Is Judas Iscariot in Heaven or Hell?

Judas Iscariot is one of the most infamous figures in the Bible. He is best known for betraying Jesus Christ with a kiss for 30 pieces of silver.

Judas committed suicide not long after his horrendous deed. A lot of people want to know what happened to Judas after that. Did Judas go to heaven or hell?

Where exactly does the Bible reveal the answer? How do different translations render the key description?

Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and others.

Also, see Did Moses Go to Heaven? to learn more.

Judas Iscariot betrayer of Christ
When did Judas criticize Mary? See table below

Peter Implies That Judas Went to Hell When He Died

The Book of Acts teaches that Judas went to hell when he died, not heaven.

The key statement is found in the Apostles’ prayer when they asked God for a replacement for Judas.

Most scholars question whether Judas was ever a genuine believer.

The Apostles’ declaration about what happened to Judas after he died

Even though the death of Judas is recorded at the end of the Gospels, Acts also addresses it.

After Judas died, the 12 Apostles needed to replace him with a new man.

Before they cast lots, which identified Matthias as the replacement (1:26), the Apostles prayed.

They said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place” (Acts 1:24-25, ESV, emphasis added).

The Apostles’ prayer reveals their belief that Judas is in hell. The critical line in the prayer that sheds light on Judas’s eternal fate is that he “turned aside to go to his own place” (ESV).

Also, see Does Everyone Go to Heaven? to learn more.

What does it mean that Judas “turned aside”?

The Greek word (parabaino) translated as “turned aside” (ESV) means “to turn away” from or “to transgress.”

The Greek word is only found two other times in the New Testament, and both times it’s translated as “break” (Matt. 15:2-3, both occurrences, ESV). Other popular English translations render the phrase,

  • NIV, “Judas left to go where he belongs”
  • NLT Judas has “gone where he belongs”
  • KJV, “Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place”
  • NKJV, “Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place”
  • NASB, “Judas turned aside to go to his own place”
  • NRSV, “Judas turned aside to go to his own place”
  • Amplified, “Judas left to go to his own place [of evil]”

How do Bible scholars interpret the Apostles’ description of Judas?

Most scholars believe that Judas was never a genuine believer.

Judas knew Jesus but didn’t truly put his faith in him or believe that he was the Messiah. (This may be, in part, why Judas criticized Mary for her act of devotion. More below).

One scholar of the book of Acts, Darrell Bock, writes Judas “appeared to be a follower of Jesus but was not a genuine follower. The idea that Judas ‘went to his own place’ suggests a choice to be separate from the Eleven and implies his judgment in hell.”

He continues, “This is an early church euphemism for where one ends up after death. To describe Judas as having gone ‘to his own place’ means that he ended up in a different place from the Eleven, a euphemism for eternal judgment among the lost.” [1]

Some scholars on Acts question the certainty of the euphemism but generally agree that the implication of Judas being in hell is a strong possibility.

Also, see Are Adam and Eve in Heaven? to learn more.

Judas Iscariot statue
How did Judas die? See below

Comparing Views on Judas’ Eternal Fate

Whether Judas went to heaven or hell has been a topic of theological debate for centuries.

Christian branches, traditions, and denominations have varying views on his destiny.

The Catholic view on what happened to Judas after death

The Catholic Church does not make definitive statements about the salvation of specific individuals, including Judas.

While his betrayal is undeniable, the Church emphasizes God’s boundless mercy and the mystery of human free will.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church mentions that “God’s mercy knows no bounds,” but it’s up to individuals to accept that mercy.

The Protestant view on what happened to Judas

Many Protestant theologians believe that Judas’s actions and subsequent remorse indicate a lack of genuine faith, suggesting he was not among the elect.

However, like Catholics, Protestants also believe in the vastness of God’s mercy, and interpretations can vary among denominations.

The Orthodox view on Judas’ fate

The Eastern Orthodox Church traditionally views Judas more sympathetically, seeing his betrayal as a tragic failure rather than an inevitable act of evil.

They emphasize the importance of repentance, and while Judas felt remorse, he despaired instead of seeking forgiveness.

New Testament Facts about Judas Iscariot: Call to Betrayal

Judas’s’ narrative in the Gospels and Acts begins with a call and ends in a disturbing and disgusting failure.

Facts About Judas
AppearanceJudas is mentioned in all four Gospels and the book of Acts
CallJesus called Judas (e.g., Mark 3:14); his name often appears last in lists of the 12
Origin“Iscariot” comes from a Hebrew word for a town in Moab
RoleTreasurer; “Some thought that, because Judas had the moneybag, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor” (John 13:29, ESV)
ReputationThief; “If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him” (John 12:26, ESV)
RelationshipsCriticized Mary for anointing Jesus’s feet with oil (John 12:2-5); “But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, 5“Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” (John 12:3-5)
PossessionLuke records that Satan possessed Judas in preparation for his betrayal of Christ. “Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was of the number of the twelve” (Luke 22:3, ESV).
NotorietyBetrays Jesus to the chief priest (Matt. 26:14-16; Mark 14:10-11; Luke 22:3-6); “Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them. And when they heard it, they were glad and promised to give him money. And he sought an opportunity to betray him” (Mark 14:10-11, ESV).
RemorseJudas returned the 30 pieces of silver; “Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, ‘I have sinned by betraying innocent blood'” (Matt. 27:3-4a).
DeathJudas hanged himself (Matt. 27:5); Judas fell and died (Acts 1:18-19); common solution: Judas hung himself with a rope, which broke, and he fell to his death; “And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself” (Matt. 27:5); “…and falling headlong he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out” (Acts 1:18b)

Comparing Judas with Other Biblical Figures

Judas’ story is one of the most debated in the New Testament, but he isn’t the only biblical figure who faced moral dilemmas or committed grave sins.

By comparing Judas with other biblical characters, we can better understand the themes of betrayal, redemption, and divine grace.

Peter denied Jesus

Like Judas, Peter, one of Jesus’ closest disciples, also denied Jesus, not once but three times.

However, the aftermath of their actions starkly contrasts.

While Judas was consumed by guilt and took his own life, Peter repented and went on to become a foundational figure in the early Christian church.

King David committed adultery

David, the beloved king of Israel, committed adultery with Bathsheba and arranged for her husband’s death.

Despite these grave sins, David genuinely repented after being confronted by the prophet Nathan.

He faced consequences for his actions but also experienced God’s forgiveness and remained a man after God’s own heart.

Saul of Tarsus oversaw the murder of Christians

Before becoming the Apostle Paul, Saul persecuted early Christians.

His dramatic conversion on the road to Damascus is a testament to God’s ability to transform even the hardest of hearts.

Saul’s story is a powerful reminder that no one is beyond the reach of God’s grace.

The Prodigal Son betrayed his father

Though a parable, the story of the prodigal son in Luke’s Gospel mirrors real-life scenarios.

The younger son’s betrayal of his father and subsequent return and forgiveness highlight God’s endless love and mercy, even in the face of grave mistakes.

In examining these figures alongside Judas, it’s evident that the Bible is replete with stories of flawed individuals.

While some, like Judas, succumb to despair, others find redemption.

These narratives underscore the Bible’s overarching themes of human frailty, the consequences of sin, and the boundless nature of divine mercy and redemption.

Also, see Do You Have To Be Baptized To Go To Heaven? to learn more.

[1] Acts Vol. I by Darrell Bock. BECNT. p. 89.
[3] Bible Gateway
[4] Desiring God

Daniel Isaiah Joseph

Daniel's seminary degree is in Exegetical Theology. He was a pastor for 10 years. As a professor, he has taught Bible and theology courses at two Christian universities. Please see his About page for details.

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