Was Judas damned because of his betrayal or from not being able to repent before his suicide? As we examine this quesiton we will be assuming these two premises: (1) Judas was a follower of Christ (Luke 6.16; John 10.29) and (2) Judas was remorseful (Matthew 27.3).
So, was Judas damned because of his betrayal and his apparent inopportunity to seek forgiveness for his sin?
First, we would do well to remember that according to the recorded works of Jesus, only the sin of blasphemy is unforgivable (Matthew 12.31). Thus, Peter could find forgiveness for the sin of denying Jesus, and Judas would have been able to get forgiveness for his sin of betrayal-if he had asked.
But what if he never asked? What if he was so bent on self-destruction after his deed, or if he believed his sin to be so hideous that it was unforgivable, that he didn't get around to asking?
Scripture speaks of two ways to obtain forgiveness. One is through the law (the sacrificial system that was no longer possible following the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in 70 CE); the other through Jesus Christ. In the New Testament there are only two instances where we find any requirements for believers to receive forgiveness. In Matthew 6.14-15, and its parallel in Luke 11.4, Jesus says we are forgiven only as we forgive others. The other instance is found in 1 John 1.9: "If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
In English when we see the word "if," we generally understand we're reading a causative statement: the mathematical formula "If . . . then. . . ." However, this is not the only meaning in English, and in Greet it is even less so; "if" can also mean "when." In Greek this is especially true. Thus John writes that when we confess, God will forgive.
Indeed, John writes, "I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven on account of his [Jesus] name" (1 John 2.12). Other passages parallel this sentiment, that forgiveness is effected for the believer without imposition: "All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name" (Acts 10.43) and "This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds." God also adds, "I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more. Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin" (Hebrews 10.16-18). These and other passages regarding forgiveness assure us that when we die we can know with assurance that we have been forgiven by the God who grants us pardon through Christ without strings-even if we've forgotten to seek forgiveness of a sin, or didn't know about a sin we may have committed.
Was Judas condemned because he didn't seek forgiveness for his betrayal of Jesus? I think not. If this were his unpardoned sin then we would all be in danger of hell-fire, for we all betray our Lord whenever we turn and wander from God in our actions.
So where is Judas, heaven of hell? Only God knows, but we can be assured that regarding his fate, God is more forgiving, understanding, loving, and merciful than we-or than we can imagine.