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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. Mustafa

    This debate is invalid since neither Judas, Heaven or Hell exist 🙂

    April 21, 2011 at 11:25 am |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      Even Mahomed says that hell exists.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:33 am |
    • HappyyppaH

      Rainer,

      Islam was founded on much of the same root beliefs as Judaism and Christianity and (gasp) Muslims believe in the same God as well. You mentioned that "even" Muhammad taught that hell exists as though Islam were completely alien to its predecessors.

      Duh? Uh...Der dee der der!

      April 21, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
  2. S.W.A.G.tested

    To say there is no heaven or hell is just to remain in the belief that man controls all things and that in itself is beyond inaccurate. There are more things that happen in this world that we have no control over than there are that we do have it over. Saying there is no heaven or hell is the equivalent to saying atoms don't exist...until someone came out with a tool to see an atom and prove it exists. Look up dark matter and what NASA has to say about it...the very definition of it is hilarious yet the smartest people in America and others in the world will tell you there's no doubt of it's existence...but also no proof...go figure...when man can't control something for his gain we deny it's very existence or the possibility of it. Both the easter bunny and santa were created to divert attention away from the importance of why both of those dates are held in regard. The birth of Jesus and the death and resurrection of Him. Again man...making a gain off of things that have no business being marketable. Strange tendancy for us to do that but hey this is America right?

    April 21, 2011 at 11:24 am |
    • Ec1warc1

      Atoms exist because the exist. Heaven and hell are stories written by people ages ago to control the minds and behaviors of others. These stores are still controlling you.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:27 am |
  3. Dumb Illiterate

    It amazes me that people feel the need to "prove" Jesus. Somehow I think that even if irrefutable proof was ever found, there would be those who would dismiss it.

    I consider myself a follower of Christ. I believe it is my calling to "do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with my God." I believe it is my duty to "love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, AND to love my neighbor as myself." Whether Judas is in Heaven or Hell is immaterial.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:24 am |
  4. ONE TRUTH

    I think Judas is like the person who goes to church 3 times a week, never misses a Sunday, and see's God, but after all that still hasn't accepted Jesus as their savior in their heart. Only Jesus knows if Judas was saved but in my opinion I don't think he was. Because it's not your works that show you are saved even though your works are relatively speaking a reflection of what you believe (Citing all that Judas did as an Apostle.) However, you can sit on the front pew every Sunday or be preaching from the pulpit and still be going straight to hell.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:24 am |
  5. William Demuth

    Hell is where a preacher is now sodomizing a boy in the name or Jesus.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:23 am |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      Then hell is the Roman Catholic Church.

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

      Reverends as well as priests are abusers, cut from the same cloth. Really!

      April 21, 2011 at 11:33 am |
  6. JeramieH

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

    We still believe this in the 21st century?

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

      Over 70% of the people in the US believe it. * Sigh*

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

    Another apostate liberal, making up his own gospel. Mr. Gross is in good company with Judas, a traitor to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Listen to Jesus, not these false preachers: "....and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition, that the scriptures might be fulfilled." Jesus never said anything like that about Peter's sin. Woe is pronounced on Judas by Jesus. He said it was better that he had not been born. Doesn't sound like he made it to me. He was not a believer. Get a bible, Mr. Gross.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:23 am |
  8. JimT

    I know it is comforting to think any human is in heaven or hell but that is not what the bible teaches. "The dead are unconscious, know nothing" Ec. 9:5,10 and Ps 146:3. ALso, "Dead are asleep awaiting resurrection" Joh 11:11-14, Ac 7:60. Dear author, I won't go into the fact that easter is not a christian holiday but rather a pagan holiday and should not be observed by true christians. Lastly, Jesus was at the last passover. After he made a new covenant and did away with the old passover. Read your bible and do not be mislead for the devil keeps transforming himself into an angel of light!

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

      "Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life." Mat 25:46

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

      Do you celebrate Christmas? If you do, then stop! Because it is a pagan Holiday! Jesus, was not born December 25th., why don't you do yourself a favor and do a little fact gathering.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:31 am |
  9. patricia

    I believe that no matter what a person has done in his or her life it is ultimately up to God to decide whether that person has eternity with him or not.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:22 am |
  10. JLC

    According to the Gospel of Judas, Judas was acting in accordance to instructions by Christ Himself. If true, then he is a part of humanity's salvation and should be revered as such.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_of_Judas

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

      🙂

      April 21, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
  11. Robert

    You forgot the part about Judas stealing money...although you included he was trusted with the money. Inetersting...

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

    Judas has been reincarnated. Who? Take your pick of politicians, he's likely in that group.

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

      That's true, but not according to the Scripture.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:26 am |
  13. Sharon

    David H it on the nail.

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

      Hit it on the NAIL??? Are you confusing Judas with Jeeeeesus?

      April 21, 2011 at 11:22 am |
  14. LeeCMH

    Figure out where Judas is??? They haven't even figured out how many angels can fit on the head of a pin yet.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:21 am |
  15. John

    Judas doesn't exist and neither does hell. I do love how the author "unfriended" someone who spoke with convection when he spends the whole article without pointing out that there is no proof that either hell nor Judas are real.

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

    From the article: "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."

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

    Then why, during this Easter season, did you spur such a debate? So that when the rest of us went to have it that you could then wag your finger and tell us that this isn't what we should be debating and talking about; and then you go on to write an entire article about it only ending up to write about how it shouldn't be written about?

    April 21, 2011 at 11:21 am |
  17. headjazz

    Bible babble! Hell is here, courtesy of humanity filled with hatred fanned by religion. Down with religion, and the pain and destruction it has caused through the ages.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:20 am |
  18. spotlight215

    I believe it was all planned in advance and Judas was Jesus's most trusted apostle. In order for the prophecy to come to pass, Jesus had to be executed and then rise again. Without this "miracle" there's a strong possibility that there would be no christian faith today. It was the actions of Judas that set it all in motion. Jesus knew he was going to do it. I believe it was his plan. It couldn't be left to chance. Knowing who Jesus was and witnessing all he did ,It took a strong person to do what Judas did knowing he would be condemned for all time. The 30 pieces of silver was just a token. It was trully a master plan.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:20 am |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      Your comment is the biggest nonsense I have ever read!

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

      Actually, this makes more sense then Judas witnessing all of those miracles and still deciding to betray Jesus. For money? Really? Throwing away the possibility of joyfully frolicking throughout the entire kingdom of Heaven for money? :p

      April 21, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • HappyyppaH

      than*

      April 21, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
  19. chris

    Judas, Adam and Eve and most of the religious leaders of Jesus day are nether in Heaven or Hell. When someone sins against the Holy Spirit their sin is unforgivable from the stand point of God, so there is no future for them good or bad. Their body/soul goes back to the ground and they become dust and thats it. Unfortunately very few churches teach this, hence all the confusion about death.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:20 am |
    • Jason Crouch

      Very few churches teach it because it's not biblical or true. Where can you find a scriptural reference to support this notion of the body simply returning to dust with no punishment for this particular sin? I agree with you that sinning against the Holy Spirit (denying Christ's deity when you know the truth) is unpardonable, mainly because the believer has chosen to reject the Lord. However, there's nothing in the Bible that would indicate what you expressed here (non-punishment).

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

      How do you know this? Just curious as i've never heard this...

      April 21, 2011 at 11:31 am |
    • Alex

      Chris,

      You are obviously dead wrong and appear to lack basic biblical knowledge when it comes to the fundamental truths, yet you are wondering why your ridiculous beliefs are not being taught in church!?!!! First of all, it is absolutely certain that Judas is in Hell and not because he betrayed Jesus, but because he never repented and he ultimately took his own life. Anyone who does that is automatically condemned to hell for eternity.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:32 am |
    • Mike

      Are you saying that the flesh and spirit are the same? God formed the body out of the dust and it will return to dust but the spirit remains. There is a natural body and a spiritual body(1 Cor 15:44). John 5:28-29 All who are in their graves will hear His voice and come out-those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned. I say this all in love.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:41 am |
  20. Dan

    I seem to recall something allong the lines of.. "The Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed. It would be better for that man if he had never been born."

    MT: 26:12

    April 21, 2011 at 11:20 am |
    • ONE TRUTH

      Amen and thank you Dan.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:25 am |
    • ResurrexitSicutDixit

      Also Jesus' words from John 17:12, "While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled."

      I don't think this is unclear.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:31 am |
    • Jeff

      You are absolutely correct and it's pretty clear. Someone who "writes a lot of books and speaks across the country" should know that.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:31 am |
    • Deneen

      @Dan & ResurrexitSicutDixit
      Take a look again at what Jesus states in Matt 26:24
      "The Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed. It would be better for that man if he had never been born."

      Recall this is stated prior to Jesus praying to God and making the decision that he would be the lamb of the world. He says that he will go as it is written of him-then he states that woe is the one who betrays him, which is pretty obvious-Christ uses woe towards many, besides Judas; Pharisees, Lawyers(a personal fave of mine)& towns that denied Him and his works-He not happy that Judas must betray him and Judas should be troubled by this-to feel grief and misery–and better if he was never born-well that's pretty obvious as well, especially when we review what's been written in John 17:12.

      But is Jesus really condemning Judas or is he saddened by what would occur to himself and to Judas? During the meal it seems Jesus is unhappy & angry at what must happen, but is he angry? He is saying it is better that Judas never be born, but he is saying it because Judas has no choice. See John:

      "...None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled."
      Jesus states that one of his disciples has been lost to destruction, doomed to fulfill scripture. If Judas has a destiny that he is playing out what God has decided for him, then he cannot be condemned because of the betrayal-he was doomed to destruction because he would take his own life.

      Jesus knew all that would happen-he tells the apostles things to come-Since Jesus in John 17 has not been arrested yet & Judas has not hung himself-the apostles regard Jesus' words about Judas to mean that Judas is to be doomed because of the betrayal—then they forget later on that Peter denied Christ–yet Peter WAS FORGIVEN! It was made clear by Christ what would be the fate of anyone who denied him. We all forget that don’t we? Denying Christ could be summed up in this passage:
      1John 2:22
      “No one who denies the Son has the Father; He who acknowledges the Son has the Father also”

      So if Judas had not killed himself he would in all likelihood have been forgiven and taken his place with all the apostles. Why wouldn't he have been forgiven as well?

      This is all supposition-however if you look at it with a clear mind and with reason Judas would have been forgiven the betrayal-just as Peter was forgiven his denial–Judas could not live with what he had done-his destiny was a life 'doomed to destruction'; doomed because of his suicide. Or was he?

      We won't know until our own entry into Heaven God's plan for Judas, and whether he went to Hell or not. It does seem hard to believe that God would allow Judas to be another sacrificial Lamb, now doesn't it? Judas was not to become a martyr because of the way the apostles wrote about him in the Gospel-they saw through the eyes of men, and Judas was unable to redeem himself before he died a natural death, dying instead loathed, hated & driven to suicide for his deed against the Son of God, Jesus, whom he had Loved so much.

      Who are we to condemn Judas? In the end we didn’t know his heart, only God did, and in his last breath, couldn't a man so driven by despair at what he had done ask forgiveness from God?

      April 21, 2011 at 1:01 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.