
In order to find healing from betrayal, we need to acknowledge that we have been betrayed.
If you are feeling disconnected, judged, or discouraged in a close relationship it may be a form of betrayal. Our relationships are meant to strengthen and complement us not make us feel rejected and insignificant.
Denying a betrayal causes continued pain and suffering. We also prevent ourselves from living out our full potential in Christ.
Jesus, the son of God, was betrayed. It would be naïve to think betrayal isn’t going to barge into our relationships at some point.
“Everyone marveled, trying to process what they had just witnessed. Jesus then turned to his disciples and said, “Listen carefully and let these words sink into your hearts. The Son of Man is about to be betrayed and surrendered to the authority of men.” Luke 9:44 TPT
Examples of Betrayal in the Bible
There are many examples of betrayal in the Bible because human failure and broken trust cross all generations.
Most of the influential Bible characters were betrayed or betrayed by others; Noah, Moses, Joseph, David, John the Baptist, Peter, and most tragically Jesus.
Not that others’ betrayal removes our own sting but reading about betrayal in the Bible, teaches us how to be overcomers on the other side of pain.
The story of Joseph in the Old Testament and Jesus in the New Testament carry tales of betrayal in the Bible but also courageous healing and completion in purpose.
Joseph is an example of betrayal in the Bible.
Joseph is an example of betrayal in the Bible because he repeatedly experienced broken trust. Joseph was betrayed by his brothers, Potiphar’s wife, and the Pharaoh’s chief cup holder.
He could have stayed bitter and wandered off track. But Joseph repeatedly forgave others and moved forward in his purpose. God granted him favor and an overwhelming degree of success in his life.
“So, when Joseph arrived, his brothers ripped off the beautiful robe he was wearing. Then they grabbed him and threw him into the cistern.” Genesis 37:23-24 NLT
“So, when the Ishmaelites, who were Midianite traders, came by, Joseph’s brothers pulled him out of the cistern and sold him to them for twenty pieces of silver. And the traders took him to Egypt.” Genesis 37:28 NLT
“She kept the cloak with her until her husband came home. Then she told him her story. “That Hebrew slave you’ve brought into our house tried to come in and fool around with me,” she said. “But when I screamed, he ran outside, leaving his cloak with me!” Genesis 39:16-18 NLT
“Pharaoh’s chief cup-bearer, however, forgot all about Joseph, never giving him another thought.” Genesis 40:23 NLT
Jesus is an example of betrayal in the Bible.
Jesus is an example of the greatest betrayal in the Bible and of all time. He willingly endured the most severe consequences of betrayal; His death.
- Jesus knew in advance He would be betrayed.
“After they gathered again in Galilee, Jesus told them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of his enemies.” Matthew 17:22 NLT
- Jesus was betrayed by one of His closest friends in front of a crowd.
“And even as Jesus said this, Judas, one of the twelve disciples, arrived with a crowd of men armed with swords and clubs. They had been sent by the leading priests and elders of the people.” Matthew 26:47 NLT
- Jesus knew God His Father needed His betrayal to happen in order to save us.
“But God knew what would happen, and his prearranged plan was carried out when Jesus was betrayed. With the help of lawless Gentiles, you nailed him to a cross and killed him.” Acts 2:23 NLT
“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 NLT
“If we have been betrayed by someone close to us—and eventually we all will—our first response should be to cry out to Jesus who loves us, pursues us, and intimately understands the reality of that betrayal.”
Dr. Drew Randle, Professor of Christian Ministry at Bryan College.
Healing from Betrayal
Healing from betrayal is a difficult journey. When we experience betrayal, it seems in order to process the hurt and disbelief we go over the situation many times in our thoughts and to others.
Broken trust is so hurtful that we can become stuck in our faith and in our life if we are not intentional in healing from betrayal.
Betrayal hovers over our emotions threatening to consume our identity. But when our identity is in Christ, we have a great defender. Jesus guides us to His great love and restores our confidence in who we are.
People don’t complete or define us. Only Jesus has the ability and desire to do that.
4 Tips to Help Find Healing from Betrayal
#1 Healing from betrayal takes time.
The passage of time can numb the pain and change our perspective, but complete healing from betrayal requires action; seeking God’s will, a close friend’s advice, and sometimes outside counsel too.
#2 Healing from betrayal does not mean the relationship is restored.
Once we acknowledge a big betrayal or small repeated betrayals it is time to examine the relationship. We must determine what is feeding the cycle of broken trust.
#3 Healing from betrayal requires a realization that we did not cause the betrayal.
Whoever betrayed us is responsible for the act of betrayal. Regardless of what behavior or event preceded the broken trust, it is still the responsibility of the person who betrays. This is a liberating truth that is instrumental in finding healing from betrayal.
#4 Healing from betrayal is possible when we trust God with our sorrow and lean on Him to fill our vacant spaces.
After we are betrayed, it can be hard to trust again, but Jesus will never betray our trust or leave us. Since we are broken humans, we can not guarantee that we will be 100% trustworthy and loyal.
We sometimes hurt others unintentionally but that does not take away their hurt or feelings of betrayal. Relying on God’s faithfulness instead of others’ brokenness helps us heal and walk in grace.
Social worker Kristin Meekhof describes the importance of healing from betrayal,
“Betrayal requires an integrative approach to healing because it impacts emotional, spiritual, and physical dimensions of one’s life.”
Prayer for Healing from Betrayal
If you are stuck in the fallout of a betrayal, it takes courage to name the struggle and seek to move on.
It helps to call out to God in prayer and talk to a close friend or mentor.
At times we do not have the opportunity to address the betrayer or our hurt and disappointment with anyone other than God. Jesus promises to bring healing regardless of the size or scope of our struggle.
Here is a prayer for healing from betrayal that I have used.
I am hurting because (fill in the name) has broken my trust. The pain is crushing and makes me feel disappointed, responsible, unloved, and/or angry (fill in your feelings). I can’t control what other people do or say but I can find healing from betrayal in your presence.
Walk beside me as I process, grieve and forgive.
Please heal my wounds (fill in your specific emotional or physical wounds) and lead me to new paths of recovery and hope so that I may trust again. Amen”
“Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29 NLT
My prayer is that through learning the stories of betrayal in the Bible and understanding the complexity of betrayal, you can find healing from betrayal and continue on the mission God has uniquely prepared for you!