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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. richunix

    neoritter: No they are not. Considering that these stories were written 80-100 years after the fact. Spare us your dime story dectiive work, Remember Revelation can from a dream by John! The plot thickens.

    “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

    April 22, 2011 at 10:29 am |
  2. Ricky Bobby

    "Facts are facts" the author says. LOL.

    April 22, 2011 at 10:27 am |
  3. John Smith

    According to christian beliefs, if Judas did not sell Jesus, Jesus would not save the entire humanity by his sacrifice. Therefore, according to christian beliefs, Judas was the best apostle of all the apostles.

    April 22, 2011 at 10:22 am |
  4. xavier

    yes god is love (1 john 4:8)

    but that love is guided by justice (deut 32:3,4; psalm 33:5)

    since god is love, this means that he protects those he loves (Psalms 37:28)

    this protection means that people who do not know love and who unrepentantly work unrightouesness may need to be punished (romans 2:3-11)

    as noted by the author of this article, likely judas was not a "mole" otherwise he would have never been appointed an apostle.

    does this mean though that judas has been forgiven?

    first it should be noted that following god is a continous thing, not a "once saved, always saved" thing (jude 5; matt 24:13; phil 2:12; heb 10:26,27)

    It means that depsite being chosen as an apostle, judas could fall away. and he did, about one year after jesus had appointed him an apostle (john 6:66-71)

    a second occasion reveals that judas was a practicing thief. (john 12:2-7)

    judas felt guilt for his sin, but the question becomes, did he repent or seek forgiveness. and the answer is no.

    jesus himself points out the judgement passed on to judas (mat 14:21; john 17:12)

    is judas burning in hell?

    the condition of the dead is none existance.

    gen 3:19 says that adam returned to the dust (non-existant before and non-existant after)

    ecl 9:5,10 states that the dead do not think

    ps 146:4 collaborates eccl's acount of the dead.

    ezek 18:4 shows us that the soul is indeed mortal and can die despite what the church teaches about an immortal soul.

    so judas is dead. non-existant. he doesnt lament over his sin, or regret anything. like the flame of a candle that has been blown out, he simply doesnt exist.

    when you think about it, it makes sense too. since god is love, it seems quite out of character to torture someone for an eternity.

    April 22, 2011 at 10:12 am |
  5. richunix

    OK, this is getting werid:

    If GOD created Angels and men, why would he create an evil Angel and and evil place? It's ill logical.

    “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

    April 22, 2011 at 10:10 am |
    • Rob

      Because God created free will.

      April 22, 2011 at 10:52 am |
  6. Rob

    Rob

    If Judas didn't betray Jesus, Jesus may never have been crucified. An evil act doesn't indicate an evil man, just an imperfect world. I don't think God would damn one of his Son's best friends. Not even considering the sin's gravity. Damning one his friends literally on hisway to redeeming humanity just doesn't fit.

    April 22, 2011 at 10:06 am |
  7. TomT

    It really surprises me that pastors are still asking this question. Is Judas in heaven or hell? You are confused about that, pastor? Judas is in hell.

    Stop trying to read man-made theories into biblical truth. Just read the Bible...what it actually says...nothing more...nothing less. The reason you are so confused is becuase you are reading your own desires and beliefs into the text. Stop it. Read the text. Where does the text say that Judas repented? Where does it say he asked for forgiveness? Where does it say that he cried out to God for salvation? Yes, he felt remorse. But, read the text. What was Judas remorseful about? What was his reaction? Hanging himself was the ultimate rejection of God. What is the proof? Look at the way the Bible describes his death. Does that sound like redemption to you, pastor?

    Guess what, Craig. Hell is real. The wrath of God is real (and it is coming). People do go to hell. Rob Bell is wrong.

    Read the text, Craig, not man-made theory. Judas is in hell. His story should startle us and cause us to turn away from our sinfulness and beg God for forgiveness. Don't take that away from the message by softening (and changing) it. Judas is in hell and we must make sure that we will not join him there by trusting in Christ, turning away from our sin, begging Him for forgiveness, and then receiving Him by being born again with the Holy Spirit of God.

    Either you have the Holy Spirit or you don't. There is no confusion when it comes to salvation.

    April 22, 2011 at 9:51 am |
  8. Sonya

    Why are religious articles being reported in the news? Have your faith, go to church – but can we keep religion separate from cnn news?

    April 22, 2011 at 9:41 am |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      How actually says that unbelievers have to decide anything??? I am a believer and I congratulate CNN for its most interestring blog!

      April 22, 2011 at 9:46 am |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      Who actually says that unbelievers have to decide anything??? I am a believer, and I congratulate CNN for it's most interesting blog!

      April 22, 2011 at 9:48 am |
    • bmo

      That is probably the dumbest thing and narrow headed thing I have read. Grow up.

      April 22, 2011 at 10:19 am |
    • Rob

      There are roughly 2 billion Chrisitians in the world. Their religion's most important holdiay is Sunday. I think information related to this is pretty newsworthy.

      April 22, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
  9. Joe

    Jesus, having the KEYS to HELL and Death went and FREE the Captives!!!
    Our Father, Who art in Heaven Quote by Jesus himself
    All through the bible we are told that GOD is ALL-FORGIVING and ALL-MERCIFUL
    if any one is in hell than the above is not true. read the book use your heart find your faith for it is this that
    Jesus died not for your sin but for your faith "The Just SHALL LIVE BY FAITH ALONE" Jesus

    April 22, 2011 at 9:31 am |
  10. maggie

    The bible does not say Judas is either in hell or heaven. It says that Judas killed himself so the man is just dead that is the only true. Why are we speculating about Judas?

    April 22, 2011 at 9:13 am |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      It is important to be aware of the fate of Judas for people like the pope, cardinals and maybe politicians. God wants to save even the pope, therefore the story of Judas had been written down as a warning. May the pope repent at the bottom of his heart!

      April 22, 2011 at 9:31 am |
  11. Guest

    Jesus was neither crucified nor sacrificed. You'll be responsible for your sins whether here or in the hereafter.

    April 22, 2011 at 9:05 am |
  12. Amanda

    I think Peter is overrated.

    April 22, 2011 at 9:05 am |
  13. Think Tank

    If God knows all, See's all, and is the Alpha and the Omega. Then he knew long before Jesus was born that Judas would do this. So it was Judas's Fate to do this. He had to do this, if he hadnt, there would be no salvation. So if God knew ahead of time, then he condemned Judas to Hell before he was even born. Seems more likely that christians have no idea what they are talking about. I'm more convinced that Jesus himself demanded Judas to turn him in. Otherwise Salvation would have been lost for all. Judas is almost as important as Jesus when it comes to Salvation. And if you disagree, then you are saying God is a fool and God doesnt know all. Either he does, or doesn't. You cant have it both ways.

    April 22, 2011 at 9:00 am |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      Your comment is a complete nonsense. Assumed Judas had not betrayed Jesus, this had merely delayed the capture and crucifixion of Jesus. The high priests, scripes etc. had decided to kill Jesus, no matter whether Judas would help them or not!

      April 22, 2011 at 9:20 am |
  14. Jason

    We weren't there. We have no idea what Judas did before he killed himself. I agree with the author in that Judas made a horrible, history-making mistake. Looking at the bigger picture though, it was required, just as Jesus being nailed to two pieces of wood was required to connect us with God the Father. Judas' lapse in judgement was required as a means to an end. As wrong as we view it today, with our understanding of betrayal, we may not be able to comprehend the magnitude of what was required in order to bring about the miracle of Easter.

    At the same time, the question arises of what about Judas' free will? If it was set out by God to commit this act in order to bring about the Resurrection, did Judas even have the ability to resist the "orders" of the Creator? I make no claim that Judas was "told" to do anything. I merely point out that maybe a bit of fatalism was a play. Judas, or one of the other Apostles had to turn Jesus in. Otherwise, how is Jesus crucified? If he is not crucified, how is he resurrected? The betrayal of Jesus Christ was the linchpin of the entire passion. I do find it hard to believe that God the Father would welcome Judas into Heaven with a "Your work is done"-type welcome, but I am looking at it with my human mind, which is perhaps incapable on any level this side of Heaven to understand the limitless love of God and Jesus Christ. Perhaps when my earthly work is "done", I will have the capacity to understand, accept, even revel in the absolute love that my beliefs tell be my Heavely Father has. Until that time, I will accept it all on faith, and leave the truth to another life and time.

    April 22, 2011 at 8:56 am |
  15. olcranky

    Was what Judas did really a sin? If you believe in the biblical story of Jesus, the crucifixion and resurrection were absolutely necessary to achieve G-d's plan. As such, someone had to turn him in and Judas was doing what had to be done to set Jesus and his followers on their path. That really isn't a betrayal, though it had to be painted as such to the Romans and Jesus's followers to find out where people stood. In taking the challenge to do what Jesus obviously knew (and possibly encouraged) he to do, Judas sacrificed himself. Jesus foreshadowed the emotional pain of a loss even though you may "know" someone is in Heaven with the story about Lazarus and his sisters; being the one who set the ball in motion for Jesus' crucifixion wore heavily on Judas (if their beliefs were correct, he still had to do with the physical loss of Jesus; had they been wrong about the "divinity" of Jesus, he helped get his friend killed). If this story in the bible is true and there is a heaven and hell the way Christians imagine it, then Judas could be nowhere else than heaven for enabling Jesus's plan).

    April 22, 2011 at 8:51 am |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      Your comment is a real nonsense! Assumed Judas had not betrayed Jesus, this had merely delayed the capture of Jesus. The problem of the high priests, the scripes etc. was avoiding a popular tumult (the people loved Jesus), so that had to wait for an opportunity to catch Jesus secretly at a solitary place. By Judas help this opportunity came sooner than expected.

      April 22, 2011 at 9:10 am |
  16. Kenrick Benjamin

    Jesus stated forgive them for they no not what they done.

    April 22, 2011 at 8:50 am |
  17. Rainer Braendlein

    Hello,

    it is somehow interesting that at Easter some people start to think about Judas Iscariot. I would find it more appropriate to think about Jesus Christ than about Judas at Easter festival.

    Some people seem to have an intellectual problem with the issue of Judas: How could a disciple or a saved man do such an awful sin? According to the doctrine of the german theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer ("The Cost of Discipleship"), Judas was baptized. Judas was baptized by the call of Jesus Christ: "Come on, and follow me!" Not anybody had called Judas, but Jesus Christ the eternal Son of God. This call was supernatural and powerful. Judas seemed to be obedient to Jesus' call.

    Jesus and his disciples were a small-scale Church that means, everything was organized and they even had a cash box (coffer) and the housekeeper, managing the cash box, was Judas Iscariot. Once upon a time an extremly devout woman came and anointed Jesus with a very costly salve. When Judas saw the waste of the salve, he criticized Jesus that the salve could have been sold, and the money could have been given to the poor. No matter, what Judas said, he was not concerned about the poor, but about his small income. Sometimes, when nobody was around, he found it easy to reach into God's cash box and to take the salary, which Jesus had neglected to pay him. Wasn't he the most diligent of them all?

    The woman, who anointed Jesus, had a very great appreciation for her Lord, but Judas was somewhat annoyed that the ordinary carpenters son allowed wasting the salve, instead to increase Judas' salary. Although Judas was under the supernatural call of Jesus Christ, he never was a true disciple, because he just followed Jesus in order to earn money (simony). Judas was a fraud all the time. He had no appreciation for Jesus like the devout woman. The other 11 disciples loved Jesus truely and believed that he was the Son of God. However they were in danger to get "infected" by Judas disbelief.

    It is nearly a crime to compare the denial of Jesus by Peter with Judas' betrayal. Peter acted on impulse, when he denied Jesus. Judas in contrast calculated for a long time, how he could sell Jesus most effectively. When Jesus was captured, Peter started to fight for his beloved Lord. He cut away the ear of one of the soldiers. Peter really believed that Jesus was the king of Isreal and could not understand that Jesus didn't defend himself by using violence. Jesus just took the ear of the soldier and put it back to its place at the soldier's head (he cured him). Peter denied Jesus not because he wanted any money or because he was greedy for money, but because he didn't yet understand Jesus' way at the moment.

    What was Jesus' way?

    Jesus had to be obedient to his heavenly father. It was the decision of God that Jesus should bear the sin of the whole mankind. Assumed Jesus had struggled, the plan of God had never been fullfilled. By accepting to be killed, Jesus provided the basis for our salvation. Romans Chapter 6 says that we have died and resurrected together with Jesus. That means, our old man of sin has died with Jesus at the cross and we have entered a new life in Jesus in the power of his resurrection. At Holy Baptism this salvation was dedicated to us.

    Let us praise Jesus Christ for making possible our salvation by his sorrow and suffering and the humiliation and shame, He beared for us. Our answer to Jesus' atonement must be discipleship (obedience). If we don't want to be obedient, our baptism will never become effective for us in any way. To the contrary, if we don't follow Jesus, after we have been baptized, we are in big danger to get cursed.

    Hypotheses (!):
    People like Judas usually are not only greedy for money, but also for fame, honour and power (it is fair to say, Judas was a typical politician or cardinal).

    Many people feel somewhat for Judas, because after he had betrayed Jesus, he got a big remorse and commited suicide. I must admit, for a long time it was difficult for me to understand that some verses of the Bible obviously say that Judas will get punished at any rate for what he did, but on the other hand he seemed to repent his sin (usually God forgives someone, who repents). Maybe we make a mistake when we believe that Judas repented like a true christian. It is really possible that he solely repented because he saw his' material hopes dashed. He became aware that he had distroyed the basis of his livelihood and appreciation, and that caused his big remorse.

    How got his hopes dashed?

    Well, shortly before Jesus was captured, he had told St. John that Judas is the betrayer, and he had told him this secretly. Jesus knew that Judas was going to take rule over the disciples (the young Church, Jesus had founded and which he loved with infinite love), after He had been captured. Jesus wanted to avoid the rule of Judas over the disciples.

    Judas turned in Jesus by a kiss. Seemingly he had the plan to deceive the 11 disciples. He didn't want to know them that he turned in Jesus, because after the seizure of Jesus Judas wanted to become the bishop of the disciples.

    After Jesus was captured, Judas tried to take over the rule over the disciples, but he failed. Thank God, Jesus had warned St. John about the true color of Judas. Now Judas had a problem. All his hopes for his prospective livelihood, honour, power and fame were dashed. The disciples were no longer willing to accept him as a leader. Probably they told him: "Move on!"

    Before Judas proceeded to leave this world, he decided that all people should have at least a good memory of him and he went to the high priests and told them he had turned in guiltless blood, and additionally he threw the wage of betrayel (30 silver coins) into the temple, so that all people of Isreal should get convinced that he had been a righteous man, having made a mistake.

    Now Judas saw that his life had suddenly ended up in an unimaginable darkness. He had been catapulted to the very edge of the universe or even beyond. Time has come for annihilation and he did it. That was it. The Early Church said: "Poor Judas!"

    Of course it was merely an idee fixe of Judas to get annihilated by hanging himself. Judas will burn for ever in a lake of fire!

    April 22, 2011 at 8:34 am |
    • richunix

      Do you also see Elvis in potato chips?

      “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

      April 22, 2011 at 8:42 am |
    • bmo

      The fact of the matter is that nobody know what has happened. Christ was man and so was Judas and like you said he repented. So isn't it true that Christians believe that if you repent and truely feel sorry that you will enter the Kingdom of God. You are awfully zealous with your points and telling people how things are. It's not up to you to condemn anyone. God is a loving and forgiving god. That is what christians believe, so if he is that way than why is Judas burning in a lake of fire? Is it because he turned Christ Jesus in? If he did that to a "normal" man and repented wouldn't he be forgiven? Again, you really need to think about what you believe in and apply it to what happened back then. Yes, Judas did a horrible thing but it was the act of what he did not who he did it to. He was sorry as soon as he did it and repented.
      I have no idea where he is but if our god is who we think and believe he is i am sure he is with him.

      April 22, 2011 at 10:07 am |
  18. Halo1

    No one is even worthy to comment on this. we were not there, therefore we do not know nothing about it. Just realize this is all GODS will. ready yourselves for the second coming...for one day we will ALL bow. Bow now or Bow later....Amen

    April 22, 2011 at 8:18 am |
    • Thor

      Bow to Thor, the One True God. Thor sends Christians to hell and everyone else to heaven. Repent before it's too late.

      April 22, 2011 at 8:32 am |
    • Lycidas

      @T or- you might choose an ancient religion where the character you imply isn't referred to as Odin's son many many times.

      April 22, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
  19. lemonhead628

    what happened after he sold Jesus out? did he cry out to God, asking forgiveness? since it was (obviously) part of God's plan, and He saw Judas' distress & heartsickness over it, was Judas forgiven? we don't really know for sure, but i think Judas was forgiven.

    April 22, 2011 at 7:56 am |
  20. The Judge

    God just tweeted....Who the hell is Judas?!!

    April 22, 2011 at 7:39 am |
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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.