Suggested further reading: Philippians 1:1-6
The `son of perdition', of course, refers to Judas Iscariot, the
traitor, the only one of the apostles who was lost and cast away in
hell. The name given to Judas is a strong Hebraism and means `a
person worthy of perdition, or only fit to be lost and cast away, by
reason of his wickedness'. David says to Saul's servants, `Ye are
worthy to die,' or, as the margin says, `sons of death' (1 Sam. 26:16).
Again he says to Nathan, `The man that hath done this thing shall
surely die,' or, `is a son of death' (2 Sam. 12:5; see also Ps. 79: 11;
Matt. 13:38; Luke 16:8). It is a tremendously strong expression to
come from the lips of our merciful and loving Saviour. It shows the
desperate helplessness of anyone who, living in great light and
privileges like Judas, misuses his opportunities and deliberately
follows the bent of his own sinful inclinations. He becomes the `child
of hell' (Matt. 23:15).
A question of very grave importance arises out of the
words before us. Did our Lord mean that Judas was originally one of
those that the Father `gave to him' and was primarily a true
believer? Did he therefore fall away from grace?
I maintain that the `but' in the text is not an `exceptive'
word, but an `adversative' one. I hold the right meaning to be:
`Those whom thou gavest me I have kept, and out of them not one is
lost. But there is one man who is lost, even Judas, the son of
perdition; not one who was ever given to me, but one whom I declared
long ago to be a "devil", a man whose hardened heart fitted him
Our Lord does not mean, `Not one of those given to me is
lost except the son of perdition.' What he does mean is: `Not one
of those given to me is lost. On the other hand, and in contrast,
Judas, a man not given to me, a graceless man, is lost.'
The work that his goodness began,
The arm of his strength will complete