In Matthew 26:24 Jesus says

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.

Also in Mark 14:21 it is repeated

The Son of man indeed goeth, as it is written of him: but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! good were it for that man if he had never been born.

These statements seem to indicate that, for at least one man, there is something worse than the non-existence of remaining unborn. What do those who hold to a doctrine of ultimate annihilation for the un-redeemed make of these verses: In what way is eventual non-existence worse than mere non-existence?

  • If you are never born, you will never know the horror of eternal separation from God (and possibly other punishments).
    – Matthew
    Oct 18 at 14:10
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    @matt annhiliationist teach that there is no knowledge after death so..,.
    – Kris
    Oct 18 at 22:37
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    @Lucian If I'm not mistaken, Jesus refuted the Sadducees belief on this topic. Oct 19 at 11:32
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    @Lucian Under the old covenant there is a veil over their understanding making the veil at fault and not a lack of clarity, no? Jesus told them they didn't understand the Scriptures or the power of God, not that the Scriptures weren't clear. Oct 19 at 12:03
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    @Lucian If the eye has scales what clarity does it behold? Oct 19 at 12:24

I believe Jesus said this while Judas was still alive. If a fetus is a person with a soul, than Jesus is not speaking about it being better that Judas never existed. Rather, Jesus is making a reference to Judas’ state of heavy remorse in this life to the point of suicide. We really don’t know about Judas’ state following death. Some read Matthew 19:27-28 as indicating Judas may even have a place in judging the 12 tribes. Perhaps Judas had a spark of saving faith to turn to God at the nanosecond of his suicide? We just don’t know.

  • John 17:12 says that the son of perdition was lost to fulfill the scriptures. Oct 19 at 11:29
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    I don't know if John 17:12 is referring to just temporal safety in this life or to that of an eternal safety. We will find out soon enough. Suffice it to say, there is a reason why there are no churches named "St. Judas."
    – Jess
    Oct 19 at 21:48
  • I think John 17:2 answers this. Oct 20 at 12:02

As an annihilationist: while it is true that in the end, a sinner will not exist in any meaningful sense, there is still judgment day to consider. Imagine standing before billions of people, everyone who has ever been born, as it is declared that you betrayed God's son to His death. After this judgment, you are then destroyed, a process which most likely will not be painless. Thus we're not comparing two basically similar forms of non-existence, we're comparing A) never having existed in the first place to B) existing then committing and being judged for what is possibly the single greatest sin in the history of the world, followed by a (probably painful) death by hellfire. As Jess says in her answer, even while Judas was still alive he felt guilt and anguish so strong he killed himself.

  • Why couldn't the destruction be viewed in a passive sense in the resurrection? A rough (Sci. Fi./Trek) model I have in mind is that of an episode where the transporter room puts together a person but, because of flaws in their energy pattern, is raised only to collapse into corruption. So, with a spiritual analogy, the nature of sin (being cut off from God) would cause the resurrected person to collapse into a corrupted form - i.e. eternal destruction. God punishing sin with sin by "cutting off" any possibility of further redemption, like a vine is cut off from the branches and thrown away.
    – Jess
    Oct 19 at 2:50
  • @Jess the question is addressed to annihilationists, so I am presupposing my belief that the final destruction is literal, as various scripture indicates. Oct 19 at 3:02
  • Would the downvoter care to explain why they did so? Oct 19 at 3:55
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    The downvoted Come from certain users who retaliate against answers that They do not agree with. It’s is not how the site is supposed to work
    – Kris
    Oct 19 at 13:27
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    Kris, you are right about how the votes should be cast. What I learned in doing Christian apologetics is to present an opposing side in a persuasive manner - i.e. to the point in which the other person thinks it is better articulated than what they could come up with. There are too many "straw man" caricatures being portrayed by Christian apologists.
    – Jess
    Oct 19 at 21:56

According to the tag:

Annihilationism is the belief that the final judgement will result in unsaved souls being completely destroyed in hell rather than being subjected to eternal torment.

but it doesn't say anything about when salvation occurs.

This question assumes that if one isn't saved in this life, they will never be saved. The problem with that assumption is that it condemns the vast majority of mankind, which never had any opportunity at salvation. (This of course is a much more serious problem for non-annihilationists.)

But the Bible tells of a second resurrection, at the end of the Millennium, when all those that haven't been given an opportunity at salvation will be given their first chance. They will be physically resurrected into the Kingdom of God here on Earth and taught God's truth by those that have already been saved and converted into spirit beings.

At the end of this period, the very few remaining people that still refuse to accept God's way will be judged and annihilated.

Since he was destined to play a role in God's plan, it's not unreasonable to believe that Judas never was offered salvation. If so, Judas too will be bodily resurrected on Earth.

Given that he felt so bad about what he had done that he killed himself, we can only imagine how awful he will initially feel when he learns the truth. But that means that he will understand God's plan, will understand the importance of the role he played in it, and almost certainly will accept and receive salvation.

In the scriptures quoted in the Question, Jesus isn't condemning Judas, he is feeling pity for him.

And his suicide avoided decades of unnecessary self-loathing. From his perspective, his resurrection would have occurred in the blink of an eye following his death.

See also my answers to:

  • This question appears to be directed at people who already believe what you have pointed out they assume, which is a fairly standard belief among Christians. As such this doesn't really answer the question they're asking. Nov 18 at 21:17
  • "But the Bible tells of a second resurrection, at the end of the Millennium, when all those that haven't been given an opportunity at salvation will be given their first chance." Can you provide a reference (s) for this? Nov 18 at 21:37
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    @MikeBorden, —Few are saved in this age (Luke 13:23–24 "… are there few who are saved? … many … seek to enter and will not be able'). —But God wants all to be saved (1 Timothy 2:3–4 "… God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth"). —Only knowledge of Jesus can save (Acts 4:12 "… there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved"). —Those that haven't received Christ (Revelation 20:5 "But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished") will get their opportunity for salvation. Nov 18 at 23:52
  • " the very few remaining people that still refuse to accept God's way will be judged and annihilated." God desires all to be saved so, if even one is not (if this is how the verse is going to be used), hasn't God's will been thwarted? What difference if one dies, or a very few, or many when God desires all to be saved? Nov 19 at 12:40
  • @MikeBorden asks "What difference if one dies, or a very few, or many when God desires all to be saved?". Are you saying that because God desires it, all will be saved? If so, that makes moot the issue of annihilationism. Are there any denominations that teach this doctrine? Nov 19 at 13:50

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