Is Judas Iscariot in Heaven or Hell? Get the Facts


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

The book of Acts teaches that Judas went to hell when he died, not heaven. The key statement, which was a euphemism for going to hell in the early church, is found in the prayer of the Apostles when they asked God for a replacement for Judas. Most scholars question whether Judas was ever a genuine believer.

Where exactly does the Bible teach that Judas went to hell? How do different translations render the key description? How does one of the most reputable scholars on the book of Acts today interpret the relevant phrase? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and others.

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

The Book of Acts teaches that Judas went to hell when he died

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

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 key line in the prayer that sheds light on Judas’s eternal fate is that he “turned aside to go to his own place” (ESV).

What does it mean that Judas “turned aside”? The Greek word (parabaino) translated “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 its translated “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 Peter’s 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.” He continues,

The idea that Judas “went to his own place” suggests a choice to be separate from the Eleven and implies his judgment in hell. 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 the book of Acts question the certainty of the euphemism, but generally agree that the implication of Judas being in hell is a strong possibility.

Judas Iscariot statue
How did Judas die? See below

New Testament facts about Judas Isacariot: 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)
PossessionThe Gospel of Luke 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. 11And 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 :18b)

A stroke, from guilt, from wrath, broke Judas’ heart into despair; a look from love, from Christ, broke Peter’s into tears.

George Swinnock, A Puritan Golden Treasury

Reference:
[1] Acts by Darrell Bock. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. P. 89.
[2] Source
[3] Source
[4] Source

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