Unless I'm mis-reading this passage in John, it seems like Judas was predestined to be lost.

John 17:12 (KJV)
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.

How do those who argue against predestination handle this verse?

  • 5
    If anything, I would think this verse is problematic for Calvinists. It looks like a clear denial of Perseverance of the Saints. Commented Aug 16, 2012 at 14:59
  • 6
    @Bruce Alderman - or it shows that the saints are preserved, but Judas was not one of them
    – warren
    Commented Aug 16, 2012 at 18:02
  • @BruceAlderman: I see no evidence in the bible suggesting that Judas was born a particularly evil person. From the free-will perspective, this would scare me -- if someone who had spent 3 years with Jesus could end up falling away -- what chance do I have as someone in year 2012?
    – user1694
    Commented Aug 17, 2012 at 1:05
  • @Matthew7.7 From the Arminian perspective, we don't have a chance on our own, but we all have access to the grace of God. Commented Aug 17, 2012 at 3:24
  • The problem for the Calvinist position (regarding "the perseverance of the saints") is that Calvinists use other passages (e.g. Jn. 6.39: "And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day") to prove predestination. But if Judas was lost, he was not given in the sense of infallible predestination, so it casts uncertainty onto these other prooftexts as to whether they refer to infallible predestination to glory at all.
    – Aerarius
    Commented Feb 23, 2015 at 17:07

3 Answers 3



It is not that Arminians argue "against" predestination - that would be silly, since the term comes from Scripture; Arminians would have to cross out a whole bunch of verses in their Bibles if that were the case. Clearly "predestination" is a reality.

The question is, what does that mean, and how does that work?

  • In general, Calvinists teach that predestination means that God, in His complete sovereignty (i.e. control over everything), predetermined who would be saved and who would spend eternity in Hell, based solely on His plan which He designed for His glory. It is not about us, what we do, what we decide (as if we had some autonomous "free-will"); it is about God's plan for Self-glorification.

  • In general, Arminians teach that predestination means that God, in His complete wisdom and foreknowledge (i.e. awareness of every future event), prepares the future based on His awareness of what men will choose.

Where do Arminians get such strange ideas? From Scripture!

For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined ... and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. -Romans 8:29-30

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those ... who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father -1 Peter 1:1-2


It is easy to think that the opposing view is ridiculous, but we really need to listen more carefully to what the "other side" is saying; one's "opponents" in this debate are not as ignorant as they might seem.

From a Calvinist perspective, Arminians don't believe God is sovereign, because they don't believe He is ultimately behind every choice that is made. To them the end result is that Arminians don't believe that God is God.

From an Arminian perspective, Calvinism paints men as mechanical creatures who carry out the actions God programmed them to carry out, more or less. The end result is a God who decided that the best possible plan was one where He made billions of people for the sole purpose of torturing them in Hell for eternity - all for Self-glorification. And yet somehow "God is love".

What About Judas?

The story of Judas doesn't catch Arminians off-guard in any way; nor does it pose a challenge. Judas chose to betray the Lord, and God knew He was going to do so. Based on His foreknowledge, He arranged history accordingly, foretold it to His prophets, and then pointed to it when it happened.

All of this causes the Arminian to bow in worship to the all-knowing, all-wise Creator and Lord.

Of course, the Arminian would not concede that God wanted Judas to choose evil and inherit eternal torment, but for the Arminian, this is more of a comfort than a concern. It does not signify that God is not God; only that God is not malicious.


John Wesley, in his explanatory notes on John 17, says, "The son of perdition signifies one that deservedly perishes; as a son of death, 2 Samuel 12:5; children of hell, Matthew 23:15, and children of wrath, Ephesians 2:3, signify persons justly obnoxious to death, hell, wrath. Psalms 109:8." To say someone deserves to perish is not the same as saying they were foreordained to do so. Calling Judas a "son of perdition" simply refers to the consequences of his betrayal.

Note especially the wording of Matthew 23:15, "you make the new convert twice as much a child of hell as yourselves. [emphasis mine]" This indicates that to be a child of hell, or a "son of perdition", is not a foreordained state but the consequence of acting against God's will.

Leading up to this incident, we see that Judas had been one of God's chosen (John 6:70-71), and was even given "authority over unclean spirits" and sent out with the other Apostles (Mark 6:7), but that the devil had enticed Judas to betray Jesus (John 13:2).

Just days before, Jesus has warned his followers that when hard times come many will fall away, but promised that "the one who endures to the end will be saved." (Matthew 24:12-13). Judas failed the test, and had to face the consequences.

  • I can't agree with you on this one and I won't downvote. John 13:27: And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly. That seems like an instruction. The warning of Jesus did not apply to Judas because Jesus knew he was the one Commented Aug 17, 2012 at 21:14
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    @tunmisefashipe I'm not saying Jesus didn't know before it happened. I'm saying he didn't foreordain before the creation of the world that Judas would be the one to do this. Commented Aug 17, 2012 at 21:19
  • It was foreordained that someone would do it. May be when Jesus chose Judas as one of the disciples he knew this fits the profile or even after working with him for a while he chose him to be the one. Judas did not fall away because he wanted to, he did because he was chosen and had to do the task he was chosen for Commented Aug 17, 2012 at 21:24
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    @tunmisefashipe I don't see a reason to think it was foreordained that someone would do it. As Jas3.1 explains in his answer, from the Arminian perspective God foresaw that Judas would betray Jesus, and spoke to the prophets accordingly. Commented Aug 17, 2012 at 21:31

An add-on: Jesus also said that He can "unfulfill" the prophecy. Read Mt 26:52:

Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?

  • Welcome to the site. As a new visitor, I'd recommend checking out the following two posts, which are meant to help newcomers "learn the ropes": help page and How we are different than other sites? Also, this doesn't really answer the question. It looks like it should be a comment on another post, but you haven't yet earned enough to leave comments. (Again, see the help page.) Hopefully, soon! Commented Apr 18, 2014 at 21:07

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