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. Gwen


    IAs a Christian, I believe that God knows all things..he knows our beginning and he knows our end....He knows the people who are goiing to accept his offer of salvation and he knows the ones who will never accept him...I believe this was the case with Judas..God knew that Judas was never going to repent therefore he was used as a part of the plan of redemption for mankind...God would have never chosen someone that he knew would repent and ask for forgiveness for betraying Jesus as Peter did....He gave all of us the gift of free will and there will be some people who will use it to believe and to love God freely and there will be those who will never believe or love God no matter what, just like some of these people on this post...That's why he said "I knew you from the begining of the world, before you were formed in your mother's womb"...So as a results, I think Judas is in hell right now and will continue to be eternally.....

    April 21, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
    • Shamrock6

      How can you have free will if everything is already determined? What is the point of giving us free will if he knows who will accept it and who won't? Is god truly that much of an idiot? I don't think so. Try again.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
  2. Jack

    Jesus once said to the twelve disciples, which is recorded for us in John chapter 6, "have I not chosen you and yet one of you is a devil", referring to Judas. Jesus later prayed to his Father in heaven, "of the ones that you have give me, I lost not one, except the son of perdition (speaking of Judas) that the scriptures (speaking of His betrayal, crucifixion and resurrection) might be fulfilled. That doesn’t sound like Judas was going to heaven to me.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
  3. Christopher

    Of course Judas is in Heaven with Jesus. Judas was remorseful and cognizant that he had sinned, people screw up that is what Christ was hanging on the cross for (the benefit of the screw ups who feel bad about what they have done) that is what forgiveness is all about.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
  4. Kate

    This is truly a puff piece written by a GQesque "pastor" more concerned with getting his headshot out there than his true beliefs (if he has any). Want to bet he's gunning for a reality show?

    April 21, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
  5. Michael

    Thanks for this post! I agree...who am I to judge whether or not someone is in heaven or hell?

    April 21, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
  6. Mike

    Has anyone ever considered that if Judas had not done what he did that the gates of heaven would not be open? So what I'm saying is that it is Judas was bound to do what he did – some would call it fate.

    However I go on to say that Judas is in heaven because he was forgiven by God. If god can forgive Judas for doing what he had to do then I submit that yes, it is possible for God to forgive us, a mere sinner.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
  7. Priyath

    No ordinary man goes directly to heaven. As Judas repented he must be in heaven. After all the prophecy must be fulfilled, and Judas turned out to be the one. Jesus knew it. And if it wasn't for Judas' greed Jesus wouldn't have been crucified hence no Christianity.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
  8. Kane in FL

    Yawn. CNN should stick to news and leave religious opinion articles for other publications.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
    • Darren

      I couldn't agree more. I feel bad for even wasting my time to read this nonsense.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
    • Believer in Christ


      then why did you even waste the energy to post??

      April 21, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
  9. Kate

    Ugh...this "pastor" and his strategically-mussed hair makes me cringe to the nth degree. His whole media demeanor screams "dood, i'm, like, so totally into JC. granola?" while asking his not-so-attractive wife to pass the hair product and call GC re his photo shoot. Truthfully, he sounds like a true d–k. I'm with the poster who commented that the "pastor" ASKED THE QUESTION, and then he so casually posted that his favorite new button on Facebook is defriend? Because someone ANSWERED his query? What. A. Tool.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
  10. The Jackdaw

    Hurry hurry, knowing the answer to this could solve the energy crisis!

    April 21, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
  11. stormin1961

    this so-called "pastor" is what is wrong with the world today. people who want to paint everything as being gray when it's perfectly obvious that something is clearly black and white. as for Judas he is in hell. the sin of betraying Jesus to his enemies isn't exactly what sent him there. if Judas had asked for forgiveness of this sin and lived a life following the teachings of Christ he would be in heaven today. Judas is in hell right now because he committed the sin of self-destruction by committing suicide.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
    • A17YEAROLD

      How do any of us know who goes to Heaven and who goes to Hell? Are we all personally so close with God and know how He feels about people that we can tell the general public what He is thinking? None of us know what He is thinking. Nobody

      April 21, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
    • Faithful

      And how does anyone know that Judas did NOT seek forgiveness from God for his action? All we know is that he felt remorse (as someone who might seek forgiveness would) and ended up killing himself. But – since the Apostles weren't exactly hanging out with Judas at that point – and also are not privy to Judas' private thoughts & prayers, and what was in Judas' heart.

      All we can see is that he felt so guilty and bad about what he did – he couldn't bear the guilt and killed himself.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
    • Wayshower

      I was raised as a Christian, but over time, my beliefs, while not changing, have evolved. I no longer believe that God is an external judgemental being, and I also don't believe we only live one lifetime. Jesus himself, if you do the research of him as an Gnostic says plenty of knowledge that he tries to explain that God is within, and without, and that people who master themselves, truelly will "ascend". I believe that when he speaks of Hell, he is speaking of people that deny their inner "God Spark" that is their life source, and they are doomed to reincarnate into the physical world over and over again until they learn their true inner nature, and live a life that pleases that inner "God Spark". Then they will ascend to a higher vibration of existence (Heaven).

      People are so focused on literal meanings they have read, or what they are taught in church that they don't research further beyond Christianity, or Islam, or Judaism etc, and condemn each other for their own religious beliefs rather than coming together to see that all of the "Spiritual Avatars" such as Jesus, Buddha, Moses, Krishna, etc, were all saying the same thing: "To see the Truth, you must simply open your inner eye, and look within, but you have to believe"

      People who deny God, deny themselves, in my opinion, because we are God. Like a body has cells, each of us is a cell of God, and Gods body is made of the universe. Just my view on things.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
  12. Valerie

    The last paragraph was beautiful.

    I deserve death. I deserve it. "I am the way, the truth and the life" no one goes to the Father except through Me."

    So thankful for this gift of Jesus of Nazareth. A blessed and peaceful Easter to all!

    April 21, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
  13. Molly Mac

    My understanding is that, if Judas even went to hell at all and we will not know that for certain until we pass away ourselves, he went because of committing suicide, not betraying Jesus.

    The big difference between Peter and Judas is that Peter was cut to the heart by his guilt and begged for forgiveness. Judas rejected the great gift of accepting the forgiveness of Christ and decided to take his own life instead, a rejection of Christ's gift.

    So do *i* think that Judas is in Heaven or Hell? Darned if I know, I'll find out when my own journey here on earth is done.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
    • Believer in Christ

      ......very well said. Thank you.....

      April 21, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
  14. bdgfn

    sin = a Greek term, meaning "miss the mark"

    Jesus never used the word "sin" or "evil" as there are no words that have that meaning in Aramaic, the language Jesus spoke. These words and concepts come to us courtesy of the mis-translations of the bible by men whose thoughts and ideas were formed by the pervading views of their times. Thank you, King James.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
    • BnB

      Who ever told you this and why did you believe them?

      April 21, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
    • bdgfn

      Who ever told you differently, and why did you believe them?

      April 21, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
    • Richk


      April 21, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
  15. Common Sense

    Niether...Hel is a Viking word and place.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
  16. God

    Stop speaking for me please. Besides, don't you guys have a recession to worry about? There is an aids epidemic, all the bees are gone(surprised you guys didn't pick up on that one), and no one has heard from Charlie Sheen in like forever....But, my point is, I gave you guys free will, a brain, a two hands...don't wait around for me to obliterate the world and send that neighbor you dont really like to hell...You have REAL issues, that need fixing NOW!

    April 21, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
  17. Dhulfiqar

    Curious, what is early Christian belief (Gospel of Barnabas) about Judas instead of Jesus being crucified? And that Jesus ascended in Heaven instead?

    April 21, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • BnB

      It isn't early Christian belief but a known forgery utilizing Barnabas' name...

      April 21, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
    • Dhulfiqar

      BnB: Is that religious belief or historical belief?

      April 21, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
  18. WasabiPotPie

    Thor has a Hammer and Jesus was nailed to a cross. I think we have a winner.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      Are you trying to invent a new religion? A Thor Luther...

      April 21, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
  19. God

    Stop speaking for me please. Besides, don't you guys have a recession to worry about? Thre is an aids epidemic, all the bees are gone(surprised you guys didn't pick up on that one), and no one has heard from Charlie Sheen in like forever....But, my point is, I gave you guys free will, a brain, a two hands...don't wait around for me to obliterate the world and send that neighbor you dont really like to hell...You have REAL issues, that need fixing NOW!

    April 21, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • Charlie Sheen


      April 21, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
    • Starzee

      That might just be what He is thinking. This pastor is right...our task is to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to MISS hell, and get into heaven. WE may be the only roadmap some of them have to read. Good post.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
    • Atheist

      You don't exist, in fact I think this was just a person writing this and not really God nor any God or angel whispering this in your ear, get it?

      April 21, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
    • God

      Starzee.You are right my child. I don't want you worrying about global, economical, or political issues my dear. You, I hand picked to go out there and preach your preachiness. But, You need to go to Peru to do so. Bring water purifying tablets and sunscreen, and do my great work! Everyone else, we have some serious work cut out for us.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
    • God

      An Atheist....OMFG...I mean...like how dare you. May my noodly appendage touch your soul and bring you in the light. 😉

      April 21, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
    • Spynovat

      @Atheist: (Just like I have always known... ) Your post betrayed you. Observing what you wrote "YOU don't exit" supposedly talking God... tells me that you actually believe that God exist but are only being rebelliously defiant. And to all those atheists out there: is this what you are going to say to God when you meet him face to face? LOL

      April 21, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
    • Atheist

      There is no God. If so, why doesn't he just make things right, why the games. God is just an excuse to fill the void of things we yet don't understand. It's the belief that a cosmic Jewish Zombie who was his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree

      April 21, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
  20. JTMav

    I believe Christ said it would have been better if the betrayer had never been born. Seems to me that answers the question pretty well.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      Did not the betrayer fulfill a required roll, seems to be that he had no choice. if he changed his mind Jesus would have been wrong (that could not happen). therefore the betrayer Could not change his mind, he had no choice. If he had no choice how could he be blamed?

      April 21, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
    • Valerie

      "The Son of man indeed goes, as it is written of him: but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! good were it for that man if he had never been born."

      Matt 14:21

      Still, only the Lord our God decides who will enter Heaven. All of us fall short on deserving to see God, and share in His kingdom. Let us concern ourselves with our own salvation, and be an example for others.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
    • OnanismO

      If Jeebus didn't have anyone to betray him, then Jeebus would not have been crucified and therefore Jeebus's religion would not have been able to exist. Think! Judas was USED! If Jeebus was God and God is all-knowing and God knowingly allowed a known-betrayer to be in his elite group of followers.... DUH!

      April 21, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
    • JTMav

      "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." Judas, who betrayed him, said, "Is it I, Master?" He said to him, "You have said so."
      From the book of Matthew

      April 21, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
    • wimsy

      Christ never said any such thing. Centuries of monks and popes fiddling with the text have destroyed any semblance of accuracy. Besides, it's absurd to set up Judas for a fall, and then blame him for fulfilling the destiny you, yourself, prescribed. Actually, the entire concept of original sin is the ridiculous invention of power-hungry popes who knew they could scare the bejeesus out of ignorant peasants.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
    • ms. clause

      Does santa claus live at the north pole or the south pole?

      April 21, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
    • richunix

      Didn’t the Nazarene break some religious law....so Judas did correctly turn a criminal into the authorities, sounds fair to me!

      “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 21, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
    • Inspector Clouseau

      You're on the right track, but it wasn't necessarily a "religious law".
      He was a type of anarchist. The week preceding, he had gone into the temple complex, and overturned the tables of the moneychangers. In an econamy where you HAD to use shekels for religious uses, and had to change the Roman currency to do that, and had to pay 2 shekels to do a ritual bath, buy an animal or a few birds for a sacrifice, and the many other temple based practices that were common in this temple based economic structure, all of which required a payment. He was a threat to all that. No wonder they quickly got rid of him.

      April 21, 2011 at 5:19 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.