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. mike

    Who cares? Why is CNN posting this crap? Just because a question can be posed doesn't mean it's sensical or worthy of attention or debate. Find something better to do with your time than to debate ancient christian mythology.

    April 21, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      @ Mike
      Why are YOU then here?
      Isn't that amazing .... the "ancient christian mythology" has survived millennials, and the power of risen Messiah has changed the lives of worst villains thru times of history, and you say it's not worth time! What a miserable, blind -in -your – own – ignorance character you are!!!

      April 21, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
    • So

      Buddhism and Hinduism have changed many too, it's not all about just Christianity. Humans have evolved and will continue to but we can use laws to keep control of ourselves and not a fear in a god that doesn't exist.

      April 21, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
    • normmm

      ok MIKE,

      Here is the thing,..... listen.... Jesus knew Judas was going to betray him,,, He knows the future, past present
      he knows all things... HE KNEW he was going to die, rise again be betrayed several times by guys
      like judas and peter.... he knew he was going to walk away after 3 days in the coffin... HE KNOWS
      EVERYTHING EVEN WHO WILL follow him to where he is now...HE KNOWS ALSO WHAT WILL
      BECOME OF YOU.... So follow him and you will live again when you die SIMPLE AS THAT!!

      April 21, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      ."...... a god that doesn't exist."

      Yeah, keep telling yourself!
      You'll find out in due time that He not only exists, but will be the One whom you will face after your mortal frame releases your immortal soul .
      As for Christianity vs other religions. Every other religion follows someone whose leader's tomb is occupied... But the tomb of Jesus Christ is EMPTY! No death could hold Him because of WHO HE WAS! But you would not understand that, would you!?! I could say more, but it's like throwing the precious things to... well, I better not say it!

      April 21, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
  2. Marco

    It is very interesting: most of the comments in these Belief blogs are usually sent by atheist. Still, CNN NEVER publishes articles from any of us, atheist. Why is that? What's the agenda? Shall I keep wasting my time reading at CNN Belief nonsense if they are never going to give us, atheists, a real voice?

    April 21, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
  3. tuffgong71

    Why would a God instill you with Human Nature (the desire to sin, to live freely, to explore, to question everything) and then condemn you for doing so. He unknowingly (wait, he is God so....knowingly?) invented the industry of mental health professionals.

    April 21, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
  4. Sam Floret

    God is all-powerful and all-knowing, right? Therefore, if he chose, he could eliminate sin from the world. If God is all-powerful, all-knowing and all-loving, why was it necessary for Jesus or anyone else to die for the sins of others? Why didn't God simply forgive those sins himself? Why would an all-loving God condemn those who didn't believe in him to eternal torture? If your children do bad things, would you torture them? I do not say there is no God. I do say the image of God as an all-good, all-loving torturer makes no sense whatsoever.

    April 21, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
    • Mateezy

      Sam, your logical thinking is leading you in the right direction. i don't know what faith you belong to, but i think you understand absurdity and illogical belief of christianity. God does not need to become human and kill himself for the sins of man. God is all knowing all just. And in His infinite justice and mercy he will never punish someone who sincerely believes in him. thats why us mulims believe in one God, no partners, no associates, nothing. He is One, unique in all aspects. We do not believe in orginal sin, did Adam ask us before he eat from the tree? No so believing in this mountain on our backs makes God unjust. No soul will carry the burden of another (from Koran) God has no father, mother brother, sister, He is not a man, never became a man. He only does Godly things. He is the master of the universe and will judge every soul on the final day. Theres a verse in our Koran where God is describing the convo he will have with his servent Jesus on the day of judgement, check it out. Jesus never once said I am God, worship me. We are all accountable to God on that final day.

      April 21, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
    • Lycidas

      "he could eliminate sin from the world."

      He would also eliminate free will as well.

      April 21, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Sam your confusion is leading you to the Devil. Pray and read your bible and it will be revealed to you. Whatever is causing your confusion in your life, cut it off or pluck it out. If it is a person or your family discard them and turn to your church and Jesus.

      April 21, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
    • Dumb Illiterate

      You write "Jesus never once said I am God, worship me." That's true. But he did say, I and the Father are One." And, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

      April 22, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
  5. TINA

    read your bible. When jesus visited mary and martha, mary anointed him with expensive ointment, and judas said it could of been sold and given to the poor, and the striptures stated he didn't care about the poor, he wanted to steal the money for himself. The bible states satan entered him and it doesn't say that about the other disiples. He c ommited suiside instead of repenting as the other disiples did. He chose Hell.

    April 21, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      many don't want to know what is in the Bible. Even those who take the place behind the pulpits are among them.
      We are seeing the times of great apostasy spoken of in the Scriptures upon us.
      They will use the Name of Jesus, but reject the Spirit of Truth. But Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit which is the Spirit of truth can not be separated. So they make up Jesus Christ according to their own imagination and likings, which is false Christ.
      But with a false Christ NO ONE can be saved!

      April 21, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
  6. rtg

    I don't think he's in hell, but it's not really my call so what I think doesn't matter. Regardless, I think he did what he felt he had to do. It's possible that he believed God would save Jesus in some amazing event that would make everyone believe in Him. When that didn't come to pass, Judas was so distressed he couldn't live with himself. I don't think he ever lost faith or meant to betray Him, I think he meant to force a miracle. Unfortunately for him, you can't force miracles and this is the way it was suppose to go down.

    April 21, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
  7. susan

    Because God has had knowledge of all things for infinity and because Jesus is God born into human form, HE knew Judas was the betrayer when HE chose him. HE chose him so that the prophesies of the Old Testament could be fulfilled. Judas performed an act that was required in order for all of us to have our sins forgiven once and for all by Jesus. Do I think Judas is in Heavan or Hell? I am not intelligent enough to know the answer. However, I believe he is asleep awaiting for Jesus' return so that he may stand in front of his saviour to find out if the verdict is "Job well done:! or "To Hell with you."

    April 21, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
  8. Jerome

    So I ask, did Jesus die for the sins of man?

    Was it ordained or did Judas conspire to sell Jesus out?

    If it is the former, then Judas is definitely in heaven.

    If it was ordained, Judas played a role that was required. Judas was the only one that could be trusted to carry out his role. He is most courageous figure in the bible. If Jesus had to die for the sins of man, if that was his lot in this life, could you perform the required task as did Judas?

    April 21, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
  9. Brian

    Judas didn't sin when he sold Jesus! Jesus knew he was going to die 5-10 years before it happened. He needed dsomeone to get it going when ity was passover! In fact, I bet that Jesus liked Judas better than most of the others, so he trusted himn with starting the whole process, This was all set up before he was even born!!!!! Thats what I think.

    April 21, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
  10. unpopular

    What is the difference between Peter and Judas? Well, Peter went off weeping bitterly but did not despair. Judas on the other hand despaired and committed suicide. Judas' chances don't look very good unless by some extraordinary grace Judas was able to repent of the suicide before he died. On that count, God knows; I do not. Peter and Judas did not commit the same sin. Peter acted cowardly at a time when he was afraid for his life. Judas' treachery was premeditated. Contrary to what the author contends, Judas did not suddenly realize what he had done, as if he was acting in good faith when he "made a mistake" and betrayed Jesus.

    When did Judas stop believing? For a clue, see John 6, especially verses 61-65. Jesus had just made a hard statement: that He would give His Body and Blood for them to eat. Many of his followers left and even the twelve disciples were murmuring among themselves. In verse 65, John points out explicitly that Jesus knew who he was who would betray him. Could it be that the doctrine of the Holy Eucharist was that which Judas could not accept?

    Finally, if the point of this author's essay is to conclude that we shouldn't waste our time on whether Judas is in heaven or hell, why bring it up in the first place with a headline that begs the question?

    April 21, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
  11. Kathleen

    I think "HeavenSent" was being sarcastic.

    April 21, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Depends if it were the real heavensent that wrote or the phony coward that hides behind his handle.


      April 22, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
  12. Jeffrey

    There is no God and there is no Heaven or Hell. I see religion as simply an emotional crutch used in time of need and ignored (sins) when no support is needed. I would like to see some real numbers regarding the trend of people shunning religion today.

    April 21, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      Jeffrey wrote: "I would like to see some real numbers regarding the trend of people shunning religion today."

      Unfortunately, as the old saying goes, there's a sucker born every minute...

      April 21, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Very good Jeff, just throw a bunch of ppl into a generalization. How enlightened of you.

      April 21, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
  13. dan25ny

    I thought he'd go to Hell because he killed himself, not because of the betrayal? Also, did this happen before or after Jesus died for everyone's sins? Wouldn't everyone in Hell at that point go to Heaven, having been forgiven?
    Ah, it's all bull anyway. What's wrong with learning morals within a reality-based context? Or at least more interesting fiction.

    April 21, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
    • rtg

      I've never seen in the bible exactly where it says suicides go to hell. I realize it's taught in the catholic church, but I prefer to go by what the bible says than to man-made laws. Much like the making of saints, which is ridiculous. Only God can say who's a saint, not a bunch of priests. I have a real problem with people believing in man-made religious rules. I just can't believe that someone who's going thru such despair that they'd kill themselves would just automatically get sent to hell. I think judgment is individual, there are no absolutes.

      April 21, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
    • god=bigtaint

      rtg – the bible is man-made so there goes your entire argument, sport

      April 21, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
    • Lycidas

      god=bigtaint- Some would argue that the Bible is inspired by God though written by man.

      April 21, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
  14. natalie

    HMM do you think Adam or Eve have a change in heaven? no they had their chance to life forever, Just like Judas, when he did betray Jesus, he know what he was doing, even thou he did try to give the money back, and then they wouldn't take the money back that's then he hung himself. The valley of Hinnom (Gehenna) was outside the walls of Jerusalem, for a time thesite of idolatrous worship, including child sarcrifice, In the first century Gehenna was being used as the incinerator for the filth of Jerusalem. Bodies of dead animals were thrown into the valley to consumed in the fires, to which sulur,or brimstone was to assist the burning, also bodies of the executed criminals,who were considred undeserving of the burial of in a memorial tomb, were thrown into Gehenna, At Matthew 10:28 Jesus warned his hearers to "be in fear of him that can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna" where do think Judas then? into the pits of Gehenna, he was considered undeserving to have the burial a in memorial tomb.

    April 21, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
    • Brian

      How do you determine when Adam and Eve began? From the evolution side of things, do you really think that two people started the whole race of mankind from the apes???? Sounds crazy to me....

      April 21, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
    • god=bigtaint

      if adam and eve were the first humans, two white people, how did we end up with blacks, chinese, asians, etc? Oh thats right, because the idea of two people populating an entire planet is total lunacy believed by a very special group of gullible morons

      April 21, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
    • Lycidas

      ?Where in the Torah did it ever say they were white?

      I think you are getting artistic ideas and the truth mixed up.

      April 21, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
  15. Gerry S

    Excellent article. Thanks.

    April 21, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
  16. James Madison

    "The facts are the facts", what facts? You need to look up the definition of facts.

    April 21, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
  17. mia43

    I was brought up Cathplic and went to Catholic School from kindergarten through High School. I find religion interesting, i find the bible fascinating. Stories that were told years ago who knows what really happened back then what i believe based on Jesus' character he would have forgiven Judas.

    As i grew older i became more intellectually and scientifically driven and although i do still go to church when i can its more for me a place when i am having a bad day that is a refuge a place that i just feel at peace in probably because i grew up in a church was there every Sunday and every holy day of obligation with my parents it brings back peacful memories. From a scientifc intellectual prospective i dont know if there is a god i doubt there is a heaven or hell but in the world we are living in today faith is not a bad thing to have. i beleive there is good out there, and as a Mom i want to make sure i live me life in a way that will make my daughter proud of me so i will introduce Church to her and i will teach her the commandments because whether or not Moses came down from the mountain with two tablets in his hands they are a good starting point to instill good morals. So i guess i would view Jesus based on the stories in the Bible as a good honest man who loved everyone and helped all he could, so maybe it is not a bad thing to use him as a role model to living my life and having my daughter do the same. i look forwad to taking my daughter to mass for the first time this easter sunday (she is 3) with my parents and continuing tradition.

    April 21, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
  18. SLP

    No one sacrificed Judas. It was his decision to betray Jesus. Just because God knew that he was going to do it doesn't make it any less Judas' decision. Judas had spent three years with Jesus. He saw the miracles he performed and was given the opportunity to accept Him for who He was. He didn't have to betray Him. God knows all of our future sins. He could step in and keep us from committing them. He actually tries to through conviction of our hearts. However, He gives us all free will. Judas could have asked for forgiveness for betraying Jesus and God would have forgiven him. As horrible as what he did was, God would have forgiven him. That is the beauty of God's plan for redemption.

    April 21, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
    • believe

      As to the point of Judas being the "most trusted" of the disciples, that idea is opposed to what the Bible suggests about Judas. See John 12:4-6, for example: "But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected [to Mary anointing Jesus with expensive perfume], 'Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.' He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it." You see, he was responsible for the money but stole from it and then betrayed Jesus to get even more = greedy love for money.

      April 21, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
  19. myview2too

    I do not believe that Judas is in hell this betrayal was already fated the man to do the betrayal was already chosen. He was born for this specific purpose or else Jesus would have never been betrayed and prophecy would not be fulfilled. I believe
    Judas must be forgiven becuase no betrayal = no cruxifiction = no rising from the dead = no salvation. So there had to be a soul a fall guy already slotted for this position sent here by the Almighty to perform this task.

    April 21, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
    • myview2too

      sorry I meant heaven Judas is in heaven

      April 21, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
  20. Pole Dancin Jebus

    How do you gruantee your place in heaven? Go to any church, any church, throw down $5,000 on the Grand Poobaughs desk. Tell him (him, because you have to have a penis to be a Grand Poobaugh) you want in to heaven. Done, he will guarntee it. If you throw in some bomb making materials, you can go view a white horse.

    April 21, 2011 at 2:24 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.