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. john

    >>>>>Recently, I asked on my Facebook page: "Is Judas in heaven or hell?"<<<<<>>>>>This is not the debate Christians need to be engaged in.>>>>>>

    Wow, you ask the question on your facebook page, starting a debate among your "friends", and then complain that its not the debate we should be engaged in. Does it get more shallow than that? Start a controversy and then complain we shouldn't argue over it? If you want to be taken seriously as a religious commentator, don't raise subjects just to slam those who then discuss those subjects, and threaten to unfriend them. Do we know for sure who is in heaven or hell? No, we don't know who had a change of heart, etc. at the last moment, so its never really possible to know, but we can objectively discuss certain actions as being such serious sins that it leads there if repentance is absent.

    April 21, 2011 at 10:50 am |
  2. Kordax

    In the end, no matter how much we fight on chat boards about the existence or nonexistence of God, someone will be right and someone will be wrong. There are those who believe in God (judge). Just like in the U.S., there is a system put in place to judge those who come before it. It doesn't matter if you believe in the US court system or not, it does exist and if you live in the U.S. then it is imposed on you and you will face judgement. On the other hand, there are those who believe that no God exists and there is no judge. If that is the case, then when you leave here you cease to exist and that is the end. So in the end, when one group of believes is correct and one isn't, what will you choose to believe as truth and where will you fall in the realm of preparedness?

    April 21, 2011 at 10:50 am |
    • Rational

      Are you trying to say, in a convoluted way, that you are taking Pascal's Wager?

      April 21, 2011 at 10:57 am |
    • Kordax

      not at all. Don't believe in something because it is the least of two evils or because you are hedging against what might be. I have heard someone take the position in the past that if they don't believe in God then he can't be judged by God. Well, taking the concept of the US legal system into consideration, this is a flawed rationale. My statement was an attempt to get people thinking rather that stating my own opinion because in the end, my opinion is only based on experienced in my own life and doesn't really mean much to others unless they have their own experiences. It was an encouragement for people to do less talking and more experiencing because it is the experiencing that leads you to a true understanding of why you truly believe what you believe and should require than you defend that belief to the extent that many around here seem to be doing.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:05 am |
  3. Rich

    judas is in the dirt, assuming he existed at all once upon a time.

    April 21, 2011 at 10:49 am |
  4. osro

    Can someone explain why this fluff piece is a featured news story in whats supposed to be America's best news source? Here's a story I want to read: Why CNN stopped promoting fluff articles and started educating Americans on the world around them.

    April 21, 2011 at 10:48 am |
  5. ralph

    Space gods talking snakes,claiming the world is only 6000 years old when we know for a fact its over 6,000,000 years old. I have a bridge to sell you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    April 21, 2011 at 10:48 am |
  6. dioncamp

    Jesus did say he (Judas) was doomed for destruction in John 17:12. As to the full knowledge of that verse, I'll wait till he comes to explain! And as to believers and non believers who go to great extends to justify their beliefs – enough of that! There's enough evidence in the world to prove either point. I refuse to debate with anyone for my beliefs. I choose to believe and thats that!

    April 21, 2011 at 10:48 am |
  7. raf

    A double spaced article that is very light on content.? The author could have at least included more scripture to pad the article. This man probably has a wonderful ministry and is no doubt a great speaker but this article could have been written by my senior high school son.

    Now my opinion: there are more scriptures that paint a more bleak picture about Judas then the one mentioned. Jesus says it would have better that the one betraying him had never been born. Not exactly words for someone going to heaven. I'm sorry about that because every lost sinner breaks God's heart but the fact seem to lean in that direction.

    And why do people comment on this article who don't even believe in God??? If I KNEW there was no God I would be robbing a bank in an effort to live the high life before I came to an end in the ground. Most atheists contradict their belief by the life they live . They follow rules . Somewhere in the back of their heads they are hedging their bets. Ha

    April 21, 2011 at 10:47 am |
    • Nonimus

      "If I KNEW there was no God I would be robbing a bank in an effort to live the high life before I came to an end in the ground. Most atheists contradict their belief by the life they live . They follow rules ."
      I think atheists comment here to clarify exactly these kind of misunderstandings.
      Atheism is a lack of belief in god(s). It does not mean a lack of ethics, or a anarchist political view. Actually, who is more moral, the one who is good for fear of eternal fire, or the one who is good because it is the right thing to do?

      April 21, 2011 at 10:53 am |
    • Zen Skier

      um.... so let me get this straight...the only reason you are not a complete sociopath is the risk of eternal damnation? That's really frightening....

      April 21, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
  8. CarolStrick

    I've been reading a lot of books about hypnotic regressions on massive numbers of people who then recall past lives and similar between-lives states. They report no after-death punishment for their lives, but rather a constant, joyful endeavor to improve themselves. So I'd say that as much evidence as we have today is definitely on the side of "there is no Hell," and that Heaven is a lot different than Sunday schoolers who go by highly questionable texts (and sometimes not even that; by what people have told them without doing any mindful studying and/or research) would have us believe.

    April 21, 2011 at 10:47 am |
  9. Dano

    If Judas' betraying of Jesus is being described as the same type of sin as Peter's then wouldn't Judas have been forgiven as well?

    April 21, 2011 at 10:46 am |
  10. American

    I find it interesting that many negative comments on this blog are by readers that truly have no business on this blog. Why is it that those without faith feel the need to enter this blog assert opinions that are irrelevant to the subject? Really, you clicked on the link, read an article you knew you had no interest in from the start. If anything they detract from this debate. Judas may very well be in either, but I would be curious to learn what the expert theologians say on the matter.

    April 21, 2011 at 10:46 am |
    • Colin

      "Expert theologans"?

      How exactly does one become an "expert theologan" and how exactly could they provide any more insight into an issue as inane as this than the neighborhood butcher could?

      April 21, 2011 at 10:51 am |
    • Rational

      My business is to cure this pervasive societal mental illness called the god delusion.

      Faiths of many types try to cultivate this garbage everywhere they go. I'm trying to help them realize it's a waste of time.

      April 21, 2011 at 10:55 am |
    • GAW

      Sadly these 'New Atheist' types and their followers think and act very much like the people they despise so much. They are very aggressive in their evangelizing and intimidate those who disagree with them. Of course this is a free forum attracting those from a wide variety of perspectives. Many of which are a test of our patience and tolerance levels.

      April 21, 2011 at 10:58 am |
    • Face

      I'll be sure to push you as far as possible.....
      Tolerate? Had you and I been born about 300 yrs ago you would have most likely just killed me, simply for my lack of belief in your version, of the many versions of the apparently one true deity, that is correct over all the other versions of deities....

      April 21, 2011 at 11:16 am |
    • AmericanToo

      They post here, and other places of similar content, because Atheism has become what it opposes. For all intents and purposes, it is an organized religion. They proselytise, they seek monetary contributions, they have a sermon (well practiced and polished), and they are organized. The only difference is their "diety" is a "concept" rather than a "being".

      April 21, 2011 at 11:30 am |
    • jdhogg

      there is no such thing as an "Expert Theologian".

      April 21, 2011 at 7:22 pm |
  11. Budaweep

    This very question was explored powerfully and with passion and grit in Stephen Adly Gurgis' 'The Last Days of Judas Iscariot'. Judas, consumed by guilt, creates his own hell, and is unable to leave it even with Jesus' presence beside him at all times. It's a nice story. Just like the Bible. I wouldn't take Judas roasting in Hell for all eternity seriously. After all, people have done far worse things.

    April 21, 2011 at 10:46 am |
  12. gman21

    I believe Heaven (being with God) and Hell (separation from God) are real. God alone knows where Judas is. It is not a coincidence that the after (or near) death experiences of people are similar and in line with Bible.

    Examples of some new age weapons of devil are:
    a. Hell is just a concept.
    b. Being Gay is chemicals-so God made you that way. I do not dispute their choice to live together. But it is not marriage.
    c. Life does not begin at conception

    We have beeen desensitized to these issues now.

    April 21, 2011 at 10:46 am |
    • richunix

      Do you really believe that their is really a Heaven or Hell, are you so fearful of death that only a fantsey can help? Life is wonderful and we DO NOT need to continue a belief in a deity that had never existed nor will.

      To answer the question, one would have to believe in “Heaven or Hell” first in place in order to present a best guess answer. But since this is subjective matter and belongs with Mythology, it makes it even harder.

      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 10:50 am |
    • YBP

      1. There are no gods
      2. I was married in Toronto, and it is every bit as much of a marriage as anyone else's
      3. Abortion is the destruction of a living organism that has the potential for human life. A woman's choice should therefore be to either become pregnant or not. However, unwanted pregnancies of any kind should be terminated.

      April 21, 2011 at 10:54 am |
  13. Patti

    Since "hell" is a made up place, i'll say no.

    April 21, 2011 at 10:46 am |
    • Russ

      You'll believe it when you end up...

      April 21, 2011 at 10:57 am |
  14. Colin

    To the Christians out there, which of the following is sillier and why?

    "The wizard, dressed in his purple robe, raised the goblet of wine to the sky. He spoke the magic words of the sacred ceremony to the sky fairy in the heavens and the wine was turned into the blood of the great prophet." or

    "The Catholic priest, dressed in his white robes, raised the chalice of wine toward the sky. He spoke the sacred words of the Catholic mass to God in heaven and the wine was transformed into the blood of Christ."

    April 21, 2011 at 10:45 am |
  15. richunix

    To answer the question, one would have to believe in “Heaven or Hell” first in place in order to present a best guess answer. But since this is subjective matter and belongs with Mythology, it makes it even harder.

    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 10:45 am |
    • Theorert

      @richunix You have failed to understand the meaning behind this article, and it's purpose for the Christian community. You dont need to be here. Oh, and thanks for the plagarism, stop pretending to be someone else online, and copying other peoples quotes fool.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:02 am |
  16. Tyler

    Well since there is no Hell and the original Greek meaning of the word "sin" means to miss the mark, I don't think Judas's spirit is damned. If anything, one would hope that he learned a valuable lesson that he carried over into his next incarnation. I love the bible and believe there was a man called Jesus but he was just a messenger just like Buddha or Gandhi and the bible is a book full of metaphors that can help one who knows how to read it correctly. If God is everything and we are made in his image then we are just smaller scale versions of God, and since God is everything then we are the everything and the everything is in us.

    April 21, 2011 at 10:45 am |
  17. Franklin

    Amen to that! You are right when you said, it is easier for us to judge others that to judge ourselves. We must all remember that we will one day stand before God and have to answer for the life we lived. Judas and Peter made the same mistake. I believe the only difference which determined where they spent their eternity was the fact that Peter repented. Peter do you love me? (3x) Satan found a weakness in Judas. Yes he was trusted but he was weak. I think satan found that weakness in Judas when he complained about the woman who washed Jesus with the expensive perfume in the alabaster box. Judas said " you wasted it.....it was expensive.... we could have used it in another manor...." Had he forgotten about what Jesus had done? The miracles he had performed? Who Jesus was? I believe satan seen a weakness in that moment. When Jesus was speaking to his deciples and telling them my betrayer sits before me. Judas played the part. Just like the other deciples were asking "is it me?" , so was Judas. The only difference is Judas already knew. He had already made the deal. When he asked Jesus face to face Jesus said, "If you say so". I believe in that moment Judas could have and should have repented. Jesus knew and was giving him an opportunity...... He later on tried to give the money back to the high priests and commited suicide. It is amazing that Peter didn't do the same thing, only because of the guilt he was dealing with.I heard a sermon a long time ago but these words are still with me.... (Your life is a gift from God to you. What you do with it is your gift to him.)

    April 21, 2011 at 10:45 am |
  18. Jason Greenwood

    I agree with the last 2 lines of your article. I also agree that it isn't critical to our salvation to agree on whether Judas is in heaven or hell.

    But if I may point it out, it sure seems like there are some inaccuracies and personal/fallible conjecture infused in your knowledge of scripture.

    First of all, Peter, James and John were clearly separated from the other 12 in several events of the gospel (e.g., transfiguration), so it's not accurate to equate their experiences with Judas' (minor point, but still... the truth). In fact, we don't really know what Judas did or didn't experience (or many of the other 9) as scripture is silent on these things, we're left to make assumptions that the chosen 12 were witness to many of Jesus' miracles and ministry. "The 12 disciples all talked about how they were so great" at the Last Supper..? What Gospel are you reading? But I think the real offense for me was equating the rock of the church, Peter, a man who was handed the reigns of Christ's ministry, with the power to "bind or loose" as Christ's representative on earth– with Judas Iscariot. Clearly Christ regarded Peter differently, why the heck don't you?

    I think you gloss over Judas' sin... "in a dark moment he made a mistake, a big one..." Far be it for me to be a judge here, but I don't sugarcoat my own sin, nor will I do it for Judas. His was a premeditated betrayal to the very same "brood of vipers" that Jesus preached against. The bible indicates that he did experience remorse after the fact, returning the payment to the temple– so who knows, perhaps that was redemptive. But then again he took his own life, another sin. So who knows but God. You seem to be going to the other extreme from those who want to presume they know Judas is in hell, and that is glossing over the grave nature of his sin. Not sure what kind of preacher you are, but based on this article I'm wary of your theology.

    April 21, 2011 at 10:45 am |
    • Domokun

      OMG...he's wary of your theology...time for Jihad....

      April 21, 2011 at 11:15 am |
  19. miscnelson

    I have always wondered if Judas was CHOSEN to betray Jesus more as a mission so that the whole crucifixion and atonement could play out rather than that he made a mistake and did something evil.

    April 21, 2011 at 10:45 am |
    • BAM

      Chosen is quite interesting. If true are we all just puppets on strings or do we really have free will? Are people who murder others, commit crimes against other, deceive others, lie, cheat, etc chosen to do those things according to God's plan to show others a correct path in life or some lesson?
      I personally believe in free will, which I think is what Judas used to make his judgements. If I would belive otherwise then he and his life were nothing more than just a marionette puppet with his strings being pulled by God, along with others throughout history. I think life is much more than that.

      None the less, that word chosen really made me think. Interesting.

      April 21, 2011 at 10:55 am |
    • AnhTuan

      That's exactly what the Bible. It's planned out carefully by God to bring the whole demonstration of God's sacrifice for sin to those who He has chosen.

      If we read the book of Genesis how Joseph, the son of Jacob, were treated and later saved his people (Israel) out of famine, but also at the same time bring people to Egypt so in later time, they will be able to see the salvation of God to the land of Canaan. It's beautiful and mysterious work of God. There are more example of this in the bible, but this is one of them.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • airwx

      @Bam Judas made his own choice. Judas was ticked that Jesus was not a conquering King but a servant Savior. God knew that Judas would make this choice, not because he was pulling strings, but because He had already seen all of human history play out. Think Alpha AND Omega. I emphasize AND because time does not have any effect on God. Its impossible for a creation to affect its' Creator.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:13 am |
  20. melejandro

    Judas is in heaven.....I mean have you heard the new Gaga song? Its amazing!!! <3 me some judas

    April 21, 2011 at 10:44 am |
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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.