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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. think

    The largest sin of Judas was in his decision to take his life, a sign that he did not believe in the mercy of God, i,e, rejection of mercy. Peter did believe and allowed God to transform him into a true believer with real faith. Therein lies the difference. Heaven or Hell? One chose God, the other not.

    April 21, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
  2. Michael Lee

    There is so much going into who was to blame for the death of Jesus. Some want to blame his own people, the Jews. some want to blame Pontius Pilot and others Herod. The only one to blame is GOD. He sent Jesus to be sacrificed for our sins. Everything was according to his plan. Judas is probably in Heaven with God, Jesus and the rest of the apostles.

    April 21, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
  3. Gaga

    He's in my new hit single. That's about all I know.

    April 21, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
  4. Barry Brown

    Craig, come on man! You stated, "This is not the debate Christians need to be engaged in." So, why did you start this? Because earlier you said, "Recently, I asked on my Facebook page: "Is Judas in heaven or hell?" So, you starting the controversial subject why?

    Let me ask you, do you stir up controversy for controversies sake and then play the good guy card. Come on Craig. The point is go glorify Jesus, not stir the pot for your benefit.

    April 21, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
  5. MCMC

    On another note if I make up my own stupid, irrational belief system do I get to write about it on the front page of a 'news' site too?

    April 21, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
  6. Andy

    We're all just stardust, but it's cute how you think there's a heaven and a hell.

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

      Your proof versus my faith? You see a tree and see molecules at work in harmony. I see a tree an think of it's beauty from God. Both of us see positives. If I do not shun your beliefs, why shun mine? A person of science, such as yourself should be open to all possibilities, lest your theory be proven incorrect and you are left with nothing.

      April 21, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
  7. NORMMMM

    All these questions, suppositions and mysteries..... Everyone passes away.... And when you do pass away...
    Then you will know the answer... Think of it in this manner.... Why live 60 or 80 years then return to dust?
    No all regenerates, no energy is lost... you cant destroy life...life goes on... And what is at the other end
    of life is a mystery.... But I tell you this...Why would someone make miracles that no one else could do.
    and then lose his life when there is no purpose.... Put yourself in his place... Why would you go
    through all the pain and suffering .? BECAUSE HE KNEW THE AFTERLIFE.... He knew there is more to
    life than living so many years on earth. So, you can be guaranteed that when we all pass on... we go somewhere
    our counsciousness...or soul departs earth and goes where it is supposed to go.. in another dimension where
    THERE IS A HELL AND A HEAVEN,,,,Where YOU will go after you die... will depend on how GOOD YOU WERE.
    OR HOW BAD YOU WERE. It is simple when you die... you go to this other side and this other side has rules
    BAD you do to a place called HELL, Good you go to where HE went after he was crucified and then resurrected.
    Think about it! Why would he allow himself to die? Because he was in the KNOW! He knew where he was
    going and knew that all others that die go to the same place. This other dimension called spirit world called HEAVEN..
    or Hell... I for one would not DIE for a cause if I did not know what I am doing... HE KNEW WHAT COMES AFTER
    IN THE AFTERLIFE... otherwide it would not have made any sense to die for nothing!!!

    Believe it in the afterlife there is a place in the spirit world called HELL and HEAVEN.... Otherwise it makes absolutely
    no sense to think otherwide... I WOULD NOT DIE FOR NO REASON, WOULD YOU????

    April 21, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
  8. Tom Daniels

    Jesus needed a traitor and Judas was it. Judas played his part very well, so he should be in Heaven. Besides he had to make room in Hell for all those pedaphilic priests.

    April 21, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
  9. Greg s

    Judas Failed and he failed in such a way that left him in such a state of despair he killed himself. In stepping back and looking at it i see some things. One, Jesus new he would betray him. Yet he kept him with him knowing that the betrayal was going to happen but also knowing he had to go thru this crucifixion no matter how he was delivered up to the Romans,He probably hoped Judas would prevail against this temptation, But he was human and he failed. If I did something similar today, Being a believer in Christ , Christ would forgive me of this sin So why wouldn't he forgive Judas.

    Ive always wondered what would have happened if Judas hadn't killed himself. I don't see how he would have fit into the picture. Judas failed, we all will fail when it comes to sin, some just as spectacularly as Judas. I believe Judas was forgiven. Especially when you consider there is only one thing that is unforgivable in the Bible and that's accepting the mark of the beast. Judas didn't do that.

    April 21, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
  10. Louie

    Only Christians and Catholics are Sinners..................

    April 21, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
  11. FreedomFirst

    The important question is: if Judas was created to betray Jesus, are killers, rapists,molesters, thieves, druglords etc created to inflict harm on innocent lives? how is this Just?

    who would bring a man into his house to slaughter his family that he loves so much that he sent his only son to die for them?
    yup you guessed it, only the christian god does that

    April 21, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
    • DeAguaDulce

      "This is not the debate Christians need to be engaged in. We don’t know."

      And yet you are the one who brought it up.

      April 21, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
  12. MCMC

    He's in neither because neither of them exist! Doi.

    April 21, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
  13. Billy Graham III

    There is no God and therefore no heaven or hell.
    Carry a rabbits foot instead. It offers the same protection and faith supplements.

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

      You have eyes, yet you do not see.

      April 21, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
  14. Kwame

    THIS WHAT JESUS SAID IN THE GOSPEL!!!!!!!!!

    23 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
    25 When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?”
    26 But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
    27 Then Peter answered and said to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?”
    28 So Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife[k] or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.

    April 21, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
  15. JudasSupporter

    Question: If Judas had not betrayed Jesus would Jesus still have died on the cross for people's sins?

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

      We will never know that answer, only speculation. I speculate that even if Judas did not betray Jesus, the chief priests would have stirred the crowds another way. They delivered Jesus to his death on the cross. They stated "let it be on our hands". One account states Judas tried to undo what he did, only to be turned away. The chief priests became jealous of Jesus when he entered Jerusalem and the crowd proclaimed him king. I believe they would have tried all means necessary to remove him from their lives. Judas was the easiest path for them. Jesus knew this and allowed it to happen in order to do his Father's wish.

      April 21, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
  16. Liam Ray

    A warning to everyone, particularly Christians, this pastor is a false shepherd mentioned in Ezekial 34, 2Cor.11, 2Peter, and Jude. Do not listen to him. We are warned constantly from scripture about false teachers, shepherds, and prophets that are here in the last days. Read those scriptures because there are MANY of them.

    April 21, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
  17. Steve

    The Bible states that individuals are "chosen" to follow Jesus, and therefore to go to heaven. Following that logic, and since God is all-knowing, souls are created by the Creator to go be forever damned and go to hell. But also, God is loving and merciful, so therefore He would/could not create souls to go to hell. I find it so appahling to believe that there exists a God so biased, so cruel as to create souls that are pre-destined to live eternity in Hell. That is not love. That is not mercy.

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

      I need to add this re Judas: in my humble beliefs, if there is a God, I believe that to be just and fair and loving and merciful and forgiving, He created Judas for a purpose, predestined his life, choices, and actions, and forgave Judas when he died.

      April 21, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
    • Banks

      Most people and theologians don't believe in predestination. God gives us free will to choose everyday. Are we all going to fall short of the glory of God – most definitely. Unfortunately most churches and christians have fallen into the category of being some of the most judgemental people out there. I choose to believe that I don't know who's going to heaven and who wouldn't be going. On any given day I am not worthy to go there, but that's where forgiveness comes into play for me. I don't believe God chooses us, but that we choose to live the right way in accordance with Jesus' teachings.

      April 21, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
    • Edwin

      Steven, God does not make any souls bound for hell. God loves all of us so much that he let's us decide our fate. The choices in life are all ours to make. He knows the outcome of every choice we make in life, but he allows us to make them. That is love in the most pasionate sense, allowing souls freedom, just as he allowed your soul freedom to not believe. You are angered by this, and yet God loves you as much as he does me and will still accept you.

      April 21, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
    • Steve

      Then how do I interpret the part of the Bible that says we are chosen by God? For there to be a 'chosen' group, there are also those who are not 'chosen'. 'Us' and 'them', 'saved' and 'condemned' (my interpretation). The Bible says it, and therefore it is true (other's words, not mine). How do you interpret the 'chosen' excerpts? I have heard this story from so many 'Biblical' pastors that I have accepted it as the predominant interpretation. (sorry, I do not know the book and verse #s).

      April 21, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
  18. Lance

    Regardless of opinions on where Judas ended up... I think it's refreshing to see a writer talk about his faith (even subtly) on a platform like the top story of CNN.

    April 21, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
  19. Ralph

    So, Judas' suicide was a sin punishable by sentencing to Hell, according to current theology... One might argue it wasn't part of God's plan per se, in that God didn't require Judas to commit suicide, however, God undeniably knew Judas would do so as a result of the path God had set him on.

    It's still a theological inconsistency of fatal proportions (no pun intended) – God sets a man along a path aligned with God's plan, knowing the results of God's plan will cause the man to commit a 'mortal' sin to end his terrible remorse (which wouldn't have happened were it not for playing his part as God wanted him to do) , resulting in eternal damnation, and God allows it to happen?

    Eh, what does that say about God's compassion for one of His 'beloved' children, let alone one being used by God directly to forward his grand plan?

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

      Good Question...

      April 21, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
  20. Martin

    Matt. 26:24: "The Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed. It would be BETTER for that man if he had never been born." Of corse he's in Hell.

    April 21, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
    • Chris

      ok but if Jesus already knew Judas was going to betray him how is it Judah's fault

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

      I assume Judas is a Repub. This story fits right in with all the other bashing of the repubs on this site.

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

      There is not heaven or hell you morons. God, heaven and hell are stuff made up in the minds
      of very insecure people. Live your life as you see fit and forget all this crapola.

      April 21, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
    • john

      Are you people really serious or are these comments jokes? Pay attention everyone: there's no literal "heaven" or "hell". These are theoretical concepts. Religions- yes, all of them- are man-made constructions...The level of stupidity humans are capable of is staggering.

      April 21, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
    • jpeay

      I am glad you brought up that verse as Craig Gross was very quick to leave it out of the article. Regardless of his agenda, the scripture is trustworthy. Remember the difference between Peter and Judas is not what they did, but that one chose to REPENT.

      April 21, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
    • Brink...

      Agreed. And of Peter’s denial, in Luke 22:31-32, Jesus says, again prophetically: "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers."
      I guessing Jesus wouldn’t say it’d be better for his betrayer not to have been born if he was with Him in heaven.
      I know this guy is making lots of $$ by being controversial, but he's got to read the whold book, not just the feel good parts.

      April 21, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • Josh

      Chris,

      Not only did Jesus/God KNOW that Judas would betray Him, but He actually MADE him betray the Son. Amos says, "If there is evil in the city, has not the Lord done it?" (Amos 3:6). Romans 11:36 says that "For of HIm and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen." All things that happen happen through Him.
      But you ask, how is it Judas' fault if God knew (and actually made him do it) he would betray the Son?
      Paul gives an IDENTICAL dialogue to this fantastic question in Romans 9:
      "19 You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?” 20 But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor? 22 What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory, 24 even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?"
      I would urge you to read all of Romans 9. God will find fault in evil doing despite the fact that He is the cause of that evil. Does that satisfy mankind's perception of justice? Certainly not, but that does not, in any way, undo Him. He exists whether or not you can fathom His ways (Romans 11:34).

      April 21, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
    • El Yak

      Every event the world has ever experienced has occured exactly as expected by the laws of nature without godly intervention without exception. Marching forward into the darkness holding not a shred of evidence for a belief system that determines moral compass with life and death implications is completely insane and childish. Heaven and Hell-give me a break.

      April 21, 2011 at 1:40 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.