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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. brian

    Is Judas in heaven or hell? Do unicorns prefer chocolate or vanilla ice cream? Does the God of the Sea, Neptune, ever get tired of eating seafood?

    April 21, 2011 at 6:50 pm |
  2. Matt

    What's so bad about hell? There's still beer (although stale) and stippers (although with STD's). Be thankful for the Flying Spaghetti Monster, For FSM so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son (Cheesus), that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have ever-lasting pasta. Be touched by his noodly appendage. RAmen.

    April 21, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
    • Up Your Rear Admiral

      Matt,

      All hail the FSM. May your beer never be stale. Burrrrrp.

      RAmen

      April 21, 2011 at 6:46 pm |
    • Lycidas

      If that is where your faith is...good luck with it.

      April 21, 2011 at 7:44 pm |
  3. Matt

    When Superman died, do you think he went back to Krypton? How do you have a serious conversation based on such a ridiculous premise? Blows my mind. To all you religious folks out there, please do something useful with your time this Sunday. Like watching the hockey playoffs.

    April 21, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
    • Bob

      Matt, you're a jerk. Why can't you just let people believe? It's like telling a 5 year old there's no Santa.

      April 21, 2011 at 6:33 pm |
    • The LORD

      There is no Superman.
      There is no Santa Claus.
      There was no Robin Hood.
      There is no zombie-jesus flying around heaven keeping an eye on the world....

      April 21, 2011 at 6:38 pm |
    • Jim

      Hey "The LORD", did you ever believe in Santa?

      April 21, 2011 at 6:47 pm |
    • The LORD

      Jim – I think at one point I may have believed in Santa, but it was honestly so long ago I can't remember. I'm certain that I had it figured out by the time I was 5 or 6 though...

      April 21, 2011 at 6:50 pm |
    • Jim

      The LORD – I'm willing to bet that Christmas was more fun when you believed a big man in a red suit came down your chimney and left you presents. Wouldn't life be more fun if you believed in a big man in the sky with a white beard that looked after you and your family and prepared a nice warm place for you when you died? Either way, you're going to be on this earth for roughly 74.6 years and then die. You might as well believe in Santa while you're here. Am I wrong??

      April 21, 2011 at 7:01 pm |
    • The LORD

      Jim – yes you are wrong. Lying to myself to make myself feel better OR face the real world and my own mortality?
      Live in a fantasy land where I am "blessed" and better than everyone else?
      No thanks, I'll take the real world.
      And that was a pretty weak attempt to use Pascal's Gamble on me....
      When I was 6 years old I also wanted to be a cowboy when I grew up and have pet bears!
      no Jim, I prefer to grow u pand live in the real world.

      April 21, 2011 at 7:11 pm |
    • Jim

      The LORD – I have no idea who Pascal is, or why he gambled. But I hope he won.
      Are you sure I'm wrong? You're going to die either way. I think I'd rather be happily wrong than miserably right. You're dead either way.

      April 21, 2011 at 7:17 pm |
    • Know What

      Did Santa Claus *really* ever give a naughty kid a lump of coal instead of a present?

      I guess that answers the Judas quandary, doesn't it.

      April 21, 2011 at 7:18 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @The LORD- No one ever said there was any of those things.

      April 21, 2011 at 7:43 pm |
  4. F Din

    All Go to Hell First.
    Quran says in Sūra XIX.: Maryam, or Mary.
    71. Not one of you but will enter (Hell) it: this is,With thy Lord, a Decree, Which must be accomplished.

    72. But We shall save those, Who guarded against evil,, And We shall leave, The wrong-doers therein,
    (Humbled) to their knees.

    April 21, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
    • The LORD

      And this guy comes in with the one religion which actually might be more insane than christianity:)
      muslims and christians, christians and muslims...you're all exactly the same. delusional, self-righteous, vain, and insane.

      April 21, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Are you American? Do you respect the right to worship or anyone's right to believe as they will? You certainly think enough of your own beliefs.

      April 21, 2011 at 7:45 pm |
  5. The LORD

    Perhaps judas was tired of being a traveling snake-oil salesman and was doing the right thing by turning in a scam artist. Judas probably didn't even commit suicide, but rather that was something made up later by the crazy christians living in their caves and discussing the end of the world.

    April 21, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Well, thats a nice level of unfounded guesswork.

      April 21, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
    • The LORD

      lycidas – so is the majority of the bible and it's various interpretations of sin.

      April 21, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Not really, if one is a literalist, quite a bit of the Bible is clear on what is sin.

      April 21, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
    • The LORD

      A literalist?!?!?
      HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
      Is that what they're calling inbred rednecks who don't have the ability to think for themselves?
      Yes the bible is very clear on sin...it's also clear on punishment, so why don't you go ahead and stone your children the next time they talk back to you.
      Your god is a blood-thirsty, vain, petty barbarian in the realm of gods ,worthy of neither praise or admiration.

      April 21, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
    • Lycidas

      I am glad you had a chuckle, simpletons usually are amused easily.

      Now to be serious. Being a literlist has nothing to do with the racist generalizations you might want it to be. It's just one that has total faith that the Bible is accurate. I am not a literalist personally.

      Why don't I fulfill the Mitzvot? Probably because I am not Jewish and it is not required of me. I would reference to you the Book of Acts where such laws were deemed unneeded.

      The book of Isaiah says that God does not need sacrifices...so you got the blood part wrong.
      Vain? Maybe you could show us how that is.
      As for the rest, I don't think you understand enough to know what is worthy of admiration or praise.

      April 21, 2011 at 7:42 pm |
    • Matt

      Lycidas -You seem like a pretty smart person. You really believe that god exists in the way traditional Christians believe it??? C'mon. Really???

      April 21, 2011 at 8:34 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Matt said, "You really believe that god exists in the way traditional Christians believe it??? C'mon. Really???"

      Kind of general question but there are many aspect of traditional Christianity that I do believe in. There are aspects I do not.

      April 22, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
  6. Mark

    Where would Jesus be today without Judas?

    April 21, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
    • Up Your Rear Admiral

      Still just fiction. All that would change a bit is the plot, but it changes over time anyway.
      But Judas' chopper shop be doin a roarin business either way. Baha is the place.

      April 21, 2011 at 6:41 pm |
  7. Zack Carter

    I'm getting sick of these stories – it's like debating whether or not Achilles killed Hector – it's a legend, it's fantasy. What happened to this being a news site? If I wanted to read fairy tales I'll read "A Christmas Carol".

    April 21, 2011 at 6:07 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Plz note that you are in the religious section of CNN. Do you go off about the news in the sports section? Plz try to show some common sense.

      April 21, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
    • Up Your Rear Admiral

      Yeah, like your gonna find common sense in the religion section. Not.

      April 21, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
    • Abishai

      Fantasy is lightning strike a pool of nondescript liquid to create the miracle of life, all culminating in an absurd and ultimately meaningless human existence. Jesus Christ is Lord.

      April 21, 2011 at 7:03 pm |
  8. Brian

    I don't know that Judas is in hell. None of us can. But I will be surprised if he isn't. He and Peter didn't commit the same sin. Peter denied knowing Jesus out of fear. What was Judas so afraid of that he decided to sell Jesus life for 30 pieces of silver? He wasn't afraid, he sabotaged Jesus ministry, and turned him over to be slaughtered. He and Peter are not the same at all.

    And you say Judas life was changed by all his experiences with Jesus. It should have been have changed his life, but when he essentially turns Jesus over to die for a sum of money, how can you say his life has been changed? It seems to me that in spite of his 3 1/2 years with Jesus, he didn't value any of it one bit. And calling this kind of sabotage and selling your teacher over to be killed "a mistake" is a gross understatement.

    What Peter did was a mistake, a snap judgment on the spur of the moment out of fear, which he later regretted. What Judas did was a premeditated conspiracy to kill the teacher that trusted him with all their money and who regularly healed the sick and the dying. That's not a mistake. That's an atrocity. That would be like planning to sell Mother Theresa into the hands of assassins ready to kill her, only worse. You wouldn't call that a mistake.

    The reason the Pharisees were so despised and rebuked by Jesus was because they knew the scriptures, including the prophecies that Jesus was fulfilling before their eyes, and yet they'd do anything to stop him or even kill him. He was a threat to their political power and prestige. So even though the knew the truth about Jesus, they refused to accept it, and would do anything to suppress it.

    That is the same sin that Judas committed. Even though he knew the truth and saw with his own eyes the proof that Jesus was the Messiah, he cared so little that he'd let Jesus be killed if it meant he could profit off of it. Judas was not like Peter, he was like the Pharisee. He was one of those "white-washed tombs" that looked clean on the surface but was dead on the inside. And that doesn't sound like somebody that loved Jesus and repented of his sin.

    So I would be very surprised to learn that Judas is in heaven. I'll be pleasantly surprised, because it would mean that he had honestly repented and turned from his sin. But if he had honestly repented and turned to God, I also doubt that he would have killed himself. People who know they are forgiven don't kill themselves, they humble themselves. They don't the burden of their evil sins, they feel the relief of forgiveness and a fresh start.

    Hopefully Judas did repent and is with the Father in heaven. But though we cannot claim to know for sure, what we do know from scripture does bode well for Judas' eternal destiny.

    April 21, 2011 at 6:06 pm |
    • Up Your Rear Admiral

      Judas now owns a rockin chopper shop in Baha. He be doin just fine, but the summers they be hot as he-ll.

      April 21, 2011 at 6:38 pm |
  9. The LORD

    heavensent – wow! you'll be in heaven smiling at those that are in hell? You are arrogant enough to presume that while you are in heaven you will mock those who are not? You're going to heaven to bully lost souls???
    What kind of sick freaking monster are you?
    Isn't pride a sin?
    No god would have a rotten soul like yours...if you truly felt it was your mission to help people, you would try to do so as god's humble servant...not the person you are...condemning folks to hell and then essentially assuring them that you will be laughing at them from heaven.
    There is no heaven for a rotten soul like yours you beast!

    April 21, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      ?

      April 21, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      My friends say I am Heaven Sent. You clearly are wrong in your observation.
      AMEN

      April 21, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
    • The LORD

      well heavensent, your friends, just like your bible are wrong. You are self-righteous and purly evil. Everything that could be construed as good and decent about the bible and the christian faith, peolpe like you destroy and wrap yourself in a cloak of arrogance as if you are better than other people and you will be "amiling from heaven" at all the sinners.

      April 21, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
    • Jim

      If you accept that ignorance is bliss for us religious believers, why do you get off on robbing us of our happy delusions?

      April 21, 2011 at 7:04 pm |
    • The LORD

      Jom – You are just that delusional. But hey, I like to live in the real world...if you want to live in your never-never-land, then that's fine by me, but just realize how foolish you look to those of us with an ounce of common sense and the ability to think on our own.

      April 21, 2011 at 7:29 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Angry much TL? While no one should ever take pleasure in another's pain...plz don't lump all ppl of faith into a prejudice view you have.

      April 21, 2011 at 7:34 pm |
    • Jim

      The LORD – You didn't answer my question. I asked you why you take pleasure in robbing us of our delusions. Can you answer me that?
      Or, take the question flipped on its head. Why do happy, delusional people bother you so much?

      April 21, 2011 at 8:04 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      First, the Lord and all your phony handles you hide behind. You know darn well I didn't write the nonsense that you are complaining about with the phony heavensent's pervisions. Carry on. Fools like you are a dime a dozen.

      Amen.

      April 22, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
  10. John

    Take a look at the editor's note at the beginning of the article...

    "He just turned 35 and is no longer a hip 20-something pastor from California."

    Huh? Editor's note? What does that have to do with anything in his article?

    Did Judas go to hell? And if Judas did go to Hell, will Craig be 'hip' at 35? How about 36? The world may never know.

    April 21, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
  11. Mott the Hoople

    I recall a poem, many years ago, which suggested that Judas was part of "Heaven's Mystic Plan": that Jesus needed to be sacrificed (to fulfill destiny) and only Judas could do it. In other words, Judas did his part to set this into motion, even though he knew he would be despised for all time.

    April 21, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
  12. The LORD

    Please stop calling it the Old Testament...isn't it just the Torah?
    Christians are soooo stupid...

    April 21, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Surely he scorneth the scorners: but he giveth grace unto the lowly.

      Proverbs 3:34

      Amen.

      April 22, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
  13. Jpgard

    "Facts are Facts". Really? Please show me the last time anyone provided any type of empirical/tangible evidence that any of this myth ever took place? Please. I would love to believe, but don't sit there and quote scripture and tell me you have to have faith. That's such a weak, tired, old argument. Was my wife a "sacrifice" to God when she died at 41yrs old? There's no sense in that and there's no sense in this, or any other theological debate.

    April 21, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
    • CC

      I am sorry for your loss. Truly. There's nothing else to say. Philosophical arguments are beyond empty when you are hurting. I pray that you find peace in due time.

      April 21, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
  14. Kat

    God Bless you all. Thank you Jesus.
    Amen

    April 21, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
    • Up Your Rear Admiral

      Batman bless you all. Thank you Zorro.

      April 21, 2011 at 6:34 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Let the proud be ashamed; for they dealt perversely with me without a cause: but I will meditate in thy precepts

      Psalms 119:78

      Amen.

      April 22, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
  15. Reality

    Continued from p. 29:

    The Judas stories are mostly legends created by M, M, L and J.

    For example:
    http://wiki.faithfutures.org/index.php?ti-tle=189_Better_Not_Born:

    And from Professor Gerd Ludemann's book, Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 96:

    "Jesus never spoke the words about the betrayal of Jesus e.g. Mark 14: 17-21. Rather, from the fact the Jesus was betrayed, early Christians concluded that Jesus must have known this in advance and therefore prophesied it. "
    Mark 14: 43-45

    Jesus is arrested:
    From Ludemann, p. 99:

    "The report is strongly legendary and in part enigmatic. "
    The thirty pieces of silver and suicide legend: ex. Matt 27: 3-10

    "The historical value is nil." p. 246

    April 21, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
  16. Harvey Wallbanger

    Who cares as long as he pays his rent?

    April 21, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
  17. The nobody

    Judas went to hell, but concerning hell the only ones who will be in it for ever are Satan and his fall prophets everyone else that didn't make only last in hell according to the degree of their sins, 1 day, 1 month, or even 1 generation. Then once they have paid their time in hell their soul will die, then that why the wages of sins is death. What death? The second death, death of your spirit. The difference between Judas and Peter is that they both made the same mistake but one repented to christ and judas felt so bad that he didn't repent and committed suicide. This is a lesson for us that we should always repent and follow God law that leads to the forgiveness of sins.

    April 21, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
    • Tim

      A novel idea.
      Unfortunately, this has not been what the Christian Church has consistently taught from the very beginning.

      April 21, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
  18. ScottK

    "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."

    And he still decided to betray the son of God? Makes you wonder if maybe he knew something you Christians don't...

    April 21, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
  19. Andrew Sanford

    If you want to talk about the greatest cover up ever, talk about Genesis 6.

    April 21, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
    • JeffAlbertson

      @Andrew A bit off topic, but your name sounds familiar – are you GULC Y2k?

      April 21, 2011 at 6:48 pm |
  20. Mari

    I think it's hilarious that all the religious fanatics post bible scriptures as proof of their beliefs.

    April 21, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
    • Mike

      God bless you Mari. Every time you persecute us, we receive blessings from God. I will pray for you as I pray for all atheists. That's love. That's God. Blessed are those who believe but have not seen. Whoever has ears ought to hear. The proof of God's existence is Jesus Christ. Forgive them Heavenly Father, for they know not what they do. God bless you!

      April 21, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
    • Up Your Rear Admiral

      Yo, Mike,

      so one questionable story proves another questionable story. Right...

      April 21, 2011 at 6:33 pm |
    • brian

      I agree, and Mike's smug reply was quite predictable... they always counter logic with "I'll pray for you".

      April 21, 2011 at 6:46 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.