Chapter Nine – John 17:12

From “Studies in the Lord’s Prayer,” by Pastor K. David Oldfield

John 17:12

The 3-year-old was making his first visit to the beach with his family. Dad held him in his arms as he walked into the water and soon the waves touched the boy’s feet. Teasingly, as he walked out into the waves, Dad started muttering, “Deeper, deeper, deeper,” And as the water lapped up against his waist, the little guy started to panic, but Dad kept on going. Of course, no one was in any danger at all; the boy was perfectly safe in the arms of his father, and he had no way of knowing that he could have drowned in an inch of water just as easily as he might have in four feet of water.

As Christians we don’t often think about the Lord’s care and protection of us. Oh, when things really start going wrong, when we are in great danger, or death is nearby, then we might meditate on the graciousness of the Lord in protecting us, but ordinarily we don’t realize that we’re in just as much danger in one inch of water as we are in four feet of water.

In His prayer here, the Lord reveals just a glimpse of His protective power over us.

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

Again, as we said last week, this is the special language of the eternal God. This is not English, Spanish or Chinese, this is “Christese.” It’s not quite the same as the “futuristic present tense,” but it comes close.

Our Lord is talking about his physical presence with the disciples. He was still physically present. His death is hours away, and his resurrection and ascension are yet days away. But as far as He was concerned His earthly work was about to finish and He was going home.

And even after His ascension, the Lord has not forsaken us. He is still with us, although not in a physical body, just as we are with Him in Heaven, though not in our physical bodies.

Notice that the Lord says that He was with those first disciples “in the world.” He was not “with” the world but “with” the disciples “in” the world. The world hated Christ, and we were warned that the world would hate us. Jesus prayed not for the world, but for them whom the Father had given him out of the world. The world wanted to spit him out like the unthinking man who found a pearl in his oyster stew.

He was with the disciples as their pastor, but he was also with them through His nativity and through his funeral.

“While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept . . .”

I’m not sure that we’ll ever really understand what the Lord is saying here while we remain in this world. The word “keep” refers, by definition, to the Lord’s guarding of us. He is our great Sentinel, Bodyguard and Soul Guard. He is our Elder Brother who won’t let any bully of any size or shape give us any serious harm.

Remember that the Lord is talking to His Father, not to us, and He knows our every weakness, every sin and every act of stupidity on our part. He knows that we don’t deserve His constant watch-care and protection. And yet He doesn’t mention any of our deficiencies.

But at the same time, our weaknesses, sins and stupidity are a big part of the reason for His keeping of us. Look at Peter warming himself at the fire in the courtyard of the High Priest. And what about Abraham and Sarah in the palace of Pharaoh, and Abimelech. Daniel was kept by the power God in the den of the lions, but he wasn’t there through any sin of his own.

More specifically whom has the Lord kept? “Those whom the Father gave him.” Again we are reminded of our preciousness in the sight of God. He didn’t keep those who were not given to Him of the Lord. What a humbling and yet honoring thought: We do have an Elder Brother who loves us and protects us. We have an high priest who is touched by the feelings of our infirmities.

And what authority did he use in this keeping business? “The Name of the Lord.” He hasn’t kept us in the names of the Lord. We’re not talking about Jehovah Jireh, Elohim or Jehovah Nissi. He’s not talking about some sort of magic charm or incantation. The Lord is talking about the authority of the Almighty God in this business of guarding us. It wasn’t even in His own authority as the Anointed of God, but in the authority of Jehovah.

“And none of them is lost, but the son of perdition . . .”

The word “lost” is “apolloomee” and its found 92 times in the New Testament. Over one third of the time this word is translated “perish.” The next most common translation is “destroy” – and that is just under one third of the references. “While I was in the world I kept them and none of them perished or was destroyed.”

Notice a couple of places were this same word is used: Matthew 8:23-25 – “And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him. And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep. And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish.” Luke 13:3 – “I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”

John 3:14-16 – “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Not a single one of those who were given to Christ by the Father were or ever shall be lost. But then there was that one called the “Son of Perdition.”

What is perdition? The meaning is “destruction” and it’s the Greek word “apolia. ” This word is a close relative to “apolloomee” — “lost.” None of the Lord’s people has been lost except, apparently, the son of lostness. And this man is obviously referring to Judas Iscariot.

But was Judas one of the exceptions? Was he one of those given to Christ, but which fell and was lost?

At first glance, especially as we understand our English language, we might think so. But in the language of the Bible that is not the case.

Look at Luke 4:25-27: “But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land; But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian.”

Notice the language: There were many widows and lepers in Israel. But the Lord helped the widow of Sidon and Naaman the Syrian. These verses tie two individuals to a larger unrelated nation of people – Israel. The blessings received by Naaman and the Syro-phonecian woman weren’t because they were of Israel. They weren’t Israelites. But to read these verses, it looks like they were.

And conversely just because Judas appeared to be one of the chosen of God, didn’t make him one. “The Lord has given eternal life to as many as the Father has given him” – verse 2. “He manifested the Father to all that the Father gave him” – verse 6. “And He kept all that the Father gave him” – verse 12.

Judas was never given eternal life, never saw the Father and was not kept, because he was not among the number given to Christ by the Father.

It is very interesting that the term “son of perdition” is used a second time in II Thessalonians 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.”

I believe the son of perdition that we find in II Thessalonians is the Anti-Christ, and here Judas is placed in the same horrible category. Then elsewhere we read that when he died Judas went to his “own place.”

I’ve talked to some people who think that Judas was a saved man. I don’t think that is possible.

And just in passing, it’s interesting Jesus was praying about this before the betrayal was accomplished.

“That the scripture might be fulfilled . . .”

In your conversation with people, do you ever say things based upon mutual knowledge? Things that a third party couldn’t understand, because he wasn’t privy to background knowledge? The Lord referred to some scripture that related to this verse. Both the Father and the son knew exactly to which scripture the Lord refers, but we can only guess.

And for this reason expositors like John Gill say that we don’t know if this last statement is talking about the Lord’s keeping of his elect, or those verses which speak about the betrayal of Judas. Most commentaries, including Gill’s think that it refers to Psalm 109:8 and Psalm 41:9 – “Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.”

The betrayal by Judas was prophesied and illustrated in the betrayal of King David, but this statement might not refer to Judas but rather to our security.

“Those that thou gavest me I have kept . . . that the scripture might be fulfilled.”

Our security is just as Biblically based as Judas’ betrayal.

Go to Chapter Ten »