Part 2 Chapter 6

Section 2óJohn 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.

The argument formed from this text, in favor of the saints' final perseverance, stands thus: If those who are given to Christ are so kept by him, from the evil that is in their own hearts, and in the world, as that they shall not be eternally lost; then they must and shall persevere unto the end. But those that are given to Christ, are so kept, etc., therefore, etc. To which is answered,[1]

1. "That this passage was spoken only of the twelve apostles, as is evident from the whole context; and so there is no reason to extend it to all true believers." What has been said under the preceding Section, is a sufficient reply to this: for though it is evident from the context, that Christ is speaking primarily, and more immediately of the apostles, yet not of them only, nor of them as apostles, but as members of him, given unto him, and believers in him, and so preserved by him. And if the preservation of them was secured to them, by being so, why may not the preservation of all other true believers be equally as sure and certain?

2. It is said,[2] that "the very next chapter shows that this was spoken of their preservation from temporal death; Christ requesting that his disciples might be permitted to go away when he was apprehended, that this saying of his might be fulfilled (John 18:8, 9)." I reply, that though the very next chapter shows that these words of Christ were fulfilled in the temporal preservation of the disciples; yet it does not follow, that this was all, or that it was the principal thing designed by them; for Christ prays the Father that he would keep them as he had done. Now the rest of the petitions are of a spiritual kind; such as sanctification through the truth, perfect union and eternal glorification: wherefore, it is reasonable to suppose, that this was of the same nature also. Besides, if this was spoken of preservation from temporal death, the sense of the words must be this: those that thou gavest me, I have kept from a temporal death, and none of them is lost by a temporal death; but the son of perdition,he is lost by a temporal death: which last was not true; for Judas was yet alive, he had not at this time betrayed him; and it was not until after the condemnation of Christ that he went and hanged himself. Add to this, that as Christ had kept his disciples, so he prays that his Father would keep them (vv. 11,15). Now, if he prayed for their preservation from temporal death, he was not heard; for every one of them died a violent death, suffered martyrdom, though they were all in a spiritual sense preserved to the kingdom and glory of God, as all true believers will be.

3. It is observed,[3] that this passage taken in "our sense, is rather an argument that some of them, who were given by God to Christ, may perish; because it is affirmed, that one of them, who was thus given to Christ, did so." To which I answer, that though Judas, the son of perdition, was given to Christ, and chosen by him as an apostle, yet he was not given to him by a special act of the Father's grace, nor chosen in him, or by him, and united to him, as a member of him, as the rest of the apostles and all the elect of God are. I speak not of you all,says he (John 13:18), I know whom I have chosen,that is, to eternal life; for, otherwise, he had chosen Judas as an apostle equally with the rest (John 6:70): have I not chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?And from all the accounts that are given of him, it does not appear that he ever received the true grace of God; and therefore his perdition, to which he was appointed, which is the reason of his being called the son of perdition,is no instance of the apostacy Of a real saint, or true believer, or of one who, in a way of special grace, was given by the Father to Christ. Moreover eji mh, which is rightly rendered by our translators but,is not exceptive, but adversative (see Gal. 1:7; Rev. 21:27), and does not imply, that Judas was one of those that were given to Christ, and that his perdition is an exception to the preservation of them all; but the sense of the text is, None of those that thou gavest me is lost; but the son of perdition is lost, he having never been given to me as an object of thy love, only as an apostle, and, therefore, is left to that perdition to which he was appointed; whereby the Scripture, that speaks of his destruction, will be fulfilled.


[1] Whitby, p. 438; ed. 2.426.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Whitby, p. 438; ed. 2.426.

Gill Index