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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. Frankie

    It seems we all have some kind of perceived idea of what Heaven and Hell is all about and who might be going where. The hard fact, the reality is, is that no one who is alive today has any hard evidence including all religions of what to be expected once we pass on. What we've believed in has been taught through religious beliefs. The only people who know that true answer are dead and not one of them has come back to tell us.

    Perhaps that hell we've all believed in is actually the world we live in today, just take a moment; look, listen, read, its all here in front of your eyes. And perhaps when we die the heaven is resting peace. So we're born into the place of hell and eventually move to the place of resting peace...

    April 21, 2011 at 11:35 am |
  2. gman21

    Judas is now working with GOP

    April 21, 2011 at 11:34 am |
  3. Art

    While Judas did betray Jesus...was this not a necessary component of God's plan, to sacrifice His son for the forgiveness of our sins?

    In other words, had Judas not betrayed Jesus, then Jesus would not have died for our sins...and the prophecies from Old Testament would not have been fulfilled.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:33 am |
  4. Lee

    I don't think it's nonsense at all. God is very real and He loves us all very much.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:33 am |
  5. Pam

    Very nicely said! God is merciful, and it is nice to be reminded that even the people who personally knew Jesus and saw him perform all of his miracles also fell short. We are all sinners, even the disciples. Thanks for the message.

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

    Both Judas and Peter betrayed Christ, one asked for forgiveness, one committed suicide. If Judas had asked for forgiveness, as Peter did, all would have been forgiven. Only my opinion, but I believe Judas is in hell and Peter is in Heaven.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:33 am |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      What Judas did was much worse than what Peter did. Peter acted on impulse, Judas calculated!

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

      I disagree. One thought he was doing the right thing...forcing Christ's hand to declare himself King. The other knew he was denying Christ...and he did it 3 times. I believe we'll be surprised to find them both in heaven.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:45 am |
  7. Logic

    Santa Claus was a real person, but do we really think he climbs down chimneys and flies around the world? The Bible has some great stories on how to be human, but don't take it so damn literally. Supernatural Bible events and places are not real. Time and history have built such a huge biblical legend that has destroyed so many peoples' basic logic.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:33 am |
  8. William Demuth

    The question presented is no different than asking if Lando Calrissian still has the Froce with him, after his betrayal of Han Solo.

    It is the type of question asked clearly by someone who has an agenda. He is trying to sell you cheap action figures made in China, be they of Boba Fett or Jesus Christ!

    It is summarily rejected, and filed as Prima Facia evidence of the disingenuousness of the person posing it.

    Get a grip people, Jesus is propaganda and nothing else!

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

      well said! I much prefer Greek Mythology over Christian Mythology. The Greeks created much more interesting characters IMO.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:35 am |
  9. curien

    i am, so we are!

    April 21, 2011 at 11:33 am |
  10. Murray Rizberg

    RE: "I am not here to debate theology. The facts are the facts."

    Actually, in this case it's more accurate to say, "The myths are the myths."

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

      There is no such thing called heaven or hell – all made up by man. This is what I believe while you believe in your god.

      April 21, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
  11. Reality

    Continued from p. 12:

    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. "

    The thirty pieces of silver and suicide legend: ex. Matt 27: 3-10

    "The historical value is nil." p. 246

    April 21, 2011 at 11:32 am |
  12. Bill McGrath

    What a nonsensical question! There isn't one scintilla of evidence for the existence of heaven or hell, much less god itself. Why waste time on this? It's like asking how many angels can fit on the head of a pin.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:32 am |
  13. Lee

    There is only one way to get to heaven. And that is through Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. When we ask Him to forgive us and be the center of our lives that puts us on the path to eternal life with Him for all eternity.

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

      no thanks,

      You study the Bible as if it is based on reality. That's nuts. Nobody can walk on water and rise from the dead after three days of being dead. Life is good enough that I don't need to convince myself of fairy tales. It's like Santa Clause for little kids - as an adult you don't need the myth.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:45 am |
  14. Steve

    Heaven.
    Jesus had to die for our sins, that's the reason given for why he was here – he was well aware of his fate. Judas had a role to fulfill to enable Jesus to acheive this purpose. He may even have been given this role by Jesus himself, a role that must have been incredibly difficult for him to accept. Jesus had the whole weekend planned out, Supper, Crucifixion, Resurrection. It was meant to happen as it did. Judas, therefore, maybe needs to be considered the most loyal and faithful of the followers – the one guy Jesus could truely count on.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:31 am |
  15. galileo

    JudAS indeed committed a massive sin but it was supposed to be that way. it was already written many decades ago. But Iam sure if he would've asked for forgiveness afterwards God would've done it. But The word says SatAn came in him and lied to him. iNSTEAD he took his life , committed suicide.... so i would b more on side that he went to hell.. but in the end God has all the judment to change that..will know after the millenium period comes

    April 21, 2011 at 11:31 am |
    • god=bigtaint

      satan "came in him"? so judas was a bottom?

      April 21, 2011 at 11:44 am |
  16. capnmike

    What absolute stupidity. "Heaven" and "Hell" don't exist. Neither does "god". All that supernatural hogwash was INVENTED BY HUMANS. It's time the human race grew up and tossed this huge lie onto the trash heap of history where it belongs.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:30 am |
    • s2kMATTers

      This is not an article for the unbeliever. Your hate and unbelief is not wanted here. Your certainty of the notion that there is no God makes you sound even more stupid because even you cannot be sure. Tell you one thing though. It takes much more faith to be an atheist than it does to believe that there is God.

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

      s2kMATTers,

      It takes brainwashing to believe in supernatural events like a man becoming a zombie and flying around. What was once a way to answer questions with little technology has become the belief system of nuts. The Bible is full of classic stories, but it's no longer a book that answers questions of science.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:40 am |
    • Manma DeReli Gon

      Bravo!! For those who believe in religion and the mystics, ask yourself this question which makes most sense, that Constantine wrote all this to perpetuate an Empire or the very basics of this story – the birth of christ being celebrated on Dec 25th is as real as Santa Clause.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:49 am |
  17. Bruce

    It is interesting to me that so many that don't believe read the "Belief" articles and then post their certainties on here. Could it be that they are not so certain, and that is why they read?

    April 21, 2011 at 11:30 am |
    • Giant1

      Bruce,
      We do it because we are interested (and maybe even stupified) by the way believers think. And we never claim to be certain about things that can not be proven. We merely state that 1. incredable claims require incredable evidence, and 2. What can be stated without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:34 am |
    • Bruce

      Giant1, what evidence would you require from any event that occured 2,000 years ago? Perhaps multiple witnesses with remarkably similar recorded accounts?

      April 21, 2011 at 11:36 am |
    • Giant1

      No, That certainly would not be enough. There are millions of people today that follow the so-called miricles of current day hoaksters. I bet you don't believe them, right?
      Second hand accounts are notorously bad evidence.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:39 am |
    • god=bigtaint

      so all these amazing things happened in the past and we're just supposed to take their word for it? tell me this, why hasn't a single miracle occurred during times of verifiable recorded history? could it be that they never occurred in the first place, and its all made up garbage used to control the people? nah, that couldn't be it

      April 21, 2011 at 11:42 am |
    • Bruce

      There have been many today that have been proven to be wrong. Thousands, on the other hand, have witnessed Christ's miracles. Many (including Jews and other faiths that don't believe that Christ is the Son of Man) acknowledge the historical facts of many of these events, even though they attribute them more to Jesus as a prophet than savior.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:42 am |
    • mckillio

      No, we have a thirst for knowledge and are continually refining that knowledge.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:57 am |
  18. Douglas Bryenldson

    The author of this article sounds unaware of the "lost" GOSPEL OF JUDAS in which it is finally revealed that Jesus asked – no, begged – his truest. most trusted friend Judas to betray him in order to fulfill the prophecies... and Judas reluctantly agreed to go down in history as the most maligned person of all time. But according to this deal – I would assume (hope) that Jesus pardoned all of Judas's sins, including this one and as such, Judas joined Jesus in paradise that day as a faithful servent of God's will. I like this version of the story better. The 'traditional' one is too simplistic and trite. The Gnostic version is rich, layered, heart-breaking... can you imagine betraying your most beloved friend (and Savior!) to death just because he asks you to?

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

      Unfortunately(?), actually fortunately, the Gospel of Judas is just that, a Gnostic Gospel and firmly rejected by the Church Christ founded nearly 2000 years ago. The Early Church Fathers were truly guided by the Holy Spirit in their efforts to produce a valid canon of scriptures. I'll hedge my bets on those 77 books, and those alone.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:35 am |
    • god=bigtaint

      guys why waste time arguing over which man-made version of BS to follow? these are stories written by men. when you look at them objectively and logically, they don't make any sense. at all.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:40 am |
    • Ed

      Two things to note about the Gospel of Judas:

      1) Gospel of Judas was written at least 100 years after the canonical accounts of Jesus' betrayal. If we are going to treat early Christian literature as history (which, in itself, may be foolish) than Judas can only be considered a secondary source given its later date. The idea that Judas as the hero of the Passion narrative is certainly foreign to any early writings of Christianity that we have dating from the 1st century to late 2nd.

      2) There is even considerable debate on whether or not Judas actually portrays Judas in a positive light. You might be interested in looking at April DeConick's "Thirteenth Apostle: What the Gospel of Judas Really Says". DeConick is not some Christian apologist either, she is a Coptic scholar at Rice University. Her book argues that the initial translation of the Gospel of Judas released by National Geographic is faulty in many ways and that a more sound translation actually portrays Judas as being even more demonic than the canonicals gospels do.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:42 am |
    • HappyyppaH

      John,

      It doesn't at all scare you that people chose for you what you should believe in instead of getting the full picture, from all sides?

      That was one of the biggest reasons I let go of religion. Picking and chosing. Not letting others decide what they want to believe.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
  19. Paul

    I agree with the arthur of the article only GOD knows where we all end up. The truth of the matter is that Judas had to betray Christ because Christ had to die for our sins...

    April 21, 2011 at 11:30 am |
  20. Paul

    Only God knows where Judas is today. Lets focus on our lives and each time we betry HIM by sinning lets get his forgiveness and try to shine His Light.

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

      God? Where? What? Act like a human not a brain washed nut job.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:36 am |
    • god=bigtaint

      i'll tell you where judas is: in the imaginations of brianwashed idiots who, for some reason, believe in a collection of stories bordering on retardation. yeah, you can fit all the animals in the world on one boat. it's also possible to walk on water and all that too. wait how come no "miracles" happen today? because they never happened in the first place. jesus, judas, god = all fabricated lies. i pity you all

      April 21, 2011 at 11:37 am |
    • PeterVN

      Paul, yeah, because if we don't do that, god will punish us with eternal tor-ture for our finite transgressions. Unless of course we say "sorry", in which case we no longer have to take responsibility for any murd-ers or other heinous crimes that we might have committed. Ain't Christianity fine.

      Such punishment as the Christian hell would violate any reasonable modern standard of human rights and justice, and such beliefs in talking snakes and the like would be signs of insanity if taken out of the guise of religion.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:41 am |
    • Mark

      Judas at one point was good.If he wasnt Jesus would not have picked him. We all have free wiil and the ability to choose and even slip off the right path and make the wrong decisions as did Judas. Judas did what the Scribes and Pharisees did, they witnessed Gods work through Jesus and turned their undeniable back on the Holy Spirit of God. That is what was unforgivable, turning their back on Gods spirit at work.....hence sinning against the Holy spirit. Judas is not in a burning hell as the Jews have never believed in hell fire and as Jesus stated he didnt come to change....He came to fullfill. Judas is in a symbolic place called Gehenna in the bible. It is a Greek word and literally means destruction. From such destruction there can be no resurrection thus symbolically called the second death or Gehenna. Those who slip into Gehenna simply will not be resurrected and thus wont have the chance to live forever in Gods new world. On this Easter reflect on the teaching of hell fire as you reflect on the term Easter. All of these teachings are simply not biblical and come from the pagan traditons of long ago. God is not such a person that he would torture someone for all eternity for the small 70 or 80 years of life that someone has lived in disobedience. God is a God of justice and obviously the scales of justice arent balanced here when someone burns forever for 80 years of life they lived in disobedience. Hell fire has never come into the true Gods heart and thus should never come into ours. Jer 7:31

      April 21, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • PeterVN

      Mark, that's baloney, to be polite. Hell aside, which is more than bad enough, your god of your stories has a purported history of unfair, vicious punishment and murder, so it's a darn good thing that it doesn't exist. What an evil sky fairy that you worship:

      (from http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/cruelty/long.html)
      Genesis

      "I will destroy ... both man and beast."
      God is angry. He decides to destroy all humans, beasts, creeping things, fowls, and "all flesh wherein there is breath of life." He plans to drown them all. 6:7, 17

      "Every living substance that I have made will I destroy."
      God repeats his intention to kill "every living substance ... from off the face of the earth." But why does God kill all the innocent animals? What had they done to deserve his wrath? It seems God never gets his fill of tormenting animals. 7:4

      "All flesh died that moved upon the earth."
      God drowns everything that breathes air. From newborn babies to koala bears - all creatures great and small, the Lord God drowned them all. 7:21-23

      God sends a plague on the Pharaoh and his household because the Pharaoh believed Abram's lie. 12:17

      God tells Abram to kill some animals for him. The needless slaughter makes God feel better. 15:9-10

      April 21, 2011 at 1:19 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.