Bible Question:

Does the Bible indicate that Judas was unsaved? Does John 17:12 refer to Judas as the son of perdition?

Bible Answer:

The passage in John 17:12 does refer to Judas. He was one of Jesus’ twelve disciples.

While I was with them, I was keeping 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. (NASB) John 17:12

Judas, The Son of Perdition

The passage records words from Jesus’ last prayer, the one just before His death. In that prayer Jesus said only one of His disciples was lost, the son of perdition. The Greek word for “perdition” is apoleia which means “destruction, waste, loss, ruin, or perishing.” Jesus is simply saying that one His twelve disciples was eternally lost. He was not saved. This was a fulfillment of the prophecy found in Psalm 41:9.

Judas – Known From The Start

Jesus knew who His betrayer was from the start of His ministry. This can be seen in the following verses.

Jesus answered them, “Did I Myself not choose you, the twelve, and yet one of you is a devil?” Now He meant Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the twelve, was going to betray Him. (NASB) John 6:70-71

And during supper, the devil having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray Him . . . (NASB) John 13:2

I do not speak of all of you. I know the ones I have chosen; but it is that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘HE WHO EATS MY BREAD HAS LIFTED UP HIS HEEL AGAINST ME.’ (NASB) John 13:18

When Jesus had said this, He became troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, that one of you will betray Me.” The disciples began looking at one another, at a loss to know of which one He was speaking . . . Simon Peter therefore gestured to him, and said to him, “Tell us who it is of whom He is speaking.” . . . Jesus therefore answered, “That is the one for whom I shall dip the morsel and give it to him.” So when He had dipped the morsel, He took and gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. And after the morsel, Satan then entered into him. Jesus therefore *said to him, “What you do, do quickly.” (NASB) John 13:21-27

From the beginning Judas was described figuratively as a “devil.” He was not actually the devil. Later in John 13:2 we are told the devil was motivating Judas to betray Jesus. Finally, in verses 21-27 we discover that Satan entered Judas. So Judas leaves the last supper. He meets the Jewish religious leaders and guides them to Jesus. When he meets Jesus, he betrays Him with a kiss (Luke 22:47-48). Later, after Jesus’ death and return to life, the apostles seek the Lord to determine who should replace Judas (Acts 1:16-20). During the discussion, the following statement is made,

. . . to occupy this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” (NASB) Acts 1:25

This passage says Judas made the decision on his own. Scripture predicted that Judas would do this.


Judas was the son of perdition. He was eternally lost and he committed a horrible sin. That is why he received the title son of perdition. He was not a Christian although He was one of Jesus’ tweleve disciples. The Holy Spirit tells us that he stole money from Jesus and the other disciples (John 12:5-6). The verses above tell us that he never really loved Jesus. He was with Jesus for his own selfish reasons. He loved money more than Jesus. He betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver (Matt. 26:15; 27:3, 9).

Some people are like Judas. They are in church. They go to church because their friends are there. They like the music and the funny pastor. Wow, is he a great speaker! They look real to everyone. They are really active and involved, but they are not real. That was Judas. He went everywhere Jesus and the disciples went. He might have even enjoyed the excitement and all the wonderful miracles. Just think! Judas saw Jesus’ miracles. He heard Jesus’ preaching, but he was not one of them. When Jesus told the disciples one of them would betray Him, the other disciples did not know He was talking about Judas. Judas looked real! Today, we need to ask ourselves, “Why am I going to church?” “Why do I claim to be a Christian?” “Am I a Judas?” Does my life have the marks of a Christian?

Suggested Links:

If Judas was not a believer how could he cast out demons?
Why did Jesus choose Judas Iscariot as a disciple?
If Judas was not a believer how could he cast out demons?
Did Jesus have two disciples named Judas?
Jesus Was Betrayed By a Friend Called Judas