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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. blahh

    my opinion: no heaven and no hell. when you die, you just rot in the ground for all of eternity (or burned to ashes, for those who chose it). major religions just say there's a heaven and hell to elicit a feeling of justice and equality for us, and makes us want to do good works. and they just tell their kids that grandpa is in heaven now because they don't want to say he's truly gone and rotting six feet under. We just need some sense of continuation, as human beings. We cannot fathom the idea that once the body is gone, everything is gone–"spirit" and "soul". It ends when you die. Get over your mortality and realize there is no after life. So, yes, make this life count but don't dwell on wondering if you'll get into heaven or be cast into the flames of hell forever. so, judas is not in heaven or hell. he is merely a few dry bones buried somewhere in israel/palestine.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
  2. RevPeitz

    main thing is I know not hope so that God is real,and he showed me I would go to hell if I didnt give my life,heart to him!I dont know about Judas but I know about David, me!Get right or get left.just like Jesus left he will reurn!

    April 21, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
    • Inspector Clouseau

      so....
      They didn't require English spelling and grammar and punctuation in your seminary ?

      April 21, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
  3. MIke Distance

    It's pretty obvious, Judas is in Jewish Heaven, he eliminated a false prophet. Where do all false prophets go? To Hell of course. There can and will only be one chosen people in this world.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
  4. Mr Mark

    More make believe BS.

    Why no equal space for discussion of other made-up gods like Zeus and Anubis?

    April 21, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • Bert in UT

      And Pan and Thor and Baal and Ra . . . Where have all the old gods gone? Miss them. Too bad the only one left is so jealous and vindictive.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
  5. Daniel

    It's kind of like this , Christianity is like American Football , you have to be thick headed to make it work .

    April 21, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
  6. WiiNES

    I find it interesting that people proclaim the Bible and Christianity to be man made. Yet, the fundamentals that they believe and use to refute religion on every level are also man made. It must be nice to have all of the answers and be vastly superior to your fellow man.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
    • Bert in UT

      Since you are a believer, you must know how it feels to have all the answers delivered by god. The rest of us just try to work it out the best we can, trying to help others because that's what feels right, not because we are afraid of hell or eternal judgment.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
  7. Bryan

    Without Judas, there would be no Reserected Jesus. None of the things christians hold dear could have occured without Judas, period. Read the Gnostic texts, judas did what he did becuase Jesus required it of him.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
  8. Bert in UT

    How many angels on that pin? 1037! No, no, 1038!

    April 21, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
  9. June

    Judas is like most others that have died, he is in his grave. The grave is also known as hell. There is no eternal lake of fire with the devil in charge. That is fantasy not scriptural.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
  10. macintrance

    I don't know where most of them are now, but Rob Halford is in phoenix, AZ. Although, I'm sure they are going to rock hell when they die "A touch of evil ... Braking the law ... Painkiller ...Turbo Lover ...". Oh, wait, are you talking about Judas Mesias? He is definitively in "The Depths of Hell" according to Wikipedia.

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

    What does it matter about where Judas is? it only matters to Judas and God. The question that should be asked is of the people that are alive today and have a chance to change their destiny. So ask your self, are you going to hell or heaven? Now if you are not sure of the answer them find out why and change that to a confident yes, because nobody wants to be in hell. God Bless You all !!!. P.S. Im working on it my self, and would really want to be in heaven!

    April 21, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
  12. Robert Johnson

    Might just as well debate the length of a unicorn's tail.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
    • The Jackdaw

      hahahahahaha!!!

      April 21, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • Eric G

      What a coincidence! I have a friend who is a Unicorn. His name is Jeff. Jeff told me that size does matter to female unicorns.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
    • Josh

      That's easy. 3.5 feet. Seriously?

      April 21, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
  13. Craig

    Judas killed himself. So to compare him to Peter both sinning isnt fair. When you kill yourself you committing a sin, but since you also die, you dont have a chance to ask God to forgive you for that sin. Therefore Judas is in hell. Sorry it's pretty clear to me. Also in multiple places in the Bible it tells of Jesus at the Last Supper saying "It would be better for the one who betrays me if he had never been born."(Matthew 26:24) That pretty much tells me he is going to hell right there...

    April 21, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      That's true, but I suppose Judas was damned long before he betrayed Jesus. Reason: Judas didn't believe that Jesus was the Son of God. Judas had no appreciation for Christ Jesus.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
    • jg

      Romans 6; vs 7 and 23 says we pay for our sins when we die, what then? for details, respond please.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
  14. Wayshower

    Recently, the "Gospel of Judas" (goodle it) has been found, which gives a totally different version of Judas, then what is only written in "The New Testament". It tells his own account of how Jesus told him that he was to betray him on purpose so that all the events of "The Crucifixtion" could happen, and how Judas was highly upset that he had to betray his friend. It also talk about the reason Judas being chosen is because he was the closest and most devoted to Jesus.

    Some things just need to be done to set a chain of events into motion for world changes. I'm sure that whatever the truth of all of these matters, it definately helped the world to focus on Jesus, whether you believe in the stories or not.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
  15. captainchaos

    I don't know the answer. I was raised not to judge others, but to do my best to be the best person I am supposed to be. Everyone makes mistakes, it's what you do about it that matters.

    If you are an atheist, I don't judge that either... however, if you don't agree with faith-based, religious thoughts, WHY would you waste your "enlightened" time with those who aren't as "enlightened" as you are by posting such judgemental negative comments?

    I have found that most "atheists" actually do still have a religion and do worship a "god". Their religion is the "state" and their "god" is a "politician"... I can easily say the same things to those who worship "government". There is no such thing as a legitimate "government" or legitimate "ruler" or legitimate "authority". Those might be the terms you use, but they are just euphemisms for masters, thugs, and thieves with everyone else being a slave. I am not a slave to your "contract" demanding my "obedience" (mala prohibitum laws)... Those who wish to denegrate Christians and Christianity may try to force us to our knees through violence (even if you don't do it yourself, you advocate it everytime you "vote" to have us silenced), but true Christians will die on our feet before we live on our knees.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
    • Eric G

      Wow, for someone who was raised not to judge others, it sure seems like you have convicted atheists!

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

      Really? I've never met an atheist who even respects politicians, much less worships them. At best, I regard polticians as a necessary evil.

      Atheists in general don't worship "the state." Communists might, though the ultimate goal of even that philosophy is that even the state eventually becomes unnecessary.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
  16. Eric G

    Belief is dangerous. Actions based on verified evidence is better.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
  17. sane in FL

    Rationale people don't believe in either heaven or hell, or fairy tails. You people might as well believe in the boogie monster. This whole article is crap.

    When we all die we will all return to carbon atoms circulating in the environment. Face it people, your lives are not as profound as you think they are.

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

      Another angry Atheist. This article is not meant to be read by the ignorant.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
    • TheMiddleWay14

      @ Dantos

      There are plenty of hateful, angry religious bigots out in the world these days. Anger and resentment are human qualities. Religion is actually a human artifice. It is one of mankind's grandest inventions, combining deception, manipulation, exploitation, and a general misunderstanding of nature (i.e., the universe). "God" did not create humanity; rather, humanity created "god" to explain what it could not at the time and for it to further its own ends and agendas. Now if you use the word "god" as synonymous with nature (i.e., the universe, or "the whole of what is"), then the word god can make rational sense, as it is no longer a philosophical discourse on something supposedly "supernatural". In the case of a natural, material "god", transcendentalism and spirituallity make sense, as we humans are actually a part of nature and would thus be part of "god" (because the two words are actually referring to the same thing: reality). It would actually be ideal to get rid of the word "god" altogether and just use what we're actually talking about here, which is nature (i.e., the universe, or the "whole of what is").

      Regardless, supernatural religion is antiquated and in many ways evil in how it subjugates the minds of its followers. It is a mental disorder–a disorder of the brain that requires rehabilitation and care to undo.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
  18. tnt in kc

    I WILL BE SO ECSTATIC WHEN JESUS RETURNS! I cannot wait for you doubtful "way more intelligent" people to see Him with your own eyes and all that your superior mimds have turned away from will not know what to do!

    Back to the question, I do not know wether Judas is in Heaven or Hell. The Bible does not look kindly on Judas, being the ultimiate betrayor in history. And to commit suicide after selling Jesus for 30 pieces of coin doesn't look good, either. However, Judas was a chosen man by Jesus. He followed Jesus and lived his life as Jesus would have wanted him to until the end. Even before the act was committed, Jesus knew it was going to happen and who was going to do it. No matter how you look at it, history needed Judas.

    My main concern is not to pass judgement on Judas for his actions. He was man. No more, no less. And every man/woman/child makes mistakes (of course, no one else betrayed the son of God). We all fall short of the glory of God and before we pass judgement on Judas or non-believers or anyone, we mut recognize our own shortcomings and make every day a day to better ourselves in His eyes.

    My prayers are with you all.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
    • The Jackdaw

      Your lord and master will be angry with you for being an upstartish sheep.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
    • civilioutside

      Quick thought... if Judas' "betrayal" of Jesus was necessary in order for the crucifixion to take place – if it was, in fact, the very act that Christianity claims was required in order for you to have salvation – how exactly is it that Judas sinned?

      April 21, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
  19. ChrisZeke3

    If you read the bible from a literary perspective, both Jesus and Judas can be seen as Tragic Heroes- guilty of all the things that Tragic Heroes were guilty of in Grecian Drama. Some of the Gospels were written for a Greek Crowd and so emulated what the Greeks were familiar with- Tragedies. In Greek tragedies, Heroes were the pawns of fate and suffered a weakness- usually Hubris or excessive pride. Jesus exhibited Hubris by refusing to yield and say he was not King. Judas was at the whim of fate (it was foretold that he would betray Jesus with a Kiss). In Greek times, people felt empathy for BOTH Jesus and Judas. Judas committed suicide which was not the automatic 'Go directly to Hell' pass as it is today. He paid the price for his sin.

    I have always felt great empathy for Judas. Just as I felt empathy for Oedipus, Antigone, Cassandra, etc. The strot evoked Pathos for Judas- or it originally intended to, at least.

    I am no Theologan, nor am I even certain there is a Hell, unless it is YOUR choice to go there. But looking at the story from a literary point of view, Judas was a tragic hero, not a villain. I would think early Christians viewed him as such.

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

      You have no proof that Greek people empathized with Judas' betrayal and suicide. You also have no proof that people 2,000 years ago thought much differently about suicide than we do today. I am being just a presumptous as you are when I say that people then probably thought very strongly against Jesus and that the orginial disciples were probably angry, confused, and heart-broken that thier brother would do such a thing. The only person in this story who might have displayed any resemblance of empathy would be Peter who denied knowing Jesus 3X before being forgiven 3X by Jesus himself later. Not exactly the same betrayal, but betrayal all the same. With that said, the heart of man has been the same since the begining therefore our thoughts on life, sin, God, etc. are not that dissimilar in comparison.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
  20. Openyoureyez

    Eternal life in heaven or eternal life in Hell?
    1. Hell is a religious lie!
    2. Adam is the biggest sinner! He's responsible for the death of every human since the beginning including Jesus ( who wouldn't have needed to die if Adam hadn't sinned)
    3. Eternal life was a gift for being obedient to God, death was the result of disobedience . ( Genesis 2:17 – But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. Genesis 3: And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die)

    According to the belief of hellfire an undestructable human soul is sent there to burn forever! If a person is burning they have to be alive to feel it! If they are alive forever then that makes what God said there in Genesis a lie and what Satan said true! And we know satan the rebels very name means Liar Slanderer! So who do you believe?

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

      You are kidding we hope?

      April 21, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
    • jg

      Romans ch.6: vs. 7, 23 " when you die you pay for your sins". did you note the period ?

      April 21, 2011 at 12:12 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.