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. Brandon W.

    I don't think the question is as hard as the author makes it out to be. Judas didn't go to hell because he committed suicide or committed the worse sin in history (betraying Jesus, which we all seem to do) but because he didn't truly believe. This is why people go to hell,not just because they sinned but because they did not believe in Christ, the One who redeems. I think John 6:60-71 makes it pretty clear that Judas did not believe. Therefore, the author has a pt to make, granted, but use some one other than Judas to make it

    April 21, 2011 at 11:03 am |
    • bob

      Not to offend, just curious here. I am not a Christian, but I have no problems with them either. But, to go along with your bible logic, I had a question. So, wasn't the whole premise of the crucifixion the idea that Jesus would be the last sacrifice; that people no longer had to offer animal sacrifices to atone for sins, but that one now only had to simply believe in Jesus?

      I always assumed this way of atonement was changed at the moment of his death, but Judas died before Jesus. Or, if it was changed when he made the speeches about no man coming to the Father but by him, and all those other references, when exactly did it become mandatory to believe that Jesus was the son of God in order to get into heaven? When he was born? Would that mean that everyone that died from the time he was born till he started his ministry went to hell?

      Again, I mean no offense. Your comment just got me thinking is all.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:31 am |
  2. styve from Palm Springs

    I agree there are some similarities between the sins of Judas and Peter, but there are also big differences. Peter wasn't embezzling from Jesus the whole time! Peter didn't make advance plans to betray Jesus for money. Peter sincerely denied he would even deny Christ. Judas tried to hide this lies. Peter got carried away by fear and worry and the unexpected moment and rashly did something he later regretted. Jesus predicted the sin of Judas and Peter in advance. In Luke 22:31 he predicted that Peter would repent and continue serving him. In the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5-7 and Luke 6) and other places Jesus made it very clear that any price was worth paying to enter heaven. He told the disciples not to get so excited over their ministry authority and power on earth, but to get excited that they would have eternal life in heaven. However in Matt 26:24 Jesus said it would have been far better if Judas had never been born. That does not sound like something Jesus would say about a person who was going to have eternal life in heaven. It sounds very much like what he said to those who live for themselves on earth and ignore or disobey God.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:02 am |
  3. Wayne P.

    Judas is neither in heaven or hell. Neither exist.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:02 am |
  4. steama

    My take: Neither, because it is fiction. God never died because god never was.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:02 am |
  5. demandproud

    Jesus came to earth to die for our sins. If His betrayal and death were part of God's plan, how could the betrayer be condemned for eternity?

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

      Because you are dealing with a myth,

      April 21, 2011 at 11:03 am |
  6. Bill

    In order for Jesus to be betrayed and be crucified and die for our sins to full fill the plan of salvation there had to be someone close to Jesus to betray him. Judas filled that role. Jesus volunteered for what happened. Judas has been forgiven. He is in what is call Spirit Prison until he is released. That is not hell but is not heaven either. He will probably stay there until the final day of judgement.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:01 am |
  7. Ben

    I love the modern revisionism that has to be applied to everything. Forget 2000 years of belief.

    And, even if you accept that he is not in Hell for betraying Jesus or that it was God's plan and someone had to do it (no free will and all), he killed himself. Suicide is a sin that is final because you cannot seek absolution for it (as you die at the moment you commit the sin).

    April 21, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • Nonimus

      Hanging, as I think Judas did, is not instantaneous.
      Technical question: Is it possible to kill oneself by hanging and yet repent prior to death without being able to stop it?

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

      a mid-air hail mary ought to do the trick.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:21 am |
  8. Jason Crouch

    I appreciate the fact that you brought this topic up, but it's not a particularly biblical viewpoint that you've expressed. Jesus referred to Judas when he was praying for his disciples in John 17:12: "None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled." I don't think it gets a whole lot clearer than that. The person you chose to unfriend was correct, based on what Jesus himself said.

    On a broader note, I do think that Judas was a believer and I think he knew the truth about who Jesus was, but he committed the one unpardonable sin mentioned in the Bible, namely, apostasy. God can't forgive someone who chooses to reject him completely even after knowing the truth.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:01 am |
  9. TG

    Near Passover 32 C.E., Judas, with the other apostles, was sent out preaching. (Matt 10:1, 4, 5) Shortly after Judas’ return, and less than a year after he had been made an apostle, he was publicly denounced by Christ, though not by name. Some disciples left Jesus, being shocked over his teachings, but Peter said that the 12 would stick with Christ. In response Jesus acknowledged that he had chosen the 12 but said: “One of you is a slanderer [Gr., di·a´bo·los, meaning “devil” or “slanderer”].” The account explains that the one who already was a slanderer was Judas, who “was going to betray him, although one of the twelve.”(John 6:66-71)

    In connection with this incident John says: “From the beginning Jesus knew . . . who was the one that would betray him.” (John 6:64) From Hebrew Scripture (commonly called the Old Testament) prophecies Christ knew that he would be betrayed by a close associate. (Ps 41:9; 109:8; John 13:18, 19) God also, by use of his foreknowledge, had seen that such a one would turn traitor, but it is inconsistent with God’s qualities and past dealings to think that Judas had to fail, as if he were predestined. Rather, as already mentioned, at the beginning of his apostleship Judas was faithful to God and to Jesus. Thus Christ must have meant that “from the beginning” of when Judas started to go bad, started to give in to imperfection and sinful inclinations, Jesus recognized it. (John 2:24, 25; Rev 1:1; 2:23) Judas must have known he was the “slanderer” Jesus mentioned, but he continued to travel with Jesus and the faithful apostles and apparently he made no changes.

    Jesus called Judas "the son of destruction" (John 17:12). Thus, Judas Iscariot did not go to heaven obviously nor to a burning "hell" (which is not taught in the Bible, see Jer. 7:31; 19:5; 32:35), but that he was destroyed forever and went to Gehenna (Greek geena, used by Jesus 7 times in Matthew, at Matt 5:22, 29, 30; 10:28; 18:9; 23:15,33).

    April 21, 2011 at 11:01 am |
  10. GodChaser

    I'm torn to where Judas would be. I believe that Jesus' disciples were avid followers, born-again and each served a purpose in which they were destined. There is a theory that Jesus chose Judas in secret to betray Him so that His death on the cross would free us all. That this request had to be carried out by the one that was most trusted, so that Jesus' purpose would be fulfilled.

    To those that believe in equal time for other beliefs, perhaps you are right, but considering 85% of Americans consider themselves Christians, I applaud this column for representing the majority. Jesus loves and wishes everyone to have peace and joy. I'm perplexed as to why anyone thinks this is brainwashing

    April 21, 2011 at 11:00 am |
  11. G.

    Amen. Do not judge lest ye be judged. We as humans need to stop playing God, it's up to him not us. Thankfully we have a forgiving Lord. We humans are way harder on each other.

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

      Took my words. We'll played.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:06 am |
  12. Truth

    Is Judas in Heaven or Hell? Trick question. He's in neither as neither exist...in reality.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:00 am |
  13. Ryan B

    Jesus calls Judas "the Son of destruction" when he says this in Jn 17:12
    While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled." That sound like Judas was not One of jesus' own after all, according to God's pre-ordained plan.

    Jesus also says concerning Judas in Mark 14:21:
    For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born."

    If you read the new testament and see where judas is spoken of in the gospel (such as above) and Acts chapter 1, you get the sense that Jesus is intenionally telling everyone "there are twelve disciples that I hae chosen, but one of you doesn't believe." Just read it.

    As for Craig Gross' angle on this that he ask a theological question and then mock those who answer theologically to make a point that is palatable to the majority of readers out there, I think is not a Pastor's role. Do we need to look at ourselves and not point the finger at other. Christ clearly teaches we must look at ourselves first (Matt 7:1 and following). But to ask a question raising the point is Judas in hell or heaven, then to answer according to the scriptural text and then to have him say "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" is confusing.

    Bottom line – people, read the scriptures for yourselves. Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:00 am |
  14. Atheist

    If there was no Judas there would be no Christianity. If Jesus hadn't been betrayed and died on the cross, there would be no alleged miracle of resurrection. Personally I don't believe Jesus and Judas are anyplace but in the ground, but if you're a Christian then you have to acknowledge that all of Christianity came about because of his betrayal, death and resurrection. So if you believe in all of this then you have believe that Judas did exactly what God wanted him to do, and in doing so, found his place in heaven.

    April 21, 2011 at 10:59 am |
  15. TheMiddleWay14

    Judas probably wasn't a real person, just like most of the people in the fairy tale which is the bible. So, he is a in the minds of people who believe in that nonsense. That's the only place he has ever been.

    April 21, 2011 at 10:59 am |
  16. error303

    It just blows my mind that you can believe in an all loving and ever merciful god while believing that that same diety would sentence some one to an eternity of torture.

    April 21, 2011 at 10:59 am |
  17. magnus

    this is an easy question. Judas is in heaven because God wanted Judas to guide the arrest of Jesus so that Jesus could be crucified. without the crucifiction, there would be no Christianity. Judas was merely acting out the role that God bestowed onto him.

    April 21, 2011 at 10:59 am |
  18. IamGOD

    Is Jesus hanging out with RA or VISHNU?

    April 21, 2011 at 10:59 am |
  19. Jeff

    You only read in the Bible what a few uneducated, superstious MEN decided you should read – a few hundred years AFTER most of the players were dead. Farcicle in all respects.

    April 21, 2011 at 10:59 am |
  20. Christian Perspective 3

    True christian comments are apparently moderated by this site. Why edit truth? Who is it now that is betraying Christ?

    April 21, 2011 at 10:59 am |
    • OurGodsAreAliens

      Truth, pfffft! You wouldn't know the truth if it randomly popped up as a blister on your wa/\/k! Christianity and truth are like needles and balloons...they just don't mix.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • Erin

      It's not moderated there are word filters that cause comments to be blocked. Like the word t-it in att-itude.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:02 am |
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