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. JohnR

    All I can say is that if anyone is in hell as popularly conceived, then god should be charged with crimes against humanity.

    April 21, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
    • PeterVN

      completely agree.

      April 21, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
    • peter

      Excellent point. If a burning hell existed then God should be seen as one who takes pleasure in seeing someone burn or suffer for enternity. However mainstrem religion has always taught that so therefore why would you want to worship a God who threatens you with violence for eternity?

      April 21, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
  2. Kudlop

    If he's in northern NJ, then he's in H – E – Double-toothpick. 'Casue that's where I live, and I'm in a living ......

    April 21, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
  3. Joe

    Judas was the most trusted of his deciples. Jesus was the son of god and knew his fate. Therefore he knew Judas would "betray" him. Without this betrayal (needed event) Jesus would not have been crucified and given his life for the world. Judas is in heavan because Jesus died for all our sins.

    April 21, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
  4. Dan

    People should be interested in the afterlife. Those who know Jesus as Lord and Savior will go there. Find out what heaven is like from people who have been there – http://www.storiesofheaven.com/

    April 21, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
  5. peter

    He is in Dallas....hot as hell there...

    April 21, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
  6. Kevin

    One of Christ’s 12 apostles, Judas Iscariot, turned traitor like Ahithophel. Judas’ treacherous act was far more serious than that of Ahithophel. Judas acted against God’s only-begotten Son. In a prayer at the end of his earthly ministry, God’s Son reported about his followers: “When I was with them I used to watch over them on account of your own name which you have given me; and I have kept them, and not one of them is destroyed except the son of destruction, in order that the scripture might be fulfilled.” (John 17:12) By here referring to Judas as “the son of destruction,” Jesus indicated that when Judas died, there was no hope of a return for him. He did not live on in God’s memory. He went, not to Sheol, but to Gehenna.

    April 21, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
  7. Ninh

    Since Heaven and Hell are figments of human imagination therefore he is in neither place. More likely, if he had even existed at all, his carcass must have been transformed into zillion things via feeds to other living creatures.

    April 21, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
  8. fancypants

    heaven sent thinks he is heaven sent really......simply scaring poor sophie

    April 21, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
  9. Matt

    Judas isn't anywhere. There is no heaven and there is no hell.

    April 21, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
  10. teacher

    Chirst's death was pre-ordained. It was fortold to Jesus in the agony in garden, it is also fortold in his conversation with Simon Peter when jesus said "get back Satan, do you not understand that the son of god must fulfill the wishes of the father." If then as we (and I) believe, that christ's death was pre-ordained, and that said betrayal and death could not have occured without Judas' intentions, and Jesus and God the Father's obvious knowledge of said intentions, then the betrayal and crucifixion of christ could not have occured. In short, if christ's betrayal and execution are infact pre-ordained, a statement chich the bible supports, then was not Judas – and Pontius Pilot for that matter – part of God's plan? Furthermore, if they were part of God's plan, should they chastized?Do we as the created have the right to criticise the intentions and plans of our creeator? If they (Judas and Pontius Pilot) violated the will of God – in order to betray Jesus – then there is an argument for both Judas and Pontius Pilot going to hell! But if betrayal of christ was; a) pre-ordained; and b) lead to the glory of God through the crucifixion death and resurection, then should they be opposed? Finally, if the crucifixion, death and resurection was pre-ordained by God, then would not all actions leading up to the cruxifixion, death and resurection be known and approved by God, and thus deemed both aware and tacitly approved by god and therefore beyound our contestation?

    April 21, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
  11. Carl M. Letamendi, MBA

    I've been in the Christian faith for over 16 years, and I believe, that you and I, nor anyone here, were there when Judas "betrayed" Jesus. I find it puzzling that one of the shortest books in the bible is the book of Judas, and if he really did manage the finances, shouldn't he have a larger account of transactions that took place, the voyages that they went on, the same stories the other 11 Apostles had in their recollections and experiences with Jesus? I think that a BIG chunk of Judas' book is missing and I have my own theory of what might have happened.

    Jesus was sent to the Earth to allegedly die for our sins, right? So since he was the "lamb of God", he had to be sacrificed for humanity. What if, Judas was told by Jesus to tell the Roman soldiers and the Sanhedrin where he was so that they can take him away and begin his destiny to be scarified? Being so close to Jesus, this would have caused great pain and trauma to Judas, who was so close to Jesus... don’t you think? Where do I think Judas is? In whatever you believe post-death heaven is; where souls and energy is made and someplace we will never be able to understand until we all get there.

    ~Carl M. Letamendi, MBA

    P.S., religion is one of the top reasons we fight with one another. Let's respect what other's believe, their culture, feed the hungry regardless of personal faith, and let life and nature take us away the same way it brought us all here.

    April 21, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • tonynatemama

      the book you are referring to is Jude, not Judas. If Judas killed himself, he was not there to write the book under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit

      April 21, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • Carl M. Letamendi, MBA

      Tonya, in Greek, Jude = Judah, and Judas. It's the same person.

      April 21, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
  12. Kevin

    The bible makes it more than clear where most people go after they die: the ground, or the common grave of mankind.

    (Ecclesiastes 9:5) For the living are conscious that they will die; but as for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all, neither do they anymore have wages, because the remembrance of them has been forgotten.
    (Ecclesiastes 9:10) All that your hand finds to do, do with your very power, for there is no work nor devising nor knowledge nor wisdom in She′ol, the place to which you are going.

    April 21, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
  13. Mike

    Matthew 26:24 " ...But woe to the man who betrays the Son of Man (Jesus)! It would be better for him if he had never been born." Apparently, nobody involved all of this speculation has ever read that verse. If Jesus said, "It would be better if this man was never born", how could you possibly think Judas ended up in heaven.
    You don't need to be a theologian to figure this one out. Just read your Bible.

    April 21, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • Wayshower

      So what kind of "sacrifice" do you think Jesus would have been if it was written "Jesus told Judas, his most beloved friend to betray him on purpose so that he could be unlawfully torchered and killed"? Jesus needed to die, to show by example, that the ultimate gift you can give to your fellow man is selflessness, and compassion.

      April 21, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
  14. Kevin J

    He is in hell. In fact, everyone who has died (save Jesus) is in hell. Biblically speaking hell is the grave. Yes, that is the translation. It's the grave and everyone is there that has died (save the resurrected Christ Jesus and a special resurrected Moses, that we know of) is in hell (grave). I think one thing that would help this debate is to realize that the Bible doesn't speak of eternal hell where terrible people are consigned to simply because they do bad things and reject Jesus. The Bible speaks of death as a sleep and when the fires of the last judgment roar those lost will be burn up completely. No eternal pain, misery, etc. It is the only thing that squares with a truly loving and just God. What justice is there to keep unrepentent sinners alive to suffer the rest of eternity? How is that love? To have a God that keeps sinner alive and burning for their misconduct in life, as well as their rejection of the Gift of Savlation in Christ is not a God of love, but is most sadistic. How will the new heavens and new earth be a happy place with the knowledge that those lost for eternity are eternally in searing pain.

    The only thing that the belief in an ever burning hell has produced are either athiests or fire escape religionists. To be sure some real true in heart believers had their first nudge toward salvation in Christ after hearing a pew fire licking sermon about where one who doesn't come to Christ will end up. But fear doesn't transform a rebel......only a facination with God does. And only those who arefacinated with God are those that will be comfortable with God for an eternity.

    April 21, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • Michael P.

      I am an atheist, so I don't believe in any of this, but your explanation is by far the most reasonable, rational statement I've heard on the topic. Not enough to make me believe, but not off-putting like so many of the faithfuls' rants and diatribes which so often seem founded in condemnation and judgment.

      April 21, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
  15. James

    What a silly question. If Judas was even a real person, it's without a doubt that the stories about him written in the bible are woefully inaccurate. Some Romans made a book about a long-dead cult leader long after everyone who met the guy was dead. What sort of person buys into this garbage? Look, we know very basically that when a person has a brain injury, their personality changes. All we are as people is contained within the brain and when it rots, we're gone. There is no reason to suppose or a moment that anything to the contrary survives. The idea of an afterlife is absurd. Please people, work on this life and stop speculating about fantasies.

    April 21, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
  16. JasonGrey

    Neither, it's all fiction/fairy tales/myths created, spread and practiced by delusional, irrational and weak minded folk all over the planet lacking capacity for critical thinking.

    April 21, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • Dr. Conrad Murray

      I agree. It's all about control over the weak minded masses! Worship the zombie carpenter!

      April 21, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
    • karek40

      In view of the number of specific prophetic events that were fortold and have come about exactly as fortold, your position requires more faith to believe it is a fairy tale than mine to believe that there is someone (God) who knows the future and told us the future. Which of us is believing an illusion. lol

      April 21, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • Dr. Conrad Murray

      Karek40 – you are truely truely suffering for dellusions of grandeur. An unknown being, who is a perfect with physics and mathematics, and can read your thoughts....ha ha ha ha. He also has to be worshipped and needs money.

      "What would God need with a starship?" -James T. Kirk

      April 21, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
  17. ijreilly

    There isn't a hell, first off. BUT, if there was, why would Satan make it worse than heaven? If Satan hates God then you would think the thing that would upset him the most is to make hell better than heaven. If he goes around torturing people then he still doing what God wants. If Satan made hell awesome, God would be very upset. Also, I think Satan and those angels made the right decision by leaving God. He is/was a jealous hateful lunatic. And on top of all that, Satan killed way less people in the bible then God did, including infants.

    April 21, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
    • Ms.Wise

      I like your argument.. logical

      April 21, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • Chris K

      First of all.... Good post. My initial reaction was "oh no you di'n't" because as a Christian..Biblicially speaking this is out of line. But look... this is not only comic relief... but a fairly good theological question.

      This is what Satan does right now. He paints sin as glamorous, and then performs ye olde bait and switch. If a red dude with horns and a goatee approached you offering something nice, you would likely be a tad bit skeptical. But that isn't really the biblical understanding of Satan. He offers power, glory, and hedonistic pleasure and we take the bait.

      Our concept for hell as a place where Satan punishes people is really more Dante than Bible.
      The only thing I can really say about Hell...there will be separation from God. While some atheists may think of that more like heaven I can tell you that it won't be good.

      April 21, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
    • karek40

      God will make hell for the devil and and his. The devil did not nor will make hell. Does hell exist at this time, well for sure the devil is not in it yet. That event (the devil being thrown into the lake of fire) is over 1000 years off.

      April 21, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
  18. Chris K

    I don't know about you, but for me my faith is LESS about getting into heaven and MORE about what I do with this life I have been given. It is MORE about how I live my life as one who calls themself a Christian than what horror I am avoiding be trusting in Christ.

    People place too much stock in "Being Saved." My question is: What were you saved for? Admission into heaven? Or to do God's Will?

    Just like a wedding has almost NOTHING to do with being married. The act of Being Saved has very little to do with an Eternity with God and believers. My belief is MORE than an insurance policy. Ok your saved, I am honestly happy for you.... NOW GET OFF YOUR DUFF... WALK OUT OF THE CHURCH AND GET TO WORK!!! Go and save a few more lost souls, and work to disciple to your brothers and sisters in Christ by teaching, encouraging, supporting and loving them.

    The point of this article, and my take also...is that my faith and how I conduct myself don't change based on whether or not Judas is or is not in Heaven. If it changes your faith...then either you are looking at it in a different way than I do, or you place too much stock in who gets into heaven and who goes to hell.

    April 21, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
    • PeterVN

      Chris, you are well on your way to leaving Christianity. I hope you reach that next step.

      April 21, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • karek40

      Chris I was not saved for, I was saved from and because I was saved from – I live my life so as not to intentionally disappoint him.

      April 21, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
    • Chris K

      @PeterVN I will respond by quoting Watto (SW: The Phantom Menace)
      ".... What? You think you're some kind of Jedi, waving your hand around like that? I'm a Toydarian. Mind tricks don't work on me."
      Sorry to dissappoint I am certainly not on my way to leaving Christianity. I know it may be diffucult for some to believe that a person can be both Christian and Reasonable. It is far easier to believe that Christians are misguided, foolish, ignorant and gullible. Faith is not belief despite evidence to the contrary... it is the belief in things unseen. Believe first and then you see. This pattern has shown itself in my life in a way that is undeniable to me. How could I leave what I know to be true? I hope that you find that too. From the sounds of it you are someone who gave up on your faith, I pray you find it again.

      @karek40- Similar idea. My response was directed at those whose merely step through the thresehold and say "I'm in!" but then never seem to progress in their faith. In both your's and my statements there seems to be a potential element of a works based faith. That we can only feel good about our faith if we are rolling up our sleeves and getting dirty... I want to clarify by saying that I am NOT suggesting that we can earn our salvation. I am also not ignoring the idea of what I was saved from. However it is out of love for God and thankfulness to him that I feel we should do more than get saved...and that we should all help in reaping the harvest!

      April 21, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
  19. Marcus Williamson

    good word craig

    April 21, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
  20. Bubba Gump

    Judas is in neither place. When he tried to take he life he was turned into the very first vampire. Didn't yall watch dracula 2000?

    April 21, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
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