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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. Not All Docs Play Golf

    He's in neither imaginary place. His body decomposed thousands of years ago and has been recycled back into nature.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:46 am |
  2. Swamp Yankee

    Okay . . . .

    Good by CNN. I'm done.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:46 am |
  3. Artist

    So what is the evidence that judas existed?

    April 21, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • Swamp Yankee

      Shhhhh- CNN is trying to get some of that "Ghost Hunters" demographic market share with a story like this. What next? A hummel figurine jamboree? A likeness of Jesus appearing in the rust of a discarded refrigerator door?

      April 21, 2011 at 11:50 am |
    • Deliverance

      Same proof that your great great Grandfather did.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
  4. Joel C

    Great post, Craig. I think a lot of us will be surprised who we see – or who we don't see – when we end up in heaven or hell. We as sinful people should just let God be God, and trust Him to just as the fair and righteous judge that He is. Admission into heaven or hell is not for us to determine, and no one knows whether or not Judas had accepted Christ as the passover lamb, i.e. his Savior. God bless.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:46 am |
  5. Kevin K in Texas

    Jesus, and all the deciples are remnants of ancient aliens (astronauts).. This explains how he rose on the 3rd day.. Alien DNA recovers and heals within 3 days of injury. The good thing is all us Texans will be lifted into alien spaceships once the supposed END TIMES come around and whisked away to a far away planet where we will live in harmony with our ancient alien brothers and sisters.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • Kevin K in Texas

      and before all you haters respond to my post.. everyone here is saying a definative yes or no for the given topic while i present an alternate option that differs from the yes or no answers that everyone claims to have an educated opinion about.. REMEMBER PPL, the bible is a book made by man wi th no evidence that "a hand of god" wrote it... i could write a religous book and claim that the "hand of god" wrote it.. just like any of you can..

      April 21, 2011 at 11:59 am |
  6. IDecidedthereisaGod

    Perhaps Judas is in hell because he committed suicide, which was long thought to be a mortal sin??? (In today's world, however, I think the Catholics recognize that suicide can be the result of mental impairment such as depression, and not always a mortal sin.) Who's to say that Peter did not later on repent of his denying Christ three times?

    April 21, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • Not All Docs Play Golf

      Belief in miracles can also be a sign of mental illness, or at least irrationality.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:48 am |
    • Garrett

      @ Not All Docs Play Golf, they are finding areas in the brain that link some kind of spirituality based thinking to consciousness... the right parietal lobe; http://www.ibcsr.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=147:removal-of-portions-of-the-parietal-occipital-cortex-enhances-self-transcendence&catid=25:research-news&Itemid=59
      Maybe there is some validity to some people's belief or disbelief...

      April 21, 2011 at 11:58 am |
  7. paul j.

    What is the difference between Peter and Judas? Their motives... Peter loved Jesus, he got frightened for his life and denied Jesus 3 times, this is clear. It was a sin. Was there anything he would change if he didn’t deny Jesus? Not at all… was there anything he could do? No. But he repented and was forgiven.
    Judas purposely betrayed Jesus for material gain. He planned it for a while and it was not a reaction or a mistake like in Peter’s case, it was premeditated. Was he forgiven? Please read Matthew 26:24, actually it is better to read all gospels which will give you a clear picture of what has happened.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:45 am |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      You are one of a few christians in the USA. I love you my brother.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:49 am |
  8. Vid

    There are two key points of discussion in Craig's article: Judas' salvation and how to gauge the salvation of others. As far as Judas goes, I believe he's in hell, based on his reaction to his sin. Everyone sins, so everyone should go to hell, but those that accept God's forgiveness and Christ's sacrifice are saved from that justice. Instead of repenting and returning to the disciples, Judas fled and killed himself. Those that say that God wanted Judas to kill Jesus, so Judas should be in heaven; God could have allowed anyone to kill Jesus and tailored the prophecies accordingly – foreknowledge does not condone actions – and whoever killed Jesus would still be a sinner who needed to repent.

    As for our assumptions of each others' salvation, it's easy to say we shouldn't judge whether someone else is saved or not (because we shouldn't). However, that shouldn't be used as an excuse for "Don't preach your Jesus at me, you can't know for sure if I'm saved or not!" My philosophy: I assume everyone is going to hell. I don't use it as an excuse to scream Jesus at everyone I see; I use it as a reminder to treat everyone with Christ's love, because everyone needs it. The poor, the sick, the jerk riding my bumper on the drive to work, the jerk going slow ahead of me on the drive to work, the rich, the healthy, my pastors, public officials: there is a very real chance that everyone I come across on any given day is going to hell, and treating them like they're worth something can reach them in ways that preaching can't. (This isn't to say we should never preach to people or share the Gospel in a conversation; there's just a time and a place for everything, and more often than not, the sinner I'm talking to just needs to be loved before they can listen to anything.)

    A heavy couple of topics indeed – far too heavy to tackle in the comments on CNN 🙂

    April 21, 2011 at 11:45 am |
  9. Kurt

    Awesome article. I don't suppose to know how God judges Judas. I would argue since he killed himself he never got a chance to ask for forgiveness. In any case, it is neither here nor there. The important thing is Jesus knew what had to happen and still went through with it to give all those who believe eternal life. Absolutely amazing. Also amazing? Not a whole bunch of negative comments on this blog.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:45 am |
  10. MthNrd

    Okay...would Christians have rather Judas not "sell out" Jesus? The whole purpose of Jesus' existence on earth was to die for our sins. In order for that to happen he had to be sold out. The same question can be asked of the "Jew haters" who claim the Jews killed Jesus. Would they rather Jesus not to have been crucified? You can't accept the gift of Christ's death and at the same time condemn those that contributed to it.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:45 am |
    • GregG

      Thank you, thank you, MthNrd. I've wondered this many, many times. When I ask other 'Christians' about this they just look at me with a dumb, blank stare.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:56 am |
  11. Brian

    I know we can't say for certain what Judas' eternal fate is, but based on Scripture it is hard to believe he is in heaven. We know that Judas was possessed by Satan (John 13:27) which I don't believe can happen to a person who is saved. The Holy Spirit cannot dwell where Satan dwells. Also, we are told that Judas was largely acting in his service to Christ (John 12:6). If Jesus said we will know his followers by "their fruit," Judas fruit does not show that he was a true believer.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:45 am |
  12. noobie

    Why is it that whenever an article shows up involving Jesus, there's a comment explosion where most of the comments are totally against Jesus and deride, defame, or hold in disgust him and his followers? If, as you believe, there is nothing to Jesus, why even respond? I don't believe in aliens, but I don't have this burning desire to point out how stupid and idiotic people who do are, and how false the belief in aliens is. Again, why are there so many negative responses to an article that refers to Jesus or the Bible?

    Could it be because there really IS something to this Jesus? There are many churches and groups that have a tragically false concept of Jesus and the Bible, and they have given Him and His Word a bad reputation. Don't accept anything else but what the Bible itself says; that is the only truth.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:44 am |
  13. outinkansas

    Is he in heaven or is he in hell – That damned elusive pimpernel.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:44 am |
    • Not All Docs Play Golf

      One thing's for certain, Dorothy, wherever he is, he's not in Kansas anymore 🙂

      April 21, 2011 at 11:55 am |
  14. Eagle Eye

    NO, he just moved to Florida after getting robbed by Bernie Madhoff and living a comfortable life post bail-out and drives a lincoln town car I think.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:43 am |
  15. Stephen

    I don't know if Judas is saved or not. Those who commit suicide , are they crazy or not? Are they responsible or not? But I do believe in God's keeping power. As Jesus said "With God all things are possible" in reference to when the disciples asked who could then be saved if it was so hard for the rich to make it into the Kingdom.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:43 am |
  16. AV

    Romans 14:11
    For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:43 am |
    • Not All Docs Play Golf

      Heaven, hell, arks carrying every species of known microbial organism is pairs when the "whole world" flooded, people walking on water, resurrections, bread from heaven, tongues on fire, a guy named Jonah spending 3 days in the belly of a whale...come on people.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:53 am |
  17. Garrett

    Luke 22:3 says that satan entered Judas... which points to possession. Jesus states that if a person has made the decision to look to Him for the sacrifice for all their sins as being sufficient, then that person is His and will never belong to anyone else... ie satan. Sin reaches into all humans in three ways: Obsession, Oppression, and Possession... The third way, possession is not a route for sin anymore if one belongs to Jesus as mentioned earlier, yet Satan possessed Judas as stated in Scripture... this points out the possibility that Judas had not belonged to Jesus.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:43 am |
  18. nija

    This Earth is a different dimention of what God created. Jesus said in the bible " In my Father's house there are several mansions." This mansion are different planes/dimension. This dimension is a learning dimension for every human being and you must pass through earth in order to advance to a higher plane. This is neither hell nor heaven. In order to progress to a higher level you MUST LOVE TO ASCEND TO A HIGHER LEVEL and if you don't you keep coming back to this dimension.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:43 am |
  19. God fearing Muslim Woman

    Modern day "Hell" does not exist, well modern day from ~1500's when the Catholic priests lied to the illiterate people that if they didn't give larger donations to the church, their family would go to a firery pit known as Hell for all eternity.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:43 am |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      Mohammed claims that hell exists. He calls it dschahannam.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:45 am |
  20. Ryozen

    Heaven is just a label pointing to the inner kingdom we all hold in our hearts that we all have access to Now. Hell is the identification with the conditioned mind that keeps us bounded to the polarities of good and bad. Salvation/Liberation is found when we disidentify with our mind, and we realize our true nature to be the awareness of thoughts. Who is it that is aware of thoughts?

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

      Facepalm

      April 21, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • Nonimus

      Wow, that's quite the clouded reasoning.
      "Salvation/Liberation is found when we disidentify with our mind, and we realize our true nature to be the awareness of thoughts."
      "disidentify with our mind" seems to be death. Like disidentifying with our ident.ity. What happened to I think therefore I am?
      "Who is it that is aware of thoughts?"
      Oh, there it is... Wait... how can one be aware of thoughts without a mind?
      Ahh... you're trying to seem deep and mystical... got it . 😉

      April 21, 2011 at 11:49 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.