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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. Really?

    Someone had to do the deed so that Jesus could die and raise again people. Judas turned Jesus' body over but not his sole., that he knew was going to heaven. He was handpicked to do this deed.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:19 am |
  2. David H

    If that's the kind of "friend" Jesus really was, I would choose Hell any day. Wasn't he supposed to have died for the sins of mankind? Wouldn't that include Judas, who was doing God's work that was to lead to the ultimate salvation of mankind? That personal sacrifice on Judas's part earns him a place in Heaven in my book. But the whole thing is a fairy tale, or a modified Roman myth. I doubt there ever was a Jesus, or a Judas. There was a Council of Nicaea in 325, that formalized all of this current day nonsense. Oh, 2, 345 angels can dance on the head of a pin. Not one more, not one less.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:18 am |
  3. Coffeecoolers

    I though Judas was cursed and became the first Nosferatu Vampyre'

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

      That is as good an interpretation as any.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:25 am |
  4. Preacherman

    This author must have a very pedestrian faith if he is trying to relegate what is a very spiritual and theological relationship between Jesus and his favorite disciple to one of heaven and hell. There is no commandment that says: "Thou shall not betray Jesus." and Jesus never condemned Judas. Judas did not kill Jesus and betrayal is not the same as murder. Murder is the most serious sin. Has it ever occurred to you that perhaps Judas hung himself so he could be in death with his master because he could not live without him?

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

      How can John, Lazarus, Peter, Mary Magdalene and Judas all be Jesus' favorite or closest disciple? Oh yeah, and Thomas. And James the Less. I guess everyone has their own spin on these myths and legends.

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

      YBP, get a life bro and stop trolling the belief blog when you're clearly an atheist. You must be really lonely if you spend your free time reading religious blogs and trying to debate believers. It's quite sad really...

      April 21, 2011 at 11:34 am |
  5. rob

    Where did this notion that every bad person goes straight to hell as soon as he or she dies? I thought that the Bible said we would all die someday and remain in a deep sleep until the day of resurection

    April 21, 2011 at 11:18 am |
  6. YBP

    Here are some awkward facts: The Gospels are written in an ancient allegorical style that we tend to overlook and misinterpret. Jesus and David Koresh may not be one and the same, but they do have a lot in common, and both of them self-destructed. The Gospels were written to be read aloud, at a certain time and place in the late First Century CE. We in the Twenty First Century were never their intended audience, as the Kingdom of God was promised to apppear during the lifetime of the first Disciples. In the Gosples names have meaning. For example: Yahweh, the forbidden name of God, means "I exist." Who wouldn't invent a God with such name? It's child's play. Jesus (whose name was really Yeshua, which actually translates to Joshua in English) means "God's Salvation," Judas means "Jew" and Iscariot is derived from a word that means "daggerman," which perpetuates the lie that the Jews "betrayed" Jesus, or perhaps stabbed him in the back as the name suggests. (As a side note, the translation should read that Judas was the one who "delivered him up" not "betrayed' him.) Knowing all this, it is very difficult to believe that any of these men were actually real-life people, or that the events described in the Gospels were at all historical. The Gospels are tendentious, which is a polite way of saying that they are propoganda. The purpose of the Gospels is to convince Gentiles that their hero was a Jew who was also God, and who was crucified as an insurgent against Gentiles. It's a sticky situation. So after a few twists and turns, the Jews were cast as the villains, the Kingdom of God, which was to appear on earth, headquartedered in Israel of course, became a heavenly afterlife, and Jesus became the saviour of the non-Jews because he died and was resurrected. All of which is not historical, if Jesus even existed at all, or theologically sound if you understand even a little about the social-political-economical situation of the Galilee in the First Century and the Kingdom of God movement.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:17 am |
    • YBP

      Please forgive all my spelling errors. I was typing quickly. And wondering the whole time if CNN was going to censor me.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:20 am |
    • Dynan3

      You are certainly forgiven...Have a nice time in Heaven. Tell Judas Hi for me, please. (>")> <("<)

      April 21, 2011 at 11:27 am |
  7. Dynan3

    Goog the Gospel of Judas...Tell of the closeness of Jesus to Judas...how Judas was most trusted to do the evil deed needing to be done so Jesus could fulfill His Mission on Earth. How Jesus gave Judas all the heavy secrets.

    Who decided what went into the Bible? That's what needs to be asked before it is used as a guide to action.

    Judas is surely in his Heaven, as we all will be.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:17 am |
    • rob

      I saw on the history channel about the evil deed that needed to be done to fufill His mission.
      There is some lyrics in Marvin Gaye's song (Wholy Holy) that says: Jesus left a long time ago, said he would return . He left us a book to believe in. In it we've got an awful lot to learn. and i think we've still got a awful lot to learn from the Bible!

      April 21, 2011 at 11:31 am |
  8. Gary

    Jesus has the authority to forgive and retain sin (Remember, he gave this authority to his church). Why Jesus forgave Peter, but retained the sin of Judas is not recorded. That is in the deep counsels of God. Read Job. Who can counsel God? His judgments are just and not according to our reason. God is the creator and preserver of all things. The devil and wicked unbelief are the cause of sin. Judas is to blame for his unbelief. That God worked through his sin to accomplish his purposes is beyond our understanding. Just as God worked through the nation of Babylon to exile the Israelites, and at the same time promised that Babylon would be punished. The account of Judas shows our great need of repentance: to confess that we are wretched sinners, having no good in us and deserving death, and to turn to Jesus for mercy to receive forgiveness and eternal life. The cross both condemns us and saves us. On it we see the ugliness of our sins, and by it we are also forgiven for Jesus takes on God's wrath in our place. This forgiveness Judas rejected for himself, and thus Jesus retained Judas' sin.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:16 am |
  9. Landruu

    This here is what we like to call in the real world a waste of ink (figure of speech). A waste of time, and a waste of grey matter. Even for thise who believe in the afterlife I ask of you. Who cares where the dude is.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:16 am |
    • lee b.

      The sad part is, you don't even believe in this stuff, but you took the time out of your day to read this article and then write comment on how much of a waste this is. Wow, your life must be completely meaningless.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:29 am |
    • Landruu

      I did not take any time out of my day Lee. I'm getting paid. Why do you need to be insulting? Why must a life be "meaningless" over an opinion?

      April 21, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
  10. RicoRich

    If you consider that the one called Satan also experienced and seen the things that Judus experienced, in addition Satan was an Angel in Heaven and knows God and Jesus very well. Satan existed in Heaven before he rebeled against God, that didn't change how he is viewed today. The difference between Satan, Judas and Peter is the fact that Peter was the only one that repented and lived the remainder of his life by Jesus example.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:16 am |
  11. Ike

    "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."
    Actually, just because you know something will happen doesn't mean that you have make it happen. I know the sun will come out tomorrow, but I know the path of the sun and know that it will follow this path because that is what it does. Judas followed his path because he was greedy, this path resulted in Jesus being sold out. Jesus knew Judas heart and his weakness and allowed Judas to follow what was in his heart. This is God showing that man has free will. If I set up to rob a bank, and I know it closes at 5:00Pm, then it fits into my plan of the robbery after 5:00PM.

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

      huh? That makes absolutely no sense. Please try to address the OP's original point with straight talk, not circuitous bs.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:22 am |
  12. Alex

    read in John 17, 12... those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, BUT THE SON OF PERDITION; THAT THE SCRIPTURE MIGHT BE FULFILLED. JUDAS IS GOING TO HELL BECAUSE THAT WAS HIS DESTINY. READ THE BIBLE PEOPLE. Graig Gross you still dont undestrand the scriptures, why? Because you are not a man of God.

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

      Oh, Alex. Get thee to a library! If you're really all that interested in this subject, get your nose out of "scripture" and start reading some decent New Testament scholarship. Or are you just interested in judging people based on your store-front-church born-again psuedo-theology? I mean, who are you to say whether or not he is a man of God? Not that that means anything anyway. But still.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:31 am |
  13. bucricket

    All this talk about Judas around Easter is just a plot to distract us from the victory that Christ has won for us on Easter morning. I do find it strange that the Craig quotes Luke 22: 21-22 but leaves out the ending of the phrase. I'm not really sure what translation he using but here is the English Standard Version (ESV)

    [21] But behold, the hand of him who betrays me is with me on the table. [22] For the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!”
    (Luke 22:21-22 ESV)

    These are Jesus's words and I can't imagine that the word "woe" can be a very good thing. It doesn't really describe heaven.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:16 am |
    • Not your cup of Tea

      Woe=Caution

      April 21, 2011 at 11:54 am |
    • bucricket

      woe does not mean caution! The word translated "woe" is Greek ouai, "an interjection denoting pain or displeasure"

      April 21, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
  14. Ken

    No "Heaven'...therefore no "Hell". Begin the hate mail..... lol

    April 21, 2011 at 11:16 am |
  15. sam

    We havent even found the proof of Jesus, let alone talking about someone responsible for his capture.

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

      Find some proof of Julius Caesar, other than what other people have written about him and artistic renderings that allegedly depict his likeness. Or does he not exist either?

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

      Here is a quote from Flavius Josephus the famed Jewish historian which is from his Antiquities of the Jews

      About this time came Jesus, a wise man, if indeed it is appropriate to call him a man. For he was a performer of paradoxical feats, a teacher of people who accept the unusual with pleasure, and he won over many of the Jews and also many Greeks. He was the Christ. When Pilate, upon the accusation of the first men amongst us, condemned him to be crucified, those who had formerly loved him did not cease to follow him, for he appeared to them on the third day, living again, as the divine prophets foretold, along with a myriad of other marvellous things concerning him. And the tribe of the Christians, so named after him, has not disappeared to this day.

      So don't tell me that Jesus didn't even exist.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:29 am |
    • YBP

      If you know anything about Flavius Josephus, his religion, his politics, his reason for writing history, etc, then you must know that he didn't write that tripe about Jesus. It is a total impossibility. I much prefer Tacitus on the subject of Jesus, he uses some very colorful language to describe the same stuff from a Roman point of view. But just because Christians exist, it doesn't follow that a Christ also existed.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:36 am |
  16. Pastafarian

    Wow, people really believe this stuff? Religion is truly something that will forever hold back the advancement of our civilization. Take advantage of the life you have now. It is all we have. Make the best of it. Be a good person. But for eff sake, stop wasting your life on this mythology in the hopes that there is more to follow after we die. Happy bunny day.

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

      Why do you come on here and ruin the BELIEF blog with your hatred? You clearly don't believe, so please stop ruining the discussion for those that do. Get a life, and go away. The only person who wants to hear what you have to say is yourself and the other self-serving, intolerant atheists who make themselves feel smart by calling what other people believe foolish nonsense.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:23 am |
    • Pastafarian

      Jake: This was a link on CNN's main page. I clicked on it and responded accordingly. I did not seek out the BELIEFS blog. If I'm not mistaken, the only person showing hatred and intolerance here is YOU, but then again, that is very typical of the hypocrites that dominate the followers of religious myth.

      Have a nice day, and be kind to your neighbors and their soulless dog, too.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:28 am |
  17. Seriously?..Seriously.

    It's called FICTION people. FICTION!
    A book written by people thousands of years ago to explain the unexplainable when they lacked the scientific knowledge to explain the world around them.
    To believe that an omniscient and omnipotent and everlasting 1 God created in the unimaginable expanse of the cosmos, and mad the Earth the central point of the Universe and the battle ground between good and evil, judgment, forgiveness and punishment for everything in the universe for eternity would be fought by Man is unbelievably ignorant, and arrogant.

    Yes these stories can be used as good tools for teaching morality. But to live your life on the straight and narrow path in fear of damnation, or absolving yourself of guilt and accountability over time because you believe a God will forgive you is completely counterproductive to improving the moral judgment of our society.

    People shouldn't do wrong because it's WRONG. And people should do good, because its GOOD. Others will still judge you in their own minds regardless. If you are honest with yourself, at least you will spend the last few moments of life on a death bed knowing whether you lived a good life or not and that will ease your transition, not to heaven or hell, but to OBLIVION.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:15 am |
    • Pastafarian

      Amen! Well said. And this always-popular quote:

      Christianity is the belief that a cosmic Jewish Zombie who was his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree.

      Ummm, yeah, ok.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:19 am |
    • getalife.com

      Oh stick a fork in it.

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

      Wow, I'm sorry to say that for people like you this life is as good as it gets. Ever think to yourself, what if I'm wrong?

      April 21, 2011 at 11:29 am |
    • Not your cup of Tea

      I agree with your comments 100%. I am not of religion but of science. For me there are many universes and only one space that is defined as infinite. The word is "infinite." No end. Hard to digest...isn't it? Our laws and moral judgements are a result of our lives on Earth. If all of this was already preplanned, then why exist in the first place. Oh...I know...to help fill God's plan. God's plan involved watching his only son die on a cross? If so, then this action is preordained with no penalty. Perhaps a penalty of a physical death, but it is Christ that knows that he will not die, but have everlasting life. So where is the loss or the sacrifice. We should practice living good lives for the sake of humanity. Look at all that have gone before you and how easily they were taken. Jim Jones, Hailey-Bop Comet, Waco, and the list goes on! Why not live a good life for the sake of good! Perhaps the truth of the matter is...we all need a Santa-Clause, an Easter Bunny, a tooth fairy, and we all need monsters, otherwise man has nothing to live for.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:33 am |
    • Not your cup of Tea

      MariainNM,
      When you were young....what happened when you found out there was no Santa-Clause? Were your eyes opened a little bit and you thought to yourself, how could I have been tricked so easily? You did not start misbehaving, and you certainly did not encourage others to not believe in Santa. That is the way it is. If this is as good as it gets...to your question, then hopefully you will make it the best that it can be while your here. Just think what would happen if the Muslims gave up their religion, stopped trying to kill because they understood that killing the enemy did not get them to heaven, would things be a little better in this world?

      April 21, 2011 at 11:45 am |
  18. GAW

    The author of this article presupposes that the Gospels contain historically accurate data regarding the character of Judas. Is it possible was he was a literary invention of the gospel writers? Many scholars believe that Judas = Jews (Or at least those who did not accept Jesus as the Messiah including the religious leaders) Is it possible that this demonstrates the growing rift between the Jewish community and the ever increasing Gentile makeup of early Christianity in the later part of the first century?

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

      Most of the jews at the time were not even aware of Jesus. He is not mentioned in any hebrew texts and jews are prolific writers and historians of their own culture. What most people miss is just about everyone in the new testament is a jew.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:20 am |
    • YBP

      Finally, someone with a brain! Now let's add to that. Yahweh = I exist. Yeshua (Jesus) = God Saves. Barabbas = Son of the Father. Veronica = True Image. Iscariot = Daggerman. It's child's play really. The real sin is that millions of real-life people died hideous deaths over all this nonsense.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:46 am |
  19. paul

    Christians believe that Christ died for our sins, and I have to assume that includes the sins of Judas. I don't recall any exceptions being made. So, any christian who understands the texts they profess to be holy cannot believe that Judas is still in hell 2k years later. The rest of us consider the topic a moot point.

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

      I dont understand the texts. Does that mean I get a free pass?

      April 21, 2011 at 11:17 am |
    • paul

      In fact, were it not for Judas, Christ may never have had the opportunity to die for our sins and make the sacrifice he did. So, in a way, Judas's actions were all part part of Gods plan. He facilitated salvation.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:17 am |
    • Sarah

      Paul, I agree that Jesus died for all sins with no exception too. And while I won't claim to know where Judas is, it wouldn't surprise me to see him in heaven. I asked this question not too long ago in a book study group.

      Mikey, a very good question : ) You should consider reading Rob Bell's new book, Love Wins for one possible argument on the matter. The first chapter discusses scripture on when we are "forgiven" and "how we get to heaven". Most Christians believe you accept Christ as your savior (i.e. you accept this forgiveness), confess this publicly (Romans 10:9), acknowledge this through baptism (Matthew 28:19), and you are born again and are set apart to lead a godly life. Are any and all of these steps required? How must each be done? There are many many different ideas. The Bible does say that Jesus is the good shepherd and in his words (John 10:14) "I know my sheep and my sheep know me." So I think the biggest part of it is getting to know who God is whether through prayer, reading the Bible, getting involved in a church community, discussion with Christians, etc.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:50 am |
  20. Becky

    I believe Judas is in Hell not because he betrayed Jesus. He committed suicide. Suicide is murdering yourself and against the 10 commandments.

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

      If going to Heaven or not depends on us NOT breaking any of the 10 Commandments...we are ALL doomed.

      What do you think that cross was all about???

      April 21, 2011 at 11:17 am |
    • Suicidal

      Yeah, he should have waited for God to kill him. Then he'd be a saint.

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

      So if you tell a lie or yell or at your mom you're going to go to hell?

      April 21, 2011 at 11:26 am |
    • James Simpson

      Matthew 26:24 The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born.

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

      Fascinating. I love this theological type of debate.

      My thoughts on this go to what the author alluded to in his article, "Judge not, lest ye be judged."

      I know I fall short on this thought a lot as well, but I often wonder if everyone treated everyone like they wanted to be treated themselves, how great would this world become?

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

      According to the Word of God, suicide is viewed as sin, if he had not committed suicide, then he would have had the opportunity to repent and be forgiven. But according to the Bible suicide sends you to hell.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:30 am |
    • 2centsf4free

      It's an interesting argument about destiny. Judas was destined to betray Jesus. It's well known that Jesus knew he was going to be betrayed. Sounds like Judas was a pawn in the story. I think he's in heaven because he was so remorseful that he killed himself. Here's my argument against the catholic view on suicide (not that I condone suicide). Christianity teaches us that the most important part of us is our soul so why is it so bad when we choose to stop continuing our inferior physical existence and move on to a spiritual existence. Isn't that where we're all going to end up anyway? Jesus knew it was coming and wasn't trying to save himself either. The Judas story still puzzles me.

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

      Some of you really need to lay off the Kool-Aid. Sober up and learn about where these hideous beliefs about Heaven and Hell came from.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:41 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.