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. Chris

    Said it once. Gonna say it again. I can't believe people who "do religion" as a profession. What an easy freaking life. I can't believe articles like this actually get posted on news websites.

    April 21, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
  2. Jesse Bruce

    If we take the scriptures at face value, this is not a hard question to answer. The Bible testifies of Judas that it would be better if he had never been born. If that is so it can mean nothing else but that he is in hell today and always will be, for if he could/would ever make into heaven by whatever means, it would certainly be "good" for him that he was born. Further, Jesus made him the treasurer so that Judas would come face-to-face with his "problem." Judas' response when Mary washed Jesus feet – insisting the perfume should have been sold and the money put into his care shows quite clearly that Judas failed the test.

    April 21, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
  3. Madtown

    Clay how about manning up as a Christian. 1.5 billion Muslims reject Jesus as their savior and they make for great firewood in hell.

    Pure garbage. So, just because of the situation that someone was born into, in your example a person born to Muslim parents in a different part of the world than you, where that person took on the religous traditions and practices of their parents(as many of us do when we're children), and just never had an opportunity to learn about christianity and Jesus, again only because of where they were born.....you contend that person is going to "burn" in an eternal lake of fire?! Your mind operates completely devoid of logic if you actually believe this to be true.

    What about primative tribes throughout different parts of the world, that certainly may never have the chance to learn of Jesus. You believe that God would create these human beings, love them, but banish them to hell for all eternity, simply because of the fate of their birthplace? Utterly ludicrous and laughable. And, I believe in God! Just not organized religion.

    April 21, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Madtown muslims are quite aware of jesu, they choose the path to destruction and will rightfully burn for eternity. And they are not the brightest. Look at their pathetic region. Besides bing a disappointment to god, they disappoint the rest of us living like pigs.

      April 21, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Madtown (cough Reality) writing and answering yourself.



      April 22, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
  4. God

    This is god writing through a human. You Christians have it all wrong. I am completely malevolent. Also, you know that what I'm saying is true, because I told you I am god writing through a human.

    April 21, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
    • Lycidas

      I believe the Bible has an answer to this.

      April 21, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
  5. jim morrissey

    First off, there is no hell. Secondly. WHO CARES?

    April 21, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Who cares what you care about. You do realise that you are commenting in the religious section on CNN right? You know..there are ppl commenting about business in the business section too. Hurry, go stop them!

      April 21, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      they HAVE to come here.... It makes them feel that if they can deny God and have some of the like minded agree with them, that they can CONVINCE themselves they are right.
      But there is in EVERY human soul a knowledge or awareness of God. They may not be conscious of it, but it's there. That's why THEY ARE FOREVER RESTLESS and can find no peace, because rejecting Him, they have no place of rest....
      So it is, as it is written: There is no peace to the wicked, saith the LORD!
      His soul shall never find rest, because he has refused the One, the ONLY One, who is able to give him rest.....

      April 21, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
  6. Adam

    The Christian contradiction, here espoused:

    I don't know if Judas is in Heaven or Hell. I am taking a position of agnosticism on that point, and I feel it is unwise to declare things of this sort with absolute certainty.

    I know Jesus was a divine product of Yahweh, the one and only supernatural agent deity, whose approval is to be sought. I know this with absolute certainty, and I feel it is wise to take this unequivocal, gnostic position.

    April 21, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
  7. Chris

    Is Judas in heaven or hell? A better question, who cares? And how could we ever hope to prove either answer with any sort of authority????? Anyone want to volunteer to be killed and then revived to go over to the other side and take a look??

    April 21, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
  8. Shawn Perkins

    Judas was essential in fulfilling the prophecy. Jesus had to be crucified in order to keep the covenant. Jesus knew this, God did as well. I don't believe the creator would "set someone up." It was part of the overall plan and Judas played an integral part, probably knowing that he would be vilified.

    God's mercy is infinite and I believe that Judas is in paradise. Judas cast away the 30 pieces of silver in atonement and took his own life. It was customary for the standard bearers of the KIngs of Israel to take their lives in the event of the King's death.

    Jesus died after Judas, descended into Hell where the laminations of Hell were subdued over the course of 3 days releasing all the souls that had gone before from torment. His death purchased mankind's grace from that day forward. By that logic Judas and Dismiss the good thief as well joined him in paradise. Peter was given a chance to repent. Jesus asked Peter if he loved him three times, the same amount of times that Peter had denied him,

    April 21, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
    • John

      Take a look at the editor's note at the beginning of the article...

      "He just turned 35 and is no longer a hip 20-something pastor from California."

      Huh? Editor's note? What does that have to do with anything in his article?

      Did Judas go to hell? And if Judas did go to Hell, will Craig be 'hip' at 35? How about 36? The world may never know.

      April 21, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
  9. kirack

    Muslims believe in JESUS(pbuh),more than the Christians do. they respect him as they respect prophet Muhammad(pbuh).
    Muslims never take Jesus' name in vain or disrespect him, he got the people a message about worshiping the one GOD,just like Muhammad(pbuh) did.

    Nobody is granted heaven for his deeds or beliefs, Heaven is granted only by the mercy of GOD.

    Read the Quran with an open mind, the first verse revealed in the Quran is "Read!,in the name of your creator,who created man from a clot...", [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6FUTtKFH-KU]so rather than quoting what the terrorists quote(who BTW are misleading muslims and opponents alike,by reading verses out of context), use your logic, use your intelligence, read and understand.
    the Quran (unlike the bible which is modified every once in a while to add/remove verses and claim them to be the gospel) was revealed to Muhammad(pbuh) by angel Gabriel over a period of 22 years,and then written down as it was revealed, has only one version, never edited and will never be, it's GODs word,and GOD HIMself swears in the book that he will protect the book,and challenges mankind to provide at least one verse similar to it. generations have tried and failed, GOD protects his book, his message. A third of Muslims around the world have memorized it,and almost every Muslim memorizes a few verses.
    Islam is a religion of common sense and logic, it does not confuse like the Christians are confused about trinity(which BTW is removed from the BIBLE, how can it be GODs word,when content is added and removed by people??), if believing is JESUS puts you in heaven, what about the people before JESUS, even Abraham,Moses or Noah or Adam?? they did not even know about him.
    How about i break the speeding rules and you get the ticket? How can a man be GOD? how is Christianity different than say Hindu or buddhism, where they all worship idols of men?
    JESUS was just a messenger, he got us a message. the mailman is not GOD, he is just a mailman. follow his message, and his message is ONENESS of GOD, not trinity.he never said "I'M GOD,WORSHIP ME".did JESUS ever claim to be "GOD" unequivocally? this is such a big thing, the whole of christianity is based on JESUS being "son of GOD",and it is not mentioned in the BIBLE clearly,never.

    April 21, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
  10. mary l.

    What about Adolf Hitler? For those of us who are non believers, we know for sure Hitler existed and that he was in charge of a sickening war that caused the deaths of millions of innocents. Is he in heaven? Well, if at the last minute, he asked forgiveness, could he go to heaven? Here's my humble opinion. Since energy can neither be created nor destroyed, I think our "energy" somehow existed before we were born and therefore, can survive. That's it. Energy. I believe that it is possible for some "sensitive" people to communicate with this energy. How else do some individuals provide so much information about a crime by holding an item of a victim, or visiting the scene, as to be able to help law enforcement solve a case? So I do believe there is a "creator" or "being" other than those of us on earth, but I do not believe that he/she/it is benevolent. And I don't believe heaven and hell, as we commonly think of these states, actually exists. Do you believe in unicorns? Why? Because you've never seen one. Hello.

    April 21, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
  11. Rordog

    This article is stupid. Peter and Judas did not commit the same sin. Peter denied knowing Jesus. Judas gave him up to murder knowing he was the son of god. 2 different things. You my friend are ignorant and yes they are both in hell as hell is the common grave of mankind. Hades/Sheol. Jesus was in hell for 3 days. Learn the truth and it will set you free.

    April 21, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
    • Jillienne

      Jesus saw and conquered Death, he NEVER saw hell. That is a misconception. Peter and Judas' sins were one and the same and it is in no way our place to say where they are, since we will only be giving an account for our own actions when we stand before God someday.

      April 21, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
  12. clp

    wow... all I wanted was to see if the church was bashing Gaga again..

    April 21, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
  13. Anne Chovey

    if jesus died for our sins.....then you better be out there committing some sin.
    Otherwise poor jesus would have died for nothing.

    April 21, 2011 at 2:45 pm |
    • Godless

      HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That's awesome!

      April 21, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Time is subjective, so all you have sinned is already forgiven and there is no changing in that.

      Remember Bill telling Bill to wind up his watch. OMgosh my pop culture references are getting to dated.

      April 21, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
  14. Anne Chovey

    If you said "I don't know", you'd be right 100 percent of the time. If someone said they know, they would be wrong 100 percent of the time.
    I believe....or..... I think....or........my opinion is......is really just worthless.

    April 21, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
    • Landruu

      Very good point. If you weren't actually there, you don't really know.

      April 21, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
  15. cyberCMDR

    One of the books early Christians decided to leave out of the Bible was the Gospel of Judas (no kidding, look it up). In it, Jesus instructs Judas to turn him in, so Jesus can fulfill the prophecy and achieve his rightful place in heaven. Judas, according to that gospel, was the apostle Jesus trusted the most. Because of that, Judas was picked to play the role of the bad guy.

    April 21, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
  16. Lynn

    A very well written article. I believe that it is not for you or me to judge anyone on this planet. It is important for us to be an example of Gods light; to show others the way and to spread his word. Each of us as individuals will have to answer for our sins; I am grateful that it won't be "Man" telling me whether I deserve to go to "Heaven or Hell".

    April 21, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
    • Greg

      It will be man who decides if you go to heaven or hell, as he is the one who invented both.

      April 21, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
  17. DaH

    So the son of God points at you and says "you will betray me." I guess Judas doesn't get the advantage of free will as the son of God's pronouncement is something we are told is unerring. It seems to me that if this story is what happened, then either Jesus was fallible and Judas doomed himself or Jesus is infallible and Judas never had a choice. Which tenet of doctrine do you wish to give up, god's infallibility or free will?

    April 21, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
  18. Reality Check

    Dear Atheists,

    Everyone gets that you embrace the Materialist Worldview. There really is no need to keep rehashing "fairytale", "flying Spaghetti Monsters" and "unicorns". Believers who read these stories aren't going to be swayed by such things any more than you will by the quoting of Scripture (since you've already said that you believe it to be a book of made up stories).

    Why are you so concerned that everyone believe what you believe? Some people hold to the hope that there is something at back of the material world; something that cannot yet be sensed. Why can you not be happy that they would turn their thoughts and hopes toward what they believe to be there and rest secure in your own faith in the tangible?

    If they want to believe in spiritual things, why can't you just let them be? Must everyone believe like you? Isn't that what you are faulting Christians for saying? That they claim to be the only way?

    April 21, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
    • DaH

      so i take it you have an answer to my question? please don't say it was some kind of miracle. was jesus fallible or was Judas bereft of free will? we were given a brain equal to our heart; you can no more serve two masters with your heart anymore than you cn ignore logical inconsistencies.
      as to atheists, you ironically make the same mistake you ridicule believers for, you don't KNOW god exists or that god doesn't exist. it's absolute hubris to claim the truth of either position.

      April 21, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
    • Cedar rapids

      I could ask you the same question....... Why are you so concerned that everyone believe what you believe?
      Keep personal belief personal and we wouldnt have an issue.

      April 21, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
    • Godless

      Because the believers try to force their beliefs onto others by making them law. If believers simply kept to themselves, there wouldn't be a problem.

      April 21, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
    • M

      @Reality Check

      Athiests are just jealous of the hope we live with. They have nothing, they can live for nothing but self-fulfillment. Their lives are empty and they look to the trends of the masses to tell them what to value. A sad life they have. And here comes the denial down below ^.^ Have fun reading...

      April 21, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @Godless- What's the problem? That they are trying to express their faith into our govt or that you don't want them to at all? The govt does represent the ppl and carries a collective aspect of the ppl. It makes perfect sense that their would be some aspects of judeo-christian lifestyles within the govt since it's the majority.

      April 21, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
  19. victim of democrat hypocrisy

    There are no gods or goddesses, demons or devils, ghosts or goblins. Religion was invented by man to control the masses.

    April 21, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
    • normmm

      You tell that to the couple in AMYTIVILLE, .....

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

      agreed 100%

      April 21, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
    • Cedar rapids

      'normmm – You tell that to the couple in AMYTIVILLE, .....'
      erm, what?

      April 21, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
  20. John

    Is he in heaven or hell? Not enough choices to your multiple choice question. He is in 'none of the above.'

    Judas did not betray Jesus. Judas was the MOST loyal of all of JC's followers. Judas sacrificed himself to save whom he thought was the messiah.

    Jesus had a plan...do the most amazing thing ever...a miracle to prove he was the messiah...to do something that would make him stand out amongst all the other nuts who claimed to be the messiah...HE WOULD RISE FROM THE DEAD.

    He chose Judas, because Judas was a 'true-believer', gullible, and he looked a lot like Jesus. When the threat of crucifixion was unavoidable (and the expected, NOT the prophesized result of 'stirring up a hornet's nest'), perhaps Jesus asked Judas to die for him so that Jesus could 'finish his heavenly mission.' Judas did not point out Jesus to the Romans...Jesus pointed out Judas when asked by the Romans where Jesus was. Judas agreed to this to save his friend & messiah...to give him more time to 'complete his divine mission.'

    While Judas was beaten and hung on the cross, Jesus was somewhere by himself, poking holes in his hands and feet to give the appearance of crucifixion.

    After Judas died, Jesus and the other faithful disciples, removed his body from the grave and buried it somewhere far away from civilization.

    Jesus then completed his miracle...He Came Back From the Dead and appeared before the people.

    Who can dispute the miracle? They saw him die, and yet he lives!!! Jesus lived out his days as a married man and the living messiah (this part omitted from the bible of course).

    What I find most amazing about my story (and yes, I just made it up), it that christians will think that it is ridiculous. Even when their idea of the truth includes a Babylonian God that sends down a piece of himself to be crucified by his creations, only to come back to life, 'full-fill' all of the wretched rules that he imposed upon his creations, then ascended into heaven to set beside himself. Which of these two stories sounds a little more realistic than the other?

    The weak minded irrational true-believer...astonishing. The kind of people who swear that what the saw in the sky was an alien UFO, rather than something more realistic (flock of birds, planes, helicopters, falling star, kites, etc..)

    Reminds me of the story of Nathanial...what a sucker he was...because Jesus saw him in a crowd the day before, Nathanial was convinced that John's new friend MUST be the messiah. Even Jesus was taken back by that display of gullibility!! But Nate had the skill set JC was looking for...professional SUCKER. Judas was no different. However, Judas had loyalty...unalterable loyalty to the 'messiah.' Most of us can only dream of having such a friend. Which should make Judas one of the most admirable characters within the chronicles of Jesus Herbert Christ.

    April 21, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
    • Landruu

      And you were there to witness all of this?

      April 21, 2011 at 3:17 pm |
    • John

      I understand that some people need special help...so let me highlight a line from my post to assist you in answering your own question.

      "What I find most amazing about my story (and yes, I just made it up), it that christians will think that it is ridiculous."

      April 21, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Actually John, you are not that original. The Gnostics had their view of things not far from some of what you wrote.

      April 21, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
    • John

      Their story involved God changing the face of Judas to look like JC as punishment. My story involves NO divine intervention.

      April 21, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Now, did I say it was exactly the same?

      April 21, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
    • John


      You're right, I guess I am plagiarizing a bit. Some gnostics claim Judas a hero...some claim him a goat. But hey, poking holes into his own hands...that's original isn't it?

      : )

      April 21, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
    • John

      Reminds me of the movie 'Coming to America.'

      Cleo McDowell says...
      "Look... me and the McDonald's people got this little misunderstanding. See, they're McDonald's... I'm McDowell's. They got the Golden Arches, mine is the Golden Arcs. They got the Big Mac, I got the Big Mick. We both got two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles and onions, but their buns have sesame seeds. My buns have no [diety]."

      April 21, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
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About this blog

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.