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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. Theyre Condemned

    To deny the only begotten Son of God, as Judas did, and as Peter did, after knowing how truly wonderful and great Jesus was and is and witnessing all of His miracles and His company and *knowing*, most importantly, that He is the Son of God is the worst sin ever known to mankind. Further, when they were on the boat and were so afraid of the storm and Jesus walked on the water and calmed the storm for them, to feel as they did for one fool to deny Him (Peter) and the other good-for-nothing one (Judas) to turn Him in is worse than sacrilege! And because it is shown that neither of them actually thought enough to confess their sin or ask for forgiveness from God as is so necessary in order for God to forgive them, it is right and just to *Know* that they were not forgiven and at least Judas stands condemned today in the world of eternal fire and darkness as is right and just. Enough said. End of story.

    April 21, 2011 at 10:39 am |
    • I Am That I Am

      If that's true, then Judas, Peter and Thomas all denied Jesus. He must not have been very convincing if fully one third of his most trusted disciples weren't convinced. But then they didn't have 2000 years of myth built up behind the pressure to "believe."

      April 21, 2011 at 10:47 am |
    • HeavenSent

      You Yam what you Yam Popeye, it's because they were bullied just as you bullies on this blog do.

      Amen.

      April 22, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
  2. James

    Opinion: Neither exist.

    April 21, 2011 at 10:39 am |
  3. Rick McDaniel

    Since those don't really exist, I suspect he is simply under ground.

    April 21, 2011 at 10:39 am |
  4. Gillette

    There is no God.

    April 21, 2011 at 10:38 am |
    • AnotherView

      @Gillette

      "There is no God."

      Except God

      April 21, 2011 at 10:40 am |
    • Suz

      Well, Gillette, since you said it, it must be true.

      : /

      April 21, 2011 at 10:41 am |
    • John

      How do you know for sure?

      April 21, 2011 at 10:44 am |
    • I Am That I Am

      I can vouch for that!

      April 21, 2011 at 10:45 am |
    • Papa Pat

      There is no Gillette.

      April 21, 2011 at 10:49 am |
  5. Suz

    Lot of people being mean here. Just because you don't believe in something doesn't mean it's wrong for someone else to.

    April 21, 2011 at 10:37 am |
    • Face

      You're right, except that the religious don't stop there, they gather as many people as possible and teach CHILDREN, who we all know are very IMPRESSIONABLE into believing what they think is right based on FAITH.....

      If they taught their children about other religions and THEN asked them to make a decision later in life, say around 12-16 depending on the child, I would accept that way of bringing a child into religion....

      April 21, 2011 at 11:05 am |
  6. Stew

    Well, if Andrew Lloyd Weber has taught me anything, it's that Judas could really sing.

    April 21, 2011 at 10:36 am |
  7. JOHNNY 5

    Judas isn't in heaven or hell because neither place exists. If heaven and all its promises truly existed people would be killing themselves to get there faster. Hell is but a disclaimer to keep those from doing so.

    April 21, 2011 at 10:36 am |
    • neoritter

      Nice kind of circular logic you have going there man. Keep up the good work.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:59 am |
  8. JEFF

    Judas is presently not in either heaven or hell. As the bible clearly states, when you die you go into the grave to wait for either the first resurectiion when Jesus returns for his people to take them to heaven, or the second resurection, a thousand years later, when the unsaved will be consumed in fire, into oblivion. Hell is not an eternity of burning alive. God is not like that. As the bible states, "the second death", is when your are consumed by the fire that comes form the Lords mouth. never to be seen or heard from again. I use the example of a match. When you light a match, it burns for a time and then goes out, for all eternity. Hell is not a place of eternal flames where the damed burn in agony for ever, hell is being absent from the Lord for evermore. To reiterate, "the second death", If you burn forever, that is still an eternal life. God only promisses eternal life only to those he takes to heaven. The rest, will be burned to death. I'm sure people like Hitler will burn longer.

    April 21, 2011 at 10:35 am |
  9. Eric G

    @Mjollnir: Perhaps you should remove your bias and read the post again. I stated (not implied) that "there is no verifiable evidence to validate the existence of any Gods."

    I did not make a claim of knowledge about gods because their existence has not been established. The burden of proof lies with those making the claim. I have proved that no verifiable evidence exists because it has not been presented.

    I will ask once again...

    Please provide the evidence that supports the concept that your God exists to be verified.

    April 21, 2011 at 10:35 am |
    • Suz

      Prove that He doesn't.

      April 21, 2011 at 10:38 am |
    • Suz

      And I'm not trying to be smarmy here – only trying to make the point that trying to offer evidence of either existence or nonexistence of G_d is futile. Nobody here has to prove anything to anyone else. You either believe or you don't, and the reasons are personal for both. Nobody's business to tell anyone else what to believe or not believe.

      April 21, 2011 at 10:40 am |
    • Colin

      @suz. Prove that the Leprechaun King doesn't. Same thing.

      April 21, 2011 at 10:40 am |
    • Suz

      Colin – you illustrate my point beautifully.

      April 21, 2011 at 10:40 am |
    • Eric G

      @Suz: Actually, believers do need to provide evidence of what they believe. Beliefs form your actions. Your actions can have an effect on others. If your beliefs are not based in verified reality, your actions are not subject to morality.

      April 21, 2011 at 10:53 am |
    • Eric G

      @Suz: This is how people justify flying planes into buildings.

      April 21, 2011 at 10:56 am |
    • Harry

      I hope your not married (it's based on a "fairy tale" book). How did you prove your love for that person. Because there is no verifiable way to prove love exists.

      April 21, 2011 at 10:57 am |
    • Face

      @suz
      Still not sure what you're getting at.... we already know that by DEFAULT something "doesn't exist" until it has evidence to support it.....
      If you're trying to teach everyone to be agnostic thats fine, everybody knows this, (except the religious) and you making a comment like "prove he doesn't" and then saying "you illustrate my point beautifully" only confuses people even more.... Are you suggesting that a deity does exist?

      What is your stance on the subject?
      Thanks

      April 21, 2011 at 11:02 am |
    • Eric G

      @Harry: Love is an emotion, like happiness, jealousy or anger. One can provide verifiable evidence that they are angry. Are you comparing the existence of god to an emotion? That would be enlightening.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:06 am |
    • Harry

      Eric G
      No I am saying that the existance of love and the existance is of God are subjective. How do we prove our love for a person by saying it and showing it. But there has to be one other item you have to believe in it. So are you saying you believe in all those emotions that you can't prove. Logically that doesn't make sense. Please enlighten me.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:23 am |
    • Harry

      I have never seen verifyable evidence for any emotion. Please provide something verifiable.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:30 am |
    • neoritter

      I would like anyone here to prove without a shadow of a doubt that they actually exist. Since the default is you don't exist. Right now I'm crazy and you're all figments of my imagination. As such, I shouldn't listen to any of you because, well, you're not real.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • Harry

      Going back to your original question. Give proof that God exists. A man was born about 2000 years before Eric G was born. He said he was the Son of God did some stuff no one had ever seen before, He said some profound stuff and got killed. Some how he appeared to about 500 people for a few weeks after. Some people were really amazed by it and wrote about it. The books and stories were passed down to today. The only other proof I have is my experience. Of course all of this is subjective.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
  10. steelers81

    I vote he is in HELL....just like so called "Christians" who are just playing the game. One day God in heaven will say I never knew you, depart from me in everlasting torment. Of course God only knows ones heart.

    April 21, 2011 at 10:35 am |
    • Ammo

      If judas never betrayed jesus he would have never died for our sins... So is it just me or is that a good thing?????

      April 21, 2011 at 10:41 am |
  11. Nick

    I second the Santa Claus living on south pole or north pole.

    Also we need to write an article about which hole the easter bunny lives in.

    I wonder why 99.9% of adults grow out of the Santa Claus myth but only about 60% grow out of the god myth.

    April 21, 2011 at 10:35 am |
    • neoritter

      You're not going to like this answer, but one solution is that it may just be true.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:53 am |
  12. Rational

    Never mind that this story is fiction – which version of the story is right? The author seems to prefer Matthew 27:5 but there's a different account in Acts 1:18.

    So, maybe your "trusted friend who had remorse" angle works for one, but perhaps divine retribution for the other? To me one leans towards "saved" and the other "damned".

    But I wouldn't waste too much mental effort on it. It's just a tale after all.

    April 21, 2011 at 10:34 am |
  13. MMA

    Just thought, although the picture depicts two faces of Anglo-Saxon features, while Jesus, Judas and most of the disciples are born and raised by Middle Eastern families. Am I missing something? Or this is part of the European/Church Fairytale.

    April 21, 2011 at 10:34 am |
    • amg

      you're correct

      April 21, 2011 at 10:47 am |
    • neoritter

      You're missing something called artistic references. It's kind of hard to draw a banana if you've never seen it right? Same thing applies to people. Have you ever looked at Michelangelo's paintings of women? They look like dudes with a woman's head. Why? Because he never had any female anatomical references. What references did medieval artists have around them? You guessed it other Europeans. As such their depiction of people look like Europeans. Your question is the reason that Orthodox Christianity and Islam ban images of holy figures. Because no one knows what they look like and they don't want people to have a false image of what those people physically looked like.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:51 am |
  14. Al

    I agree first, that to spend time arguing the point about Judas is at the same time to ignore our own sinfulness. We have enough bad habits that prevent us from looking inwardly, instead of outwardly. Lets focus on ourselves and what we can do to earn being called a Christian. We always blame the other guy for our misery. We suffer only because of our own actions, nobodby elses. If we allow Satan to control us, that responsibility is ultimately upon ourselves. Unfortunately, I have seen far too many people, who call themselves Christians, commit the same sins as non-Christians. In fact, some of they are even more hypicritcal because they think just because they say the believe in Christ, they are saved, and therefore go out and treat other human beings far worse.

    However, since the article does mention Judas, I think it is fitting to shed a different light on the subject. Logically, God knew about the cruxification even before Christ was born. So therefore, it was a plan from the beginning. Jesus chose Judas as a disciple. Would he have done that to "set" Judas up, frame him for something that was planned to happen? I doubt it sincerely. If it was a test of his moral fiber, and then if Judas didn't go through with the "betrayal" then the entire plan would not have happened. That of course, was the whole point of Christ's visit to Earth, to die for our sins. So that option is ruled out. If he did go through with it, which he obviously did, why would Christ want to condemn a man for helping him, directly or indirectly, with the utlimate plan? it just doesn't make any sense. So the only thing that makes sense, given God's eternal love for mankind, is that Judas was a willing participant of this plan. From what I have read, Judas was Christ's closest disciple. He trusted Judas more than the others to carry out this master plan. Judas, agreed, despite the incredible suffering he was going to have to endure, to follow the plan. In fact, there are few names in history that have been darkened like Judas (e.g. Nero, Hitler, Stalin, a few corporate CEOs). That is a tremendous sacrifice.

    Unfortunately, there are few who would believe this, or want to believe in this, because we have spent our entire Christian lives scorning Judas. It would take an act of God, almost, to let go of this. But remember, we are told that all judgement belongs to God and God alone. It is not up to us to judge and pass sentence to anyone, even Satan. Archangel Michael even passed up judgement on Satan when he said, "may the Lord rebuke you." (Book of Jude). But that also would take an incredible act of faith for us not to judge our brothers.

    But to answer this question, Judas is not in hell. Even if he were guilty for willingly betray Christ, he still asked for forgiveness and repented. There is no sin that God does not forgive if we accept Him in our lives and truly believe in Him. I challenge anyone to really understand this, and use your common sense in this matter. May the Grace and Mercy of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, be with you always, and may He forgive our ignorance, sinfulness, pridefulness, and hatred toward one another.

    April 21, 2011 at 10:34 am |
  15. Fred Pittenger

    From a person who rarely uses the Bible as a quotable context or basis to define belief, I would suggest that this dilemma has virtually no context except as to fuel coffee discussion fodder. The focus of life and our spirituality should be in the moment. It is far more important to breath in this instant than worry over whether someone who died thousands of years ago is in heaven.

    April 21, 2011 at 10:34 am |
    • HeavenSent

      It is not good to eat much honey: so for men to search their own glory is not glory.

      Proverbs 25:27

      Amen.

      April 22, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
  16. netreacher

    Jesus knew that Judas was going to report him. It was just part of the divine plan. Because he committed suicide, I think he may have gone to hell. I guess we will have to see at the final judgement.

    April 21, 2011 at 10:33 am |
    • seedobecome

      sin IS sin regardless of the depth or breadth, none larger or smaller as it pertains to being a Christian period
      We as human beings have free will which opens the doors to our personal choices. Corny in today's "politically correct" society? Probably. Oh well..............

      April 21, 2011 at 10:38 am |
    • Joe from CT, not Lieberman

      One school of thought was that Jesus knew that Judas would betray him and forgave him for the betrayal. Judas' actual sin was despair that God could not forgive him. It was that sin that led to his suicide. As one cannot ask for forgiveness for their sins after they are dead, and as Jesus had forgiven Judas for the betrayal, the suicide was what caused Judas to be in Hell. The 30 pieces of silver were thrown back at Ciaphas and Annas after Judas realized that the Priests had rigged the trial (more or less) to result in Jesus execution, not just a public punishment (as Judas was promised). Because the priests considered this to be "blood money" the funds were used to buy the field where Judas committed suicide for use as a burial field for suicides. The thing that really piques interest in this is the act of suicide itself was not so much of a problem in Judaism as is the "pollution" from handling his corpse. Most of the peoples around the Mediterranean did not have the negative view of suicide that came to prevail because of Judas actions. This leads to the question that early Martyrs were basically committing suicide to prove their faith in God by allowing themselves to be executed without putting up a struggle.

      April 21, 2011 at 10:53 am |
  17. WWRRD

    I think the point here is that it is useless for any human to attempt to say any one sin is above another, or that any one sinner is more or less sinful than any other. Maybe in our eyes, but we are not God.

    From a literal viewpoint . The Bible says of Judas (the one that would betry Jesus) , that the person would rather that he had never been born. This implies that Judas would end up in some horrible condition. Whether that is eternal or not is left to ones interpretation.

    April 21, 2011 at 10:33 am |
  18. neoritter

    I'm going to comment on this theological question; but I have to ask, if the author thinks we should ignore this question as moot and a waste of time, why did he bring it up TWICE? Seriously?

    As for where I think Judas is, I think he's in hell. That conclusion is made with no consideration of his role in Jesus Christ's crucifixion. It is made because of what he did afterwards. He killed himself. He committed suicide. Whether he did what he did because it was the will of God or he was greedy. He gave up his hope. He gave up believing that the sinner can be forgiven and by extension forsake God or more specifically lost faith in God's mercy.

    That's a critical difference between what Peter did and what Judas did. They both forsook God in the most important of times. But Peter went passed his mistake, his sin. He asked for forgiveness and went on to carry out Jesus' gospel.

    April 21, 2011 at 10:33 am |
  19. Boka

    It's disturbing that people believe in this stuff. Not just a few people either. A good chunk of humanity is deluded. That's why there is so much horror in the world. These people have been brain washed.

    April 21, 2011 at 10:33 am |
    • neoritter

      High welcome to the comment section of this article. The question being debated is one of theological matters. While your input is always welcome, your current addition is entirely moot and of a bigoted nature. If you would like to sit down and discuss this subject like an intelligent adult I'm sure many people here would be happy to do so.

      April 21, 2011 at 10:36 am |
    • I Am That I Am

      People are magical thinkers. This debate may as well be about whether roses sprouted out of the earth in all the place where Jesus tossed his discarded toenail clippings.

      April 21, 2011 at 10:42 am |
    • Dliodoir

      Do you suggest that everything would be peachy if religion didn't exist? There have been secular and atheistic societies and guess what. . .they were just as cruel to each other as people of faith (e.g. Robespierre, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot). What all bad people have in common is not that they are religious. . .it's that they're human. Thus humans will be cruel and unkind and unjust toward other humans no matter what. . .with religion, without it. . .it doesn't matter. Yes, some use religion as an excuse to do bad things but if there were no religion, they'd find another excuse. . .like politics or race or what country you're from. In fact, religion as a social construct evolved to mitigate the worst instincts of humans. . .don't kill, don't steal, don't lie, be good to others. These are all good things, right? If religion helps someone be a better person for themselves, their family and their society, great! If a secular philosophy works better for you, that's great too!

      April 21, 2011 at 10:44 am |
  20. CommonSense

    Get rid of the "belief blog", unless you are willing to give space to other mythologies.

    Or rename it to something like, "Adults who think like children" Blog

    April 21, 2011 at 10:32 am |
    • neoritter

      High welcome to the comment section of this article. The question being debated is one of theological matters. While your input is always welcome, your current addition is entirely moot and of a bigoted nature. If you would like to sit down and discuss this subject like an intelligent adult I'm sure many people here would be happy to do so. Until you do, please realize if you don't like this blog don't read the articles.

      April 21, 2011 at 10:38 am |
    • I Am That I Am

      Opinion: Judas and Jesus are both dead. There is no heaven or hell. It's all part of the myth, along with the Loch Ness Monster and unicorns.

      April 21, 2011 at 10:38 am |
    • CM

      If it bothers you so much and think it is myth than why do you read it and why do you comment? The only thing I can think of is that you are afraid you are wrong and have low self -esteem so it makes you feel better to put down others. If I don't like reality TV then I'm not going to to go spend my day on CNNs Reality TV updates and yell at people. Waste of life. So it comes down to..who or what are you afraid of?

      April 21, 2011 at 10:42 am |
    • Seaburger

      CommonSense ... you have a good point. The religious on this Religion Blog always complain about the Atheists commenting but this is the only place for an Atheist to discuss a religious topic.

      April 21, 2011 at 10:42 am |
    • mikel

      I would think common sense would dictate that if you don't believe in it, you would simply not read it. Apparently your common sense is really an unrealistic sense of your own self-absorbed importance.

      April 21, 2011 at 10:43 am |
    • Religious sects

      CM, the only thing to be afraid of with respect to religion are the overzealous followers. It's only fair to discuss both sides of a topic. But I see your actual point to be, "this is my blog & you shouldn't be here disagreeing with me".

      April 21, 2011 at 10:48 am |
    • neoritter

      Seaburger that has to make me wonder why the don't want this blog to exist then?

      I'm perfectly fine if an atheist wants to intelligently and respectfully debate an issue. But you should know just as I do that most just spout of the stereotypical one-liners and move along. "There is no God" "Religious people are delusional" "Why should I care this is just a myth" "Religion is the root of all evil" etc etc. That is in no way intellectually helpful. No one gains any knowledge by yelling at each other and calling people stupid (a logical fallacy btw). What happens are the reasonable people leave the room and the nutsos from both sides scream louder and louder; until no one even knew the reasonable people existed at all (at least not for the opposing side).

      April 21, 2011 at 11:45 am |
    • ken

      Leave room for your religion, which is?

      April 21, 2011 at 4:13 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.