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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. News?

    Isn't this supposed to be a news site? Why is this even remotely considered newsworthy? Even for an "opinion" blog?

    April 21, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
  2. Ralph

    If Jesus was ..."going down a path already marked out." then it was God's plan that was in motion, of which Judas was an integral part. Are you saying that God used Judas (well, he had to 'use' someone) to move his plan to fruition and then sent him to Hell for doing what God had planned for him to do all along and knew (as he cannot, by definition, 'not know') Judas would do?

    Really? God designated Judas as his tool to bring about God's plan, knew he would play his part according to God's plan, and then essentially damned him for eternity for doing what God planned along? Way too many inconsistencies with the theology. Perhaps the most obvious of which is – if he was doing God's will, even if unaware of it, how could it be a sin against God?

    April 21, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
    • HappyyppaH

      Exactly.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
    • Ben

      The "path already marked out" was Jesus dying on the cross. The world needed a perfect sacrifice, and that perfect sacrifice was Jesus, God's holy Son. God did not cause Judas to sin. Judas had free will to either betray Jesus or not betray him. God does not cause people to sin, the devil does. In every situation, there is always a way out of sin.

      April 21, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
    • Guest

      I think God knows us well enough to know what we are going to do in a given situation, whether it be good or bad, but He lets us make our own decisions so we can learn from them. So yes, He knew what Judas would choose, but Judas made his own choice, no one forced him to betray Jesus or kill himself.

      April 21, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
  3. Kingfisher

    "2283 We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. The Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives."

    Even if he went to hell that doesn't necessarily mean he's still there. We can discuss it all day, and it can be a useful intellectual exercise, but in the end we have to admit we don't know it all. Letting the conversation devolve into anger and hatred about who knows best is a waste of time. Either God knows best, or nobody does.

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

      I was hoping someone would mention that Hell is not necessarily eternal. 😀

      Thanks!

      April 21, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
  4. Mark

    No heaven, no hell, there was no Judas. No evidence for ANY of those things. What a waste of space.

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

      There is more evidence of God then anything else in the world.. but your heart, mind and sadly soul are controlled by Satan.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
    • HappyyppaH

      Satan was an angel created by God and God knows all things past, present, and future. Therefore, wouldn't he really be possessed by God?

      Aren't we all possessed by God then?

      April 21, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
    • HappyyppaH

      & if I am possessed by the good Lord then that means that my love of Cheese Doodles is directly influenced by Him.

      Hmm.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
  5. Brian

    only the Flying Spaghetti Monster knows for sure.

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

      I wish he would reach out his noodly appendage toward me. I'm getting hungry. 😦

      April 21, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
  6. Eric

    Judas is in Heaven. He is the Bible's most important example that one can be forgiven no matter what you've done, so long as you confess your sins and pledge to sin no more. Jesus forgave him. He's in Heaven.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
  7. Daniel H Foster

    P.S I know how to spell know but my brain is failing me.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
  8. Thomas

    If God is omniscient, then He knew Judas would betray his son.

    And if he is omniscient and he punishes his subjects after creating them – knowing full well what the course of their lives will be – then he is a petty god.

    One of many silly contradictions in a silly book gathered from silly second hand manuscripts.

    Just because the story is old does not mean it is true.

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

      Judas chose to betray Christ of his own free will and he chose to take his own life. No one forced him to do it. And he had to face the consequences of his decisions, just like we all have to deal with the consequences of our own choices.

      April 21, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
  9. Zeke2112

    Is it possible for a man who never existed to go to a place that doesn't exist? I need to get a quantum physicist on the phone.

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

      They both exist and I pray you find the Lord, or you will be in Hell and look up at heaven but never be able to enter.. You then will know how real they both are..

      April 21, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
  10. David

    Judas became a vampire.. There is much evidence of this... He craves blood for he will never know again the blood of Christ... The Silver destroys him as it was what caused him to betray Christ.. The Cross hurts him because he can never be in the light of God... He can never eat nrmal food for he was seated at the last supper.... He is damned to walk the earth until the end of time and judgement day..

    April 21, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
    • HappyyppaH

      Also, he sparkles. 😀

      April 21, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
    • Drake

      Your theory sounds a little bit like the plot of the movie "Dracula 2000".

      April 21, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
  11. Nathaniel

    I think that there is definitely a heaven and a hell. I "think" that Judas is in hell, but that is only for God to decide not me. As for saying that Peter and Judas committed equal sins, I disagree. Peter denied knowing Jesus, while Judas admitted knowing him and sent him to his death. The other big difference is actions after Jesus died. Peter feels great remorse and tries to make things better by asking forgiveness and working in the ways Jesus taught. Judas feels remorse and kills himself. If Judas would have felt remorse, and then he went back to the faith and taught all of Jesus and his greatness I think there would have been a good chance at redemption. In the end, God decides who goes to heaven and hell. Who knows if Judas, Hitler, Stalin or anybody else is in heaven or hell but God? Only he could see into their hearts and know if they truly felt remorse and tried to do better in the end or not.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
  12. Jesus Cristo

    either is a made up story!

    April 21, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
  13. Historian

    I agree with this main point of this article: we are all sinners in need of God, however, the author is inaccurate on a few points.

    First:
    "In terms of experience with Jesus, whatever you can say about Peter, James and John, you can say about Judas." This is not quite true: He was not on the mountain during the transfiguration, while the other three were and experienced the full glory of the Son of God (Matthew 17:1-7).

    Second:
    The Bible is very clear on the fate of Judas: "I have guarded them [the disciples], and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled." (John 17:12) This, said while Christ was in the upper room, is a clear reference to Judas, who had left the meeting to go the authorities shortly before.

    I bring these points up because Craig Gross makes a very important point regarding those who struggle with the type of sin he talks about. This is one of the hidden epidemics in our churches today, and far too few pastors have the guts to speak up about it. I would just like to see Pastor Gross's points strengthened and not open to the charge of being wrong about basic facts like those I have mentioned. Peter, mentioned in the article above, would have been a much better subject for an article like this.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
  14. mcore

    Two words: who cares?

    April 21, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
    • the answer

      2.1 billion christians do. (1/3 of the worlds population)

      April 21, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      2.1 billion delusional people living in fantasy-land...

      April 21, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
  15. FairAndBalanced

    One day I started digging
    And dig I did
    To find Hell
    Then I took to flight
    And fly I did
    To find Heaven

    And then I was brought down to Earth
    With a resounding thud
    For I found neither Hell nor Heaven.

    -Author.. Me

    April 21, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
    • HappyyppaH

      You were a poet and you didn't even know it!

      April 21, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
  16. Bronco Bill

    It is just a philosophical code for the way one should live his/her life. There is no heaven or hell.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
  17. Darwin Holmstrom

    Why don't we stick to debating more important subjects, like whether or not the Easter bunny tastes just like chicken.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
  18. annoyed

    What I find amazing is not that Judas might be in Heaven or Hell but that this author decides to ask a question about where Judas is today and then befriends people who answer. Wow.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
    • HappyyppaH

      Yeah, I was a bit perplexed by that as well.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
  19. Ned Bare

    I try to understand religion but it is very hard. Could someone please answer this for me? If, when you die you appear before God (in Heaven I assume- so you're already there) for judgement and are either sent to Hell or get to stay, considering a person dies every one point something seconds on earth, isn't there going to be a very, very long line as the judgement, per person, would have to take place in about one second and go on continuosly ? Also, if this is the case how would God ever find time to do anything else ?

    April 21, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
    • Darwin Holmstrom

      They have really comfortable chairs in the waiting room in heaven. And really good movies on the big-screen television. Plus they bring snacks and its always happy hour, so tap beers are only $2.00. You're right–it's a hell of a long wait, but it's not as bad as you'd think.

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

      Heaven is moving close to the speed of light, so time slows down, so there's plenty of time to process everyone. It's the security screening that takes a long time though.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • Steve

      Ned Bare,
      God is not limited to space and time like we are (those currently living). So He basically has all the time in the world, so to speak, to judge each one of us when we die, as well as spend time with us in Heaven.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • Believer

      Don't think humanly on this one. You have to think Supernaturally. I know I can not. I trust God will work things out in His own time, not my time table.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
    • Mark

      Wow, that was deep! Because I'm sure space and time are the same in heaven as they are here on earth. I assume you think God punches a time card as well.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
    • Ben

      If you admit that you are guilty of sin and worthy of death, trust Jesus as your personal Savior (because he died on the cross for every past, present, and future sin), and turn away from your old life of sin, God will transform you from the inside out. You will live a new life, and you will desire to have a flourishing relationship with Christ. When you are saved, you still live in a sinful body; therefore, you are still a human who is capable of sin. When someone who has accepted Christ as their personal Savior, he or she will live in heaven with God for eternity after they die or when Jesus returns. They will receive a new and sinless body. When someone who has not accepted Christ as their Savior, they will go to hell for eternity when they die, and they will be completely separated from God's presence, and that is the worst punishment of all. Being saved has nothing to do with "doing good deeds" or "being a good person." Salvation is made possible only by God's grace, and we can be saved through faith alone. When we are saved, the fruits that the Holy Spirit produces in us are the "good deeds."

      April 21, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
    • Kola Dushaj

      Judgment day does not take place untill the world ends. At this time there is no more procreation there are no more souls being created, and then the dead are judged according to their works. Hell is a waiting place until that day. THink about it, a sinner who dies without trusting Jesus goes some where that where is hell. they stay till the end and God will judge them. After they are judged they are cast into the lake of fire where all the condemned will be for eternity. As far as the lenght of time it will take for all INDIVIDUALS to be judged, I ask WHATS THE HURRY.

      April 21, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
    • Sean

      If I had to guess, I would say that if God lives outside of time, everyone could be judged simultaneously as far as our perceptions could understand it. If we're talking about a supernatural being that exists outside of our normal understanding of time, there's no reason to not consider this a possibility.

      April 21, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
    • nobody

      I have struggled w/ this allso and I have come to the conclusion that I am trying to put God in a space limited by time. He is not subject to the laws He created. "Time", "gravity", "space" etc do not confine or define God. I accept that I only see and know in part and that some things will be a mystery until it's my time to be judged.

      April 21, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
    • Stranger Kaine

      I imagine this must be a troll, but I'll bite. Do you really believe in a universe of power and magic and physics where super novas, black holes rip and tear at space and time, where sound and light vibrate at hundreds, thousands, millions times per second and we can imagine light as particles traveling at speeds equal to time travel if we could achieve them that your death and judgement by the being who CREATED ALL THIS SCIENCE, being in its full glory, what, a mere 80 odd years against the backdrop of millions if not billions or more years we can just now figure out how far back this universe goes? I'm gong to say any one being that can rip stars apart, and then put them back together and as a side note drop enough dust off to breath life into and make man could manage his time wisely enough to find time to judge us all. I would imagine judgement, time and your existance arent even nearly what you have been thinking in an after life. I would just go with, yeah, I pretty sure he can find the time to save that kid on the Golden Gate thinking about jumping, that soldier in Afghanistan in the fight of his life, kiss the forehead of the child dieing of starvation in some third world country, soothe the borken heart of little boy in school whos girl no longer loves him, guide our President in a world deep in politics, love me, my wife, my son, my family and still judge if you have been a decent man woman or child while you were on this Earth. Yeah I going to say, he can find the time, you forget – he is time...

      April 21, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
    • Seek

      Ned the difficulty is with most people they think in literalist or humanistic terms and not in spirtual terms. Heaven and Hell are states of being not necessarily places. Time is not within this existence as we know it. To say "where does God find the time?" is to give God human traits and limitations while placing God in this state. We don't know exactly what happens, however, placing human traits on God is to limit God. The problem with many atheists and zealots is they tend ot be literalists when interpreting the Bible and don't understand who the intended audience was when reading the Bible. Hence, if I were to say it was raining cats and dogs, a lteralists would expect to run out and see cats and dogs falling from the sky. Just as in the two stories of creation in the Bible, which aren't supposed to be taken from a literalist point of view, but from an inspired point of view, is to show God created man in his likeness and image (in the spiritual sense). The story of Adam and Eve is a story to show that God created the Humans in his power, glory and love. Those first humans sinned. As a result, we have sin and death. Now with this understanding, creationism and evolution are not at odds, but with literalists from both the athiest and evangelical side they are at odds. So it is with heaven and hell, death, and the end of time. You have the literalists that want to take every little thing in the Bible and take it word for word. The prophets, apostles and Jesus use stories and parables to paint a piicture of heaven and hell. Hell is a state of being where by a soul is in absolute separation of God (total despair). Heaven is a state of being whereby a soul is in total union with God (total happiness). Anything outside of that , not much is known.

      April 21, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • Tara

      2 Peter 3:8 (King James Version)

      8But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

      Gods time is different from ours.

      April 21, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
  20. Che-3

    Judas is GOP's and its Deranged Idiotic Racist Tea Baggars Reincarnated.

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

      Interesting that you condemn racists but you are calling yourself 'Che', I assume after leftist icon Che Guevara, who was himself a flaming racist.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • Steve

      Does coming up with moronic statements come easy for you?

      April 21, 2011 at 12:53 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.