BIBLICAL EXPOSITION; SOME THINGS HARD TO BE UNDERSTOOD
Did Peter deny Christ three times before the cock crowed(John 13:38), or three times before the cock crowed twice(Mark 14:30,72)? This particular question or variations appear in numerous Biblical contradiction sites. Some of the apologetic answers are less than satisfactory and may even deny the infallibility of scripture. The quest to answer this question for myself prompted this endeavor.
This is a Bible study of the Lord Jesus Christs prophecy that Peter would deny him three times before the cock would crow twice.
This study will demonstrate that Peter denied the Lord Jesus Christ not three times only, but three times twice for a total of six times.
After presenting the verses to illustrate this, an examination of the significance of this account upon the magnificence and veracity of the scriptures will be related.
THE WORD OF THE LORD UNTO PETER
Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad. Matthew 26:31
But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee. Matthew 26:32
Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended. Matthew 26:33
Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. Matthew 26:34
Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples. Matthew 26:35
And Jesus saith unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. Mark 14:30
And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me. Luke 22:34
Jesus answered him, Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock sall not crow, til thou hast denied me thrice. John 13:38
In the following Gospel accounts, Jesus was first brought to the palace of the high priest Annas. Luke 3:2 states that there were two high priests; Annas and Caiaphas. This fact is important in dividing the Word of God as it relates to this account. Peter along with the other disciple, who I believe is John, enter into the palace of Annas first.
Then the band and the captain and officers of the Jews took Jesus, and bound him. John 18:12
And led him away to Annas first; for he was father in law to Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year. John 18:13
Now Caiaphas was he, which gave counsel to the Jews, that it was expedient that one man should die for the people. John 18:14
And Simon Peter followed Jesus and so did another disciple: that disciple was known unto the high priest, and went in with Jesus into the palace of the high priest. John 18:15
A damsel kept the palace door. The disciple went into the palace leaving Peter outside. The disciple comes back outside, talks to the damsel, and Peter is admitted.
But Peter stood at the door without. Then went out that other disciple, which was known unto the high priest, and spake unto her that kept the door, and brought in Peter. John 18:16
This damsel questions Peter in regard to his being a disciple of the Lord Jesus. Peter denies the Lord.
THE FIRST DENIAL
Then saith the damsel that kept the door unto Peter, Art not thou also one of this man?s disciples? He saith, I am not. John 18:17 *Denial 1*
The account continues. The setting is still at the palace of Annas. It is once again important to examine the Word of God thoroughly. To be noted is that around this fire, Peter stood.
And the servants and officers stood there, who had made a fire of coals; for it was cold: and they warmed themselves: and Peter stood with them, and warmed himself. John 18:18
The following Gospel accounts relate Jesus being led unto the palace of the high priest Caiaphas; and Peter following into this, the second palace. Note that Peter is sitting at this second fire.
Now Annas had sent him bound unto Caiaphas the high priest. John 18:24
And they that had laid hold on Jesus led him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled. Matthew 26:57
But Peter followed him afar off unto the high priest?s palace, and went in, and sat with the servants, to see the end. Matthew 26:58
And they led Jesus away to the high priest: and with him were assembled all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes. Mark 14:53
And Peter followed him afar off, even into the palace of the high priest: and he sat with the servants, and warmed himself at the fire. Mark 14:54
Then took they him, and led him, and brought him into the high priest?s house. And Peter followed afar off. Luke 22:54
And when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the hall, and were set down together, Peter sat down among them. Luke 22:55
Peter is sitting at the fire along with the servants when a maid (damsel) asserts that he is with Jesus.
Now Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee. Matthew 26:69
And as Peter was beneath in the palace, there cometh one of the maids of the high priest: Mark 14:66
And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked upon him, and said, And thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth. Mark 14:67
But a certain maid beheld him as he sat by the fire, and earnestly looked upon him, and said, This man was also with him. Luke 22:56
Peter denies the Lord Jesus.
THE SECOND DENIAL
But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest. Matthew 26:70 *Denial 2*
But he denied, saying, I know not, neither understand I what thou sayest. Mark 14:68 *Denial 2*
And he denied him, saying, Woman, I know him not. Luke 22:57 *Denial 2*
Peter goes into the porch and another maid accuses him of being with the Lord Jesus.
And when he was gone out into the porch, another maid saw him, and said unto them that were there, This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth. Matthew 26:71
Another denial ensues.
THE THIRD DENIAL
And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man. Matthew 26:72 *Denial 3*
THE FIRST COCK CROW
And he went out into the porch; and the cock crew. Mark 14:68 *Cock Crow 1*
A maid sees Peter once more, this time on the porch, and makes her allegation to those present.
And a maid saw him again, and began to say to them that stood by, This is one of them. Mark 14:69
Peter once more denies the Lord Jesus Christ.
THE FOURTH DENIAL
And he denied it again. Mark 14:70 *Denial 4*
Still on the porch, after a while those that stood by insist Peter is one of Jesus?s disciples.
And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech bewrayeth thee. Matthew 26:73
And a little after, they that stood by said again to Peter, Surely thou art one of them: for thou art a Galilean, and thy speech agreeth thereto. Mark 14:70
And after a little while another saw him, and said, Thou art also of them. Luke 22:58
And Simon Peter stood and warmed himself. They said therefore unto him, Art not thou also one of his disciples? John 18:25
Peter once again denies the Lord.
THE FIFTH DENIAL
And Peter said, Man, I am not. Luke 22:58 *Denial 5*
He denied it, and said, I am not. John 18:25 *Denial 5*
The account continues after the space of an hour.
And about the space of one hour after another confidently affirmed, saying, Of a truth this fellow also was with him: for he is a Galilean. Luke 22:59
One of the servants of the high priest, being his kinsman whose ear Peter cut off, saith, Did not I see thee in the garden with him? John 18:26
Peter begins to curse and swear denying the Lord.
THE SIXTH DENIAL
Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. Matthew 26:74 *Denial 6*
But he began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not this man of whom ye speak. Mark 14:71 *Denial 6*
And Peter said, Man, I know not what thou sayest. Luke 22:60 *Denial 6*
Peter then denied again John 18:27 *Denial 6*
THE SECOND COCK CROW
And immediately the cock crew. Matthew 26:74 *Cock Crow 2*
And the second time the cock crew. Mark 14:72 *Cock Crow 2*
And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew. Luke 22:60 *Cock Crow 2*
: and immediately the cock crew. John 18:27 *Cock Crow 2*
And Peter remembered the words of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly. Matthew 26:75
And Peter called to mind the word that Jesus said unto him, Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. And when he thought thereon, he wept. Mark 14:72
And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. Luke 22:61
And Peter went out, and wept bitterly. Luke 22:62
As individual accounts each Gospel record is perfect. Each Gospel account relates three denials. Each Gospel relates one cock crow, with the exception of Mark, who records two.
Collectively, when arranged into the above format, they present a composite; one sweeping story. The one outstanding feature of the above account lies not just in the fact that it presents a total of six denials, and two cock crows; but that each Gospel interlocks with another, as interlocking fingers, while still retaining its own sequential continuity!
Verses were omitted in the Gospel accounts since these all dealt with the council interrogation and did not bear directly on the study. The omissions did not pretend the chronology or the study.
This account should bolster our determination to dig into Gods word since a casual reading obscures and hinders full knowledge and blessing.
Also evident is the importance of studying every word of scripture to derive revelation and exactitude. This can be seen in verses such as; John 18:13 and Matthew 26:57 in regard to Annas and Caiaphas: John 18:18 and Mark 14:53 in which Peter stood at one fire, and sat at another: John 18 in which Peter stood with them and warmed himself in verse 18, and stood and warmed himself in verse 25. The simple word them does not appear in verse 25 which differentiates the two and determines placement.
This amazing account should further anchor our soul and spirit to the fact that God inspired these men to write; and to anchor us to The Living Word, The Lord Jesus Christ.