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. jg

    sorry i left a comment to a few but didn't note the page and there have been so many so fast. amazing!
    first Romans ch 6: vs 7 and 23 tell us that we pay for our sins when we die. (see the period?) for resurrection details please respond (i'll check this page later), and as for all the art? Jesus would not have had long hair (see jew, disgrace)
    .if you realy want to know what the bible teaches i will be glad to direct you.(only serious replies please.)

    April 21, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
    • Wayshower

      You have to expand your limited thinking beyond the "literal" words of the Bible. Just because it says that we pay for our sins when we die, it does not say how. I was raised a Christian but have since then evolved my belief beyond just the literal teachings of Christianity because I believe that the way it is taught is in a limited mind set, without looking deeper into the symbolic meanings of a lot of the knowledge. This is why I believe it is so "condemning" in a lot of ways and has pushed a lot of people away. People have to read deeper into the meanings of their religious teachings to get the true messages, otherwise, the point is lost.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
    • jg

      wayshower?obviously i didn't have time or place to quote the whole bible here. i was giving info for serious people to learn what the bible teaches. obviously it would not be done in these paragraphs. and evidently you didn't see the obvious.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
    • Wayshower

      jg, I apologize if I took your info in the wrong manner. There are so many responses on these pages that its hard to determine sometimes what someone means due to the fact that we can only type so much. Take care.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
    • jg

      i'll be back for the serious responses, all "evolved" ones need not reply unless you want to learn how foolish it is. thanks,jg

      April 21, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
    • Wayshower

      jg, I "evolved" my thinking after reading almost the entire Bible. The only book I skipped over was the book of "Numbers" since it mainly just dealt with the lineage of the tribes of Israel. I had been mainly a Christian all of my life, but after reading the Bible, I noticed certain "themes" repeated from other religions such as Hinduism, and even Buddhism that really spoke of "Compassion towards all" and "Judegement toward no one". This is mainly Jesus' teachings from the start of his life as the messiah, to his death.

      That led me to do research on Jesus further, where I learned that he was a Gnostic, and I have since studied that part of Jesus, which in turn, kind of "evolved" me to become more Gnostic than Christian, although I really just believe in "Non-denomination" and just like to practice "Compassion towards all".

      April 21, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • jg

      wayshower; i like your comments and only have a minute but will be back tomorrow. i'll keep this page to share some info you might appreciate if you are sincere. hope you get back here and check tomorrow, thanks, jg

      April 21, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
  2. mott

    what happened between judas and jesus anyways. what made judas betray jesus when it seems like they were the closest of friends? was there jealousy involved? how did jesus know that he was going to be betrayed? was it really a last supper?
    what kind of relationship jesus and judas have? judas was mad at something to do what he did.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
    • Wayshower

      Or maybe, Judas did what he did, cause Jesus told him to do it. See "The Gospel of Judas".

      April 21, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
  3. I am a sinner

    To I am who I am. It's an analogy dude _

    April 21, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
  4. Shamrock6

    Is there one reality or many, many realities? Hmmmm. How can me and a friend watch a friendly game on tv and yet when it's over one of us is mad and the other is happy? Didn't we watch the same event? Why two completely opposite outcomes? If I see a glass as half-empty but you see the same glass as half-full....how can that be? Isn't it the same glass? Wow...so, maybe reality depends on what you believe huh?

    April 21, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
  5. W2M

    Judas did God's work just as much as Jesus did. So I vote Heaven.

    As Jesus says to Judas in "The Last Temptation of Christ" – 'No, I couldn't [betray the Messiah], that's why God gave me the easier job '

    April 21, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
  6. ME

    As I posted my post, I saw something that shocked me the most. 24 pages of responses...... We are one ignorant society. Still freaking out about and believing fables and bedtime stories.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
    • Huh

      24 pages and counting....

      Atheists need to get a new rally cry. This 'bronze-age, fairy tale, book of fallacies" is really getting tired. Your lack of a good argument only hurts your cause.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
    • ME

      @HUH – It is said over and over again because that is what it is and nothing more. What is tiring is the parasitic babble that people like you emit.

      April 21, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
  7. Stan

    Becuase Judas killed himself in despair, he has shut the door to possible redemption. Had he come forward and asked forgiveness, he would be a saint today, unfortunately he did not.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
  8. Ralph in Orange Park, FL

    Every year around this time, the media runs these non-stories.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
  9. Bubba Franks

    Adults need their cartoons too! Heaven, hell, judas, et al. Haha! We die every night, just don't fear it since we have a habit of waking up the next morning. Ditch this centuries-old panacea for death and the guilt that comes with it.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
  10. bobH

    the bible is the most pernicious piece of fiction ever written.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
  11. MA

    How did you get a job writing for CNN..........?

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

    Namaste my fellow humans.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
    • richunix

      What is your God's name?

      April 21, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • me

      namaste, well said friend well said

      April 21, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
    • Wayshower

      Question: "What is your God's name?"

      Answer: "Compassion towards all" no matter what they believe or do not believe, or how different they are.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
  13. jerry

    first of all he committed suicide so he killed himself, secondly the BIBLE says that satan entered judas's heart so what judas did he did as a tool of satan, if he would have repented before after he betrayed JESUS than yes he would be in heaven but the fact that he didnt says only one thing. not every person goes to heaven you dont go to heaven by being a good person and you dont go to hell by being a bad person you go to heaven by recieving the free gift of salvation that CHRIST paid on the cross and you go to hell by rejecting that free gift

    April 21, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
  14. Jason the Pendleton Rat

    Judas is dead.
    Period. End. Stop. Done.
    What's left of his bones are moldering somewhere, likely in the ground, maybe in an ossuary, near the ancient city of Jerusalem.
    Go outside, play some tennis, take a walk, joke with your friends, be happy.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      Yes, Judas is dead, but the pope still lives.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
  15. Nats

    I know, we shouldnt judge anybody, but in my humble opinion, Judas had the free will to decide to be used by the devil. Now, could he have been forgiven? yes! but he killed that opportunity with his own hands because he had no faith and condemmed himself to the point that his "remorse" was not a true regret. He didn't believe in Gods grace and his amazing love. Peter commited sin, but instead of surrendering to evil and condemnation, he asked for the Lords forgiveness and had another opportunity to preach the word. I have been there, i have sinned, I have abandoned God in the past, thinking that I can make it on my own, but the only thing I could achieved was destruction. If it wasnt for my Lord, I probably would have been dead (phisically or spiritually) and my family would have been destroyed, not by God's hand but as a result of my bad decisions. I am still struggling but in a different level, with joy and holding the hand of my Savior. God bless you!

    April 21, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
    • Wayshower

      If Judas didn't do what he did, the sacrifice of Jesus wouldn't have changed the world like it did. You have to read inbetween the lines. Some things have to happen due to cause and affect of the 3rd dimension. Judas was supposed to betray Jesus.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
  16. ME

    Why?!! Why does "CNN" put this garbage on the front page?

    April 21, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
    • deter

      Because its interesting

      April 21, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
  17. Humanist

    Why is this on a serious news site? Whats next, "Who is mightier Zeus or Apollo?"

    April 21, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
    • richunix

      I think HERA is, buth then we have YAWEH or Jehovah,

      “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 12:34 pm |
    • God

      I sent Horus down to die for sins, he rose on the third day, and championed the poor and sick. REPENT

      April 21, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
    • labrat

      Whoever said this was a serious news site?

      April 21, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
  18. Joshua

    If the author asserts that debating the eternal home of Judas is "not the debate Christians need to be engaged in", and an argument that wastes time, then why did he post the question on his Facebook? Did he have the urge to waste his and others' time?

    Some other facts about Judas that weren't mentioned in the article:
    "...he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it." -John 12:6
    "...one of you is a devil" (Jesus speaking of Judas) -John 6:70
    "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" (high priestly prayer of Jesus...son of destruction refers to Judas) -John 17:12

    I agree that we shouldn't speculate on the eternal destination of Judas. I disagree that there is little difference between Judas and Peter. They did not commit the same sin. Judas delivered Jesus to his crucifixion; Peter denied Christ. Sin is sin, and God doesn't have a "sin scale" that measures the severity of different sins, but these two sins show two different hearts. One was filled with greed and willful malice; the other was filled with fear and weakness. Peter's response to his sin was tears. He then sought to be reunited with Jesus and restored to the Lord's good graces. Finally, he dedicated his life to the gospel. By contrast, Judas ended his own life. Judas did recognize his own sin, but out of hopelessness he hung himself.

    Peter was never referred to as lost, a thief, a devil, or the son of destruction. The statement, "In terms of experience with Jesus, whatever you can say about Peter, James and John, you can say about Judas," isn't even true. The first example that comes to my mind is the transfiguration; Judas wasn't there. Again, I agree that we cannot judge another soul and that we shouldn't speculate on others' eternity. (Of course, we can be assured of our own salvation. 1 John has many passages that speak to this truth.) However, to try and argue that there are few differences between Judas and John is a mistake.

    Only the Lord knows Judas' eternal residence, but we would be remiss to marginalize the strong language Jesus uses against the son of destruction.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
    • jerry

      joshua one thing you have to realize is this judas was not sorrowfull for his sin peter was judas hung himself peter was given a three fold restoration, judas bhung himself, peter wept bitterly there is a difference one was repentant and one was not one got caught up in fear one got caught up in forgivness

      April 21, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
    • William

      Okay – I'm going on the record to say that I'm NOT a so-called "Christian". In fact, I'm a former Pentecostal minister who is now a Deist (it's a LONG story!). Anyway, for those of you that believe what's in the bible, let's take this story apart just a bit, and look at it from a practical, common sense standpoint. Firstly, if you're "Christian", you believe what's written in the bible. Correct? Alright. Now, what does the bible tell us about "God"? That He's pretty much known everything to come from the beginning of time, and that He's in control of everything. Right? Now, keeping those things in mind, that would mean that He knew thousands of years in advance that Judas Iscariot would betray Jesus. Seeing that "God" is supposedly in charge of everything, don't you think that He had a hand in Judas Iscariot's role in the whole crucifixion story? And don't you think He could have stopped Judas if He had wanted to? Basically what we're left with is that Judas was CHOSEN by "God" to betray Jesus, and therefore can't really be held responsible for his actions (provided "God" indeed controls every aspect of life, our futures, etc.). So seeing that Judas was supposedly fulfilling the will of "God", we should look at him more as a pawn in this whole story, rather than a villain. As far as him being in Heaven or Hell is considered, he's in neither place. He's actually sipping Margaritas on a tropical island, plotting to take over the world with Elvis and the Freemasons.

      April 21, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
    • Joshua

      Jerry, I do believe Judas was somewhat sorrowful:

      "Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, "I have sinned by betraying innocent blood." -Matt. 27:3-4

      Was he sorrowful to the point of repentence? I don't think so; scripture doesn't support that. Instead and out of fear, Judas cops out and ends his own life. My personal opinion, Jerry, is that Judas' eternal destination is hell. I agree with you. Judas' and Peter's response to their sins were drastically different. I do agree with the author that we shouldn't spend time debating the eternal destination of other people. I don't think it does us much good, and I was trying to point out that the author is incorrect in trying to make a parallel between Judas and Peter.

      William, God does know everything that will happen. However, that doesn't negate our free will. We always have the ability to make our own choices. God's knowledge penetrates the heart, so he knows where our hearts will lead us. God knew Judas' heart would lead to the betrayal of Jesus, but God didn't cause Judas to sin. In God's divine sovereignty, he took Judas' heart, Judas' free will, and Judas' sin and used it in his beautiful plan to redeem mankind. God is very good at taking our filth and turning it into something beautiful 🙂

      April 21, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
  19. Joseph

    "Is Judas in heaven or hell" reminds me of Kierkegaard’s narcissistic struggle whether Abraham was ethical or evil when he was willing to kill his son. Mr. Gross is proposing a serious discussion of a fairy-tale person. The acceptance of bronze-age mentality as worthy of scholarly debate illustrates how humanity needs to grow up and understand that these religious stories are fiction. While the ethical questions are worth examining, as long as readers are willing to assume these immature myths are based in fact, informative inquiry will be inhibited. The comments of some readers lead me to think that they really don't bother with logic and reason.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
    • BRod

      I couldn't have said it better myself!

      April 21, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
  20. coolbreeze

    Judas went nowhere. hell does not exist!!!

    April 21, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
    • BRod

      I agree. Not only is there no hell, there is no "heaven" and possibly even no Judas or Jesus! What a silly question to waste time on! It's like asking if Loki went to Valhalla or not. People need to pull their heads out of myths and back into reality.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
    • jerry

      mr cool breeze i offer you this suggestuion if you claim to b a self proclaimed subject on the subjest of hell and claim it doesnt exsist that die and find out if it doesnt exsist than you have nothing to loose but if it does well

      April 21, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
    • BRod

      jerry: are threats all you can muster? Your religion only exists because of FEAR. People fear the unknown. And since you are such an expert, let me ask you this: What if you die and found out you sided with the wrong god? Because, in case you didn't know, there are many other historical gods out there with an eternity of misery waiting for unbelievers. So I guess we can all admit that it's a cr@pshoot no matter what you believe. You are no more secure than anyone else, no matter how much you try to convince yourself that you are.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
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