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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. DLISHH

    Welp, I would rather take my chances believing in a higher power and ultimately heaven some time after death, than the miserable thought of dying and being in the dirt until oblivion. I do good and try to live a decent life not just because it is the right thing to do, but because I am held accountable by something more powerful than myself. Thats my belief, and I'm sticking to it. Hate me if you would like 🙂 – I welcome it.

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

      I don't hate you, but accepting Pascal's wager is no way to live. What if you picked the wrong god?

      April 21, 2011 at 11:43 am |
  2. robert johnson

    In Gods eyes, sin is sin. He does not differentiate between lying and murdering. God can't look upon sin. That is why God looked away from the suffering, bleeding Jesus, because Jesus took the sins of the whole world on His sholders, and God can't look upon sin.As far as peter and Judas is concerened, Judas's sin was callculated and deliberate while Peter's sin was done while he was under intense pressure and he was backed up into a corner. Having said that , John Wesley once said "a moment from Jesus and I'm the devil again". We are all capable of atrocities that would be rather unthinkable, but can slide into if we are not careful...... just saying!

    April 21, 2011 at 11:29 am |
  3. Thomas

    I wonder why this is so debated.....Jesus selected Judas....and Judas was directly used to fulfill the prophecy....Judas seems to be the chosen one? No?

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

      True. It could be debated that Jesus actually was asking one of the disciples to betray him and Peter to deny him not foretelling that these things would happen.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:34 am |
  4. Duh

    I thought he was dating Lady Gaga...

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

      You're saying that could lead to suicide? I don't think so.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:59 am |
    • HappyyppaH

      HAHAHAHAHA

      April 21, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
  5. kevin

    Jesus died for our sins. It is possible to be cleansed of sins. I do not believe that hell is full of sinners. If you sin yet still turn to Jesus you will be saved. Living in the world every action can result in a sin. Ask forgiveness correct your actions turn to Jesus, God, Allah and you will not go to hell. Hell is for those who want to be there, those who follow the doctrine of the fallen angel Lucifer. Lucifer could do the same as any sinner ask for forgiveness correct his ways and even he could be saved.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:29 am |
  6. pastafaria

    If there ever was a Judas he is wherever what's left of his corpse, ashes, etc., were disposed of after he died, just like Jesus, Hitler, Mother Theresa, all of the former Popes, the insect I stepped on this morning while letting the dog out, and any other formerly living creature. Death is merely an event that occurs when your body loses its ability to sustain itself due to damage from illness or some external trauma, or because it has exhausted its ability to continue producing living tissue cells (old age). Get over it.

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

      No religion is right and yet they are all right...................

      April 21, 2011 at 11:35 am |
    • Paul

      Denying the truth will not make it go away...that is why you are on this board, is it not? Time to feed your dog?

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

    Holden Caufield settled it in the Catcher in the Rye.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:29 am |
  8. grnmstg

    I think you are very mistaken in categorizing the sins of Judas and Peter as "the same." The sin of Judas which condemns him is not his betrayal of Jesus, it is of his blasphemy against the holy spirit (i.e. believing that his malice is greater than Divine Goodness). He committed this sin when he committed suicide and did not return to Jesus to repent. I understand how you do not wish to say nobody specifically is in hell and I think this is a good idea. However, it is difficult to come to a different conclusion when Jesus himself said when speaking of Judas that "it would have been better had he never been born." How can this hold true and Judas be in heaven?

    April 21, 2011 at 11:28 am |
  9. mark

    neither. he is in mordor.

    why do you waste our time with this nonsense cnn?

    April 21, 2011 at 11:28 am |
    • Paul

      And you, are you not wasting precious time? You know the truth, but rebel against it. Cry out to Jesus who is our only hope.

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

      oh, that's so funny! it's the 1500's in your head!

      obi won is our only hope brotha.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:48 am |
  10. Christopher

    What amazes me most are the religious people that immediately start to say that of course he is in hell, he will never leave hell, he is the biggest sinner of all, what religion is yours? What not Jesus Himself that said love your enemy and forgive as many times as necessary? So he can say that but he does not apply what he says? We all are subject to failure, we all made mistakes and I can guarantee that if Jesus show up today like He did 2000 years ago, many people would call Him impostor and probably put him in a electric chair or burn Him Waco style. We are surrounded by pseudo religious people that come here with their knowledge and refined grammar but in fact never learned one word of Jesus teaches, and here I give one to think about: He who is without sin, cast the first rock.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:28 am |
    • Chris

      Per Stephen Fanning's reply:

      Matthew 26:24 and Mark 14:21 says that it would have been better for the betrayer of Christ if he had never been born!

      Now what part of that sounds like it ended well for Judas after he hung himself?

      April 21, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
  11. rs

    Is Harry Potter in heaven or hell?

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

      This is the best comment I've read on here so far. 😀

      April 21, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
  12. Paul

    The Gospels explained in plain English even giving the names of the two men Crucified with Jesus and the real Judas Iscariot and his destiny, in the book, "Shrouded Chronicles of Jesus the Christ".

    April 21, 2011 at 11:27 am |
  13. Wolf in the Fold

    Judas, if he ever existed, is dead. His remains decomposed long long ago. He no longer exists – anywhere in any shape or form. Period. Why is it so hard for everyone to simply accept that this is the fate that awaits all of us?

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

      Amen. (And this is the first time I've ever used this word and meant it).

      April 21, 2011 at 11:31 am |
  14. JAB

    Why waste your time on this make believe fecal matter? You're only here once people. Wake up, get a life and stop wasting time. The is no afterlife. Its BS and you can't prove otherwise. And yes, the burden of proof is on you because you're the one who is making the outrageous claim.

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

      & how exactly are you sure there isn't an afterlife? Can you give me evidence that there isn't residual energy that lingers for the foreseeable eternity when any living thing dies?

      Both sides annoy me. People who blast the belief in an afterlife, dismissing such a belief as foolish, and people who shove their religious beliefs down everyone's throat because they "know for a fact" that they have the correct script for salvation from death.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
  15. Stephen

    Dear sir,
    When you say that every experience Peter and James and John had with Jesus, Judas would have had it too, you fail to remember the Mount of Transfiguration, when Jesus was seen by the three aforementioned disciples in a glorified body. When you said that Judas was the keeper of the money bag (you said it was the most trusted job), you forgot John 12:1-8. When Mary the sister of Lazarus anoited Jesus' feet with extremely expensive perfume (an act of love and gesture of complete devotion), Judas complains and says that the perfume should have been sold and the profits gone to the poor. The narative explains that he only said this because he was a thief and would pilfer what was in the money box. Matthew 26:24 and Mark 14:21 says that it would have been better for the betrayer of Christ if he had never been born!
    As a believer in Christ, I am simply and humbly following the example of Priscilla and Aquilla by showing you from scripture your error. May God bless you and your ministry for His glorious name's sake!
    Stephen Fanning

    April 21, 2011 at 11:27 am |
  16. Rick

    Excellent article. I would even add the discussion about judging to wit we are not the final decision maker in that case. A person's salvation is between that person and God. We speculate, judge, reason, etc but cannot seem to say I don't know. There is no big or little sin just sin. With that notion, God forgives them all – well except the one unforgivable sin, which I suspect you may discuss at a later date.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:26 am |
  17. kenny

    Religion is pretty hilarious when you think about how serious people take stories that are clearly bs. Religion was created by men to control men and re-written through the ages by those in power to say what they wanted it to say. That is the definition of EVERY RELIGION.... I know its scary to think this existence is all you have but that's reality and religious people just seem to be unable to accept reality and so they shelter themselves from knowledge and remain ignorant fools trying to impose their moronic bs on everyone else.

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

      Which is why I keep the notion of an afterlife and God/ess/s/existence separate from religion. Religion is a comfort for some and a motive for others.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
    • Erik

      For your sake, you better be right. I do hope you change your mind before your life ends though.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
  18. Allen

    If Judas actually existed, he's likely just dead.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:25 am |
  19. L

    So, God decrees and prophesies that some person WILL betray Jesus, and then that person goes to hell? Wow, that's a pretty raw deal for someone. Is it really their fault if someone HAD to do it to fulfill divine prophecy? Really, they should be commended for taking the fall for the rest of us. Judas sacrificed himself to save another.

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

      The more I find out about this all-powerful sky-bully, the more I believe that I would rather not hang out with him for eternity.

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

      Yes Jesus knew Judas was going to betray him. But the difference is instead of Judas repented of his sins, he went and hang himself. In contrast, Peter denied him 3 times but after that he repented of his sin. The key here is repentance of your sins. We all sin, that's why we all have to repent and be forgiven by god.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:39 am |
  20. gc

    If all of the events leading to the death of Jesus were part of God's plan then how can those involved really be punished?

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

      Perhaps they were not. That's why the author says that we cannot know.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:29 am |
    • John B

      Agreed. God needed Judas to do what he did in order for Jesus to be sacrificed on the cross. If Judas didn't sell Jesus out, Jesus wouldn't have been sacrificed for our sins. What good is a Messiah who doesn't save anyone?

      April 21, 2011 at 11:31 am |
    • Lisa Marquez

      Maybe what Judas did was what Jesus wanted. Maybe Judas scarificed himself so the plan would be forfilled. Maybe the real sinner is Peter......the chuch back then (and maybe always) was really corrupt. Who knows. I think Judas was forgiven and he's in Heaven.....whatever that is.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:36 am |
    • Raphael

      Exactly! In fact it seems Judas was given the hardest "dirty" job to do! Same thing with Jews killing Jesus...it seems it was all already laid out...in fact Jesus did everything to make sure he was crucified. If he worked a tiny bit with Pontius Pilate, he would have been spared.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:36 am |
    • ASH

      ditto

      April 21, 2011 at 11:42 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.