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. LDS Teen

    I believe that making final judgements on people is just crazy. I don't know Judas enough to place such a judgement is in fact being a hypocrite. It reminds me of that saying, " judge not lest ye be judged." Let us all not be the ones to cast the first stone. In short, "love one another."

    April 21, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
    • LDS Teen

      Typo: after the word Judas, I needed to add the word "and" after. Sorry.

      April 21, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
  2. judith

    one thing that surprises me in your description of Judas and his betrayal of Jesus, is that you fail to mention the fact he was a thief. John 12:6.... so who is the liar and thief in this story....and murderer in a way.....

    second interesting fact - at least to me...the money Judas threw back in his guilt, ultimately went to buy a field for the burial of the unknown, strangers. and called Potter's field....later used so brilliantly by Frank Capra in It's a wonderful Life.

    April 21, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
  3. Rico

    Aaaaah... the magical powers of Bronze Age Mythology... one day maybe... but then again...

    April 21, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
  4. Myto Senseworth

    He is dust by now....you know ashes to ashes etc.

    April 21, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
  5. Deneen

    A couple of passages were used in comments–my take:

    Take a look at what Jesus states in Matt 26:24
    "The Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed. It would be better for that man if he had never been born."

    Recall this is stated prior to Jesus praying to God and making the decision that he would be the lamb of the world. He says that he will go as it is written of him-then he states that woe is the one who betrays him, which is pretty obvious-Christ uses woe towards many, besides Judas; Pharisees, Lawyers(a personal fave of mine)& towns that denied Him and his works-He not happy that Judas must betray him and Judas should be troubled by this-to feel grief and misery–and better if he was never born-well that's pretty obvious as well, especially when we review what's been written in John 17:12.

    But is Jesus really condemning Judas or is he saddened by what would occur to himself and to Judas? During the meal it seems Jesus is unhappy & angry at what must happen, but is he angry? He is saying it is better that Judas never be born, but he is saying it because Judas has no choice. See John:

    "...None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled."
    Jesus states that one of his disciples has been lost to destruction, doomed to fulfill scripture. If Judas has a destiny that he is playing out what God has decided for him, then he cannot be condemned because of the betrayal-he was doomed to destruction because he would take his own life.

    Jesus knew all that would happen-he tells the apostles things to come-Since Jesus in John 17 has not been arrested yet & Judas has not hung himself-the apostles regard Jesus' words about Judas to mean that Judas is to be doomed because of the betrayal—then they forget later on that Peter denied Christ–yet Peter WAS FORGIVEN! It was made clear by Christ what would be the fate of anyone who denied him. We all forget that don’t we? Denying Christ could be summed up in this passage:
    1John 2:22
    “No one who denies the Son has the Father; He who acknowledges the Son has the Father also”

    So if Judas had not killed himself he would in all likelihood have been forgiven and taken his place with all the apostles. Why wouldn't he have been forgiven as well?

    This is all supposition-however if you look at it with a clear mind and with reason Judas would have been forgiven the betrayal-just as Peter was forgiven his denial–Judas could not live with what he had done-his destiny was a life 'doomed to destruction'; doomed because of his suicide. Or was he?

    We won't know until our own entry into Heaven God's plan for Judas, and whether he went to Hell or not. It does seem hard to believe that God would allow Judas to be another sacrificial Lamb, now doesn't it? Judas was not to become a martyr because of the way the apostles wrote about him in the Gospel-they saw through the eyes of men, and Judas was unable to redeem himself before he died a natural death, dying instead loathed, hated & driven to suicide for his deed against the Son of God, Jesus, whom he had Loved so much.

    Who are we to condemn Judas? In the end we didn’t know his heart, only God did, and in his last breath, couldn't a man so driven by despair at what he had done ask forgiveness from God?

    April 21, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
  6. Bibletruth

    The old testament sanctuary service (at the outer court where the lamb was slain, in the holy place, and in the most holy place) is profoundly crucial in understanding the plan of salvation. Dont ever think that an animal paid the price for sin. The sanctuary service is God's lesson book for the plan of salvation. It is of Christ throughout. It is the whole atonement lesson , from cross through judgement.

    April 21, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
  7. Mark214

    I do not believe Judas was a sinner but an enabler of God's plan. I think he might be sitting right up there on the right hand side of God looking down at us and laughing.

    April 21, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
  8. BibleClown

    He's in disneyland with the other imaginary characters. Bless you all for caring about his soul, though; you are truly great Christians.
    HeavenSent, you really need to get help; you are the most obvious schizophrenic ever to post on these boards. Do you hear voices, seriously?

    April 21, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      BibleClown, you are a pervert as is the phony heavensent that hides behind his babble using my handle.

      You own it.


      April 22, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
  9. riceman

    Dear lord, who cares? Why waste time on a hypothetical?

    April 21, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
  10. Myto Senseworth

    Not in heaven...
    Not in hell....
    I did not know judgement day had come. The bible does not say you go either way until then. I don't believe the bible....I do read. You should try it.

    April 21, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
  11. Don

    I am not part of the judeo-christian faith but from what I understand of the religion is, Jesus forgave Judas for the betrayal just as he forgave Peter. However, Judas sinned again by taking his own life (suicide) and is thus in hell or whatever place people who commit suicide go to. My understanding says that by committing suicide, you are throwing away God's gift of life to you. This makes it even worse for Judas, as he truly believes and knows that God is forgiving and yet he commits this sin anyways.

    Again, I am not of the Judeo-Christian faith, I am a Buddhist and I don't study religion, but from everything I have heard from my Christian friends and in the media, knowingly committing suicide is a no-no. Of course there is the grey area of if you are insane (say depression), are you knowingly committing suicide or is it the mental disease.

    April 21, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
    • Consider

      People believe that all who commit suicide go immediately to Hell. However, the Bible never says if this is the case. The Bible is silent on this issue. God probably did not address it in black in white for a good reason. If we knew that we would still go to Heaven if we killed ourselves, there would probably be a lot more suicides taking place than there already are. However, if we knew that all who killed themselves were automatically banished to Hell, no matter what their situation, it may be too much for the grief-stricken family and friends to bear. Murder and suicide are not unpardonable sins. The only unforgivable sins are rejecting Christ (Mark 16:16) and blaspheming the Holy Spirit.

      April 21, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
    • krenz

      I have struggled with the thought that those that needed Gods grace the most did not get it before they killed themselves. I am positive that before they swallowed that last pill or stepped off that building or whatever, that their hearts had to call out to whatever god calls himself in their heart. And I hope he answered them. To be damned forever for being at your most vulnerable and sad, does not jibe with my thoughts about God. Having said that, I'd like to believe that God saw the pain in his (judah's) heart and the weakness of his flesh, and forgave him for the suicide.

      April 21, 2011 at 5:17 pm |
  12. The LORD

    Man, that christian god was such a DB...that's why I had to take it out....

    April 21, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
  13. riceman

    Wow. What a complete and utter waste of time. Being concerned if Judas is in hell is like being concerned if Athena prefers the Yankees or the Redsox. In other words, it is completely unknowable and therefore a total waste of time and effort.... There has never been a better recruiting tool for the likes of Atheists or Agnostics than the Bible. I remember after reading it all the way though for the second or third time in my teens that I was like, "this is complete baloney". Nothing is more liberating than realizing that your life is in your hands, and the impetus for being a good person comes from you and your own values, not from a deity in the sky who will punish you. God is no longer watching over me and it feels great!

    April 21, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
  14. Amazed

    Study the Bible, people. When someone challenges your beliefs, study to show yourself approved. That means not stopping at one verse to try to make your point.

    It is a tragedy that some people's misinterpretation and misunderstanding of the Bible hurts those seeking something in their lives. For example, the Bible does not teach that hell is eternal. Don't take my world for it. Study.

    Don't debate someone else's salvation, debate your own. Suicide excludes you from heaven... What about Samson? Not just the story of Samson in Judges, but his name in Hebrews 11 in the faith hall of fame.


    April 21, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
  15. The LORD

    Simple answer – he's dead. So is Jesus. Now let's move on...

    April 21, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
  16. Lucifer the Satan of Satan's

    Hey guys lemme clear the up... Judas is in hell, he tasted good, and i am now 30 silver coins richer.. thanks...end of story..

    April 21, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
  17. Madtown

    Christine there is only one true path and that is through Jesus. The rest will burn for eternity being blotted out. God will spit out those that reject him. Choose his love or suffer forever. For those that are going after me, I know you will suffer in the end and I will be smiling.

    Here it is folks, the true face of the fundamental christian. Full of hate, full of spite, full of judgement. Devoid of love, devoid of logic. Note the irony in the posting about "choosing his love", then saying that they will "smile" upon others suffering. The only thing further from God than these beliefs, is to not believe at all.

    If there is a hell, it's this type of person that will headline there.

    April 21, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Madtown, keep writing your baloney to the phony heavensent. You are both perverts.


      April 22, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
  18. Mumo

    Wow! this is powerful! Thanks for puttin this up!. God bless you!

    April 21, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
  19. Jillienne

    No one ever converted to Christianity by losing a fight. Nor has anyone abandoned Christ after losing a fight. Lets keep these rude comments to ourselves here. Pushing your belief or unbelief on people is just a terrible tactic.
    Stand YOUR own ground, don't expect people to forsake God by telling them how "impossible" it is for a man to be swallowed by a fish, an argument that really bears no weight actually, because frankly, if you believe that Dinosaurs once roamed the earth(a proven fact) there is nothing wrong with believing a man could have been swallowed by a giant whale...it's really not that strange..
    People like to point out science as the one thing that without a doubt disproves God. Funny how it just helps prove him more and more.

    This article was very well written. I like this guy. He makes GREAT points. I love having conversations with people about this specific topic and I'd love to talk to him about it. As to those who are coming on here saying "who cares? there is no god", quoting scripture to prove that the Bible is "FULL of contradictions", call us stupid, blind, and what have you, you're really looking for trouble.
    If I said what was on my mind it would be "You don't belong here. This discussion is a place where Christians are discussing something that is important to them. Why don't you just leave us alone?"
    But I'll go ahead and say that it's completely wrong of me to make such statements. Christians who are posting on this thread should choose their words just as wisely as if you were talking to someone in person. This is an opportunity to witness Christ to people, not matter what nasty things they have to say. If you're a Christian offline, you're a Christian online too, no matter what people will say, so type like one! Don't be part of the cause! When people say "Religion has been the cause of every conflict in the world." you should be able to stand up straight and know you're not a willing contributor and participant!

    God Bless.

    April 21, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
    • PennyNot

      I like your viewpoint. There was an article recently about a young boy (12ish) who is the new math genius in the making and he is working on debunking the big bang theory with science. There are no absolute answers and assuming your way is the only way closes doors instead of opening dialogue.

      April 21, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
    • JSinKC

      @ Jillienne
      "Stand YOUR own ground, don't expect people to forsake God by telling them how "impossible" it is for a man to be swallowed by a fish, an argument that really bears no weight actually, because frankly, if you believe that Dinosaurs once roamed the earth(a proven fact) there is nothing wrong with believing a man could have been swallowed by a giant whale...it's really not that strange.."

      Have you ever thought that the part about a man being swallowed isn't what is really being questioned (although knowing the type of whale would help to determine eating habits – some might argue the truth of him being swallowed whole). Rather, the fact that the man survived 3 days and 3 nights without being digested. Typically, the stomach isn't really considered a habitable environment by a human being. What did he eat or drink for those 3 days and nights? Also, I'd love to read up on these scientific studies in which science "helps prove him more and more". Please provide peer-reviewed research (not being facetious. I like science and reading about it).

      April 21, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
  20. erich2112x

    If you didn't think we had the internet up here, you better think again; This is Judas and I'm definitely in Heaven.

    April 21, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
    • odubhain

      It would have been more educational and interesting if Judas had not committed suicide and had lived to meet Jesus again. Think about the exchange they could have had and the lessons we could all have learned. Instead we are here discussing Judas as if we really knew anything about him, what he experienced or what actually happened to him.

      April 21, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
    • Rob

      If Judas didn't betray Jesus, Jesus may never have been crucified. An evil act doesn't indicate an evil man, just an imperfect world. I don't think God would damn one of his Son's best friends. Not even considering the sin's gravity. Damning one his friends literally on his to way to redeeming humanity just doesn't fit.

      April 21, 2011 at 5:10 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.