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My Take: Is Judas in heaven or hell? God only knows
April 21st, 2011
12:01 AM ET

My Take: Is Judas in heaven or hell? God only knows

Editor's Note: Craig Gross is the pastor and founder of XXXchurch.com. He has written seven books and speaks across the country on a range of topics. He just turned 35 and is no longer a hip 20-something pastor from California.

By Craig Gross, Special to CNN

I heard a news clip promoting my recent speaking engagement at a church, and they mentioned that I deal with some of "the greatest sinners of all time."

I thought to myself: Do I? Would people who are caught up in porn and sexual sin addictions consider themselves some of the greatest sinners of all time? Probably not.

Without a doubt, Judas, the biblical disciple of Jesus, is considered the greatest sinner of all time because of what he did to Jesus.

Here is the passage from Luke 22:21-22.

Do you realize that the hand of the one who is betraying me is at this moment on this table? It's true that the Son of Man is going down a path already marked out.

No surprises there. But for the one who turns him in - who turns traitor to the Son of Man - this is doomsday.

Let me tell you a little bit about what the Bible says about Judas:

He was personally chosen to be an apostle by Jesus.

He spent 3 1/2 years traveling with Jesus.

He saw all the miracles of Christ in person.

He watched as Christ healed the sick, raised the dead and cast out demons.

In terms of experience with Jesus, whatever you can say about Peter, James and John, you can say about Judas.

On top of all this, he handled the money, which is most of the time the most trusted one in the bunch. No one suspected that Judas would betray Jesus, which tells me he was a believer.

His life was changed.

He knew Jesus personally.

In a dark moment of his life, he made a mistake. A big one. He sold Jesus out for 30 silver coins or so. The moment he knew what he had done, he felt remorse, and he killed himself.

I am not here to debate theology. The facts are the facts. I don't think Judas was “The Mole,” like the reality show character who's there to sabotage the game from the beginning. I think he made a mistake and now has gone down as committing the biggest sin of all time.

Judas heard every message, saw every miracle, and still screwed up.

Recently, I asked on my Facebook page: "Is Judas in heaven or hell?"

The first response was:

Judas is in hell today. He has been there for 2,000 years and he will be there forever.

There is a button on Facebook that I have started to love. It is called “unfriend.” I won't unfriend you because you believe differently than I do, I just don’t need more theologians as my friends on Facebook who speak with such confidence when it comes to someone's place in eternity.

A debate continues on my Facebook wall. I love how everyone is so convinced they know whether Judas is in heaven or hell.

I don't know who gets in, actually. Do I believe in heaven and hell? Yes. I believe one is dark and one is light, and they both last forever.

Belief Blog: What if there is no hell?

What is interesting to me is that in the upper room where Jesus and his disciples shared their last supper together, the 12 disciples all talked about how they were so great. Peter left the room and denied Jesus three times.  Judas left the room and sold Jesus out for 30 coins.

One committed suicide, and one went on to build the church as we know it today. Both Peter and Judas committed the same sin. They both denied Jesus. But why do most people think one goes to heaven and one goes to hell?

This is not the debate Christians need to be engaged in. We don’t know. Instead of wasting our time on these types of arguments inside our little Christian world, maybe we should look inside ourselves this Easter.

It is easier to debate these issues and make speculations about others than it is to actually look at ourselves in the mirror. It is always easier to think someone else is worse off then we are.

But maybe as we approach Easter, we can be reminded that for Christians, the cross and the grave should silence all of these debates. We all fall short and deserve death, but because of what Jesus did on the cross 2,000 years ago, we are able to have life. And I believe that where you end up, God only knows.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Church • Opinion

soundoff (2,323 Responses)
  1. Deliverance

    Don't you know...he has been reincarnated and is a a sell out liberal and is still anti-Christ and in the White House under the name of Oabama.
    Seriously, Judas at one time loved Jesus and fell victim to the lust and lure of money as so many do even now today but he could still be forgiven and when he regretted his mistake so badly that he hung himself he very likely was forgiven by God. If Ted Bundy can be forgiven and now in heaven i'm sure Judas could have been too. The one confusing issue is..if Jesus' dying was a plan orchestrated by God then someone had to betray Jesus to put the plan in motion and if this is the case he may have felt a big pressure beyond his own understanding to betray the Lord and this is probably what drove him to commit suicide later.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:09 am |
  2. KidCanada

    Joseph was said to be betrayed for only 20 pieces of silver, they didn't even get original!

    April 21, 2011 at 11:09 am |
  3. VitruviannMan

    So I wake up, wash my face, turn on my computer and decide to take my chances at checking the news, hoping there will something worthy of reading... and BAMMM! CNN top news has some weird batsh/t story about whether some dude went to one fantasy land or another. PLEASE HAVE THE DECENCY TO PUT THIS CRAP WHERE IT BELONGS. In the religion aisle, behind the fantasy section, next to fiction.

    Oh my beloved Jefferson, how wise were your words, how dearly I miss the likes of you in this day and age.
    "The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers." -TJ

    April 21, 2011 at 11:09 am |
  4. P

    Also, the recently discovered "Gospel of Judas" paints Judas in a very different light: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_of_Judas

    April 21, 2011 at 11:08 am |
  5. JustPlainJoe

    Another example of "How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?"

    Irrelevant and immaterial in anything but a metaphor.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:08 am |
  6. Blaine

    Does this reflect the level of education in this country? This question is like asking if the unicorns living on the moon are a single color look like zebras.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:08 am |
    • Rich

      everyone knows the unicorns are both pink and invisible.

      go ahead, prove me wrong. 😀

      April 21, 2011 at 11:35 am |
  7. P

    Jesus told Peter that he would deny him 3 times before morning. Jesus = God. God can't be wrong – right? Peter was therefore predestined to deny Jesus.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:07 am |
  8. Ike

    Tiff, Judas wasn't forced into doing what he did. He did what he did out of greed, which fit into God's plan. Fate had nothing to do with this, it was Judas own weakness. Judas was just a part of the plan. Ultimately the prideful and jealous Jewish leaders that plotted the death of Jesus also used Judas to get wwhat they wanted and the blame for thier death is laid at their feet.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:07 am |
  9. Tim

    Well, let's look at this. God is omniscient. As such, he knew before Judas was even born, that he would someday betray him and bring about his death. So, the very fact that he approached Judas in the first place to become a disciple would seem to me to be somewhat like entrapment, which doesn't seem all that fair to me.

    That being said, in order for Christ to have died and wash away sin, SOMEONE would have had to have betrayed him. To think of that as the worst sin ever seems to draw the short straw – if Judas had not commited this sin, we would not have salvation, forgiveness, or Christianity in general. Perhaps Judas' sin of betrayal was washed away with all the other sins of man when the lamb was slain. Just something to think about..

    April 21, 2011 at 11:07 am |
    • something

      Obviously God knew that Judas would betray Christ. And it Judas obviously had proved himself worthy to act as a special witness of Jesus Christ, or Christ would not have chosen Him. But again, even though God knew that Judas would betray Christ does not mean that God FORCED him to do so. He would never force us to do anything. If Judas was chosen to be an apostle it was not entrapment. Judas was capable of not betraying Christ, but did so. Again, just because God is all knowing and can see what choices we will make, does not mean that He makes those choices for us.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:30 am |
  10. something

    Christ himself taught that we must not judge. He taught that we will not make the final judgment call, but He will. But that being said, in Matthew 26:24 Christ said of Judas "it had been good for that man if he had never been born".

    April 21, 2011 at 11:06 am |
  11. Gayle Tiensvold

    Judas and Christ both knew that Judas was to turn him in it was pre planed and Judas was the only one Christ cauld trust to do it . Juda is in Heaven

    April 21, 2011 at 11:06 am |
  12. David Johnson

    Christians claim their god is Omnipotent, Omnibenevolent, and Omniscient.

    Omniscience means god knows the past, the present and the future.

    If God knows the future (omniscient), that means that the future is predictable and unchangeable. This, in turn, means that our actions are predetermined. If god is all knowing, free will is an illusion.

    This also binds god, in that He knows what he will do in the future, and He must do it.

    Let's look at Jesus and his predictions that Judas would betray him and Peter would deny him.
    Those were future events. Do you think Judas could have used his free will to opt out? Not, if Jesus/God was omniscient and was actually seeing a future event. Same goes for Peter.

    The actions of Peter and Judas were predetermined. They had no choice.

    Biblical prophecy would not be possible, unless events and human actions were predetermined and there is no free will.

    Judas only played the part that was written for him in the drama. He had no choice.

    "this man [Christ Jesus] delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God" (Acts 2:23a NASB).

    But the point is moot. There is no heaven or hell for poor Judas to report to.

    Cheers!

    April 21, 2011 at 11:06 am |
    • something

      Just because God is all knowing, that does not mean that we have predetermined actions. Just because He can see what choices we are to make does not mean He makes them for us. That is very easy to understand. Just because a father of a child can see that his actions will lead him down an undesired path does not mean that the father is controlling those actions.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:09 am |
    • Jason Crouch

      Christians don't claim that God is omnibenevolent. This is a term that atheists like to toss around when asking why God would choose to punish anyone. God is just, but this doesn't translate into being all-benevolent. Omnipresence is the other characteristic you were looking for.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:14 am |
    • Rich

      Please explain, in as many ways as you can think of, how infinite damnation can ever be just for any and all the sins one can commit in a finite lifetime.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:33 am |
  13. sowgoodseeds

    I agree with the pastor who wrote this article. I tend to stear clear of anyone who claims to "know" beyond a shadow of a doubt, where certain people will spend eternity. The ones who claim to be certain, are the ones who seem the most misguided to me.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:05 am |
  14. jim

    This is as silly as discussing whether or not Scrooge McDuck still has all his money! Remember, people, not everything that is written is true.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • Blaine

      Exactly! They're characters in a story. BTW, when Socrates drank the hemlock, did he cross the river styx after dying?

      April 21, 2011 at 11:15 am |
  15. Trick question

    This is a trick question right????..cause niether places actually exisits other then in the minds of weak and stupid people

    April 21, 2011 at 11:04 am |
  16. redeemed sinner

    There is little I know. But I know the Bible is trustworthy and true. John 17:12 tells us of the destiny of Judas. Matt 26:14-16 and John 12:4-6 plus 13:2 give us some understanding of why.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:04 am |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      Hello,

      most Gemans believe, the USA is a christian nation. I think, we make a mistake. Are you one of a dozen americans, who believes and knows the Scripture? I love you in Christ.

      Kind regards,
      Rainer
      http://www.confessingchurch.wordpress.com

      April 21, 2011 at 11:09 am |
    • MShade

      John 17:12 refers to those who are obedient (John 17:6). Anyone who does not obey ( i.e. forgiveness, repentance, and redemption because we are all sinners), is still of the world. It's a matter of choice, and we can choose His protection while we are in the world – or not.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:14 am |
  17. Rich

    @raf "I KNEW there was no God I would be robbing a bank in an effort to live the high life before I came to an end in the ground" so you need god to have morals? to obey the laws of society? to respect other people and have human dignity?

    I'm an atheist, and I obey the laws. I have a moral code. I don't need the fear of some spaceman's eternal damnation for a lifetime of sins (which is very unjust, by the way). I can be good all by myself.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:03 am |
    • Joe

      Good. You are correct. There IS an "eternal spaceman" as you put it, but there is no eternal damnation for a lifetime of sins because that WOULD be very unjust. This concept was invented by man, to make others OBEY. I think that turns off a lot of people and could drive some to atheism.
      The "eternal spaceman" does NOT judge you.
      Judgment only comes from other people.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:09 am |
    • Bruce

      You can only be good all by yourself if none of your nature comes by God in which case there is no good.

      It 's a gross fallacy to use your own life as "evidence" against the need for God, and Him as the source of goodness, since your very nature and understanding of good and evil comes from Him.

      If you believe otherwise, try and explain how simple particles produce consciousness without invoking the fairy called emergent properties.

      Try and explain why, if we're here through strictly natural means, why we can be anything other than we are, can actually choose freely, and why there is any difference, in terms of goodness, between accidentally being an atheist vs. religious? You can't do it using reason.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:18 am |
    • Rich

      @Joe go to the next step. if man created the concept of heaven and hell, who created the concept of god? (hint: it's man).

      @bruce my understanding of good and evil came from my parents and from thinking for myself. I didn't "accidentally" choose to become an atheist, it emerged from me over time with education. beyond that, your questions are so obtuse as to make them unanswerable.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:27 am |
    • Bruce

      If by obtuse, you mean beyond your capacity to understand what is commonly known and debated, then be humble enough to say so or refrain from commenting.

      Overall, the reasoning involved is not that challenging. It's clear you're education in these areas is limited. If it's important to you, I recommend reading C.S. Lewis's Mere Christianity and Christopher Hitchens, to understand various perspectives. This presumes in interest in learning and reasoning.

      Anyway, to say it simply, if all we consist of is particles governed by the laws of physics, then we cannot be anything other than we are, and the idea of choosing is illusory. Without freedom, and objective morality, there is no good or evil. In such an environment, chance determines how we've become what we have. Therefore, there is no moral context for being either atheist or religious. Both are compulsory and transitory for specific individuals.

      Finally, simple particles cannot produce consciousness. You have an immaterial mind, e.g. soul. Therefore, it is impossible for you to argue as a simple, material, natural, being. That is good news whether you realize it or not.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:39 am |
    • Rich

      Ah, I think I see your meaning now. If we're just a collection of atoms, how do we have thoughts, does that about sum it up?

      a few billion years of organic evolution, combined with several thousand years of societal evolution.

      certain ideas have a survival value; don't kill other people, for example. If it were ok for me to kill anyone else, it would likewise be ok for anyone else to kill me. Being killed does not help my chances of survival. I tentatively agree not to kill others without reason, and others make the same social agreement. If we break the agreement, we are punished by the authoritative body (government).

      Simple particles DO produce consciousness. We are, after all, just made of complex cells which are made up of atoms of "stuff". The beauty of life is not in the atoms or molecules of which we are made; it is in the arrangement of those molecules.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
  18. Gnosis

    Faith is subjective, so there is no right answer...but eventually we'll all find out the answer.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:03 am |
  19. Ike

    Dmoney, If you look at this life as the only life, then Jesus suffering looks pretty awful and it was, but it was just a step to another life. Everyone must sacrifice something to get something else. Jesus sacrifice was a reflection of the sad state of mankind. Mother's place themselves between a bullet and thier children out of love. Jesus placed himself between sin and mankind for the same reason. Jesus might have died, but he rose again and lives in heaven. This isn't an unhappy ending for Jesus and hopefully not for us.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:03 am |
  20. Tiff

    This is a stupid article. If Jesus was destined to die this way, why fault Judas? Jesus knew his path. Wasn't Judas compelled by fate to do this? His act lead to Jesus becoming the World Savior. If Judas is in hell, that would be a dirty, dirty trick.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:03 am |
    • Bill

      How dare you bring logic into this 😉

      April 21, 2011 at 11:09 am |
    • Jason Crouch

      God did know that Judas would betray Jesus, but that doesn't absolve Judas of responsibility. It's not a dirty trick at all. We are responsible for our actions, and so was Judas. This is just.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:16 am |
    • Terry

      I don't agree that it was a stupid article. I found it interesting. But I totally agree that Judas did exactly what he was destined to do, bring about the death and resurrection of Jesus. How, as you said, could there be any fault there? According to the Bible Jesus knew from the beginning everything that was supposed to happen to him. Maybe not in all the detail, but in the final outcome. Judas was the instrument, used by God (if one wants to believe that God would want his son killed in the first place, but that's another argument). So as the instrument there should be no blame. Sorrow yes.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:19 am |
    • Mike

      I believe the Bible teaches there is no 'destiny' in the sense you use it... God gives us all freedom to make choices. And we all (just like Judas) fail to make the best choices. We can't blame God for forcing our 'destiny', only our own choices and the choices of others which impact us.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:30 am |
    • chris

      Your statement presupposes that Judas did not have free will. This is not Christian teaching.

      April 21, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.