John 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.
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(12) While I was with them in the world.—Comp. the opening words of John 17:11. During His presence with them there was not this special need for commending them to the Father’s care. His relation to them now is as that of a parent blessing and praying for His children before He is taken away from them. (Comp. John 13:33.)

I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept.—Better (comp. previous verse), I kept them in Thy name which Thou gavest Me, and guarded them. The pronoun is emphatic. “While I was in the world I kept them. I am now praying that Thou wouldest keep them.” The words “kept” and “guarded” differ slightly in meaning, the former pointing to the preservation in the truth revealed to them, and the latter to the watchfulness by means of which this result was obtained. The former may be compared to the feeding of the flock, the latter to the care which protects from the wild beasts around. (Comp. John 10:28-30.)

And none of them is lost, but the son of perdition.—Better, None of them perished, except the son of perdition. The tense is the same as that of the word “guarded.” The Good Shepherd watched His flock, and such was His care that none perished but the “son of perdition.” Of him the words carefully state that “he perished.” He, then, was included in “them which Thou gavest Me.” For him there was the same preservation and the same guardianship as for those who remained in the fold. The sheep wandered from the flock, and was lost by his own act. (Comp. especially Notes on John 6:37-39; John 6:71. See also John 18:9.)

The term, “son of perdition,” is a well-known Hebrew idiom, by which the lack of qualitative adjectives is supplied by the use of the abstract substantives, which express that quality. A disobedient child is, e.g., “a son of disobedience;” other common instances are “children of light,” “children of darkness.” A “son of perdition” is one in whose nature there is the quality expressed by “perdition.” The phrase is used in Isaiah 57:4 to express the apostacy of the Israelites (in English version, “children of transgression”). It occurs once again in 2Thessalonians 2:3, of the “man of sin.” (Comp. Notes there.) It is used, in the Gospel of Nicodemus, of the devil. In the present passage it is difficult to express the meaning in English, because we have no verb of the same root as the abstract substantive “perdition,” and no abstract substantive of the same root as the verb “perish.” No exact translation can therefore give in English the point of our Lord’s words, “And none of them perished except him whose nature it was to perish.” Here, as often (comp. Note on John 10:16), the reader who can consult Luther’s German will find that he exactly hits the sense: “Und ist keiner von ihnen verloren ohne das verlorne Kind.”

That the scripture might be fulfilled.—Comp. Note on John 13:18, and Acts 1:20.

17:11-16 Christ does not pray that they might be rich and great in the world, but that they might be kept from sin, strengthened for their duty, and brought safe to heaven. The prosperity of the soul is the best prosperity. He pleaded with his holy Father, that he would keep them by his power and for his glory, that they might be united in affection and labours, even according to the union of the Father and the Son. He did not pray that his disciples should be removed out of the world, that they might escape the rage of men, for they had a great work to do for the glory of God, and the benefit of mankind. But he prayed that the Father would keep them from the evil, from being corrupted by the world, the remains of sin in their hearts, and from the power and craft of Satan. So that they might pass through the world as through an enemy's country, as he had done. They are not left here to pursue the same objects as the men around them, but to glorify God, and to serve their generation. The Spirit of God in true Christians is opposed to the spirit of the world.While I was with them in the world - While I was engaged with them among other men - surrounded by the people and the temptations of the world. Jesus had now finished his work among the men of the world, and was performing his last offices with his disciples.

I kept them - By my example, instructions, and miracles. I preserved them from apostasy.

In thy name - In the knowledge and worship of thee. See John 17:6-11.

Those that thou gavest me ... - The word "gavest" is evidently used by the Saviour to denote not only to give to him to be his real followers, but also as apostles. It is used here, probably, in the sense of giving as apostles. God had so ordered it by his providence that they had been given to him to be his apostles and followers; but the terms "thou gavest me" do not of necessity prove that they were true believers. Of Judas Jesus knew that he was a deceiver and a devil, John 6:70; "Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?" Judas is there represented as having been chosen by the Saviour to the apostleship, and this is equivalent to saying that he was given to him for this work; yet at the same time he knew his character, and understood that he had never been renewed.

None of them - None of those chosen to the apostolic office.

But the son of perdition - See the notes at Matthew 1:1. The term son was given by the Hebrews to those who possessed the character described by the word or name following. Thus, sons of Belial - those who possessed his character; children of wisdom those who were wise, Matthew 11:19. Thus Judas is called a son of perdition because he had the character of a destroyer. He was a traitor and a murderer. And this shows that he who knew the heart regarded his character as that of a wicked man one whose appropriate name was that of a son of perdition.

That the scripture ... - See the notes at John 13:18. Compare Psalm 12:9.

12. I kept—guarded.

them in thy name—acting as Thy Representative on earth.

none of them is lost, but the son of perdition—It is not implied here that the son of perdition was one of those whom the Father had given to the Son, but rather the contrary (Joh 13:18) [Webster and Wilkinson]. It is just as in Lu 4:26, 27, where we are not to suppose that the woman of Sarepta (in Sidon) was one of the widows of Israel, nor Naaman the Syrian one of the lepers in Israel, though the language—the same as here—might seem to express it.

son of perdition—doomed to it (2Th 2:3; Mr 14:21).

Christ speaks here of himself as one who had already died, was risen, and ascended, though none of all these things were past, because they were so suddenly to come to pass. I have, (saith our Saviour), for all the time that I have abode in the world, and conversed with them,

kept them in thy name, i.e. in the steady owning and profession of thy truth; or (if we read it, through thy name) it signifieth through thy power, and the influence of thy grace. I have not so kept all that came to hear me, but all

those whom thou gavest me by the act of thy eternal counsel; or whom thou gavest me to be my apostles: and none of them is proved an apostate, but the son of perdition: none of them is lost whom thou gavest me by thy eternal gift, none of them whom thou gavest me to be my apostles, but one who, though he was my apostle, and in that sense given to me, yet was never given me by thy eternal gift, as one to be by me redeemed, and brought to eternal life and salvation; for he was a Song of Solomon of perdition: we have this term applied to antichrist, 2 Thessalonians 2:3. As the son of death, 2 Samuel 12:5, signifies one appointed to die, or that deserveth to die; and the child of hell, Matthew 23:15, signifieth one who deserveth hell; so the son of perdition may either signify one destined to perdition, or one that walketh in the high and right road to perdition, or rather both; one who being passed over in God’s eternal counsels, as to such as shall be saved, hath by his own wilful apostasy brought himself to eternal perdition, or into such a guilt as I know thou wilt destroy him. And by this the Holy Scripture is fulfilled, Psalm 109:8, for that is the portion of Scripture here intended, as is apparent from Acts 1:20, where the apostle applies that text to Judas, who is here spoken of. Other scriptures also were thus fulfilled, as Psalm 41:9, compared with John 13:18.

While I was with them in the world,.... This does not imply that Christ was not in the world now, for he was; but signifies that he was just going out of it; and that his continuance in it was very short: nor that he was, and would be no longer with his disciples; for this is to be understood of his bodily, not of his spiritual presence; in which respect Christ is with his people whilst they are on earth, and they are with him when he is in heaven:

I kept them in thy name; by his Father's authority and power, in his doctrine:

those that thou gavest me I have kept; that is, those that were given him to be his apostles;

and none of them is lost; these he kept close to himself, and from the evil of the world, and from temporal and eternal ruin:

but the son of perdition; Judas, a child of Satan, whose name is Apollyon the destroyer, who was now about to betray his Lord and master; and was one that was appointed to eternal ruin and destruction, of which he was justly deserving; and which is no instance of the apostasy of saints, since though he was given to Christ as an apostle, yet not in eternal election, to be saved by him:

that the Scripture might be fulfilled; this respects either Christ's keeping of his people, and their final perseverance, whereby the Scriptures that speak of it are fulfilled; or rather the destruction of Judas, whereby such passages as speak of that, have their accomplishment, particularly Psalm 109:8; Some have thought that this only refers to the general sense of the Scriptures, both the law and prophets; that some are chosen to everlasting life, and others are appointed to wrath; that some are saved, and others lost; some sons of God, and others sons of perdition; but it rather seems to regard some particular passage or passages of Scripture relating to Judas, his character, condition and end, and which are very manifestly pointed at, in the psalm referred to;

"As for the servants whom I have given thee, there shall not one of them perish; for I will require them from among thy number.'' (2 Esdras 2:26)

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.
John 17:12-13. A more definite outflow of heart concerning John 17:11.

ὅτε ἤμην, κ.τ.λ.] As in John 17:11, οὐκέτι εἰμὶ ἐν τ. κόσμῳ, Jesus speaks as though He had already departed out of the world. “Jam in exitu mundi pedem irrevocabilem posuerat,” Ruperti on John 17:11.

ἐγώ] That which Thou mayest now do, John 17:11.

οὓς δέδωκ. μοι ἐφύλ., κ.τ.λ.] Not a parenthesis, but a further expression of the τήρησις just described, in which a sorrowful but telically clear and conscious mention of Judas obtrudes itself.

ἐφύλαξα] Through the φυλάσσειν (custodire) is the τηρεῖν (conservare) accomplished. Comp. Sap. John 10:5; Dem. 317. ult. The disciples were handed over to Him for protection and guardianship, ut eos salvos tueretur. This He has accomplished, and none of them has fallen into destruction (i.e. into eternal destruction through apostasy, which leads to the loss of ζωή), except him who belongs to destruction (Matthew 23:15), i.e. who is destined to destruction. Comp. John 6:64; John 6:70. Jesus does not like to name Judas, who forms this tragical exception (εἰ μή is not equivalent to ἀλλά, as Scholten thinks), but his destruction—and therein the purity of the consciousness of Jesus in the matter is expressed—is nothing accidental, capable of being averted, but is prophesied as a divine destiny in the Scripture, and must take place in fulfilment thereof. On account of John 13:18, it is without warrant to think of another saying of Scripture than, with Luther, Lücke, and several others, of Psalm 41:10 (Kuinoel: the prophecies of the death of Jesus generally are intended; Lange, L. J. II. p. 1412: Isaiah 57:12-13; Euth. Zigabenus, Calovius, and many, Psalm 109:8, which passage, however, has its reference in Acts 1:20). The designation of Antichrist by ὁ υἱὸς τ. ἀπωλ., 2 Thessalonians 2:3, is parallel in point of form. In the Evang. Nikod. 20 (see Thilo on the passage, p. 708), the devil is so called.

John 17:13. But now I come to Thee, and since I can no longer guard them personally as hitherto, I speak this (this prayer for Thy protection, John 17:11) in the world (“jam ante discessum meum,” Bengel), that they, as witnesses and objects of this my intercession, knowing themselves assured of Thy protection, may bear my joy (as in John 15:11, not John 14:27) fulfilled in themselves. On this expression of prayer regarding the influence which the listening to prayer should have upon the listeners, comp. John 11:42. Luther well says: “that they, through the word, apprehended by the ears, and retained in the heart, may be consoled, and be able cheerfully to presume thereon, and to say: See, this has my Lord Christ said, so affectionately and cordially has He prayed for me,” etc.

John 17:12. The protection now asked had been afforded by Christ so long as He was with the disciples. ὅτε ἤμην μετʼ αὐτῶν, ἐγὼ ἐτήρουν … “when I was with them, I kept them in Thy name which Thou hast given me: and I guarded them, and not one of them perished, but the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled”. On the detail of educative care spent on the disciples, and covered by ἐτὴρουν, see Bernard, Central Teaching, p. 370. ὁ υἱὸς τῆς ἀπωλείας, cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:3, in accordance with the usual Hebrew usage, the person identified with perdition, closely associated with it. Cf. Isaiah 57:4; Isaiah 33:2; Matthew 23:15. Raphel quotes from Herodotus, viii., ὕβριος υἱόν, with the remark, “nee Graecis plane ignotus est hic loquendi modus”. The Scripture referred to is Psalm 41:10, as in John 18:18.

12. in the world] These words are omitted by the best authorities.

I kept] Literally, I was keeping: Christ’s continual watching over His disciples is expressed. ‘I’ is emphatic, implying ‘now that I am leaving them, do Thou keep them.’

I have kept] Rather, I guarded: both verb and tense are changed. This expresses the protection which is the result of the watching. Moreover the reading must be changed as in John 17:11; I kept them in Thy name which Thou hast given Me; and I guarded them.

none of them is lost] Better, not one of them perished.

the son of perdition] The phrase is used twice only in N.T.; here of Judas, in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 of the ‘man of sin.’ Comp. ‘children of light,’ ‘children of darkness.’ Such expressions are common in Hebrew (see on John 12:36). ‘Children of perdition’ occurs Isaiah 57:4, ‘people of perdition’ Sir 16:9, and ‘son of death’ 2 Samuel 12:5. We cannot here preserve the full force of the original, in which ‘perish’ and ‘perdition’ are represented by cognate words; ‘none perished but the son of perishing.’

that the scripture] Psalm 41:9 : see on John 10:35 and John 13:18 and comp. John 12:38.

John 17:12. Ἐγῶ ἐτήρουν· ἐφύλαξε, I kept them all the time: I guarded them) Jesus settles accounts (as it were) with the Father: ἐτήρουν has respect to τήρησον, John 17:11, “Keep through Thine own name.” What I have heretofore done, saith He, do thou hereafter: ἐτήρουν, I was keeping, I kept the whole time, viz. by My power: ἐφύλαξα, I guarded, viz. by My watchfulness [The Engl. Vers. loses the distinction by translating both verbs, kept]. The same verbs occur in 1 John 5:18; 1 John 5:21, “He who is begotten of God keepeth (τηρεῖ) himself:” “Little children, guard (φύλαξατε) yourselves from (be on your guard against) idols.”—οὐδεὶς, none) This too has reference to the future; ch. John 18:9, [Jesus to those apprehending Him saith, “I am He, if therefore ye seek Me, let these go their way. That the saying might be fulfilled, ‘Of them which Thou gavest Me, have I lost none.’ ”]—εἰ μὴ, except) A sad exception.—ὁ υἱὸς τῆς ἀπωλείας) The article is strongly demonstrative, “that son of perdition;” he of whom the prediction has been given; who has destroyed himself. Acts 1:25, “Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place;” for whom it would have been good that he had not been born. He does not name Judas. Comp. Psalm 16:4, “I will not take up their names into my lips.” We indeed shall have to render an account of the individuals whom we have suffered to be lost by our neglect.—[ἡ γραφὴ, the Scripture) Of such moment is the Scripture, that Christ Himself, even in His address to the Father, appeals to it.—V. g.]

Verse 12. - While I was with them (in the world). He speaks of the earthly ministry as completed, and reviews the whole of his influence over them. I kept them in thy Name which thou hast given me. The very process that I can no longer pursue, and the cessation of which becomes the ground of the plea for the Father's τηρήσις. This an earthly father might say, without irreverence, of children whom he was about to leave, but the quality of the keeping is characterized by the Divine Name which was given him, and that manifested the Sonship which carried with it all the revelation of the Father. And I guarded (them) - ἐτήρουν signifies watchful observation; ἐφύλαξα, guardianship as behind the walls of a fortress - and not one perished - went to destruction - except that the son of perdition (has perished). Christ does not say that the son of perdition was given him by the Father and guarded from the evil one, and yet had gone to his own place; the exception refers simply to the "not one perished." Αἰ μὴ has occasionally a meaning not exactly equal to ἀλλὰ, but expresses an exception which does not cover the whole of the ideas involved in the previous clause (see Matthew 12:4; Luke 4:26, 27; Galatians 1:19, etc.). This awful Hebraistic phrase is used by St. Paul (2 Thessalonians 2:3; cf. 2 Samuel 12:5) for antichrist, and numerous phrases of the kind show how a genitive following υἱὸς or τέκνον expresses the full characteristic or the chief feature of certain persons (thus cf. υἱὸς γεένης τέκνα φῶτος κατάρας, etc.). This victim of perdition, this child of hell, has completed his course; even now he has laid his plans for my destruction and his own. He has so perished in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled. Even if the full telic force of ἵνα is preserved here, he does not free the "son of perdition" from the responsibility of his own destruction. The Scripture portraiture of Messiah has been realized. Psalm 41:9, which has already been quoted by our Lord in John 13:18, is probably still in his mind (cf. also Isaiah 57:12, 13). Some commentators - Arch-deacon Watkins, Dean Alford - press the fact that the "son of perdition" must have been among those who were given to Christ by the Father, who were watched, guarded, taught by God; but that Judas nevertheless took his own way and went to his own place. Thoma compares the lost disciple with the lost sheep of the synoptists, as though we had a reference to a true reprobate, a son of Belial, Apollyon, and the like. Moulton justly protests against any countenance being found here for the irrevocable decree. But if the interpretation of the εἰ μὴ given above is sound, there is no inclusion of the traitor among those who are "of the truth," etc.; but he was one who, notwithstanding boundless opportunity, went to his own place in the perversity of his own will. John 17:12In the world


I kept (ἐτήρουν)

Imperfect tense. I continued to keep. The I is emphatic: I kept them, now do Thou keep them.

I kept (ἐτήρουν)

Rev., rightly, I guarded. The A.V. overlooks the distinction between the two words for keeping. The former word means, I preserved them; the latter, I guarded them as a means to their preservation. See on reserved, 1 Peter 1:4.

Is lost - perdition (ἀπώλετο - ἀπωλείας)

A play of words: "None of them perished, but the son of perishing" (Westcott).

The scripture (ἡ γραφὴ)

See close of note on John 5:47, and see on Mark 12:10.

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