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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. toxictown

    Of course he is "in hell" because that is the better LITERARY DEVICE. These are stories meant to illustrate and instruct cribbed from generations of similar stories meant to illustrate and instruct. Nothing more. We are very smart animals telling each other stories.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
  2. HeavenSent

    When some of you are in the eternal flames, I will be smiling from heaven.
    Amen..

    April 21, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • Shamrock6

      Believe me...Satan doesn't want any of this. I'll choke his candy a$$ out in the first round with a naked rear choke. I'll drop him and do some ground and pound until he starts crying for mommy. Punk a$$ beeyatch.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
    • BR

      @HeavenSent
      How typically Christian.

      I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.
      -Mahatma Ghandi

      April 21, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
  3. Burstbubble

    It was an interesting article and thought provoking, yet to have an opinion on where Judas is? I am not God and we don't even know all of Judas's thoughts. I guess what i am saying is we don't even have the full story just snippets. Who am I to judge? Maybe it is that Judas will have God's punishment...... remember "eternal" is one of his names. Why would I care what Judas's punishment is or how long it lasts??? I have my own problems to worry about and those are what I am intent on working on.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
  4. Peter Martin

    This is the beginning of Christian anti-semitsm. These new "Christians" wanted to be clear that they were separate and apart from the Jews, hence the "Judas" character (who handled the money ? Come on, king of the sterotypes). Morely Callaghan wrote the book "A Time for Judas" where it is argued that without Judas there is no Easter story, ergo no new religion. It is also argued that Judas would have had to have been the most trusted disciple to carry out this task. So, if Judas did exist, he was a good guy. Heaven and Hell .. I wouldn't sweat that one either.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
  5. Trip

    Of equal importance is the question of whether or not Odysseus became half-god when he traveled to Hades then came back to the mortal world.

    Perhaps those folks who enjoy posing meaningless philosophical questions by fantasizing about fictional literary characters could do this trivial exercise on some body of literature other than the Biblical myths.

    The legends about the Christian gods get much more attention than they are worth.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
  6. Jeremy Jones

    I reject Atheism because it cannot be proven.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
    • The Jackdaw

      God cannot be proven. Sinence, logic and athism will win because sience works. God will take his place in history, just like Zeus and Thor.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • BR

      So.....the fact that we reject claims of god "can't be proven". I'd recommend dictionary.com before you make blind assertions.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
  7. AJ

    Sorry Sane in FL, I'd argue most rational people are more aware that there is much they do not know about the universe. Glad you figured it all though. Big congrats.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
  8. Shamrock6

    "I am not here to debate theology. The facts are the facts...." Really? I'm not so sure.

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

      Translation: the facts are whatever the author wishes them to be.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
  9. Jack

    1. The commentor "Openyoureyez" has no clue. And if he thinks Hell is a lie, he most certainly will change his mind in 20 or 30 years.

    2. Jesus, who is the greatest authority on this matter, said concerning Judas that it would have been better for him if he had never been born. That doesn't sound like Judas is in heave to me.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
  10. Alix

    I don't need religion on my news site, thanks. It's not like anyone has any evidence one way or another as to what happened to the spirit of Judas after he died.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
  11. GregG

    Is it true that in heaven there is no beer? And that's why we drink it here? And then when we're gone from here, our friends will be drinking all the beer? Just wondering.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
  12. KevinM

    If Judas is in hell, he's not there for what you think he's there for... Christ forgave Judas. After all, he was helping to fulfill scripture. However, then he went and killed himself. THAT'S the sin that would have landed him in hell.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
  13. Tyler

    "I am not here to debate theology. The facts are the facts." I LOL'ed

    April 21, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
  14. Alan

    Suicides go to hell, according to the bible.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
    • The Jackdaw

      The bible also told me how much I should be able to get for a slave at the market. Not as much as I had hoped, as it turns out.

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

      Oh yeah...and what verse is that?

      April 21, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      The worst thing, Judas did, was: He killed Jesus indirectly by his betrayal. His suicide is secondary.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
    • kelly

      really??? and exactly where does it say this?

      April 21, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
    • Faithful

      The Bible does not say specifically anything about the afterlife for someone who commiits suicide.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
    • toxictown

      @Jackdaw: LOL!!!

      April 21, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
    • The Jackdaw

      http://www.religioustolerance.org/sla_bibl1.htm

      April 21, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
  15. Rick

    Here's my two cents...Once you accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior, you are forever saved. It's not something that is here today and gone tomorrow. Yes, people do turn from Christ, but they are still saved. So the question about Judas boils down to this. Did Judas truly accept Jesus Christ? If he did, then he is in Heaven. If not, then Hell. There was, is and will be only one person who has not sinned and therefor was the perfect sacrifice for all sin and that was Jesus Christ. God cannot and will not allow sin to be in his presence and by that right, we all should go to Hell. But because Jesus died for me and I have accepted him, then God has wiped my sin from the record book and it is no longer there (or won't be when I stand before Him). Judas did sin against Jesus and we all do it everyday. Sinning does not send you to Hell but the failure to accept what Jesus did for you will.

    One other thing, your belief or not in God, Jesus Christ, Heaven, Hell makes no difference as to their existence. They exist whether or not you believe in them. Here is something else to ponder. If there is no Heaven or Hell, then when we all die, we are just gone...period. But if Heaven, Hell, Jesus and God are real (as I believe), then I am going to Heaven. You on the other hand are still just dead (or in Hell) take your pick. Both are without God. I like my options better. At least I have a chance...

    April 21, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
    • grnmstg

      Please give me something on which you base your "once saved, always saved" theory. A bible citation maybe? You make it sound like getting to heaven is like clicking my heels together and saying "I accept Christ as my savior" (instead of "there's no place like home").

      April 21, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
    • Tim

      You are still dead whether or not you believe. Just because the thought of heaven is much easier to placate than the thought of complete non-existence doesn't change that.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
    • Yoyo

      If Elvis is alive (as I believe) then I will meet him someday. Whatever gets you through the night...

      April 21, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
  16. dp in nj

    Very simple answer - since there is no hell, Judas is therefore in heaven.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
    • Alan

      There is no hell, so Hilter is in Heaven too?

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

      Very simple. You are calling Jesus a liar. Jesus warned us of hell over and over.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
  17. Phil

    Peter and Judas did not "both commit the same sin."

    Denial is not the same as betrayal unto death.

    That said, Judas did not commit "the ultimate sin," which is blaspheming the Holy Spirit. And none of us can know his eternal fate, until Resurrection. It's all speculation. Entertaining, but ultimately not fruitful.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
    • ChrisZeke3

      How did Judas know Jesus would die? He betrayed Jesus to the priests and scribes. At that time, Jews had no law or right to put a man to death? When he found out Jesus would DIE he freaked out and committed suicide. No, I don't think he betrayed Jesus to death.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • Yoyo

      Wasn't that part of God's plan?

      April 21, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
  18. Dmoney

    it doesnt seem to me that God accepted the sacrifice of his son as payment for our sins. with all the terrible things that go on in the World today, he still seems very upset with us.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
  19. The Jackdaw

    Why is CNN featuring so much bunk lately? Religion is poison, not news!

    In other news, Leprechauns stole a pot of gold and are being hunted by the US Navy.

    Garbage.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
  20. BENJI

    A very good article. Only God knows the fate of Judas.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
    • The Jackdaw

      God does not know anything because he does not exist.

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

      Dude, you're mean!

      April 21, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
    • TheMiddleWay14

      This is true...there is no supernatural god....unless the word "god" is a stand-in for nature, or the universe.

      It's kind of funny that people just can't take reality for what it is. They have to try to name it and its supposed attributes and, in doing so, reduce it to something which it is not. They do this, knowingly or unknowingly, because they have issues with control. It is sad really that humans cannot come to terms with truly not being able to know or understand everything. In this way, supernatural-based religions are defense mechanisms for the mind/psyche.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
    • sell

      REAL christianity was stolen by Paul of Tarsus and turned into the religious hand (opposite the sword) of the Romans to control the population.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
    • John in NY

      The Jackdaw,

      So, is your life so empty that you have to haunt religious blogs so you can decry religion, and belittle those that believe so you can feel better about yourself?

      April 21, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
    • The Jackdaw

      John in NY, my life is far from empty. I do battle with the blind to improve the world I live in. Please go get an education.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
    • Inspector Clouseau

      @sell,
      That is one of the threads that interests me the most about this cluster of stories. The Jerusalem community was headed by Jesus' brothers, and Paul had his group, and I remember Peter and his Roman group had theirs, all in a fight for control of the story line. So much of what they came to be talking about had nothing whatever to do with the things that the original apocolyptic preaching had to do with. The message was changed to be about a sa-cri-ficial payment plan that the original preacher never once mentioned, and kept having to be reworked, as again and again, the end time did not arrive as predicted.

      April 21, 2011 at 4:55 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.