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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. YOU

    IT WAS NECESSARY FOR THESE EVENTS TO TAKE PLACE, JUDAS HAD TO BE THE SACRIFICIAL LAMB... WITHOUT HIS ACTIONS YOUR SINS WOULD NOT BE FORGIVEN

    April 21, 2011 at 11:13 am |
    • Sarah

      You mean Jesus was the sacrificial lamb, not Judas.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:32 am |
  2. mb2010a

    "Without a doubt, Judas, the biblical disciple of Jesus, is considered the greatest sinner of all time because of what he did to Jesus." I disagree...the greatest sin of all happened with Adam and Eve. It's call the Original Sin. They condemned us all to a life of sin after that one. I don't believe in Hell, so Judas was forgiven and is in Heaven or whatever. Meh.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:13 am |
    • Rex Lutherin

      Takes a woman to screw it all up for the rest of mankind. Besides the invention of the poodle, creating Woman was God's biggest mistake.

      April 21, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
  3. Richard

    did anyone pay any attention to my notes? You all ignore me just like Carletta! She won't listen to me. UMF

    April 21, 2011 at 11:13 am |
    • LouAz

      "Frankly Charlotte, I don't give a damn !"

      April 21, 2011 at 11:16 am |
  4. 2pac

    we probably in hell already, our dumb a$se$ not knowing. And everybody kissin a$s to get to heaven aint going.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:13 am |
  5. Truthwillsetyoufree

    Creation is not as small as so many of you make it. Most would pee their pants if they saw whats really going on. You can, but don't be so frightened.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:12 am |
  6. OldMo

    I love how the non-believers have to come on and state they're non-believers. Hey, if you're a non-believer, move along because none of this should concern you, right? As for Judas, my guess would be he was chosen to do his part so prophecy could be fulfilled. What if his heart was so full of true remorse he couldn't bear to live with what he'd done? I'm not able to look in a man's heart and it's not my job to judge anyway. Ultimately, it's not my concern where Judas spends his eternity. My concern is that Jesus died on the cross for our sins. Now Bible prophecy is being played out right before our very eyes, prepare yourselves folks.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:12 am |
    • LeeCMH

      Kiss my left behind.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:15 am |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      Hello,

      most Germans believe, the USA is a christian nation. Could it be that we make a mistake? Are you one of a dozen american believers? I like you my brother and have some small hope for the USA.

      Rainer
      http://www.confessingchurch.wordpress.com

      April 21, 2011 at 11:16 am |
    • Blaqb0x

      Let me guess, you wear a cross or have the jesus fish on your car, or some other artifact that we can't see here but, you display everywhere else to proclaim you are a Christian. How is that different?

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

      @Old Mo...the fate of Judas should be your concern...cuz the same One is gonna judge you that judged Judas...I think I would want to know how a judge "thinks" when I appear before him...to help my defense out.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:25 am |
  7. noobie

    The difference between Judas and Peter was not the sin, but their response to it. Judas never repented; Peter did. Sin will not keep you out of heaven; lack of repentance will.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:12 am |
    • pockets

      "Sin", what is that anyway? A sin, himmmm give it some thought, and when you reply, state your age to, I want to make sure your of mature mind. You might be one of the tooth fairies, or Santa's helpers, you know, all the make believe things we read. Kinda like the Happy Meal at McDonalds, take your kids to the slaughter house to see where the "Happy Meal" comes from, that will set them straight on fairy tales.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:24 am |
    • noobie

      I am 32. Also, I have a Bachelor's degree in chemistry and work in the field of science.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:32 am |
  8. weallgotone

    How do you get to heaven?

    Isn't there a stairway to heaven somewhere?

    April 21, 2011 at 11:12 am |
    • Omni

      Ask Led Zepplin

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

      Heaven has installed an elevator and is ADA compliant.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:19 am |
  9. Kay

    Judas committed suicide and there is no repentance in the grave ... I am sure he would have been forgiven for his betrayal but he chose his own condemnation and not repentance

    April 21, 2011 at 11:11 am |
    • pockets

      Now your "sure" about this are you? Where do you get all this 'knowledge", hopefully not from the 'magic book'. You seem to know so much. Amazing isn't it.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:21 am |
    • Lee

      How do you know what took place in his last breath of life. I'm not saying he repented, but it shouldn't be said that he didn't. We don't know what his heart asked in his last dying breath. So I think it's a tad presumptuous to so earnestly conclude his eternal residence. We don't know. Only God knows.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:22 am |
    • Kay

      How do you repent for killing yourself ? First you commit the sin then repent right .... in this case he could not repent cause he was dead.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:29 am |
  10. Matt

    Why is this on CNN? American media is in a sad, sad place.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:11 am |
    • Madtown

      I don't disagree with you, but it could be much worse: This could be another story about $arah Palin....

      April 21, 2011 at 11:20 am |
    • Rex Lutherin

      Even worse, Charlie $heen.

      April 21, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
  11. GodReligionIsBS

    If Judas existed, he likely ended up at the same place as those Egyptian mummies, you & I end up.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:11 am |
  12. LeeCMH

    Judas - whether such individual actually really existed - is dead and ceased to exist at the point of death. There is no heaven or hell.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:11 am |
    • Lee

      I personally believe it's better to live life as though Heaven exists rather then living it as though hell doesn't exist.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:27 am |
  13. LouAz

    This fairy tale is really getting boring. He is, he isn't. She did, she didn't. About as significant as TVs Jersey Shore.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:11 am |
  14. Omni

    I casted out demons before and they never came back really!!

    -My Ex wife

    April 21, 2011 at 11:10 am |
    • pockets

      hahahahahahahahahahahahaha gotta love that one

      April 21, 2011 at 11:20 am |
  15. bailoutsos

    "The facts are the facts."

    So, because you state it as "facts" it's true?

    April 21, 2011 at 11:10 am |
  16. Crewbie

    The very best part of it all is, we are given the opportunity to believe, or not. It's our choice, and those various beliefs are written right here in this forum, pro and con.

    But there's one thing that continues to grasp my interest. Scientists (many) believe that our current universe was created, and continues to be created, due to the explosion of a cosmic egg somewhere along the size of an atom. Okay, I think I can comprehend that. I have also read that an object traveling at the speed of light would take 100,000 years to cross the Milky Way Galaxy, and we can look up at night and see that. So, that's comprehensible as well, but, to say that the mind of a human being is intelligent enough to decipher the mysteries of the universe, or even understand a fraction of it, is very bold and foolish. Most people cannot comprehend the rustle of leaves at their feet as they walk through the woods. How can someone discount something they can't first fully comprehend?

    As for Judas, the plan all along was for Jesus to die for the sins of mankind. Someone had to turn Jesus in, and Judas was picked for the job. No one knows what Judas' fate was. So by all means carry on and live and believe as you wish. It's your choice. It's much like a democracy...and that's something everyone holds dear – the freedom to choose.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:10 am |
  17. Reality

    Continued from p. 1:

    The Judas stories are mostly legends created by M, M, L and J.

    For example:

    http://wiki.faithfutures.org/index.php?ti-tle=189_Better_Not_Born:

    And from Professor Gerd Ludemann's book, Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 96:

    "Jesus never spoke the words about the betrayal of Jesus e.g. Mark 14: 17-21. Rather, from the fact the Jesus was betrayed, early Christians concluded that Jesus must have known this in advance and therefore prophesied it. "

    Mark 14: 43-45

    Jesus is arrested:

    From Ludemann, p. 99:

    "The report is strongly legendary and in part enigmatic. "

    April 21, 2011 at 11:10 am |
  18. CJ Topspin

    Question: Why are Judas and Jesus about to kiss in the above painting?

    April 21, 2011 at 11:10 am |
    • Nonimus

      I think it's a representation of Judas betraying Jesus "with a kiss".
      Judas told the soldiers that he would kiss or embrace the one they were looking for.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:13 am |
    • Omni

      He was betrayed by a kiss to identify him as the one to the guards so they could arrest him

      April 21, 2011 at 11:14 am |
    • Brandon Witmyer

      Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss. When the guards that Judas brought with him to arrest Jesus got to Jesus, Judas went up to Jesus and kissed him as a way to identify which one to arrest.

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

      Judas told those he'd sold Jesus out to that "the one he kissed would be the man" [that they wanted]. A kiss was a common greeting, so it would not have been odd. This is where the phrase "betrayed with a kiss" comes from.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:26 am |
    • Sarah

      When Judas betrayed Jesus, he told the Roman soldiers the "signal" he would give was a kiss. Mark 14:43 Just as he was speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, appeared. With him was a crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders. 44 Now the betrayer [Judas] had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.” 45 Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Rabbi!” and kissed him.

      In Luke 22 Jesus asks Judas: "Are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?"

      The kiss may seem strange now, but Jewish men would greet each other that way at the time.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:27 am |
  19. Dgh

    A. There is no hell.
    B. There is no heaven.
    C. Judas is dead and buried.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:10 am |
    • pockets

      Your so right, and so few actually know this fact that heaven and hell are here on earth. Look around you, that's all it takes. Death Row in San Quention is hell, or for that matter any death row, must be considered a hell. How about living in Haiti, is that not hell? Or squalor in San Paulo. Or Detroit? Heaven is a state of mind. The best people to ask are the aged. They have lived long enough to tell you what heaven is........and its simple.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:18 am |
  20. Dave

    Craig, I am a big fan of your ministry and they work you have been doing! Keep it up! I love your comment "maybe we should look inside ourselves this Easter." I agree. Just for discussion, I will say in Luke it says "Then Satan entered Judas". Don't find that with Peter or anyone else. I think Judas was like many today "playing at Christianity". Yes, we all don't deserver the gift of Easter and yes... we all sin and thank goodness for the grace Christ offers but I don't think the Holy Spirit and Satan can occupy the same space. I hope those who trully believe and follow Jesus will be filled with love and compassion and reach out to those who are "playing Christianity" and others in love.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:10 am |
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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.