Why I Think Judas is in Heaven

Today is Good Friday, the day Christians mark the anniversary of Jesus’ crucifixion. To focus my heart on the event, I cracked open Matthew 27 to read about the details. I got 5 verses in and stopped to ponder Judas, the disciple who betrayed Jesus to the Jewish leaders who wanted Him dead.

I think a lot of Christians assume Judas is in hell. After all, he betrayed God. That’s kind of a big deal sin. He also committed suicide, which some brands of Christians wrongly consider an unforgivable sin. For these reasons, I think if you polled your church, the majority would say there is no way Judas is in Heaven.

But I think they’re wrong.

When he realized the Jewish leaders weren’t just going to give Jesus a talking to, Judas freaked out.

When Judas, who had betrayed him, realized that Jesus had been condemned to die, he was filled with remorse. So he took the thirty pieces of silver back to the leading priests and the elders. “I have sinned,” he declared, “for I have betrayed an innocent man.” “What do we care?” they retorted. “That’s your problem.” Then Judas threw the silver coins down in the Temple and went out and hanged himself. -Matthew 27:3-5

Judas screwed up. He let greed get the better of him. He chose to turn on his friend for money. Several sources on the Google tell me 30 pieces of silver in New Testament times was the equivalent of about 4 months’ wages, so a few thousand dollars, depending on the profession to which they are referring. It would have been a nice chunk of change, but nothing too life-altering. But money wooed, and Judas’ true allegiance won out.

To be fair, Judas didn’t seem to realize he was turning his friend over to be executed. He probably was thinking Jesus was going to get some church discipline for bucking the established rules, like healing on the Sabbath and speaking out against traditional Pharisaical thinking. Judas may have envisioned Jesus being put in religious time out, but being put to death was not on Judas’ radar. A few thousand dollars in exchange for Jesus’ chastisement seemed worth it. Judas may have even rationalized that the disciples were poor and could use that money to minister to even more people once Jesus got ungrounded.

But once the reality of the situation set in, Judas was filled with remorse. He called his sin what it was – sin. He confessed his belief in Jesus as Messiah by calling Jesus innocent of the charges – namely, that He was falsely claiming to be the Messiah.

In my estimation, Judas repented and acknowledged Jesus as God. And scripture tells us that’s all we have to do to be saved.

I cannot wait to get to Heaven and see Judas and Jesus laughing together. That picture of grace overwhelms my soul.

How great is our God that He would forgive even the likes of Judas!

(Shortly after I published this post, I changed my mind. See the comments below to understand why.)

44 thoughts on “Why I Think Judas is in Heaven

  1. Love this! Judas in heaven=God’s infinite grace. So undeserving yet freely given to all who repent and believe. There is hope for me. There is hope for all in Jesus.

  2. What about Jesus’ prayer for His disciples in John 17? Verse 12 – While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by the name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.

      • The scripture Judas fulfilled was Psalm 41:9, “Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.” Christ had to be betrayed by someone close to Him to fulfill that Psalm. Jesus Himself references this Psalm as a prophecy in John 13:18-21. Jesus was not saying Judas was going to be the Messiah. He was saying Judas was going to be His betrayer.

        • Everyone has their own thoughts on the subject; the view here is that Judas handed over Jesus for the noblest reason of all, in defense of the poor. For although all the disciples protested the waste of expensive perfume when Jesus is anointed, only proved to have the courage of his convictions in the matter by going out straightaway to confer with the authorities about elaborating a plan of betrayal. It apparently escapes the attention of Christians, but the anointing of Jesus, just like your eternal salvation, has been made to be contingent upon a slighting of the poor. Read if you will Jer. 22;16, to see what God wants in a similar situation.

  3. This is an interesting thought. I do hope that Judas is in heaven right now. I do think his remorse was real. It seems hard to believe that he didn’t realize that the religious leaders wanted to kill him since they had attempted to capture him and kill him multiple times.

  4. I like that thought, but along with the previous comment about the verse saying none will be lost except the one doomed to destruction, Jesus also said it would have been better for Judas to have never been born. (that is, for Judas’s own sake).

      • Even if we grant Judas was a “man of sorrows”, all that phrase means is he experienced pain. We all do. It doesn’t follow that we can compare Judas’ pain to Christ’s and call Judas’ “more” or “greater”. We cannot do that for several reasons – there is no way to quantify pain (and, thus, it cannot be compared), and we did not know Judas nor much about him and his painful experiences. But even if we were to invent some way to compare sorrows, and even if Judas was found has having “more” or “greater” sorrow than Christ, that has nothing to do with Messiahship. Isaiah 53:3 simply says of the Messiah “He is…a man of sorrows…” He doesn’t have to be THE ONLY man of sorrows to be the Messiah nor the man of GREATEST sorrows. As long as He is A man of SOME sorrows, He fulfills this prophecy.

  5. Remorse and repentance are not necessarily the same thing. We also know from John’s Gospel that Judas was a thief (John 12:1-6). It doesn’t seem his following Jesus had changed him at all. Are we to suppose because he felt remorse at betraying Jesus that he therefore became a real follower of Jesus? The phrase used of him (“the one doomed to destruction”) is the same phrase used of the “man of lawlessness” in 2 Thessalonians 2:3. Not an appropriate term for someone who is saved or who has repented. So, not to in any way take from the grace of God that saves the worst of sinners, it seems to me that Judas really didn’t repent and become a follower of Jesus. Would Jesus have forgiven him if he had repented? No doubt!

  6. Interesting thoughts. To be honest, I don’t know how to reconcile these verses you guys are bringing up with the one I wrote about here.

    “Doomed to destruction” sounds severe, but do we HAVE to assume that means ETERNAL destruction? Suicide is pretty destructive in and of itself…

    And what does Jesus exactly mean by it would have been better for Judas never to have been born? Is it NECESSARY that we interpret that as Jesus referring to Judas’ eternal destination, or could He have meant something else, maybe in a broader sense than we can understand of the effects of Judas’ life on the Kingdom?

    Whether repent and remorse are interchangeable here, I think it is clear Judas felt guilty for doing something wrong – betraying an innocent man. He also seems to have tried to right his wrong by going back to the Jews to return the money, maybe hoping they’d change their minds about killing Jesus. Repent means to turn away from, and it certainly seems to me Judas was trying to do just that.

    The fact that Judas says Jesus is innocent of the charges that He is falsely claiming to be the Messiah is what leads me to believe Judas believes it is true that Jesus is the Messiah. Couple that with the perceived repentance, and you have a recipe for salvation.

    Randall’s insight into the phrase “the one doomed to destruction” does make my interpretation of this Matthew passage more iffy. In 2 Thessalonians, the same phrase refers to the Antichrist, does it not? For sure, that doesn’t bode well for Judas.

    Perhaps Judas only believed Jesus was the Messiah like Satan believes Jesus is the Messiah – he didn’t admit his need for forgiveness. In that case, Judas would not have been saved. But the fact that he calls his betrayal of Jesus sin goes farther than Satan would ever go.

    In the end, the Matthew passage seems to indicate Judas was saved, and the John passage seems to indicate he wasn’t. Which one makes the stronger case?

  7. I love this whole thread. It’s refreshing to read a discussion without everyone attacking each other. My heart just aches for Judas. I’ve always hoped that he truly was a follower but seems that I am wrong. Good news is that it doesn’t change the fact that Jesus still saves those the world considers the “greatest sinners” and most deserving of hell (which is really all of us). Of course, there must be true repentance and acceptance of Jesus as Lord and Savior.

  8. Many of the early Church Fathers subscribed to what is called Universal Salvation, or ultimate reconciliation. In that context, it is rational to think that Judas is eternally reconciled to God.

  9. Tim, I’m not sure what you mean by universal salvation, but if it is the same as universalism, I have to respectfully disagree. The Bible simply does not support, and, in fact, completely contradicts the idea that everyone goes to Heaven no matter what they believe. The scriptures are certainly clear that one must believe in the Lord Jesus to be saved, and they emphasize He is the ONLY way.

    The debate here is did Judas accept Jesus as Messiah or not. If he did not before his death, he is not and will never be in Heaven.

  10. I think you may be asking the wrong question when you ask which passage (Matthew or John) make the stronger case. They aren’t competing with one another. The Matthew passage does not say anything about Judas’ eternal resting place. The John passage does seem to indicate something about Judas’ eternal resting place. Given this, we do best to interpret Matthew in light of John.

    To say that Jesus was an innocent man is not the same as saying he was Messiah. Yes, the religious leaders were charging Jesus with blasphemy. But Judas could have been just as easily remarking that he had walked with Jesus for three years and known him to be an upright person. It doesn’t follow that Judas thought him to be perfect, the Messiah, and certainly not God. In fact, I doubt any of his disciples had true faith in Jesus as God, the one who would free them from the penalty of their sins and use them to restore all of creation. In a real sense, none of the disciples were Christians. So we would have to understand that Judas figured it all out before the others. If he really saw Jesus for who he was, he would not have killed himself. He would have sought forgiveness in Jesus.

    Again, I sure hope he is in heaven. But I wouldn’t bet on it.

  11. This is a great thread and Kelly a very thought provoking post. Actually the other day I looked up after watching the “Bible” mini-series on the History channel which had the scenes of Judas betrayal. I did the same thing you did Kelly after they showed the coins I looked it up to see what it was worth. A lot of money! I have always assumed he did not go to Heaven but not so sure now. While he is hanging by the throat is he crying out for forgiveness? Did he have time to do so? Once it started choking him did he try to stop it? We don’t know, but…..the thief hanging on the cross beside Jesus was told by the Messiah at that time of death He would see him in Paradise. How many through the centuries have had death bed conversions or even in suicide? I know it is not God’s will, is it murder?
    I like you, hope Judas is in Heaven. Any ideas here?

    • Even if suicide is murder, committing that sin wouldn’t keep a believer out of Heaven. The scriptures say, “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved,” (Romans 10:2-10). Nothing in there about not committing certain sins, even suicide/murder, being required for salvation. So I don’t believe Judas’ suicide disqualified him from salvation – it’s what was in his heart that mattered.

      Thanks for the reblog, have had some good comments from it!

      • Kelly, ur welcome! it was such a good article. According to my husband, Catholics believe automatically a person goes to hell if suicide is how they die. But I am like you, especially if like in Judas’s case he must have received Christ before; that would hold up I would think.

    • The New Testament claims that precedent for the famous thirty pieces of silver is to be found in The Book of Jeremiah. But actually, it is in the Book of the Prophet Zechariah. And in reading it, it is clear that one who receives the money and then throws it back to the potter in the house of the Lord is the person who is being identified as the messiah. And as every child in Christendom knows, that was Judas.

      • Zechariah was the one throwing the silver to the potter, and he certainly never claimed to be the Messiah. He gives up his wage because the Lord told him to and because it was an insultingly low provision for a prophet. Likewise, Judas never claimed to be the Messiah either. In fact, in Matthew 27, Judas says he has sinned. Never mind the entire rest of the Bible (Old and New Testaments) pointing to Jesus as the Messiah, Judas’ own personal admission of sin renders him impotent to save anyone else from their sin. We need a perfect sacrifice in our Savior.

  12. Thanks for the perspectives, everyone. After all this, I think it wise to change my position. Clearly, I wasn’t aware of the verses you guys brought up when I formulated my initial opinion of this Matthew passage. Thanks for the discussion, insight, and grace to grow.

  13. And then there is Matthew 26:24 The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.

  14. I heard Pastor Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel talking about this very thing the other day. Chuck did not have a very concise answer. 1. There are passages such as ChrisM mentions that are very telling of his fate, but 2. We serve a merciful God and should understand from scripture that Jesus preached to the captives. 3. Jesus made his comments to a Jewish crowd prior to his death, so he may have offered life to Judas. Judas would have been a fool to refuse. 4. As you pointed out Napthali, there was some form of grief over what he had done. I believe he tried to force Jesus hand into being the salvation that most of Israel anticipated, a militaristic one. It is not a question of belief, for none of them believed or understood until after Jesus death.
    Final answer: I do not know, but it does not look good for him.

  15. Kelly, don’t let you heart be swayed by “finite discussion.” If you believe Judas could be in heaven, then do so. Someone will always step up to argue the point. Finite discussion is not what Jesus asked Believers to spend their time doing. I appreciate your thoughts, Kelly.

  16. I read your blog and all the comments before I ever crawled out of bed this morning. I have often pondered the plight of Judas and believe I could take up this topic and argue it as prosecutor or defense. There are many angles and many points to ponder. What I find more fascinating on this day, this Easter Sunday, is that it seems the Spirit is moving all of us to have this discussion. After breakfast was served and we all sat down for a cup of coffee, my husband picked up his hometown paper (Evansville, Indiana) and there again, a discussion of Judas. I don’t really remember an Easter in years past when I have seen so much interest in the one who betrayed Jesus. Didn’t they all betray him in a way? Didn’t they all turn their backs on Him when fear overtook their faith? Don’t we all do that some times when we choose our way over His way? And what about John 13:27? If Satan entered in to him, isn’t Satan the one Jesus refers to as “doomed to destruction?” And yes, wouldn’t it have been better for Judas if he had not been born, so he would not have been the “one” to do what had to be done? Did he really have a choice? I don’t know. What I do know, and I know that I know, is that God is the only one with the actual answer. But as I remember some of the final words of Jesus on the cross, “Forgive them Father for they know not what they do,” would that not also have included Judas? I still don’t know.

    May God’s love and mercy be present in all our lives on this amazing day and may we have love and mercy for each other. It is only when we clothe ourselves with the love of Christ that we can continue on with His work.

    • Great questions.

      I don’t have answers to all of them, but I don’t believe Satan is who Jesus is referring to when he speaks of “the one doomed to destruction”. John 17:12 is talking about the disciples. The “none” means “no disciples” have been lost except the “one doomed to destruction”. Satan wasn’t a disciple, so Jesus can’t be talking about Satan when he refers to the “one doomed to destruction.”

      As for Luke 23, when Jesus said, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing,” the context for whom “they” refers to is the Roman soldiers crucifying and casting lots to divide up clothing. This does not appear to be a general appeal for all people nor for on-lookers of the crucifixion, so Judas would not have been on Jesus’ mind at that point.

      Thanks for joining in the discussion!

      • In the frantic effort to demonize Judas, let no one forget the crushing rejoinder that Jesus issues to Peter, “Get thee me behind me Satan.” If one of the twelve was a devil, as Jesus has said (without explicitly saying whom), it looks to be Peter. And the singularly sanguinary history of the church( of which Peter holds the key), would seem to bear this out.

  17. I agree with you Romans 3:25 says God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement through faith in his blood, he did this to demonstrate his justice because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed before hand unpunished. I believe Jesus also died for Judas too.

    • Adegoke, I agree with you that Christ died for ALL, including Judas. But I want to be clear that that doesn’t mean all people go to Heaven. Each person has to have “faith in his blood” – i.e., accept Christ’s sacrifice – in order to be saved. So, while Jesus DID die for Judas, that doesn’t mean Judas was necessarily saved. I hope you agree 🙂 Thanks for reading.

  18. As much as i believe in the resurrection of the dead, its also important to know that being sad after commiting a sin is a very natural phenomenon irrespestive of background, race, religion, etc. Judas in his own case being a follower of Christ was so sad that he felt the only way out was to kill himself (which is also a sin) . Although, the wages of Sin is death, God is always willing to forgive (if the repentance is genuine) and make our ways straight with him again, a clear example is in the case of Peter,also disciple of Christ (Matthew 26: 69-75). In my own view, I don’t think Judas will make heaven because his repentance was not genuine.

    • Good thoughts, Seyi. I agree – the million dollar questions are 1) did Judas repent, and 2) was that repentance genuine repentance or only a feeling sorry he got caught? I’m glad I don’t have to be the judge of these things 🙂 Thanks for reading.

    • Interesting, David! Peter was definitely talking about the initial 12 disciples… Jesus probably was too… So that would point to Judas being in Heaven…

      But if Judas isn’t occupying that 12th throne, per other verses that make it seem like he is in Hell, who is? I suppose a remote possibility is the apostle who replaced Judas, Matthias (Acts 1:26).

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