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?

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    @matt annhiliationist teach that there is no knowledge after death so..,.
    – 007
    Commented Oct 18, 2021 at 22:37
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    @Lucian If I'm not mistaken, Jesus refuted the Sadducees belief on this topic. Commented Oct 19, 2021 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. Commented Oct 19, 2021 at 12:03
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    @Lucian If the eye has scales what clarity does it behold? Commented Oct 19, 2021 at 12:24
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    @MikeBorden: There was nothing wrong with Jewish eyes; it was Christ, Christians, and Christianity who reinterpreted the ancient Hebrew scriptures through a new lens. (This marks my last comment on this thread).
    – user46876
    Commented Oct 19, 2021 at 14:10

4 Answers 4


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
    Commented Oct 19, 2021 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. Commented Oct 19, 2021 at 3:02
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    Would the downvoter care to explain why they did so? Commented Oct 19, 2021 at 3:55
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    @MikeBorden why aren't we talking about a painful death? If you were sleeping, would you rather wake up only to be slapped in the face then knocked out by a brick, or would you rather never wake up? The events that transpire while we do exist still have consequences and significance, even if after being destroyed no knowledge of them remains. Otherwise why fuss about killing criminals humanely in our own justice system? Commented Oct 19, 2021 at 19:39
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    @MikeBorden I believe my original answer still stands; it would have been better for Judas not to have been born that to betray the son of God and be judged for it; not because he will end up dead but because of what he will experience while alive/conscious before death Commented Oct 20, 2021 at 20:11

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. Commented Oct 19, 2021 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
    Commented Oct 19, 2021 at 21:48
  • I think John 17:2 answers this. Commented Oct 20, 2021 at 12:02

Judas, when returning the blood money admitted, "I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” The thoughts racing through Judas' mind of what he'd done, with no way to reverse it, and for having given up his chance at the GIFT of eternal life (it's a gift that God gives only to the saved [Romans 6:23] without which you will perish [be destroyed, both body and soul - Matthew 10:28) led Judas to kill himself. The horror Judas would have felt for having not attained the salvation he'd constantly heard Jesus speak of, Jesus, his Savior who said He'd personally chosen Judas to be His disciple, having his discipleship utterly lost thanks to the horrible sin of betraying his Savior, was simply too much for Judas. He knew he was facing eternal fire. That's right. Eternal fire. And the example that Jude sets forth, to let us know exactly what is meant by suffering the fate of "eternal fire" was to say that "eternal fire" is what Sodom and Gomorrah had suffered. (Jude 7) Please note. Sodom and Gomorrah are not still burning. That fire burned up every sinner in Sodom and Gomorrah. Was that fire unquenchable? Yes. It was ordained of God so that no one could have snuffed it out before it had completed its task. Is Jude's example of "eternal fire" supported by the scriptures? Yes. (Malachi 4:1) “Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer..." (including Judas) "...will be stubble, and the day that is coming will set them on fire,” says the LORD Almighty. 'Not a root or a branch will be left to them." In replacing Judas, Peter said it was written of Judas, (Psalm 109:8) "May another take his position". If we read further to 109:15 it adds, "blot out their name from the earth" Peter also quotes Psalm 65:25, "May his place be deserted" and a few verses later in 65:29 it adds, "May they be blotted out of the book of life". When you blot out a name from a book, it totally disappears. But when the book your name disappears from is the Book of Life, the sinner disappears as well, left neither root nor branch, as clearly stated in Malachi, as quoted above. It does not take having a god who would allow our lost loved ones to suffer and writhe in pain for eternity, to explain Jesus' comment that it would have been better had Judas never been born. Judas, being one of the 12 was destined to have the extreme honor of being one of the 12 sitting on thrones who would be judging the 12 tribes of Israel. (Matthew 19:28) Judas suffered extreme loss, horrible guilt and shame. He lost his savior and therefore he forfeited the gift offered to him of eternal life. His destiny went from one of righteousness and glory to being burned up like trash in a raging fire, which is the second death, from which there will be no return. (Revelation 20:15) "The lake of fire is the second death. Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire." Will they be "tormented day and night forever and ever"? Yes. But after Jesus returns, there will no longer exist any cycle of day and night. Night is no more and the sun is no longer needed. Jesus will be our light. (Revelation 20:10) Therefore there can be no more torment in hellfire past that point. When there is no more "day and night", there can be no more suffering "day and night". This is supported in Revelation 21:4 - "and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there will no longer be death; there will no longer be sorrow and anguish or crying, or pain; for the former order of things..." (such as the cycle of day and night) "...has passed away.” There cannot be lost souls, therefore, endlessly suffering in hell if "there will no longer be sorrow and anguish or crying or pain". I believe this utterly hopeless situation for Judas who knew he was facing that fire and his utter annihilation, goes very far in explaining Jesus' statement, that it would have been better had Judas never been born.

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    A little formatting might help this answer as it is currently just a wall of text. Additionally, perhaps you can explain how Rev. 21:4 applies to anyone other than the inhabitants of New Jerusalem? Commented Dec 20, 2021 at 12:58

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. Commented Nov 18, 2021 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? Commented Nov 18, 2021 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. Commented Nov 18, 2021 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? Commented Nov 19, 2021 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? Commented Nov 19, 2021 at 13:50

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