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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. hgabriel

    Why is Judas looking like an Arab terrorist and Jesus as a German? Weren't they both Jews?

    April 21, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
  2. Happy

    It is written in Luke: Jesus said: "It's better if this man had never been born." However, Judas was fulfilling the prophesy – so – was he doomed from birth – or did God take that into conideration? Let us know when you get to the Other Sidee. Thank you

    April 21, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
  3. Joel

    I don't agree that Peter and Judas committed the same sin. Big difference between turning someone in to authorities for a ransom, and denying, out of fear for your life, that you know somebody.

    However, the other key point is that Peter begged for forgiveness, and Judas gave up on himself.

    April 21, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
  4. Christian

    Sitting reading page after page I am humbled and then astonished at the level those have allowed themselves to stoop DOWN to. Our Lord God, whether you choose to believe or not, exists. His son Jesus, The Christ, was born, lived and was crucified. Any true historian, from any country in the world would acknowledge that because there is the evidence. Perhaps what is needed is some devotion to trying to find out what the truth is, through your own study, of both the Bible, and history. We tend to let the world guide us in a direction not necessarily of our own choosing then we balk when we do not like it. Perhaps it is time to take hold of what is true, be a student and learn, sincerely look for it, and HE, whom ever you choose to call HIM, will make himself known to you. It isn't a crutch. His name is Jesus! The Lord of All, and by my choise, My Lord and my Savior. I'm sorry if I offended anyone here, that was not my intention. I am concerned for your soul. We all have an eternal soul that will live forever, and we choose just where that will be. Take care, God Bless and always be looking, searching for truth.

    April 21, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
    • CNNduringWork

      what's the evidence? Don't tell me the story written at least 30 years AFTER his death is your evidence.....any records of the trial, crucifixion, birth records?

      April 21, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
    • Tim

      Yours is the same flawed logic that has persisted for so many years. You say: "Our Lord God, whether you choose to believe or not, exists." Just because you believe something doesn't make it true, irrespective of what holy books you ascribe to. Your arrogance in your beliefs in truly amazing.

      April 21, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
  5. nitrous

    But "Jesus Christ Superstar" has some cool tunes, though.

    April 21, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
    • Sophie

      Dang, it does. You are right, nitrous!

      April 21, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
  6. Chris C

    Judas was in it for the power. Judas wanted so badly to overthrow the Roman authorities and he thought Jesus was going to do that at the time. Little did Judas realize that Jesus was on a mission to select those whom the Father had pre-ordained to be part of this future kingdom. Flesh and blood shall not inherit the kingdom of God!!! Judas was a man of the flesh.. He wanted nothing to do with the spiritual kingdom God was creating on earth.. And, that my friends, was the reason he turned Jesus over to the authorities..

    April 21, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
  7. Melvin Calimag

    This guy sounds a bit like Joel Osteen "Oh, I don't know who goes to heaven or hell, It's not up to me to decice, etc. etc" Come on! The bible speaks very clearly, there needs to be repentment of our sins, and whoever doesn't obey this command will perish forever. When Judas went back and try to give back the 30 silver coins he did so because he felt remorse, now there is a huge difference between remorse and repentance, which I don't have time to explain here, my point is let's not be ignorant of the Scriptures, we have to dig in real deep so that we can understand what it is trying to tell us. Also when Peter denied Jesus we may say that he betray him as well. Now here is the difference, Judas planned all this ahead, Peter did not (read the Scriptures) and we can tell he repented later in the book of Acts, when he was filled with the Holy Spirit, he became a more solid, mature man of God that produced the fruits of the Spirit.

    April 21, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
  8. joe

    He's wherever Christians think this story book character is.

    April 21, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
    • tuffgong71

      Exactly! Why not make it up as you go. Does it really matter?

      April 21, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
    • Gabby

      Joe, Need a life? God accepts trade ins!! If it doesn't work he will give you your sins back 🙂

      April 21, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
  9. TheNerd

    God created Hell and Heaven. Thou who do not know SIN go to Hell

    April 21, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
  10. Believer

    Judas is neither in heaven or hell. He's dead. Sleeping. When someone dies they do not go anywhere. Their bodies lay where their loved ones place them, either buried in a coffin, burned to ashes in an urn, or distributed for parts to other folks who are lucky enough to receive body part transplants. Their "souls" are resting, or sleeping. Until Christ's second coming that is where they remain, at which point they'll either ascend to heaven, or be left here on earth with all the others who are not heaven sent. No chance for those left behind to ever enter heaven at this point. But can you imagine a bunch of "criminals" left to live and deal with each other, with no law enforcement to care or monitor their behaviour? Sounds like hell to me.

    April 21, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
    • eric calderone

      Think you may be simplistically interpreting the state or condition of the soul after corporeal death. First, there is the question of time. Once we leave the earth in which we existed under the created dimension of time, there arises how we can view the existence of the soul vis a vis "time." God created time as a dimension for this world. Do our souls after physical death continue to exist in this dimension of time? References to the communion of saints, which includes those who are physically dead as well as those who still physically exist, suggest perhaps that the physical dead are still very much alive in the eyes of God.

      April 21, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
  11. Jennifer

    I think this commentary misses the point. The sin that Judas is assumed to be condemned for is *not* betraying Jesus. That was God's plan for him. Someone had to do it. Jesus told him to 'Go – do what you have to do.' It is not recorded whether anyone ever questioned his motives or tried to talk him out of it. The sin that Judas is assumed to have been condemned for is the arrogance to presume that God could not forgive his sin – that it was so great that it was beyond the redeeming power of God. This is where his free will comes in – he could have asked for forgiveness, but he chose not to. Again – a simple mistake to make – blinded by the horror of what one has done, it is easy to assume that one is beyond redemption – only a person of exceptional faith can trust God enough to see His power over ALL situations. Only God decides who spends eternity with him. It's like US border control: Even if all your paperwork is in order, it's down to the guy on the gate whether you get through or not... 😉

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

      Jennifer – "The sin that Judas is assumed to have been condemned for is the arrogance to presume that God could not forgive his sin – that it was so great that it was beyond the redeeming power of God. This is where his free will comes in – he could have asked for forgiveness, but he chose not to."

      I can imagine a greater love than this in my human mind, therefore cannot accept this interpretation. Even a human parent, with their flawed love, would not condemn a child to hell because they "did not ask for forgiveness." It makes no sense that God, in his infinite love, would do so, whether the child asked it or not. I think this interpretation is small minded.

      April 21, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
  12. tuffgong71

    Questions like this perfectly expose the very nature of the problem. Every "believer's" response begins with "I believe...." I want to believe too! Convince me. Why do you believe? Because your Mommy told you to? Because it makes you feel better about the frightening and often painful mysteries of life? I need more than that. The fact that these "myths" appeared in other cultures, centuries before Christianity tell me that there is a basic need in humans to be comforted in this way. Fine. But, I cannot accept ridiculous myths with no factual basis because it makes me feel better. I would like to tell my kids that when someone dies they are in a better place, or that there is a kind, invisible man in the sky watching over them, who has a plan for them. But I don't know this is true and I am not going to lie to them. The sooner they find out that life can be difficult and unfair, the better they will be able to deal with it.
    As far as Christian politicians: they all HAVE to declare that they are believers and who their God is or they will not be elected. As a person of reason, it frightens me that our countries resources would be administered by someone who thinks that Jesus will return and end the world in his/her lifetime.

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

      There is plenty of evidence that Jesus existed. there are historical facts that prove it. The question is was he the son of God. I believe he was. My heart tells me that. As far as Judas, I couldn't tell you. Only the Lord knows. It is all about faith.

      April 21, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
    • Gabby

      LOL How did you find out that bananas were sweet? Did your mommy tell you? No, maybe your grandma? Perhaps a monkey?? I am assuming you genuinely tried it for yourself and decided IT WAS SWEET. I will not sit here and tell you about what a great God you have that loves you but TELL YOU TO TRY HIM BEFORE YOU SAY ANYTHING.

      April 21, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
    • flb88

      @debbie: No debbie He is not the son of Gog, He is a Prophet like all others. PLZ don't make such a sin! How you'r gonna explain to your children that Jesus was the son of God. If u believe In the oneness of God I really don't know how you'r going to do that. Don't complicate things with these non sustainable theories.

      April 21, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
    • Tim

      To Debbie:
      You speak of faith. Faith is the license believers give themselves when reasons fail.

      April 21, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
  13. Eric

    Yes, Judas is in Hell.
    Sorry, but this sounds so simple and intuitive.

    First, there is a difference between denial of Christ and betrayal of Christ. Peter at a moment of fear and confusion and weakness, denied Christ out of the fear of his life. Judas premeditated his betrayal. I can denied knowing my friend because my other "cooler" friends don't like him. However, it would be heinous if I betrayed him to my friends to beat him up.

    Second, Peter was deeply crushed when he realized what he had done. Can you blame him? Honestly, if I was in his shoes, I may do the same out of fear. But, interestingly, as all the other disciples ran off, Peter was still there watching the persecution. Because of his repentant heart, Jesus asked him to be the Rock to lead the Church after the ascension.

    Judas, planned his betrayal. Afterwards, he was depressed and instead of righting the wrong and facing his sins, he decided to take his own life. Life is give to us by God, and no one has the right to take away life.....even your.

    The key difference was how they responded to their sins. We all sin, but how we approach Christ and change our life determines our salvation. If Judas cames forward to right the wrong instead of suicide, Jesus would've forgiven him as he forgave Peter, and as He has forgiven all of us.

    April 21, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
  14. HiggsBoson

    The answer does not sit alone. It is also the answer to the question "Why does evil exist?" (Epicurus). If you ponder these questions, one answer satisfies both. And while you ruminate on that, ponder this: Judas betrays Christ to satisfy the avarice of receiving 30 pieces of silver. Harken back to the words of Jesus when He said: "It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven." Or "You cannot serve two master, God and money." As you delve into the causes of the world's economic condition, think on those words. Happy Easter.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
    • tuffgong71

      I have spent hours contiplating why evil exists. It turns out the answer is: Human Nature.

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

      Evil exists because God created it (Romans 11:36; Isaiah 45:7 KJV), and it happens because God causes it (Amos 3:6; 1 Samuel 2:6; Isaiah 45:7).

      April 21, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
  15. flb88

    Everyone who commit suicide is in hell, no matter who is, what he has done or whatever! The reason of committing suicide is the misfaith in God.

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

      flb88 – blah blah blah

      April 21, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
    • tuffgong71

      Oh, so YOU have the handbook. Could you make copies for the rest of us? Belief = dangerous ignorance.

      April 21, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
    • Melvin Calimag

      Question for you: What is the ONLY sin that cannot be forgiven? a) Adultery b)murder c)drunkness d)suicide e)Blasphemy to the Holy Spirit

      When Jesus died on that cross, his sacrifice was sufficient to forgive ALL sins (with the exception to one of the above) and that means, all sins whether be past, present or future... Hint, it's called grace.....

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

      This is just completely incorrect. Please support your reasoning behind this.

      April 21, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
    • Craig

      As a Christian I disagree. I'm not saying whether he is in heaven or hell, but I disagree with your reasoning for two reasons. One, you're saying that suicide is too big of a sin for God to forgive, and Two, you're saying it is possible to work your way out of heaven. Well, if you can't work your way in, how can you work your way out?

      April 21, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
    • jiri pinkas

      Moron there is not god – get over it.

      April 21, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
    • Chris K

      ...I guess I missed that verse.

      Jesus died for our sins....ALL of them. This suicide is unforgivable because you cannot repent for it malarkey seems to place more emphasis on a technicallity than on God's reason for sending his son.

      I'm not saying that suicide doesn't imply a lack of faith...but I would not be so certain that these people didn't experience remorse for what they did.

      April 21, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
    • flb88

      @tuffgong71: Oh I forgot to mention! Well, to tell the truth I'm religious and I believe in my religion(Islam). And the reason why I do is because religion="system of life". If an action is harmful/bad for me, why should I do that. Suicide is a harmful/negative behavior.

      April 21, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
  16. lordpet

    He's nowhere: he's dead.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
  17. Steve

    Also, since the recent discovery of the Gospel of Judas (yes, I know..most of you christians don't even know it exits).....Judas was asked by Jesus to give him up. Since it's been verified that the Gospel of Judas was written around the same time, and was part of the early Christian belief system, then why wouldn't it be possible that if these bible stories are legitimiate, that Judas simply obeyed the commands of Jesus and gave him up. This would put Judas at the right hand of Jesus in Heaven......would it not?

    April 21, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
    • tuffgong71

      Same as the Thomas Gospel. As well as Mary Magdalene's. They were "edited" out by the Romans. So many people put so much "faith" in this book without knowing it's true history.

      April 21, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
    • Gabby

      Steve, so you "think" Jesus asked Judas to turn him just like Jesus told Peter to deny him 3 times?? Nope...this was a written prophecy that was supposed to happen because it was God's will and because he knew man's heart already. Peter could not believe that he denied God 3 times-he never wanted to or was his intention!! But due to the situation he was in, he could have been killed for acknowloging that Jesus was the son of God.We should not sit here and question or reason with "knowledge" why Christ was cruxified the way he was or turned in. Instead, like this pastor states-think of what he went through to cleanse every single one of our sins. He felt the heaviness of humanity's guilt in his spirit–that's true love.

      April 21, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
  18. Joe Rogerio

    "Then when Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that He had been condemned, he felt remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, 4saying, "I have sinned by betraying innocent blood." But they said, "What is that to us? See to that yourself!" 5And he threw the pieces of silver into the sanctuary and departed; and he went away and hanged himself. 6And the chief priests took the pieces of silver and said, "It is not lawful to put them into the temple treasury, since it is the price of blood." 7And they counseled together and with the money bought the Potter�s Field as a burial place for strangers. 8For this reason that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day."

    April 21, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
  19. EricMatthews

    I find it hard to believe that Judas did anything other than what he was supposed to do. I do not believe he is in hell. I find it impossible to believe that anyone could spend 3 1/2 years walking with Jesus, witnessing the miracles and learning from the Christ, and not believe wholeheartedly in what was taught. Judas apparently was the most trustworthy of the 12, to be named the treasurer. I believe this is indicative of someone who truly understood Jesus and his mission, and perhaps had a deeper relationship with HIM. Plus, Jesus had what I like to think of as a direct line to God. Being the most connected to God in the history of mankind, as his son. God knew Judas was going to betray him, and still picked him, so it was meant to be. Perhaps as a tool to shape humanity, only God knows why God's plan, is the way it is. In my opinion Judas was used as a Divine Vessel, to fulfill God's ultimate plan. That even explains the kiss to me. A less judgmental society would have considered this a lot more seriously, and if we are all striving to live in his image, than someday we should. Because Judgement is not something Jesus did. Jesus loved, and still loves us ALL. Perhaps one day we will all love us ALL, without judgment, as HE does.
    This argument on Judas, in my opinion, is another example of Man's Judgment, and how it differs from the words Jesus spoke.

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

      John 10:28-29

      If Judas had accepted Jesus as Lord, nothing he did could keep him from heaven. One would think that, after all that time spent with Jesus, he must have, but we won't know for sure until we see him in Glory.

      April 21, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
    • John

      I like this!

      April 21, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
    • andrew

      So i look at it as this.
      Judas was one of the most trusted of the apostles and Ii am sure he was included in all things that were of imporatnce that was shared by Jesus.
      It was written that Jesus was to die for mans sins. Unfortunately there were many people that were chosen to be part of this, that did not want it to happen. Im sure his mother did not ever expect her son to be killed With all the players in this story, one had to be chosen to let this passion take place. With out Judas this would not have been possible." Easter"
      Nto being there myself, i can only guess that since Jesus knew Judas closely and trusted him, he may have bid Judas to turn him in.
      Being the man of goodness that he was and he himself not wanting to this because of his love for Jesus, He took his own life not being able to live with himself knowing what he did. If he did not love Jesus, he perhaps would not have killed himself.
      It must have been devistating to kill you best friend especially if he asked you too this to fulfill Gods plan. I couldnt imagine the horrendous feelings within that Judas experienced.
      After Looking how the story unfloded it is remarkable how it happened. We all know that Jesus could have stopped his death if he wanted to. Even the soldiers taunted him. But he humbled him self for mankinds sake.
      The beauty of this story is of life everlasting. And we now have a direct path to God. No questions asked

      April 21, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
  20. marsha

    i cant belive that so many people dont care or dont belive its very upsetting what jesus went thru its heart breaking i wll not be ashame or scared when i stand with my lord jesus christ with his army at the end....

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

      I don't doubt your sincerity, but it's clear that you're delusional. Many, many, many people were crucified in that time period, no doubt many of them for trite or inaccurate reasons. Crucifixion was a common form of the death penalty in those times.

      www (dot) godisimaginary (dot) com

      April 21, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
    • tuffgong71

      Jesus has an army now? I am burning my draft card. Why would a saintly, kind, peaceful, spiritual leader need an army? Does Buddha have an army. Let me guess: the Buddha myth is false but yours is true?

      April 21, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
    • Sophie

      Why do you let it upset you? Get over it.

      April 21, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
    • XxAdamJxX

      It is sad....but its been this way forever. The best thing WE can do is keep our faith strong. It's worth it.

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

      An army headed by a gentleman that taught to "turn the other cheek" doesn't at all sound like an army, so why call it that?

      April 21, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
    • HappyyppaH

      who*

      April 21, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • Eli at JR

      JR,

      You hypocrite. You seek proof but will never get it because you have eyes that won't see and ears that won't hear. You atheist hypocrites marry in churches (God's house), celebrate Christmas (Christ's birthday), cry out to Him during your darkest times (O my God!), consider life elsewhere in the universe without empirical evidence (blind faith), and conclude that God does not exist–yet you offer no proof. You hypocrite. Jesus Christ is the proof of God's existence. God bless you JR. I will pray for the atheists as I always do. That's love. That's God.

      April 21, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
    • Tim

      To Eli: No, it is you that is delusional. Many people do not marry in a church, even more (billions) do not celebrate the birth of Jesus, probably even more do not cry out to any gods, or may to other gods other than (yours), and many people consider life elsewhere in the universe because science and reason points to that possibility.
      As an atheist, I do not need to prove ANYTHING to anyone. I simply do not believe in gods. Period. That's it. I wouldn't say, "I believe in the non-belief of gods." I'd simply say "I do not believe in gods." My atheism took me years to come to. Years of searching, – searching in vain for what probably doesn't exist. I make statements like this because I doubt. You make statements like yours because your arrogance has taught you to state opinions as fact. Atheists do not need to prove anything to you. We simply don't believe in gods. Period.

      April 21, 2011 at 2:30 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.