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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. sonel

    That ? can be answered by following the biblical law. We, today are saved by grace but during those times
    they were under the law. I do know under grace once saved always saved...regardless of the sin. And to be
    saved means you have accepted Jesus as your personal savior and you believe this in your heart as well
    and that he was raised from the dead....one of the many great things about salvation is you are bound for heaven.

    April 21, 2011 at 10:44 am |
    • Paul

      nice thought, but I can think of instances where people deny Christ's salvation later in life afer proclaiming Christ...in those cases (kind of like Judas), they will die an eteranl death. (or never were "saved" to begin with)

      April 21, 2011 at 11:04 am |
  2. Joe Mahma

    I'm far more concerned about whether or not the Easter Bunny is in Heaven.

    April 21, 2011 at 10:44 am |
    • Paul

      if you really believed that Jesus is not the son of god, you would not be wasting your precious short life on this board...

      April 21, 2011 at 10:56 am |
  3. RxPhan

    If you believe that suicide is a mortal sin-then Judas is in hell. He's there not because he betrayed Jesus. As was indicated before, Peter did the same thing. Both betrayed Jesus. Judas was then betrayed because I don't think he thought his betrayal meant a death sentence-merely a prison sentence. He couldn't undo what he had done and the guilt overwhelmed him. Peter denied Jesus three times, not once, not twice, but THREE times to save his own skin. I think the guilt also overwhelmed him. Maybe both handled the guilt in somewhat similar methods. Judas went out and hung himself directly. Peter went on preaching when it was dangerous. Maybe his was a form of "suicide by cop"-deliberately putting oneself in a position to get killed instead of killing oneself directly. So does a direct act or an indirect act to kill oneself put one in hell? This could mean that Peter and Judas occupy the same place.

    April 21, 2011 at 10:44 am |
  4. Believer

    Every comment I have read here has only displayed the sad state of religious belief. Not even one comment has shown knowledge of the bible. For those who believe in hell, I have good news for you, there is no HELL. For those who think they are going to HEAVEN I have even better news for you, you are going to stay right here on earth; so start looking after your home, planet earth. That is what the bible teaches; learn to read it in context and research and understand the symbolic language used.

    April 21, 2011 at 10:44 am |
    • Paul

      not one scripture to back your heaven claim...may want to follow your own advice.

      April 21, 2011 at 10:54 am |
    • Believer

      @Paul...you obviously have not taken a critical view or read the bible for the purpose of understanding; otherwise you would not have made that statement. What I just stated there is the truth and if you want to believe what your religious leaders have fed you, be my guest...the smart thing to do is to actually go back and have a serious study of the bible; you will actually see that what I say here is the truth and not some made up religious doctrine.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:08 am |
    • Paul

      You are obviously right and I am an idiot. The first time I read the Bible, I was not reading it in a serious light.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:20 am |
  5. MATUBA

    neither hell nor heaven, like 99% of all humanity, he is waiting for the day that Jesus' return and rewards each one correspondingly to our response to grace.

    April 21, 2011 at 10:44 am |
  6. RMCM(SW)

    Peter left and wept, Judas left and took his life. Suicide is a sin, weeping is not.

    April 21, 2011 at 10:43 am |
  7. andybud

    Since neither Hell nor Heaven exist (or, rather, there's absolutely no evidence that they do), your question is meaningless.

    You may as well ask where Harry Potter is right now.

    April 21, 2011 at 10:43 am |
    • Paul

      Your theology makes your own statements meaningless. You know the truth, but deny the power.

      April 21, 2011 at 10:52 am |
  8. Kevin K in Texas

    Jesus, and all the deciples are remnants of ancient aliens (astronauts).. This explains how he rose on the 3rd day.. Alien DNA recovers and heals within 3 days of injury. The good thing is all us Texans will be lifted into alien spaceships once the supposed END TIMES come around and whisked away to a far away planet where we will live in harmony with our ancient alien brothers and sisters.

    April 21, 2011 at 10:43 am |
    • Believer

      You are joking right?

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

      quit trolling....

      April 21, 2011 at 10:51 am |
    • Kevin K in Texas

      What is more likely for the "miracle" of changing water into wine? Magic or sophisticated technology and molecular manipulation by a more advanced society???

      April 21, 2011 at 10:55 am |
    • Paul

      Yes, Jesus is not of this world. We all agree with you...how is your prayer life?

      April 21, 2011 at 10:57 am |
    • Jessica S

      Maybe Judas sold out Jesus because Judas was one of the malicious aliens that was "hell-bent" on the destruction of man.... I agree with Kevin... Jesus was half man and half alien. Yes, he could heal the sick because he had knowledge of advanced technologies that would permit him to do so.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • Kevin K in Texas

      Paul is coming around everyone... He gets that Jesus is an alien.. he just doesn't understand that they don't require prayer or worship.. Aliens planted the seed of technology with us humans and we are just a large alien experiment.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • Jessica S

      People think we are crazy but I don't think Christians realize how many people nowadays believe in the Ancient Astronaut Theory. I mean, even the history channel and the discovery channel have multiple programs such as "Ancient Aliens" that try and educate people on what is really going on and what most likely happened in the past. Far more likely that ancient astronauts from other planets came and performed these so called "miracles" using advanced technologies. Christ was doing nothing more than trying to bring ignorant people around to BELIEVE in the existence of Ancient Astronauts.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:20 am |
    • ALL TRUTH

      Right on Kevin

      April 21, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
  9. Paul

    Interesting prayer of Jesus just before the betrayal...
    (Jesus talking to the Father about his 12 disciples)
    Jhn 17:12 "While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name which You have given Me; and I guarded them and not one of them perished but the son of perdition, so that the Scripture would be fulfilled.

    From this prayer, perished sounds like the second death to me (spiritual death, not physical). The scary part of this prayer statment is the "so that the Scripture would be fulfilled" which brings up doubts about free choice. (another can of worms) Either way, we all have to decide who Christ really was/is. I believe the right answer is one spoken by Peter through the Holy spirit:
    Mat 16:15 [Jesus] said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"
    Mat 16:16 Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

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

      @Paul Let help you with the free will part. God is not subject to the effects of time. He knows the beginning and the end as one event. He knew Judas would betray Jesus by knowledge of observation, not a lack of free will on our part. The end result is that we , as humans fully constrained by time, could observe the result (betrayal) in real time without loss of free will.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:04 am |
    • Paul

      @airwx, I agree.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:17 am |
  10. GalinCO

    "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."

    Agreed. So look in the mirror and see if you are truly doing as Jesus asked you to do: Love one another.

    Quit judging one another...that's not what your religion called for you to do.

    April 21, 2011 at 10:42 am |
  11. Ike

    True Judas fit into God's plan, but he wasn't directed to do this as if he was a robot, Jesus picked Judas from the beginning and Judas proved to have a weakness that would lead to Jesus death...greed. Judas stole from the treasury and was lured by thirty peices of silver, which was a lot of money back then. Perhaps Judas was considering this action when he was with Jesus during the Passover, but one thing is for sure, Judas had free will. We all do. Sometimes what people do now will direct what they will do thirty days from now. I have a sister-in-law that has destroyed numerous cars by neglect and everyone knows that she will detroy the next car she owns and yet we gave her one anyway. Now if we had a car that we disliked and wanted it to be destroyed we would give it to her. There is a pattern of behaviour that lends itself to future events. Everyone has free will, which is why we are different than the animals and was the point of Adam and Eve. We have an awareness of who we are and what we do and will do and an acknowldegment of the consequences that sets us apart from animals.

    April 21, 2011 at 10:42 am |
  12. Jackie

    I like this article. I have always aired on the side of Judas being a believer who made a mistake and then felt remorseful. Thanks for sharing a different opinion.

    April 21, 2011 at 10:41 am |
  13. Loren

    As the basis of Christianity is forgiveness, Judas has been forgiven and rests with God. For those who believe, Judas did not confess his sin, his act of contrition, taking his own llife, was his confession.

    April 21, 2011 at 10:41 am |
  14. Dylan

    @commonsense you are mistaken. This is not a stricly "christian" blog. I've read plenty of stories on here that actually portray Christianity in a poor light among other articles about islam, hinduism, and others. Get your facts straight. I've always liked Craig Gross. I am a Christian and it's hard to find people like him who are so down to earth and quick to listen rather than speak and act like they know everything. I wouldn't expect most people who read CNN to be Christians, they go to Fox News for that. But there's no reason to hate on Christianity. Believe what you want to believe but have some respect. @Boka, your pretty confident in that you think you've got it all figured out. Don't be so arrogant.

    April 21, 2011 at 10:41 am |
  15. Nicholas Voss

    This commentary left out key Bible passages; conveniently those omitted are the very ones which oppose the author’s point of view. Pick and choose theology seems to be common among hip and cool, thirty-something pastors with little or no training.

    In Psalm 55, one of the messianic prophesies predicting the betrayal, we are told that he will “…Let death come deceitfully upon them; Let them go down alive to Sheol, For evil is in their dwelling, in their midst…”

    In Psalm 109, another passage on Judas Iscariot, we are told “…Thus they have repaid me evil for good And hatred for my love. Appoint a wicked man over him, And let an accuser stand at his right hand.When he is judged, let him come forth guilty, And let his prayer become sin…” The Psalm goes on to list severe judgments that fall upon Judas and his entire household.

    In John 12:6 and 13:29 we learn that he was a common thief. We are told that men like this will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:10) and that their final judgment will be “…lake that burns with fire and brimstone.”

    In Luke 22:3 we read that Judas was not only demon-possessed, but that he was under the influence of Satan himself.
    In Acts chapter 1 we read that Judas’s betrayal of Jesus was “wicked,” that his home is made “desolate” and “no who will dwell in it.”

    Gross states he is not here to debate theology. He is only here to comment on facts. This kind of reasoning implies that theology is nothing more than philosophical musing. Theology is a declaration of what Scripture says to us. Gross does not understand the Bible or theology. He is misled and is misleading others.

    April 21, 2011 at 10:41 am |
  16. Enmei

    RichG...the discussion is about Heaven, not about worshipping.

    April 21, 2011 at 10:40 am |
  17. Christian Perspective

    Yes – Judas is in hell. Luke 22:21-22 really says 'But see, the one who betrays me is with me, and his hand is on the table. For the Son of Man is going as it has been determined, but woe to that one by whom he is betrayed!'
    At this point the apostles had left everything behind to follow the "Messiah." They were expecting him to vanquish Rome and set up an earthly kingship. Even after the crucifixion that is what they expected. All of a sudden he was telling them he was leaving them, he was going to suffer and where he was going they could not come. They were shocked. He also told them one of them was going to betray him. They had no idea who it was. You see – it's easy to sit in church and play religion, but to live a life of suffering, trials and tribulations in the name of Christ is a whole different story. You can fool fellow members in the church but you can never fool Jesus. He knows where your heart is. His message was simple: We are born into a fallen state. If we die in that fallen state – an eternity in hell apart from God is the result. But if you believe Jesus is who he said he was, love his word, live to bring glory to his name – you will be spiritually reborn and death will no longer have any sting or victory. Your life has God given purpose and meaning. Seek Jesus while He can still be found. Most will reject Christs offer of salvation because they love their sin more than God. The greatest question you will answer in your life is "What am I going to do with this Jesus who is called the Christ?" Jesus said in John 18:37b "For this reason I was born and for this reason I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice." Jesus spoke absolute truth. Apart from God there can be no absolute truth. Apart from absolute truth you will not know who you are or how you got to where you are or where you are going.

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

      And what does that mean for all the hundreds of millions of people who have died over the course of human history who had never even heard the name of Jesus Christ? Everyone who lived outside of that narrow little strip of real estate that the Bible speaks about while ignoring places like the rest of Asia, most of Europe and ALL of North and South America must have been totally screwed since the MEN who wrote the Bible (and made hundreds of contradictions, rewrites and edits) had NO FRIGGIN' CLUE that there were any people living beyond their neighborhood or that the world was just a wee bit older than they realized.

      April 21, 2011 at 10:49 am |
    • Loren

      What makes you think that "woe to that one by whom he is betrayed" means that Judas must be condemned for all eternity? Jesus knew what Judas would do and Judas out of the knowledge of what he had done took his life. Is that not woe? To be denied the immediate knowledge of the resurrection? There are many that argue that Judas did only what Jesus asked and for that he should be sanctified. I am not of that group, but I also believe that given Jesus foreknowledge of what Judas would do, the compassion of Jesus also means that he would have forgiven Judas, and that Judas would not be condemned for all eternity. (I also find the foreknowledge difficult to believe - if we have free will, then how Judas would act could not have been known by Jesus, though he might surmise. If he surmised Judas would so act, he could have discouraged Judas, but instead allowed him to follow that path. Is Jesus complicit in his own cruxification?)

      April 21, 2011 at 10:49 am |
    • Kotaku

      Are Christians really this stupid? I don't get it! These people pass as sane people on their day by day lives? What leads these people to believe these piles of fairy tale BS? Brain washing? Plain stupidity? I understand the need of believing in a higher being. But believing in a Jesus and the Bible as the "word" as the word of God is just plain stupid. Not two ways around it. Same goes for Muslims and their Koran, and so on. Might as well believe in the Gospel of Shrek.

      April 21, 2011 at 10:54 am |
    • Paul

      @Thomas
      Good queston about those who have not heard of Jesus. The answer is that the Father is just and they will be judged fairly. As for you and I, we know who Jesus is giving us no excuse. We know the narrow path. We must choose with the knowledge that is given to us.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:15 am |
  18. KnowwhereIstand

    I do believe in the Bible and Heaven and Hell. It may be because I like the thought that there is a reason to act civil towards the rest of the world, but over all it is because I have seen enough to know that there is "something" above us in the world. It's called having faith. The courage to believe something that is completely unpopular in society today. As you can tell by the previous posts. Heaven and Hell may really not exist, but there is enough proof in the history of the events of the bible that I have no doubt in that, and that is all I need. Just knowing a small amount about history lends quite a bit of weight to the bible.

    April 21, 2011 at 10:40 am |
  19. Robert

    Nobody is "in hell." Hell is an event with lasting consequences. Hell means destruction of the unsaved souls with the effect lasting forever. Hell is but an instant action, not everlasting torture. God does not wish to torture anyone, even the unsaved. And, Hell has not occurred yet. It will after judgement takes place.
    If none of this makes sense to you then you really haven't received the Holy Spirit. Ask for it and it will come.

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

      Are people really this stupid? Really??

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

      @Robert, Jehovah's witness? Hell and the lake of fire is the same thing. Forever, eternal, place of torment. Read Revelation lately?

      April 21, 2011 at 11:27 am |
  20. Curtis

    You always get these people on here who say God is a myth.....boy are you in for a suprise!
    No, I do not think Judas is in hell, the whole betrayal was planed out, it had to be done. I think he killed himself because of the role he HAD to play. If you wish to debate this feel free to email me curtis.bourland @ Luke.af.mil without the spaces.

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

      I know – it's gonna be a big surprise when all these Christians die and find out that Allah is the one true God! HAHAHA – joke's on you!

      Seriously, though, as an atheist, I find the bizarre delight people like you take in the possible suffering of atheists at the hands of your god to be rather disturbing. Have you sought out some psychological testing?

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

      Ahh, once again, the whole believe or burn superst-ition. The smug manner in which Christians throw out this hollow threat amuses me. Might as well threaten to send me to Spo-okyLand"

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

      No bud, you're the one thats in for a surprise. LOL @ the thought of people believing in a mythological place like heaven and hell. And why do they believe? Because someone they never met claims it in a book. If I write a book proclaiming that Santa Claus is real, are you going to believe me? Probably not, you're more than likely going to make a wise crack. Yet, i'm alive and here...you've net met any of the guys that supposedly wrote the bible. Suckers.

      April 21, 2011 at 10:45 am |
    • Kotaku

      Are people really this stupid? Really???

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

      I wish I could believe in eternal life, but sadly, I am agnostic. I want to believe, but scientifically, I just can't.

      April 21, 2011 at 10:49 am |
    • JustinPM

      I don't think it's too great an idea to put your .mil address out here for everyone to mail you back.

      April 21, 2011 at 10:51 am |
    • Paul

      @amy, science changes every decade...The more science reveals, the more the mind of God is displayed, you are just looking through the wrong prism. I pray that God shows Himself to you in a real way.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:12 am |
    • ALL TRUTH

      Curtis you are a dulued loon!!!

      April 21, 2011 at 11:59 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.