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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. Marisa B.

    Suicide is a denial of the holy spirit and to Catholics an unforgiveable sin. It seems that Judah denied the Holy Ghost by hanging himself and thus, would be punished in hell. Yet, during the time he commenced to hang and actually died are seconds when he could have repented. I say that I do not know what transpired in those few seconds before Judas' death. Just as someone leaps to their death from a tall building there is time to ask for forgiveness. Even as you pull the trigger of a gun, a split second exists and that is ample time for God to make a judgement. We limit spirituality and God with our own limitations.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
    • HappyyppaH

      So true.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
  2. Daniel H Foster

    The dead no nothing. The dead are asleep awaiting resurrection, at which time they will be judged, eternity in the Kingdom of Heaven with Jesus here on earth or in the lake of fire.
    The Bible is ambiguous. We all read the Bible differently because that's the way God planned it. The way we understand these stories does not matter; nor does the way we envision God. What matters is that we believe God is and seek "him".
    (I am not a priest or preacher and have not been taught these things, so take them for what they are worth)

    April 21, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
    • HappyyppaH

      The dead "no" nothing indeed. :]

      April 21, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
  3. Drew

    🙂 I really think its funny why athiest feel the need to evangelize.

    The mans article is right on. It is not for us to worry about. We need to focus on ourselves and our personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Not conroversy over who goes to heaven and hell. Thats God's to worry about. We don't understand God or nor could I expect to be able to understand this being that created the whole universe. Who am I to judge the creators actions. We tend to judge God as worthy or unworthy through our own eyes. We also tend to pick and choose what scripture we want to use to justify our beleif (Athiest or Christian)

    I am going to take the "childish beleif" as a compliment. Jesus said have faith like a child. 🙂 I pray that all on here find Gods love, wisdom, and grace. Don't worry, if you don't beleive in God, my praying for you won't matter.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
  4. Jon

    Even more important question: Isn't it time you talked to your cat about Jesus?

    April 21, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
  5. Denise

    No man can judge no man only God the Father will judge one day. God is a merciful God so I agree w/ you no one knows if Judas is in Heaven or not but God.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
  6. Caroline

    "This is not the debate Christians need to be engaged in."

    Then why ask the question to begin with?

    April 21, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
  7. Tracey

    Of course a couple of other facts about Judas are not mentioned:
    Joh 12:6 This he (Judas) said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.
    Also, if just sticking to the facts and not theology...we only know he felt remorse..not what kind..bank robbers feel remorse when caught as well as murderers. This type is the sorrow like that of the world that produces death (2 Cor 7:10).

    And finally:
    Joh 6:64 "But there are some of you who do not believe." For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him.
    Joh 6:65 And He was saying, "For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father."
    Joh 6:66 As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore.
    Joh 6:67 So Jesus said to the twelve, "You do not want to go away also, do you?"
    Joh 6:68 Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.
    Joh 6:69 "We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God."
    Joh 6:70 Jesus answered them, "Did I Myself not choose you, the twelve, and yet one of you is a devil?"
    Joh 6:71 Now He meant Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the twelve, was going to betray Him.

    Pretty clear passages...

    April 21, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • Know What

      Tracey,
      "Also, if just sticking to the facts ..."

      If you wish to stick to the 'facts', you will need to know what they are. You are sticking to "as the story goes...", as told by 1st century evangelists of a new religion.

      April 21, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
  8. jeff

    Why dont you write an article that actually provides any proof at all that either one exists to begin with. You dont even give the option of neither. Do you really believe that there is some invisible place in the sky or underground where every person who has ever lived is living out some other form of life? All the people that we have sent into space. All of the technology that we have and we cant find any evidence of a burning pit underground?

    April 21, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
  9. David

    Judas commited suicide and for that he was damned...

    April 21, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
  10. Bob

    What about neither?

    April 21, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • ME

      What about Bob?

      April 21, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
  11. sylvan finkelstein

    DISCUSS THESE MATTERS IN CHURCH..SEE NO RELEVANCE IN REPORTING THIS KIND OF STORY IN HEADLINE NEWS
    COME ON WHO REALLY CARES

    April 21, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • HappyyppaH

      CALM DOWN, SYLVAN! CALM DOWN! D:

      April 21, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
  12. Judas

    He needed to balance the books witht he 30 coins since he's the accountant

    April 21, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
  13. askmehow

    How can Judas be part of God's prophecy and still have free will?

    April 21, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
    • tuffgong71

      He can't. It is a myth. You are aware that the great flood, the virgin birth, the resurrection, and all other aspects of Christianity were borrowed from cultures that pre-date Christianity by thousands of years, right?

      April 21, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
  14. Debb

    He's dead. Therefore, by now, he's dust. As for heaven or hell, I've yet to see evidence of either location.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • FairAndBalanced

      Dust thou are art, and to dust thou returnest
      Was not Spoken of the Soul...

      ..Psalm of Life
      H.W. Longefellow

      April 21, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
    • tuffgong71

      Exactly! We might as well be debating any point of fiction. Do you think Holden was really in a mental hospital at the end of Catcher in the Rye? Why wasn't Sam chosen to go to the Undying Lands when he was a ring bearer for a breif time as well?

      April 21, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
  15. FairAndBalanced

    Actually, Judas is alive & well on Earth. He has managed to mutate and mingle.

    Almost every politician I see, I immediately start suspecting he/she must be Judas. The strange thing is, as the years pass, one sees more of the Judas clan. 🙂

    April 21, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
  16. חֲנוֹךְ

    Here is a serous theological question. Please, if you are an atheist, be respectful with your answer. None of that invisible man in the sky flame response.
    OK, the question is, Do you think it is possible that at Judgment, G_D would forgive the fallen angles for their transgressions? In the debate over freewill verses predestination, are the fallen not serving in the divines over all plan?

    April 21, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • Atheist

      Well, in my opinion, based on what you said, and after multiple years of research on the matter, I believe the invisible man in the "sky flame" would hold a pizza fundraiser party with the fallen, and who ever sold the most magazines would be forgiven and get a limo ride. But, once again, this is just a theory.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
    • tuffgong71

      In a world where all of this make believe is taken so literally I guess anything is possible.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
    • חֲנוֹךְ

      @ Atheist: You lack the imagination to even consider what if. I feel pity for you.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
    • HA25

      No, he just lacks the ability to organize his life around something that has no rational basis. One might also chase rainbows looking for that pot of gold (or maybe just on Sundays...)

      April 21, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
    • חֲנוֹךְ

      @ HA25 I didn't ask this question to be told how I am irrational. I was hoping for a less antagonistic response. I'm not here to tell you are right or wrong in anything you believe in or don't believe in. I can not understand why atheist such as yourself (not all atheist), go to such great lengths to flame these belief forums. Why are you even responding if all you can do is be closed minded and bigoted towards others. My question is as much a what if regardless of belief. I even asked for only respectful responses knowing that some @ss would go to the trouble of responding with a condescending remark.

      April 21, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
    • Atheist

      Tee he he. :*

      April 21, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
    • חֲנוֹךְ

      @ Atheist
      Very mature response. Imagine if men of science were not open minded enough to consider the impossible being possible.
      "If men were meant to fly, they would have been born with wings". Your response is no different.

      April 21, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
  17. Eric

    What is the big sin? He was CHOSEN to be the betrayer. Since it was already determined that Jesus must die for his sins, then who is more holy, the man who helps bring about the REQUIRED crucifixion, or the man who builds a church after the crucifixion? Is it possible that Judas did not sell Jesus out for silver, but because he had to in order to help Jesus transend. And perhaps instead of committing suicide because he sold Jesus out, he killed himself because he was responsible for killing the son of God and it was a burden too heavy to bear. Perhaps Judas' weakness was not one of greed, but one of faith. Knowing that Jesus will be raised and reborn is one thing, but to be the one who will for eternity be labeled as the "Bretrayer" is quite a heavy burden to bear. The only one strong enough to bear that burden was the man who bore all the worlds burdens on the cross. Perhaps Judas was more saintly than Peter and more faithful than we give him credit for. Could anyone reading this handle such a burden as killing a man whom you dedicated your life to? That takes an amount of faith that I think we all would have a hard time finding within ourselves.
    Without Judas, there would be no church. Just saying.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • Joe Rogerio

      He wasn't chosen!! Judas acted on his behalf. Nobody made him turn in the Son of God. Satan tempted him and Judas gave in.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
  18. Ant928

    No longer follow the Christian faith but I've always had another take on the matter. For those who believe Christ had to die to pay for the sins of the world and offer everlasting life, blah, blah, blah. The whole execution was put in motion by who? JUDAS! So one could say that without him acting on God's "orders" the world would still be damned really making him the most important apostle of all.

    Just sayin'...

    April 21, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
  19. Donnie

    I hate to say it-But I truly believe that those commenting in such hash matter are driven by their HOPE that none of this is true rather than any scholarly approach to the subject. Whether you are a Christian or not, even a cursory review of the evidence and impact of Jesus’ life clearly declares that this man in fact did walk the earth and go to the cross. If we review the evidence of his life and still declare that he did not live, we are also forced to declare that men such as Julius Cesar and many others like him did not live for there is indeed much less evidence that he did live when compared to Jesus.
    So my final thought is decide for yourself whether Jesus lived and died and was resurrected--based on evidence rather than your simple HOPE that he didn’t --

    April 21, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
    • tuffgong71

      I'm confused. You are actually saying there is more evidence that Jesus Christ lived and was an actual person than there is evidence of Julius Ceasar? I must have misunderstood, either you are blinded by your faith or ignorant of history. One of the two has to be true.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
    • ChrissyinFL

      Nearly everyone believes that there was in fact a man named Jesus who lived and was crucified. There is no hope or not regarding that fact. Its the whole holy resurrection part that is debated by "non believers", not the existence of the MAN himself. Believers tend to not understand that nonbelievers don't discount 100% of what is said in the Bible, just the immaculate/holy stuff and unsubstantiated facts/details that can't be backed up by science or corroborative evidence from other cultures that coexisted at the time.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
  20. David

    The prophecy had to be fulfilled: "The Son of Man is going down a path already marked out."
    *Someone* had to betray the Master or the marked path would not be followed. The Christ gave that dirty job to the one and only disciple He knew He could trust and depend on to carry out the needful. Humans who are small-minded and full of hate cannot see that Judas was acting out his part in Lord's cosmic play and bears no blame for following the inner directions of His Master even if his human mind rebelled with depression and suicide.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
    • dc1973

      That's what I believe, too. That Judas was chosen for the second-most important role in the salvation of mankind, because Jesus couldn't trust anyone else to do it. I can't make myself believe that God would punish him for Eternity for doing what He told him to do.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
    • Bellamei

      I agree with you David. I believe Judas was very close to Jesus and Jesus knew how his Father would play this out..so he turned to the one person he could trust. Who really knows.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
    • klukas

      I agree completely.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:58 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.