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Question 14

Hi, Father,  I was just wondering what happened to Judas Iscariot ultimately. We all know that he committed suicide which is a grave sin. Yet, after he died, Christ died and according to our Church's teaching He went to preach to the souls in Hades which presumably the soul of Judas was. According to our Church, was Judas saved?    


Answer to Question 14


When Christ preached to those in Hades he preached to those who died before having the chance to hear of his teachings in this world. Judas had three years of following Jesus as a member of an elite company of disciples, who not only had first hand knowledge of who he was, but were also witnesses of countless miracles that no other man in history had ever performed. Thus Judas had no reason to hear Christ preaching in Hades. 


The Gospel of Matthew tells us that after Judas’ betrayal he repented of what he did and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests or rather threw them into the temple because they would not touch the money and then went and hanged himself. Matthew also tells us that Christ said: “The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born.” (Matth. 26:24) The verse suggests that Judas will suffer, but we do not know the depths of God’s compassion or his judgement. This we will have to wait until the General Resurrection and the Day of Judgement when we will all be judged according to our deeds. 


What you might find interesting is that the Gospel speaks of Judas hanging himself and that the chief priests took the thirty pieces of silver and bought with them the “Potter’s field” to bury strangers in which became known as the field of blood. (Matth. 27:5-8) In the Acts of the Apostles we have a slightly different version of the event which has led to certain western scholars claiming that the Bible contradicts itself.  During the ten days between the Ascension and Pentecost, where the descent of the Holy Spirit would establish the Church, the apostles remained in Jerusalem. On one of these days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, (there were about 120 people present) and spoke to them of a prophecy by King David mentioned in the Psalms concerning the betrayal of Judas Iscariot. Peter tells them that Judas was one of them and had received part of their ministry. He then says that Judas purchased a field with the reward of iniquity and having fallen headlong his gut burst open and his bowels gushed out. The field that he bought was known to everyone in Jerusalem and was called the "Field of blood". (Acts 1:15-19)


Is this then a contradiction to what Matthew says in the Gospel? Either Judas didn't keep the silver or he kept the silver; either he hanged himself or he didn't hang himself and died by being disembowelled.  So let's see about the money first. Judas threw the money in the temple, but if we carry on reading we will see that that the priests didn't accept it back because it was unlawful for them to accept blood money. What the priests did was to take the money that still belonged to Judas and purchased a field to be used as a cemetery to bury strangers in. Now if it was a sin to take blood money as a donation it was still a sin to take ownership of anything bought with that money so the priests didn't accept ownership of the money neither the field: ownership of the field went to Judas because it was his money. Some may argue that Judas gave up his ownership of that money by throwing it down in the temple, but not physically holding something does not relinquish ownership, and not wanting something does not relinquish ownership either. Ownership is only transferred when first, someone gives up ownership, and second, someone else claims ownership of the object, and in this case no one accepted the money, so it still belonged to Judas.


As for how Judas died, indeed he hanged himself, but something happened after this which we are not told about in detail. It is possible that someone tried to cut him down and as he was holding his feet he toppled over head first and hit a large rock beneath which cut his stomach open. More probably the branch broke and his feet hit a log or rock underneath and forced his body to fall headlong causing his body to hit something that burst his belly open. So in fact there is no contradiction, but a case of not being given all the details.