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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. believer

    One regreted the other repented. That's why one was codemned and the other saved. Saul the king regreted his mistakes, David the kink repented of his mistakes. That's why one was rejected and the other justified.

    Judas was prophesied as the "son of perdition". If "perdition" to you means salvation and Heaven...

    Nobody is in hell yet. Read your scriptures. For the first time we see satan and the antichrist being thrown in the lake of fire in Revelation. After that other will follow in Judgement Day where the White Throne is set. Till then Hell is just waiting ...

    I am following Jesus, the way the truth and the life....

    April 21, 2011 at 10:58 am |
  2. Sarah

    The one thing that really stood out in this article is that someone chose a picture for the article where Jesus is portrayed as a white person. No one really knows what Jesus looked like but, really..., couldn't we at least get his race right?!?!?!?!? I'm white and I think it's stupid that we have changed the imagery of Jesus to suite our expectations of what a divine being would look like.

    April 21, 2011 at 10:58 am |
  3. 12 Steps

    God's love is un measureable, even for Judas. Even for us all.

    April 21, 2011 at 10:58 am |
  4. James

    Here the pen is mightier than the sword. Unfortunatelly your lack of understanding of scripture leads you to pen mis-repentations, and gives home to like minded posts. One must understand that God gave us free will, and God knew Judas heart, but at all times Judas had the free will not to give Christ up. Judas is in hell because he never repented, he was filled with remorse, thus he hung himself. That is not repentance, (John speaks of repentance in Luke 3:1-14). Our greatest gift is free will, yes God knows everything, because he knows our heart. We still have the option to make our own destiny because we have free will, we reap what we sow. Twice Judas had a chance to change his life: 1st. was not to accept the silver 2nd. true repentance, both times he failed. Lets stop making excuses for our actions or blaming God for our weaknesses. I personally believe in Jesus Christ, He is my Lord and savior.

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

      Excellent example of why many don't believe: James criticizes the Pastor, a brother in Christ and Christianity, for not getting it right. Conclusion: James knows the way and is smug in that "knowledge."

      April 21, 2011 at 11:28 am |
  5. ALL TRUTH

    Who actually believes all this stupid BS?

    April 21, 2011 at 10:57 am |
  6. Frank

    Jesus made it very clear where Judas ended up in John 17:12.

    April 21, 2011 at 10:57 am |
    • You're dumber then me

      IHOP ?

      April 21, 2011 at 11:13 am |
  7. Ike

    Actually this is a thread/conversation that goes nowhere. If you don't believe in the Bible, then you don't believen in Jesus and don't really have anything to add but ridicule. For those that do believe in the Bible, we won't really find out untill we get to one or the other. The big question is how do we live our life? Do we not live it like Judas so that we know one way or the other. Judas might have been remoseful, but his life ended on this earth in suicide. How we live our life decides where we will go when we die. It is our decision. Choose wisely.

    April 21, 2011 at 10:56 am |
  8. Dmoney

    Can someone explain to me why God would make his son suffer so much? it sounds almost like human sacrifice. I understand the concept, he died for our sins, but I dont get why God who is supposed to love us so much would make his "son" go through such torture???

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

      It sounds almost like a human sacrifice because it Was a human sacrifice.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:11 am |
    • You're dumber then me

      That's the whole point! He loves man so much that he would sacrifice his only son for the forgiveness of man's sins. That flew right over your head.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:12 am |
    • Laura

      Hello – I'll take your question and face-value and offer the Christianity 101 answer:
      It was a human sacrifice.
      Short answer: God gave humans free-will. Humans do bad things that mean they can't get near to a perfect God. The punishment for those bad, not-perfect, things is death for the human. God wants a relationship with humans, with each individual human. So that we can have that relationship, God has to take the punishment. Jesus was tortured, in order for the bad things we do to not stand between us and God. Jessu made the connection/relationship between God and each person possible.
      And – I just read Ike's comment above. Absolutely right – the death of Jesus was not the end of the story. Jesus showed us that God is stronger than death, by rising again.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:13 am |
  9. Satan

    Uh, shouldn't Judas be MVP of Easter? If he doesn't betray how would it have happened? Good ol fiction...

    April 21, 2011 at 10:56 am |
    • You're dumber then me

      Go to hell satan.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:19 am |
  10. pgAngel

    It's funny that on this Thursday before Good Friday CNN tells us about some Christian that are going to burn the Qu ran at America's largest mosque in Dearborn, Michigan on Friday. Instead of debating Judas why not work for good in Dearborn and keep people from killing each other over what they believe. The North American Islamic Center 19500 Ford Road.

    April 21, 2011 at 10:55 am |
  11. teresa, ohio

    I have long thought Judas got a bad wrap. JUDAS of everyone in the Bible- brought Jesus's work to Fruition. If Judas had not "betrayed", I call it "delivered", Jesus , we would probably not know the Jesus we know. It is written that at the Moment JESUS dipped his "sop"/ bread in Judas dish, the "devil" entered Judas. Until that moment, Judas was all for Jesus. So Judas
    was fulfilling a GOD GIVEN directive. As for if he went to heaven or hell: people say he didnt ask for fogiveness and killed himself. Judas couldnt bear to live with what he knew he did and was so sorry, he gave the money back trying to backtrack.
    And then he killed himself. I dont know how much more he could have done to shown he was sorry. BUT IT WAS ALL PART OF GODS PLAN. I'm a Judas fan.

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

      By the way, I'm not condemning Judas to eternal damnation. I'm saying that the lesson of what he did was that could not see a way out because he forgot how Christ was all about healing and forgiving, even an offense against his physical person (e.g. the ear incident).

      April 21, 2011 at 11:06 am |
    • You're dumber then me

      Wow, a fan of Judas? So, you're a fan of the devil? Judas took 30 silver coins for the life of the son of God. I think he should have asked for more.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:09 am |
  12. Chris

    if the answer was written in the headline...we dont need a story about it

    April 21, 2011 at 10:55 am |
  13. phoenix

    judas is the patron saint for the heathen even lady gaga is a fan.

    April 21, 2011 at 10:54 am |
    • You're dumber then me

      Heathen? Where's that and why does lady gaga like it?

      April 21, 2011 at 11:06 am |
  14. Buddha

    Opinion: Ginger or Mary Ann?

    April 21, 2011 at 10:53 am |
    • mb2010a

      Ginger by a mile...

      April 21, 2011 at 11:04 am |
  15. Truth

    It is unbelievable how many faithless people are out there. All I can say is have respect for those who have faith and don't ridicule their beliefs.

    April 21, 2011 at 10:52 am |
    • ALL TRUTH

      Actually, it's unbelievable how many sheeple believe in this stupid religous stuff!!!!

      April 21, 2011 at 10:58 am |
    • Eric G

      Why is it unbelievable to you? There would be no ridicule if belief were benign, but sadly, it is not.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • Blasphemer

      Only when you guys stop trying to dictate public policy and legislate your forms of morality.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:00 am |
  16. justacommenter

    damn, too many atheists getting a hold of the computer these days. those who supposedly don't believe in God are flooding this page and act so smart by telling people what is fact and fiction.

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

      If Christians were tolerant of others beliefs then our society might start to heal itself. By posting here and showing how intolerant you truly are we make our point on how Christianity creates a delusional mind.

      April 21, 2011 at 10:58 am |
  17. I Am That I Am

    Of course Jesus was also the guy who cursed a fig tree because it wouldn't produce figs for him when it was out-of-season. It's in Matthew, though it's not a widely discussed passage because it kinda makes Jesus look stupid and petty. Sounds kinda strange the the Son of God wouldn't know that a fig tree only produces fruit in the fruit-bearing season.

    April 21, 2011 at 10:51 am |
    • i follow him

      the fig tree was refering to Israel not bearing fruit...

      April 21, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • HIS OWN

      Your concept of forgiveness is incomplete. Jesus death allows forgiveness of sins to those who are repentant of their actions. Judas compounded his own sin by committing another one... taking his own life ... rather than begging Jesus for forgiveness.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:07 am |
  18. MShade

    Judas and Peter are not exactly alike. There's a big difference. At the end of the line, Judas committed suicide, therefore by choice, disallowing the promises of Christ's forgiveness. Whereas, even though Peter denied Jesus three times, he wept bitter tears of repentance rather than taking his (God given) life. When the risen Lord asks Peter if he loves him, peter responds 3 times to make up for his previous denial...and when the relationship is amended, Peter receives the keys to heaven. How beautiful is that? Even if you don't "believe" as I do, it is a testament to the power of forgiveness. At the end of the day it comes down to free will. Which way will you choose?

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

      Thanks for bringing that up. I never quite saw until now the contrast in the story: Judas and Peter, the betrayer and the denier. Both are doing the same thing, for different motives perhaps. But the consequences of Peter continuing to deny Christ would have meant that the message would never have gone "viral", but have died with him. Not only do you have the "good thief" and "bad thief" flanking Christ on the cross, but you have the two disciples who stumble, only one thinks he has committed an unforgivable sin, so he hangs himself. So maybe the story is about sin and forgiveness. If you can accept forgiveness, the sin however bad does not have to be fatal.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • teresa, ohio

      are you saying people who commit suicide cannot be forgiven? Judas fulfilled prophecy as none other. Who would have wanted that fate?

      April 21, 2011 at 11:02 am |
    • KAB

      Nice!!!! We have to remember that God...Jesus only knows who is going to heaven and who is going to hell period. Read the bible 800 million times and we will still not know 100% who is going to hell. this topic is really stupid because we should focus more on our relationship with Jesus. We have no control over who goes where but we do have the free will to love and believe and follow Jesus, take up our cross and worship him.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:25 am |
  19. Blasphemer

    Judas is a hero, I mean, didn't you all watch "The Last Temptation of Christ"? The recently discovered "Book of Judas" also proves Martin Scorsese was right, so we should all be worshiping him.

    Maybe Christians should try reading books instead of banning them.

    April 21, 2011 at 10:51 am |
    • Judas inHell

      Judas a hero? We obviously and unequivocally know that is not true. And I hardly think a movie director has all the answers that the Bible does not already provide. As for the "Blasphemer", it is obviously YOU! Repent, blasphemer, Repent!

      April 21, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • You're dumber then me

      You are basing your reasoning on Christians not reading books, but your point comes from a movie. Sounds like an oxyMORON.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:17 am |
    • Blasphemer

      Never!

      April 21, 2011 at 11:17 am |
    • Blasphemer

      Oh, Hey, you can read. You'd rank higher than 90% of the people living 2000 years ago, considering 90% of the people were illiterate.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:20 am |
    • airwx

      Having read translations of the Gospel of Judas ( and most of the other Nag Hamadi library findings), I would advise that you reconsider your use of them as an historically Christian writing. They are Gnostic (not Gnostic Christian) in origin referring to a pantheistic faith that dates back to Babylonian times.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:25 am |
  20. Humanist

    A system of morality based in a fear of eternal punishment leads only righteousness. Why can't people behave morally because it leads to a more harmonious society?

    April 21, 2011 at 10:50 am |
    • radam82

      Because humans are emotionally weak, and most need to self-sooth such as a child would...Religion is the pacifier that prevents nihilism from taking hold in the logical mind.

      April 21, 2011 at 10:56 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.