John 17:12, (DRB):

While I was with them, I kept them in thy name. Those whom thou gavest me have I kept; and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition, that the scripture may be fulfilled.

Does John mean by the singular "Son" the plural "Sons" in John 17:12?

i.e: Son of perdition=Sons of perdition.

1 Answer 1


The operative Greek phrase in John 17:12 is ὁ υἱὸς τῆς ἀπωλείας = the son of destruction.

The word υἱὸς (huios) is singular.

The word "perdition" or "destruction" translates ἀπωλείας and is used as a proper name for Satan in Rev 9:11. Thus, "son of destruction" would refer to someone who follows Satan and his ways - see John 8:44.

Most understand this phrase to refer to Judas who betrayed Jesus and then suicided. Ellicott observes:

The term, "son of perdition," is a well-known Hebrew idiom, by which the lack of qualitative adjectives is supplied by the use of the abstract substantives, which express that quality. A disobedient child is, e.g., "a son of disobedience;" other common instances are "children of light," "children of darkness." A "son of perdition" is one in whose nature there is the quality expressed by "perdition." The phrase is used in Isaiah 57:4 to express the apostacy of the Israelites (in English version, "children of transgression"). It occurs once again in 2Thessalonians 2:3, of the "man of sin."

Barnes observes:

But the son of perdition … The term son was given by the Hebrews to those who possessed the character described by the word or name following. Thus, sons of Belial - those who possessed his character; children of wisdom those who were wise, Matthew 11:19. Thus Judas is called a son of perdition because he had the character of a destroyer. He was a traitor and a murderer. And this shows that he who knew the heart regarded his character as that of a wicked man one whose appropriate name was that of a son of perdition.

  • could the idiom,also, be applied to Satan and his angels and his Human subservient, beside Judas the betrayer.
    – salah
    Apr 23, 2020 at 23:42
  • could you include your comment in your answer?
    – salah
    Apr 24, 2020 at 0:16
  • @salah How can Satan/Lucifer/Diabolos be 'the son of' perdition ? Is he not the father of it ?
    – Nigel J
    Apr 24, 2020 at 8:43
  • @NigelJ I think rhetorically, Son of perdition may means also, Father of perdition.
    – salah
    Apr 24, 2020 at 8:59
  • I struggle to understand you @salah. You say 'son' = 'sons' in your question and you say that 'son' means 'father' in your comment. Language does not work the way you are trying to make it work. But I shall add no more and leave you to it. Regards.
    – Nigel J
    Apr 24, 2020 at 9:04

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