John 17:12 – The Son of Perdition

We’re going to take a little expedition into the land of speculation today based on a couple of intriguing verses in Scripture. The account of Judas Iscariot is a tragic one, and we wonder how such a man could do what he did in betraying Jesus Christ. There are clues, however, that perhaps give us further insight to this man’s beginning and end.

I came across this idea through an article by Terry James of www.RaptureReady.com, who had read a short book by a British theologian named Arthur Pink called The Antichrist (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B003FMV4E6/).  The proposition that Pink put forth was that Judas Iscariot and the future Antichrist are somehow one and the same.

How could this be, you ask? Rightly so. There are two primary verses that brought Pink to this conclusion. The first was from our reading today of John 17:12 (KJV) in which Jesus is praying His high priestly prayer:

“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.”

Note that Judas is referred to as THE son of perdition.  Other translations like the ESV and NIV say that he was the son of destruction; however it’s the KJV that shows us the connection we’re exploring.  In this verse, Judas is not simply A man of perdition, but again, THE man.

Why is this interesting?  In 2 Thessalonians 2:3, Paul writes about the Antichrist:

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;

Once more, the KJV description calls this coming man of iniquity THE son of perdition.  Other translations describe Antichrist as the man of lawlessness.  Now, the comparison could break down here because in the Greek two different words are used for perdition/destruction/lawlessness.  In John 17:12 the word according to Strong’s #684 is apóleia.  In 2 Thessalonians 2:3, the Greek word is Strong’s #458, which is anomia.  Does that cause this discussion to fall apart?

Apóleia means “destruction, ruin, loss, perishing; eternal ruin.”  Anomia means “lawlessness, iniquity, disobedience, sin.”  Apóleia has the sense of being cut off or completely severed. Anomia conveys the idea of an utter disregard for God’s law. With these two meanings, although not identical which one desires to see in a comparison like this, they certainly describe these two individuals in a similar way.  These were/are two men deeply against God and utterly lost.

The descriptions of how Judas died seem to vary, but can be reconciled.  Matthew 27:5 says:

And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself.

In contrast, Acts 1:18 tells us:

Now this man acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness, and falling headlong he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out.

The apparent contradiction can be resolved if we think about it. Judas hung himself in a lonely place.  If the discovery of his body took several days, it may well have been that in the hot Judean sun, his body swelled with gases and burst if the hanging rope broke or was cut.

The interesting verse that follows the death of Judas in Acts 1:25 (KJV) is one that causes one to think:

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

What was his OWN place?  What does that mean?  Once more we turn to the Greek and see that in Strong’s #2398 the word is idios.  This has the sense of “uniquely one’s own, peculiar to the individual.”  Peculiar – unique.  When Judas died, was there something special about his death and where he went?

According to Old Testament theology that continued up until the point when Jesus rose from the dead, all who died went to Sheol (Hebrew) or Hades (Greek).  There were effectively two compartments in this place we also know as hell.  One compartment was for the righteous (saved by OT standards), and the other compartment was for the wicked (not saved by OT standards).  Given the description in Acts 1:25, did Judas somehow go elsewhere, or at least a special place within this domain unique to him as a human being?

We can’t know the answer to that, but if that’s the case, perhaps it is this which also ultimately joins Judas Iscariot to Antichrist.  Both are Scripturally called THE son of perdition, i.e. using the definite article, which appears to give the verses the singular, connected meaning.  Although the Greek words are different for the use of perdition, they certainly have related connotations.  This place that Judas went; if it wasn’t what we expect where a normal death would take one, then where did Judas go?  Was there somehow a preserving (for want of a better term) of his soul that kept it in limbo until a future time when it would be reunited with the person of Antichrist?

Apparently Arthur Pink thought so.  As Terry James expresses, and I agree, when Pink describes this situation as one relating to reincarnation, that becomes problematic.  We know from Hebrews 9:27:

And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,

There is no reincarnation.  Human beings live once, die, and are bound for judgment.  However, what if there is a unique, peculiar case with Judas Iscariot in relation to the future Antichrist?  Jesus said about Judas in John 6:70:

Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.”

It’s clear that Judas was never saved given his lust for money and obviously his betrayal of the Lord, but Jesus also says that he was a devil.  He wasn’t Satan himself, but the Greek in Strong’s #1228 is diabolos, a “slanderer” and “false accuser. “  Judas resembled Satan in mind and will. We also know that Satan entered and possessed him during the Last Supper. Satan will likewise possess Antichrist.

God is sovereign.  He does what He will, and He chooses whom He will to accomplish His purposes.  Scripture had to be fulfilled that someone would betray Jesus.  Was Judas predestined for this fate?  Not necessarily; he continued to have free will that God created him to have.  However, his heart was evil, and despite his long association with Jesus as one of the Twelve disciples, it never softened and changed.  God knew this in advance.  In that context, Judas was always going to be the betrayer.

We cannot know at this time the ultimate truth of any possible connection between Judas and the Antichrist.  We see that there are intriguing connections between them.  When Antichrist arises, he will deceive many and bring those millions along with him to his ultimate place of residence: the Lake of Fire.  Has Judas been kept in Tartarus (see 2 Peter 2:4) in this bottom pit (or abyss) along with the fallen sons of God from Genesis 6 until the coming Tribulation where he’ll become the man of lawlessness in that time?

What an idea!  Won’t it be fascinating the learn the truth about this someday!  Perhaps from our heavenly home following the Rapture, we as true believers will come to see and understand even a mystery like this.  Maranatha!

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