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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. Caleb

    Read the Bible. Judas is in neither place yet. The end of the world comes, Jesus returns and gathers all those who are worthy to go to heaven, then in a thousand years, those who are not worthy go to hell. I don't have my notes in front of me, but I beleive these revelations are in the book of Revelations.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:58 am |
    • JNIH

      Caleb, Here's a friendly note for you. Ever read the story of Lazarus and the rich man? It's found in Luke 16:19. The rich man went to hell and Lazarus went with the Lord. So Judas it's not with the Lord.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
    • Joe Rogerio

      Calelb....Judas took his own life. Guts spattered and all. His choice. His decision. Feeling remorse doesnt get your sins forgiven. On Judgement day....Do you actually think he is going to heaven? If you are not washed by the blood of the lamb and remain without sin. Then you got no worries. It didn't work like that with Judas.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
    • Tony Biancardi

      Well, JNIH and Caleb are pretty close. Lazarus went to be at "Abraham's bosom", a place of rest and peace that the souls of OT saints were taken to in Hades. Lazarus was in a separated part of Hades, definitely not a place of rest or peace. Heaven was not open for human souls until after the cross of Calvary. The word often translated as "Hell" in many Bible translations is actually Hades in the OT, Sheoul in the NT. In Revelation, we are told that Hades will be thrown into the Lake of Fire, so we know Hades and the eternal hell are two different places. Jesus speaks of the eternal hell several times, but unfortunately that word and Sheoul are translated as the same word, Hell, thus the confusion. There will be a judgement of non-believers, described at the end of Revelation, but this is ONLY for non-believers. Believers will be taken to heaven at Christ's return and have to appear at the Judgement Seat of Christ, where heavenly rewards will be given or taken away, according to what we have done with our salvation. Judas and other non-believers will be judged more than a thousand years later, "according to his deeds" at that final great white throne judgement seat, and just to be fair, God will check the Book of Life to see if Judas' name is in there.

      April 21, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
    • Tony Biancardi

      Oops, I meant to say the Rich Man (not Lazarus) was in the separated part of Hades, reserved for suffering.

      April 21, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
  2. cooper union

    My Invisible Guy is so much smarter and better then all of those other Invisible Guy's, that it is not even close! Oh, by the way, My Invisible Guy can fly! I rest my case!

    April 21, 2011 at 11:58 am |
  3. Robert

    OMG!! This insanity is news??

    April 21, 2011 at 11:57 am |
    • Lacey Mitchel

      I don't think anyone made you read it.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
  4. JamesC

    Clearly if the Son of Man's path was already marked out, then this was all planned. The Gnostic text attributed to Judas states that Jesus called upon Judas to do the vile deed in order for Jesus to return home and to fulfill his mission. This has always made the most sense to me. Then again I don't believe in any of these yarns but they sure keep alot of snake oil salesmen in jobs. Don't they?

    April 21, 2011 at 11:57 am |
    • eric calderone

      Anything Gnostic is a "yarn." Moreover, human "sense" is not necessarily logic to God, or to put it more accurately, while God is infinitely logical, man's logic is often not logical at all. What Christians historically know of God is that while we can understand some things "divine," we cannot hope to understand everything from God. Otherwise, we would be God.

      What we have consistently believed, and have been, taught for the last 2000 years regarding Final Judgement is that is a decision made by God based on one's entire life record. Therefore, let God judge Judas, and do not be presumptious enough to believe you know what God's judgement is–because you do not.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
  5. JNIH

    Are you kidding me???? The Bible says "And truly the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!” (Luke 22:22) That means that Judas did not have to betray him!!! It was written many centuries ago that someone was going to do it. It did not have to be Judas; Jesus had many disciples besides his close 12. Therefore Judas let satan enter into his life and we all know the rest. The Bible does not give an account of Judas asking for forgiveness, so Judas is in hell. That's the problem with modern Christianity today, this new age thinking! They only believed that God is love (which He is), but they don't want to believed that God is also consuming fire. Meaning one day God will judge all the people that ever lived and those who did not lived in holiness will burn in the lake of fire with satan!!!

    April 21, 2011 at 11:57 am |
  6. Gary Hart

    I think Judas ended up in Hell. I also think he had the chance to be the greatest disciple of all and blew it. Peter denied and was forgiven, and likely spent the rest of his life trying to make up for that. Judas betrayed and, instead of going to the one place where he could have been forgiven, he killed himself.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:56 am |
  7. Tony Biancardi

    Just a few comments: Judas is the only Bible character about whom we are told that "Satan entered into him." This was another of Satan's attempts to thwart God's plan to redeem mankind (by eliminating the Messiah, who is Jesus Christ). Paul tells us that Judas, as Satan's agent, is headed for eternal punishment. The eternal hell, called the Lake of Fire in Revelation, is not open for business yet, so Judas' soul is likely in Hades (Sheoul in the NT), which itself will be tossed in the Lake of Fire after Christ returns, at the completion of His 1,000-year kingdom reign on earth. Look it up, it's all in the Bible.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • Joe Rogerio

      ^ Well said !!

      April 21, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
  8. steveo

    He would be in Heaven, as his sin was personal against the Lord, and the Lord forgave him.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:56 am |
  9. Ric

    THE WHEEL WEAVES... AS THE WHEEL WILL

    April 21, 2011 at 11:56 am |
  10. schaeffz

    In the Matthew account, Jesus tells Judas that he is the betrayer. Prophecy says that the Messiah is to be betrayed and turned over for death. So it had to happen this way. There had to be a betrayer. Jesus told Judas that he was the one. Judas faithfully obeyed his Master, in my opinion. Judas did his job, even though he has been reviled since. Jesus even predicted this. Judas killed himself out of extreme grief that he had been chosen for the vile job and carried it through. Judas performed the greatest of sacrifices of all the Apostles and is in Heaven with Jesus, in my opinion. The Jews have been blamed for killing Jesus, but in fact, Jesus looked for and manipulated His death, in effect He committed suicide, as did Judas. Both out of love for God and all their fellow humans. Both also though believed in resurrection and that their deaths were not the final answer. Amen!

    April 21, 2011 at 11:55 am |
  11. Joseph Smith

    Want the answer? Go to Mormon.org.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • cooper union

      Try SouthPark! DUM, DUM, DUM, DUM, DUM!

      April 21, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
  12. tom

    Judas is knocking down a beer with the great pizza monster in the sky. Can we move along now?

    April 21, 2011 at 11:54 am |
  13. Lol

    Definitely in heaven, if it wasn't him Jesus wouldn't have been crucified. Because of him i can sin all day and on my deathbed accept Jesus as my savior then i'm off to heaven. WOw, Religion is a joke but Christianity is even dumber and people actually believe someone who was to be sacrificed would be praying to God to take him out of a trial!! Betraying is good, Judas did a great job.

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

      great white throne. Every knee will bow! You are going to be begging Jesus not to throw you in the lake of fire after you come out of that cell of pure torment. Better seek Him now before it is too late.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
    • Joe Rogerio

      In Heaven??? Are you insane? He committed suicide! That freak is going straight to hell.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
    • Nats

      You can commit sin all your life if that is your decision, but you will also have to suffer the consequences of those acts and trust me it won't be pretty. Doing so, you take an enormous risk to never get the chance to lay on a deathbed with the opportunity of a "TRUE" regret in your heart in order to receive the wonderful grace and forgiveness of our God. I know, we shouldnt judge anybody, but in my humble opinion, Judas had the free will to decide to be used by the devil. Now, could he have been forgiven? yes! but he killed that opportunity with his own hands because he had no faith and condemmed himself to the point that his "remorse" was not a true regret. He didn't believe in Gods grace and his amazing love. Peter commited sin, but instead of surrendering to evil and condemnation, he asked for the Lords forgiveness and had another opportunity to preach the word. I have been there, i have sinned, I have abandoned God in the past, thinking that I can make it on my own, but the only thing I could achieved was destruction. If it wasnt for my Lord, I probably would have been dead (phisically or spiritually) and my family would have been destroyed, not by God's hand but as a result of my bad decisions. I am still struggling but in a different level, with joy and holding the hand of my Savior. God bless you!

      April 21, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
  14. eric calderone

    I agree that people do not know the decisions God makes with regard to final judgement. We do not know how God judged Judas; only God knows. That is why the heretical belief of "once saved (or justified), always saved," is nonsensical. Not only are we referring to a one-time moment of justification in the life of a person, in the first use of the word "saved," but we are using that word in the second usage, in a completely different way. When one is "saved" on judgement day, that is final. When one is "saved" (or, more accurately, "justified,") during one's lifetime, that is a transitory state. It is subject to being lost, when one (inevitably) proceeds to make wrong decisions or undertake wrong actions during a lifetime. Justification is entirely different than being saved. Justification is an ongoing process. Salvation comes at the very end of that process, and is a prerogative solely of God.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:53 am |
    • Lacey Mitchel

      When people come to know Christ as their Savior, they are brought into a relationship with God that guarantees their salvation as eternally secure. Numerous passages of Scripture declare this fact. (a) Romans 8:30 declares, "And those He predestined, He also called; those He called, He also justified; those He justified, He also glorified." This verse tells us that from the moment God chooses us, it is as if we are glorified in His presence in heaven. There is nothing that can prevent a believer from one day being glorified because God has already purposed it in heaven. Once a person is justified, his salvation is guaranteed – he is as secure as if he is already glorified in heaven.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
    • eric calderone

      Lacey, no where does it state that there are any "guarantees" of Salvation. Reading that interpretation into the Bible is both unfortunate, and ironic. Ironic because those who do read that interpretation into the Bible often, on the other hand, protest that those with whom they disagree, do not use Scripture, and Scripture Alone (which, by the way, is another heresy as serious as believing Once Saved, Always Saved).

      Believing there are guarantees of Salvation is nonsensical on its face, because it makes a farce out of our fundamental belief that we will be judged by God on the basis of our life's records. Do you believe that a moment's acceptance of Jesus on faith, precludes our committing serious, mortal sin? We know that people fall from grace, as Judas did. What we don't know is how, at the very end of his life, God judged Judas' entire life record. I suggest you try, as hard as it might be, to open your mind and your soul to Christianity's entire teachings, rather than internalize the non-christian dogmas you have absorbed.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
  15. C. Ickes

    AMEN! People always are quick to condemn others for their shortcomings, without being ready to accept that their OWN fate, without Christ, is death and hell. We are COMMANDED not to judge others. It isn't optional. I have betrayed Christ in my own thoughts, deeds, actions, though I call him my God and Savior. I will not judge Judas, nor any man, for THEIR crimes, lest I be judged harshly for my own. IT ISN'T OUR JOB to consign others to the pit. That's God's job. He is Judge. NOT US.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:53 am |
  16. Mona in TULSA

    Judas ultimately rejected the forgiveness of God and the salvation it offered in his act of suicide. Had he chosen to accept it he would not have killed himself. Is he is heaven or hell? I believe he is in hell, which a place of separation from God. He can see the lights of heaven, but he can never enter in because he failed to believe in grace. His is a fate to be pitied rather than scorned.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:52 am |
  17. jimvsmij

    If you believe in the bible then Judas is in neither heaven nor hell. He is with all the rest of the dead waiting for Judgment day.
    Peter who denied Jesus committed the worst sin of the two because the bible says that the direct path to hell without any chance of forgiveness is to deny God. Judas was the hero because he enabled Jesus to die then become the holy zombie.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:52 am |
  18. Scott

    The realization I have come to is...someone had to do it. Someone had to betray Jesus so that he could become the sacrifice for our sins. It was preordained in my opinion. So why would God send someone to Hell for fulfilling his part in the prophesy laid out by him? If in the time between the betrayal and him killing himself there could have been forgiveness for the "mistake". Only God will be able to judge.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      Judas' betrayal was an extremly heavy crime, maybe the worst crime, a human being ever did. God in his majesty could use even a stubborn devil like Judas and so Gods plan got fulfilled. Judas burns.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
    • John

      I have come to the realization that the indoctrination of Christianity is out of control. The answer to this article is very simple. Judas is dead, that is, even he if existed at all. He is not in heaven or in hell as they are imaginary locations. The fact that Easter is even celebrated is baffling. There are no eye witness accounts that Jesus rose from the dead. Not a single sole saw him push away the stone and skip away flipping off the Romans as he went. However, we are to assume that because his tomb was empty that was indeed what happened. Moreover, the same story of a dead body missing from its resting place has yet to ascertain the same results.BREAKING NEWS! "85 year old woman's tomb is found EMPTY!" Police suspect she rose from the dead and ascended into heaven. Really? That is how ridiculous this all seems to non-believers. I am sure this will incite violence as Christians seem to think their beliefs are immune to criticism and skepticism. Lastly, if you think about it, celebrating and worshipping a zombie is quite frightening. HALAYLOOYER!

      April 21, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
  19. Devin

    Is this really front page news? Really? I am just baffled by this and the number of comments on it. This "article" is written in such an asinine way that I am truly dumbfounded. The author posts on his Facebook wall the question, gets a response, and then goes on about "There is a button on Facebook that I have started to love..." What the hell kind of behavior is that? YOU ASKED THE QUESTION. What were you expecting, exactly? Absolutely bizarre opinion piece. I get your point, but that was a really weird way to lead into it.

    Not to mention everyone who has commented here with their opinions on what happened to Judas have completely missed the point. I feel sorry for you and your followers.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:51 am |
    • yeahright

      Seriously. CNN is now a misnomer. It is no longer Cable and it is no longer News. Perhaps CNN now stands for Crap Nonsense Network.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:58 am |
    • Tom

      The article is poor for more than just this reason. There is significant evidence showing that Jesus specifically asked Judas to turn him in, and that ideas of Judas being a traitor developed later along with other distortions written directly into, and believed outside of, the bible.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
  20. Ike

    When a bank closes at 5:00PM, it fits perfectly into my plan to rob it at 5:15PM. The bank fits into my plan because of its nature of closing at a certain time. Judas fit into God's plan, because Judas was greedy for money and the Jews were offering money to point out Jesus. It was free will on Judas part. A river flows and if you purposely bend the river it will flow through your property, but the river still flows. Changing its direction didnt't change its nature. Sadly Judas didn't do anything after that point to change his direction or his nature.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:51 am |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      You are an american not gone gaga by the mass media.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • Sphazo

      "But how terrible it will be for the one who betrays Him. It would be far better for that man if he had never been born" Matthew 26

      April 21, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • Joe Rogerio

      Judas commited suicide. No Bueno. No Heaven.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:16 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.