Calvary Road Baptist Church


John 17.6-19 

Do you ever think about the man known as Judas Iscariot? He is a strange figure in God’s Word. You may recall him as the single apostle of Jesus Christ who was different from the others in many respects. For one thing, he was a thief, John 12.6. Additionally, he had no concern for the poor, the same verse informs us.

But beyond that, Judas Iscariot was the one apostle who only pretended to believe in Jesus Christ. He saw all the miracles the others saw, witnessed all the exorcisms of demons the rest of them witnessed, beheld the sinlessness of the Savior the others were so impressed by, and all of that for 3½ years, just like the others.

Yet, when presented with the opportunity to betray the Lord Jesus for thirty pieces of silver, when choosing whether or not to side with someone he had observed raise the dead several times,[1] he had seen give sight to the blind several times,[2] he had witnessed heal the maimed and the lame several times. He had repeatedly overheard the Savior confute the corrupt religious authorities yet still chose to do so. Is that not amazing?

Have you ever wondered what went through that man’s mind? It is not all that different than growing up with a Christian mom or dad, observing their wonderfully transformed life, listening to them give the glory to God for their spiritual renovation, hearing them express joy unspeakable and full of glory in the darkest hours, and yet deciding that they are completely wrong about the Bible, completely wrong about God, completely wrong about the Lord Jesus Christ, and completely wrong about the unassailable and coherent truths of the Christian faith, but you are right!

This morning, we will observe a passing reference to Judas Iscariot in the Lord’s high priestly intercessory prayer. At this point, after the Lord and His eleven remaining men have left the Upper Room, it is unlikely the eleven have yet put two and two together and formed any conclusion in their minds about Judas Iscariot’s absence. But the Lord knew. Of course, He had always known because He knows everything. But we recall that He explicitly confronted Judas in the Upper Room and dispatched him after giving him the sop, saying, “That thou doest, do quickly,” John 13.27, and he immediately departed.[3]

Before we turn to our text, we have to wonder about Judas Iscariot’s thoughts. He was never excited by what excited the others, and he was never as keenly interested as the others were. So, how did he explain it to himself? If he was not so totally self-absorbed as to never give such things any consideration, he had to have concluded that they were wrong and that only he was sensible. Their judgment was poor, but his was excellent. Their estimation of the Savior was unwarranted, but his low opinion of the Son of God was accurate.

It never crossed Judas Iscariot’s mind that he was wrong in his conclusions about the person he saw walk on water, distorted in his perceptions about the man he saw feed 5,000 with a few loaves and fishes, irrational in his reasoning about the man the Pharisees could never trap and that all the others with whom he disagreed might be right. He lived his life as if he, alone, was capable, competent, cognizant, and correct, while everyone else, including the Son of God, was wrong, eternally wrong, damnably wrong!

Please locate John 17.12. When you have done that, I invite you to stand for the reading of God’s Word. The Lord Jesus continued His prayer to the Father, saying, 

“While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.” 

As we continue our study of the Lord Jesus Christ’s high priestly intercessory prayer, allow me to mention to you who have not been with us what we have discovered to this point about the Savior’s prayer. In verses 1-5, the Lord Jesus Christ prayed for His glorification.

We are now in that portion of our Lord’s prayer, verses 6-19, in which He prayed for His apostles. The basis for His prayer for those men is found in verses 6-11, with verses 11-16 containing His request that those men be protected. In verses 17-19, He prayed that His apostles might be sanctified.

Verses 20-23 record the Lord’s prayers for those who will, in the future, believe. His prayer closes out in verses 24-26 with Him praying that all believers may be perfected to see the Lord Jesus Christ’s glory. Do you think the Father will answer His beloved Son’s prayer in the affirmative and give Him what He asked for? I think so.

The text before us is in that portion of our Lord’s prayer where He prayed that His disciples would be protected. As is my custom, I will deal with one phrase at a time: 

First, “While I was with them in the world.” 

Reminding you that the word kόsmos has a variety of meanings in the New Testament, I think we can agree without any dissent that in this phrase, the word designates planet Earth. I assert this because the Lord Jesus Christ was not with His men in the world, as world is understood to be the evil world system dominated by Satan. Since Jesus Christ is the sinless Son of the living God, He was never in the world with them in that sense of the word.

In His prayer to the Father, the Lord Jesus Christ summarized His earthly ministry faithfulness as a whole, referring to the totality of His time with His flock even though He still had several more hours with them before He must be removed from them. Interesting to note is the word “was” in this phrase, which is the imperfect form of the verb “to be.” This means the Lord Jesus Christ was stressing to the Father that He had been continuing to be with His men in the world. Although young people might more frequently express the importance to them of a loved one, a cherished friend, or a mentor “being with them” than those who are older usually do, being there is profoundly important to everyone. And the Lord knew that. Therefore, until comes the time that the overriding plan and purpose of God for the ages made continuing with them no longer possible, He had been being with them insofar as being with them was possible. 

Next, HE DECLARED, “I kept them in thy name.” 

It is good to pay attention to the precise wording the Lord Jesus Christ used in His prayer to the Father, stating to the Father, for the benefit of His audience of eleven men, the authority by which He kept them.

Before we consider that authority, do you see the word “kept”? Another of those imperfect verbs, meaning the Lord Jesus, is stating to His Father that He has been keeping His men. The meaning is that He has been keeping them unharmed by or through something.[4] So, when does the Lord stop keeping His men? That’s the great part. He never stops keeping His own safe and unharmed.

If the “Word of Faith” preachers and teachers (like Benny Hinn, Joyce Meyer, Paula White, Kenneth Copeland, Joel Osteen, Beth Moore, or Steven Furtick) were biblically sound, the Lord Jesus Christ would have said, “I kept them by thy name.” However, He said no such thing.

It is important to note what He actually declared: “I kept them in thy name.” Thus, it is the Father’s authority the Lord Jesus Christ referred to as the basis for His ministry of preserving His flock, not the Father’s power. This is an important distinction. Therefore, we are to understand that the Lord Jesus Christ’s ministry of preserving His flock was undertaken on behalf of the Father and not employing the Father’s omnipotence.

This might seem like an overly fine distinction to some of you, so allow me to elaborate. The so-called “Word of Faith” movement, so dominant these days in Charismatic and Pentecostal circles, is sometimes abbreviated as the “Name It And Claim It” crowd because of their profoundly unscriptural and anti-Christian notions about words and power.[5] Their views do not border on paganism. Their views are paganism. They, which is to say the “Word of Faith” people, are intentionally confused by their commitment to the “Prosperity Gospel” into insisting that words convey spiritual force and power.

In contrast, the Word of God teaches that words can be used to communicate truth.[6] That is an important concept. Words convey truth, not power or force. If you have ever been around someone influenced by that errant theology, you may have observed them go off on using what they term “curse words.” They are convinced that you mustn’t say certain things because to do so makes those things occur as if the mere utterance of words possesses spiritual power and might alter the course of future events. Thus, although the “Word of Faith” people would insist that it was Christ’s words that accomplished Lazarus’ resurrection, when He said, “Lazarus, come forth,” it was actually the Savior’s divine power and not His selection of words that raised Lazarus from the dead.[7]

The Savior’s comment in His prayer to the Father that He kept His men “in thy name,” was an acknowledgment that what He did He did by the Father’s delegated authority, not any magical power associated with the words He said. Are we clear on that? The Christian faith, including our Savior, does not advocate or authorize the use of anything like ju-ju words.[8] Such a notion about the power of words is pure and unadulterated paganism. How can one be sure that what I am saying is true? Consider. Does not the Spirit of God intercede for us with groanings that cannot be uttered, Romans 8.26? Of course, this cannot be the gift of tongues because “cannot be uttered” refers to words that cannot be uttered, not another language. The point is that our wordless prayers are effective with God. Thus, our reliance is on the Son of God and the Spirit of God as our intercessors with the Father, not any fictitious confidence in the power of words or incantations that are spoken. 

Third, HE SAID, “those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost.” 

Notice the number of times the Lord Jesus Christ referred to His apostles being given to Him in this prayer alone. Verses 2, 6, 7, 9, and 11 contain reminders that these men were given to the Lord Jesus Christ by God the Father.

How profoundly important it must be, therefore, for us to always be conscious that the reason Christians belong to the Lord Jesus Christ, and the reason those men belonged to the Lord Jesus Christ, is because we first belonged to God the Father, Who gave them and us to the Savior.

What impact it should have on the child of God to realize that, in the space of twelve verses at the outset of our Lord Jesus Christ’s high priestly intercessory prayer, He acknowledged no less than six times that we belong to the Lord Jesus Christ, that our belonging to Christ is the result of being given to Christ by the Father, and that we were and are the Father’s who gave us to His Son.

How doubts diminish about the assurance of salvation when one is familiar with this prayer of the Savior, in which six times in twelve verses we are reminded that we are the possessions of God the Father, that we are given to the Lord Jesus Christ, and that the Lord Jesus Christ boasts that none given to Him are lost?

How incredibly comforting to the mind and heart of every believer in Jesus Christ ought this to be? Owned by God. Given to Jesus Christ by God. Owned by Jesus Christ. Kept by Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ then boasting to the Father that He had lost none who the Father had given to Him.

A final comment about this phrase before moving on. In the previous phrase, “I kept them in thy name,” we observed the word “kept” translated the imperfect tense of a verb, tarέoo. In this phrase, “those that thou gavest me I have kept,” the word “kept” is a different Greek word with almost the same meaning, fulάssoo, using the aorist tense. The imperfect tense would be, “I was keeping them,” continuous action in past time. The aorist tense would be, “I kept them,” a finished action in past time.[9] The Lord here using a word that sums up the process represented by the previous word He selected.[10] Thus, in the same sentence, the Lord Jesus Christ emphasized that He both continually was keeping His men safe in past time, while at the same time, He completed keeping His men safe in past time. How many ways does He need to declare that He keeps His people safe for folks to believe the Savior keeps His own safe? So, this fear that some lost people have of becoming a Christian because they think they will mess up their Christian life completely misses out on how perfectly safe every Christian is as a believer in Jesus Christ. 

Fourth, WE READ, “but the son of perdition.” 

Be careful to understand that the Lord Jesus Christ is not, by saying “but the son of perdition,” that of those given to Him by God the Father, He has only lost one. That, most definitely, is not what this phrase means. To state it another way, this is not an example that the exception proves the rule.

Please listen carefully. The word “but” translates two Greek words, eἰ mὴ, that do not indicate “the son of perdition” is an exception of those the Savior has kept and not lost. Not at all. The words contrast between those belonging to two different classes, “the son of perdition” being in one class (the class of those not given to Christ by the Father). The remaining eleven apostles (“those that thou gavest me”) being in the class of those who were given to Christ by the Father. The Savior kept all those who were given to Him. The Savior did not keep, and did not intend to keep, the one who was not given to Him.

It is crucially important to recognize that “the son of perdition” was never among those given to the Son by God the Father. Psalm 41.9 is a prediction made a thousand years before Judas Iscariot was born, yet David informs us in that psalm of Judas Iscariot’s betrayal: 

“Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.” 

Then there is Psalm 109.8, referred to by these remaining apostles in Acts 1.15-26 when they chose Matthias to replace Judas Iscariot as the twelfth apostle: 

“Let his days be few; and let another take his office.” 

Again, Judas Iscariot was not the exception that proves the rule that the Savior keeps those given to Him by the Father. He is the exception among the apostles as being the only one never given to the Savior by the Father. Thus, Christ’s record of preserving His own is untarnished.

But what is “the son of perdition”? Found also in Second Thessalonians 2.3, where Paul uses the phrase to describe the Antichrist, some think that Judas Iscariot is as a result of this identified as the Antichrist. More likely, however, is that Judas Iscariot is in the same category of wickedness as the Antichrist who will come on the scene before Christ’s Second Coming. 

Finally, “that the scripture might be fulfilled.” 

Let no one deny that Judas Iscariot was a free moral agent. Judas Iscariot was no less a free moral agent than was the Pharaoh who ruled Egypt during Joseph’s lifetime, or than were Joseph’s brothers who sold their little brother into bondage.[11]

What Joseph later in life said to his brothers is as applicable to Pharaoh’s decision to resist God as it is to Judas Iscariot’s decision to betray the Lord Jesus Christ: 

“ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.”[12] 

As with Judas Iscariot and the two examples of Pharaoh and Joseph, when someone decides to oppose the plan and purpose of God, there is nothing put upon them by God that in any way restricts their freedoms or options to decide or act out the inclinations of their nature. That said, when Judas Iscariot chose, of his own free will, to conspire and then to betray the Lord Jesus Christ, he was acting out of his own accord a wicked deed predicted in the Psalms a thousand years earlier and serving to fulfill God’s plan for the ages.

Go ahead, rebel.

Feel free to do what you will, opposer.

In the end, no matter what you decide when deciding to oppose the plan and purpose of God, it will always work out for God’s glory in the end. It were better for you to submit to the will of God, turn from your sins, and trust Jesus Christ to the saving of your wretched soul.

Does this seem impossible to completely understand? It is because it is completely impossible for you and me to understand. God alone is God, and He cannot successfully be thwarted or opposed. In the end, Scripture will be fulfilled, with Christ’s followers being kept and those who refuse and reject Christ paying a very high price. 

Let me conclude by revisiting this matter of “perdition” and the phrase “the son of perdition.”

The word “perdition” translates the Greek word ἀpooleίa, meaning destruction, annihilation, or ruin.[13] Let me quickly read the verses in which the Greek word is found in the New Testament: 

Mt 7:13  Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat.

Mt 26:8  But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste?

Mr 14:4  And there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said, Why was this waste of the ointment made?

Joh 17:12  While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.

Ac 8:20  But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.

Ac 25:16  To whom I answered, It is not the manner of the Romans to deliver any man to die, before that he which is accused have the accusers face to face, and have licence to answer for himself concerning the crime laid against him.

Ro 9:22  What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:

Php 1:28  And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God.

Php 3:19  Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)

2Th 2:3  Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;

1Ti 6:9  But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.

He 10:39  But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.

2Pe 2:1  But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.

2Pe 2:2  And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.

2Pe 2:3  And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.

2Pe 3:7  But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

2Pe 3:16  As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.

Re 17:8  The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.

Re 17:11  And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition. 

Important to note among these verses is not only John 17.12 but also Second Thessalonians 2.3. In our text, “the son of perdition” is a reference to Judas Iscariot. However, in Paul’s comment to the Thessalonian Church, “the son of perdition” is the man of sin, the Antichrist.

These are the only two individuals in the New Testament referred to as “the son of perdition.” However, what if they are not two different individuals but the same man? Unlikely, but possible.

I ask this question because of what we read in Acts 1.25: 

“That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.” 

There can be no doubt that Judas Iscariot committed suicide, that he experienced physical death. But it is also interesting that he is not said to have gone to Hell but “to his own place.” What does that mean?

Some think that Judas Iscariot was filled with remorse after betraying the Savior and committed suicide and died, but that he did not go to Hell when he died.

It is suggested that he went to his own place and that when the Antichrist comes on the scene, the Antichrist will be none other than the Satan-empowered Judas Iscariot raised from the dead. “But people cannot be raised from the dead!”

Are you sure? Read Revelation chapter thirteen when you get home.

What is most vital for you to remember is that Christ protects only His own, and he always protects His own.

Are you Christ’s own?


[1] Matthew 11.5; Mark 5.35-42; John 11.43-44

[2] Matthew 9.27-30; 12.22; 15.30; John 9.1-7

[3] John 13.30

[4] Lidija Novakovic, John 11-21: A Handbook On The Greek Text - BHGNT, (Waco, Texas: Baylor University Press, 2020), page 200.



[7] John 11.43


[9] Summers, page 66.

[10] Novakovic, page 201.

[11] Genesis 37

[12] Genesis 50.20

[13] Bauer, Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 2000), page 127.

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