12.While I was with them in the world. Christ says that he hath kept them in the name of his Father; for he represents himself to be only a servant, who did nothing but by the power, and under the protection, of God. He means, therefore, that it were most unreasonable to suppose that they would now perish, as if by his departure the power of God had been extinguished or dead. But it may be thought very absurd that Christ surrenders to God the office of keeping them, as if, after having finished the course of his life, he ceased to be the guardian of his people. The reply is obvious. He speaks here of visible guardianship only which ended at the death of Christ; for, while he dwelt on earth, he needed not to borrow power from another, in order to keep his disciples; but all this relates to the person of the Mediator, who appeared, for a time, under the form of a servant. But now he bids the disciples, as soon as they have begun to be deprived of the external aid, to raise their eyes direct towards heaven. Hence we infer that Christ keeps believers in the present day not less than he formerly did, but in a different manner, because Divine majesty is openly displayed in him.
Whom thou hast given me. He again employs the same argument, that it would be highly unbecoming that the Father should reject those whom his Son, by his command, has kept to the very close of his ministry; as if he had said, “ thou didst commit to me I have faithfully executed, and I took care that nothing was lost in my hands; and when thou now receivest what thou hadst intrusted to me, it belongs to thee to see that it continue to be safe and sound.”
But the son of perdition. Judas is excepted, and not without reason; for, though he was not one of the elect and of the true flock of God, yet the dignity of his office gave him the appearance of it; and, indeed, no one would have formed a different opinion of him, so long as he held that exalted rank. Tried by the rules of grammar, (118) the exception is incorrect; but if we examine the matter narrowly, it was necessary that Christ should speak thus, in accommodation to the ordinary opinion of men. But, that no one might think that the eternal election of God was overturned by the damnation of Judas, he immediately added, that he was the son of perdition By these words Christ means that his ruin, which took place suddenly before the eyes of men, had been known to God long before; for the son of perdition, according to the Hebrew idiom, denotes a man who is ruined, or devoted to destruction.
That the Scripture might be fulfilled. This relates to the former clause. Judas fell,that the Scripture might be fulfilled But it would be a most unfounded argument, if any one were to infer from this, that the revolt of Judas ought to be ascribed to God rather than to himself; because the prediction laid him under a nccesslty. For the course of events ought not to be ascribed to prophecies, because it was predicted in them; and, indeed, the prophets threaten nothing but what would have happened, though they had not spoken of it. It is not in the prophecies, therefore, that we must go to seek the cause of events. I acknowledge, indeed, that nothing happens but what has been appointed by God; but the only question now is, Do those things which it has foretold, or predicted, lay men under a necessity? which I have already demonstrated to be false.
Nor was it the design of Christ to transfer to Scripture the cause of the ruin of Judas, but he only intended to take away the occasion of stumbling, which might shake weak minds. (119) Now the method of removing it is, by showing that the Spirit of God had long ago testified that such an event would happen; for we commonly startle at what is new and sudden. This is a highly useful admonition, and admits of extensive application. For how comes it that in our own day, the greater part of men give way on account of offences, but because they do not remember the testimonies of Scripture, by which God has abundantly fortified his people, having foretold early all the evils and distresses which would come before their eyes?