THE CASE AGAINST THE SIX DENIALS OF PETER

BY:  E. W. BULLINGER

 

PETER’S DENIAL’S – THE STRUCTURE

THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW

THE GOSPEL OF MARK

THE GOSPEL OF LUKE

THE GOSPEL OF JOHN

THE FIRST DENIALS LISTED IN EACH GOSPEL ARE THE FOLLOWING:

THE SECOND DENIALS LISTED IN EACH GOSPEL ARE THE FOLLOWING:

HERE IS A RECORD OF THE THIRD DENIALS IN THE GOSPELS

THE DENIALS BEFORE ANNAS AND CAIAPHAS

THE COCK CROWING AS MENTIONED BY JESUS

THE GOSPEL OF JOHN MENTIONS THE ONE COCK-CROWING

“TWICE SHALT THOU DENY ME THRICE”

THE CHRONOLOGY OF THE DENIAL

SUMMARY

After reviewing the ‘Four Crucified’ Theory originated by E.W. Bullinger and promoted by Victor Paul Wierwille and finding conclusively that there were only two robbers crucified with Jesus, we again must direct our attention to another anomaly originated by E.W. Bullinger and promoted by Victor Paul Wierwille. And this one is called the ‘Six Denials’ Theory.

Victor Paul Wierwille reached into the Companion Bible of E.W. Bullinger into Appendix 160 on pages 183-184 of those appendices and began his research into the article there called “The Denials of Peter”. It was here that Wierwille began documenting his own work on this subject which was added into his book, Jesus Christ Our Passover. In the second edition of this book in 1992, it was Appendix 9 on pages 495-505. Bullinger is not mentioned within this article as any source of information, but to be fair, it appears as if Wierwille did take much time checking several texts to see if ‘six’ denials were present. Since Wierwille’s source in the publication are texts and the Bible as well as a few other articles mentioned, it is technically not plagiarism. However, knowing Wierwille to be a big fan of Bullinger’s works, he no doubt got the idea from Bullinger the same as he got the idea for the ‘four’ crucified.

The following is what Wierwille believes to be the order of events according to his interpretation of Peter’s denials of the Lord Jesus Christ:

PETER’S DENIAL’S – THE STRUCTURE

Six denials rather than three are his premise.

One denial while Jesus was before Annas by a young female doorkeeper as he entered the door from the street to the courtyard. John 18:15-18

Second denial Jesus was before Caiaphas, a young maiden who served the high priest. Location by the fire in the Courtyard. Peter was sitting. Matthew 26:69-70, Luke 22:55-57, Mark 14:66-68a.

Third denial occurred while Jesus was before Caiaphas, also by the fire in the courtyard. The accuser was a man. Luke 22:58

The First Cock-crowing Mark 14:68b

The fourth denial occurred while Jesus was before Caiaphas. It happened in the porch area, where the large door or gate was. The accuser was a maiden who served the high priest, whom Wierwille states is a different maiden from the accuser who prompted denial number two. (Matthew 26:71-72, Mark 14:69-70a.)

The fifth denial occurred while Jesus was before Caiaphas. It happened in the courtyard area again with Peter standing next to the fire. This time several accusers. (Matthew 26:73-74a; Mark 14:70b-71, John 18:25)

The sixth denial occurred immediately after the fifth at the fire in the courtyard. Accuser was a servant of the high priest who had been present at Jesus’ arrest in the garden. (Luke 22:59-60a; John 18:26-27a)

Second cock-crowing. (Matthew 26:74b, Mark 14:72a, Luke 22:60b, John 18:27b)

The use of the word “another” in these records of the denial is in dispute.

The two cock-crowings are rendered as literal cock-crowings.

“Twice shalt thou deny me thrice” is rendered by Wierwille as the translation for Mark 14:30 and Mark 14:72.

It must be further mentioned that, although Bullinger and Wierwille say Peter denied Jesus six times, each gospel renders no more than three denials by Peter.

THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW

Matthew 26:33-34: 33 Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended. 34 Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. 35 Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples.

Matthew 26:69-75: 69 Now Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee. 70 But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest. (1) 71 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. 72 And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man. (2) 73 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 betrayeth thee. 74 Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. (3) And immediately the cock crew. 75 And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.

THE GOSPEL OF MARK

Mark 14:29-31: 29 But Peter said unto him, Although all shall be offended, yet will not I. 30 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. 31 But he spake the more vehemently, If I should die with thee, I will not deny thee in any wise. Likewise also said they all.

Mark 14:66-72: 66 And as Peter was beneath in the palace, there cometh one of the maids of the high priest: 67 And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked upon him, and said, And thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth. 68 But he denied, saying, I know not, neither understand I what thou sayest. (1) And he went out into the porch; and the cock crew. 69 And a maid saw him again, and began to say to them that stood by, This is one of them. 70 And he denied it again. (2) And a little after, they that stood by said again to Peter, Surely thou art one of them: for thou art a Galilaean, and thy speech agreeth thereto. 71 But he began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not this man of whom ye speak. (3) 72 And the second time the cock crew. 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.

THE GOSPEL OF LUKE

Luke 22:31-34: 31 And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: 32 But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. 33 And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death. 34 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 22:54-62: 54 Then took they him, and led him, and brought him into the high priest’s house. And Peter followed afar off. 55 And when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the hall, and were set down together, Peter sat down among them. 56 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. 57 And he denied him, saying, Woman, I know him not. (1) 58 And after a little while another saw him, and said, Thou art also of them. And Peter said, Man, I am not. (2) 59 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 Galilaean. 60 And Peter said, Man, I know not what thou sayest. (3) And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew. 61 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. 62 And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.

THE GOSPEL OF JOHN

John 13:36-38: 36 Simon Peter said unto him, Lord, whither goest thou? Jesus answered him, Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards. 37 Peter said unto him, Lord, why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my life for thy sake. 38 Jesus answered him, Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice.

John 18:13-27: 13 And led him away to Annas first; for he was father in law to Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year. 14 Now Caiaphas was he, which gave counsel to the Jews that it was expedient that one man should die for the people. 15 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. 16 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. 17 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. (1) 18 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. 19 The high priest then asked Jesus of his disciples, and of his doctrine. 20 Jesus answered him, I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing. 21 Why askest thou me? ask them which heard me, what I have said unto them: behold, they know what I said. 22 And when he had thus spoken, one of the officers which stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, Answerest thou the high priest so? 23 Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smitest thou me? 24 Now Annas had sent him bound unto Caiaphas the high priest. 25 And Simon Peter stood and warmed himself. They said therefore unto him, Art not thou also one of his disciples? He denied it, and said, I am not. (2) 26 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? 27 Peter then denied again: (3) and immediately the cock crew.

As you can see, there are only three denials listed in each gospel. Again, why would God spread different denials around in four gospels without at least mentioning all six in one of them? This is my case. I am here to prove that the traditional view of three denials by Peter is correct. There were not six denials. There were only three.

For the record, we must examine each denial in its context in each gospel account together, view the comparison in each account of each denial and then set up a chronology of the event.

THE FIRST DENIALS LISTED IN EACH GOSPEL ARE THE FOLLOWING:

Matthew 26:69: 69 Now Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee. 70 But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest.

Mark 14:66-68: 66 And as Peter was beneath in the palace, there cometh one of the maids of the high priest: 67 And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked upon him, and said, And thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth. 68 But he denied, saying, I know not, neither understand I what thou sayest.

Luke 22:54-57: 54 Then took they him (Jesus), and led him, and brought him into the high priest’s house. And Peter followed afar off. 55 And when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the hall, and were set down together, Peter sat down among them. 56 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. 57 And he denied him, saying, Woman, I know him not.

John 18:13-17: 13 And led him (Jesus) away to Annas first; for he was father in law to Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year. 14 Now Caiaphas was he, which gave counsel to the Jews that it was expedient that one man should die for the people. 15 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. 16 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. 17 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.

Note that Wierwille and Bullinger try to pull out differences in each of these accounts. Matthew said Peter was “without in the palace” while Mark says Peter was “beneath the palace”. Also noted differences are a “damsel” in Matthew and John and a “maiden” or “maid” in Mark and Luke. John seems to indicate that the maid that kept the door challenged Peter at the door. This would seem to be the biggest discrepancy. While both Wierwille and Bullinger may not have used these exact differences in their publications, this is how they work. In other words, almost any difference in scripture must mean separate events or persons because God’s scripture is perfect and God does not contradict Himself.

First, most theologians know God does not contradict Himself. The problem comes into play when the holy men of God moved by the Holy Spirit wrote it in their own dialects or languages. There are differences, but that does not mean there are contradictions. The different scriptures are the same record in the words of different men with differences in how they were said, but nothing contradicting the factual event that they are describing.  In fact, as we shall find, the gospel accounts compliment each other when you place the records together.

Though Wierwille and Bullinger didn’t bring this up, those that study their way of biblical interpretation might see a difference in the identity of the woman of the first denial being a damsel in two records and a maid in the other two. Those that do not use a simple concordance would assume they are different records based on this kind of research and thinking. But the reason Wierwille and Bullinger did not bring this up as an example of differences was the fact that the words used for ‘damsel’ and ‘maid’ are the same Greek word paidiskē, and the only reason they are different in the different gospel accounts was due to the way different King James translators used that Greek word. A damsel and a maid are the same thing.

The issue of the difference between Peter being at the door, “without in the palace”, “beneath the palace”, or in “the midst of the hall” as the record in Luke says, then we have differences in locations of denials which could lead some people to believe that in fact, they were all different denials or God contradicted himself, or that the men writing the gospels did not do it through God.  However, one must stand fast to the belief that God does not contradict Himself and does in fact inspire the scriptures including the gospel records.

To be either “without in the palace” or “beneath or below the palace” meant to be in the palace courtyard. Thus, Matthew and Mark place the first denial in the same place by a woman, a damsel or maid. In Luke, the place was a “hall”, but the Greek word used for that location is aulē, which means a ‘yard’ or ‘court’, or ‘courtyard. Again, the rendering of the Greek word used in Luke matches Matthew and Mark. It is the same place. However John did pose a problem. John seems to indicate that Peter denied Jesus to the maid coming in the door. It appears to be a different location hence a different denial.

John 18:13-17: 13 And led him (Jesus) away to Annas first; for he was father in law to Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year. 14 Now Caiaphas was he, which gave counsel to the Jews that it was expedient that one man should die for the people. 15 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. 16 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. 17 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.

This would seem to be a problem except that we need to know if Peter was in the courtyard coming into the palace, outside the courtyard coming into the courtyard toward the palace, or just coming in the door. But a clue is taken from the New Catholic Encyclopedia on the record of the high priest’s palace:

“The recent excavations in Syria and Palestine, as well as the modern customs inherited from olden times, give precise indications concerning the house-courts, not seldom alluded to in Holy Writ. When, as occurs frequently, the house does not open directly on the street, there is a first court-yard extending between the outer wall and the building. From this outer court an entrance doorway leads into the inner court, around which the various apartments are located. The inner court sometimes contains in the centre a well (II K., 17:18) or a fountain surrounded with fine trees; the walls, porches, and verandas are usually covered with vines and creepers, and an awning may be stretched overhead to keep off the sun. From the narration of the Passion we may infer that such was the arrangement in the high-priest’s house. While Jesus was being tried in one of the halls, the servants and ministers had gathered around a fire of coals in the inner court; thither Peter came to warm himself, and there he denied his Master. From the judgment-hall, Jesus turning (Luke, 22:61) could easily look outside (Matt., 26:69) on Peter. Then the latter, smitten with remorse, betook himself to the outer court (Mark, 14:68; D. V., “before the court”, a literal translation of the awkward Latin rendering: ante atrium), there to weep freely.”

Peter was in the outer court awaiting the other unnamed disciple to get permission for him to enter into the inner court and then into the palace halls where Jesus was being tried. Peter waited at the door to the inner court, being kept by a maiden, until the disciple known to the high priest, and also to the maid, to come back and tell the maid to open the door and let Peter in to the inner court. The disciple that knew the high priest actually went with Jesus into the court and was therefore known as Jesus’ disciple or follower. There was no accusation on Jesus’ followers or admirers as there were too many, only charges against Jesus. At least, this seems to be the indication in John 18:14:

John 18:14: 14 Now Caiaphas was he, which gave counsel to the Jews that it was expedient that one man should die for the people.

Caiaphas did not want to go and kill everyone that followed Jesus, but rather make Jesus and example. The disciple learning this went in first to be with Jesus, Peter waiting outside the gate because he was not certain he was safe. Remember, Peter was the one who fought back and cut off the ear of the servant of the high priest.

In Matthew, it does not identify who the person was the cut off the ear of the servant of the high priest. It just said ‘one of them which were with Jesus’. It also shows that all the disciples (with him there at that moment) forsook him and fled. This after the knife incident.

Matthew 26:51-56: 51 And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest’s, and smote off his ear. 52 Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. 53 Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be? 55 In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me. 56 But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled.

Mark 14:47-52: 47 And one of them that stood by drew a sword, and smote a servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear. 48 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Are ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and with staves to take me? 49 I was daily with you in the temple teaching, and ye took me not: but the scriptures must be fulfilled. 50 And they all forsook him, and fled. 51 And there followed him a certain young man, having a linen cloth cast about his naked body; and the young men laid hold on him: 52 And he left the linen cloth, and fled from them naked.

Again, in Mark, it says “one of them that stood by” drew a sword and smote the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. Again, the record says they all forsook Jesus and fled. The record here also shows that the soldiers arresting Jesus might just have well arrested all the disciples had they not fled or they stood with him. There was a “certain” young man, having a linen cloth cast about his naked body; and the young men (soldiers) laid hold of him: And he fled from them naked (he had at least a loincloth, not totally naked, as no one in that culture freely walked naked without a loincloth; being seen with a loincloth and nothing else on in that culture meant ‘naked’ just as being without anything at all, including a loincloth, meant ‘naked’. It just meant that after the man left his linen cloth, he didn’t have any clothing. In our society, if one walked in his underwear outside with nothing else, we would not say he was naked, but we would say ‘he had no clothes’, meaning no outer garments. But in Hebrew society, you could be considered ‘naked’ if you were not wearing your robe.)

E.W. Bullinger in his The Companion Bible writes in his notes to these verses on page 1421 that he believes that man following in the linen cloth might have been Lazarus. He gives five reasons and they are quoted here:

The Lord (Jesus) had returned to Bethany (where Lazarus lived) each preceding night of that week.

Because Lazarus would be looking out for Jesus (as Jesus had raised him from the death saving his life.)

Because of the linen robe, betokening his social position (Lazarus being rich)

Especially because he (Lazarus) was wanted:

John 12:9-11: 9 Much people of the Jews therefore knew that he was there: and they came not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death; 11 Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus.

(If Lazarus was wanted, he may have been with Jesus rather than at his own residence and was separated from the main body of the disciples when the arrest occurred. He may have gone out to look for something to eat in the general vicinity, no one knows, but when the rest fled, and the soldiers did not see this man, he followed them until he was discovered, then he fled off by himself.) None of the apostles were arrested (probably because they fled; the soldiers did get Jesus and that was the thrust of the mission.)

Lazarus name not given here at this time of the writing of the gospel because he was possibly still alive and therefore in danger.

Note: It might have been Lazarus but there is no proof in scripture it was Lazarus. Bullinger does give a good case, but I think here God would have inspired the gospel writer to mention who it was if it was indeed Lazarus. He was already wanted. Mentioning his name would make no further difference. The identity of the man in question was not important, but what was important was that the soldiers tried to capture him as one of Jesus’ followers or disciples. This indicates at this time that the soldiers possibly were under the belief that Jesus and his disciples should be rounded up. The only problem with that was that scripture does not indicate that the soldiers went after the disciples of Jesus after they fled. They most likely were concerned that this man following them was attempting to disrupt them hoping to have Jesus flee himself. Whatever the soldiers were thinking, they didn’t like the man following them and went after him. When he fled, the soldiers also did not go after him.

Luke 22:50-54: 50 And one of them smote the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear. 51 And Jesus answered and said, Suffer ye thus far. And he touched his ear, and healed him. 52 Then Jesus said unto the chief priests, and captains of the temple, and the elders, which were come to him, Be ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and staves? 53 When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands against me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness. 54 Then took they him, and led him, and brought him into the high priest’s house. And Peter followed afar off.

Luke does not identify the one who cut the ear off the servant of the high priest. The phrase “Suffer ye thus far” means “Enough” in English, meaning the one who smote the servant of the high priest was to cease and everyone else with Jesus was not to respond with violence. Here is the record where Jesus healed the high servant’s ear. The record here does not include the disciples fleeing but does mention Peter following “afar off”. It is possible that Peter was the one following behind with the linen robe in Mark, and that possibility exists because Peter was not identified in Mark either as the one who smote the servant of the high priest. But it is unlikely Peter was wearing a linen robe. The man in Mark remains unidentified for a reason known only to God. Perhaps identifying that man at the time of the gospel writing may have marked him for death and was not for his benefit or God’s benefit if he perished.

John 18:10-15: 10 Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus. 11 Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it? 12 Then the band and the captain and officers of the Jews took Jesus, and bound him, 13 And led him away to Annas first; for he was father in law to Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year. 14 Now Caiaphas was he, which gave counsel to the Jews that it was expedient that one man should die for the people. 15 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.

It was in the gospel of John where we learn that it was Peter who cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant. Since Peter originally fled with the disciples, this gospel makes clear he came back accompanied by another disciple who knew the high priest. The only disciples who could get into the actual palace and address the high priest would have been influential men involved in the Sanhedrin. There were at least two possibilities, those of Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimethea. The gospel does not address this person’s name, either. The same gospel lists Joseph of Arimethea as a disciple later when coming to get the body of Jesus, and lists Nicodemus as coming with oils for Jesus’ body. Nicodemus is not said to be a disciple in the gospel but it may have been he who accompanied Peter. But this is guess work. God doesn’t reveal the name of the disciple who brought Peter in so there was a reason. It may and most likely was someone working for the high priest or in the palace who if discovered, would have lost his position and possibly arrested at the time the gospel was written. No one knows.

Even though Jesus healed the servant’s ear, Peter may not have been viewed in favorable light. This was the high priest’s residence. He no doubt wanted to avoid being identified as the one who attacked the servant of the high priest. If the high priest knew the disciple of Jesus, then the maid knew it as well, and was given specific instructions to let Peter into the inner court with the other disciple. Peter wanted to be in the general vicinity of Jesus’ trial.

The context strongly seems to indicate that the maid expected Peter to follow the other disciple into where Jesus was but Peter just went to a part in the inner court and was discovered by the maid. The maid, having seen him with the other disciple, and wondering why Peter was not with him and with Jesus, asked, “Art not thou also one of this man’s disciples?” This word “also” means in addition to the other disciple that had him come in and Peter obviously was not with him or Jesus staying by a fire in the inner court. This is what sparked the first question and the first denial by Peter. Thus the locations are also the same. The maid did not ask Peter right at the door, but rather indicates another scenario. The word ‘then’ makes it sound that the maid is asking Peter that question right at the door as the other disciple led him in. But if you are with the disciple of Jesus as you are walking in, one would have no reason to ask him walking in with that disciple as one would assume he is a disciple by reason of association. This is how most people think. And in this case it was true. Peter was one of Jesus’ disciples.

But if Peter goes into the courtyard, then separates from the other disciple who goes to be with Jesus at his trial, and awaits outside the trial in the courtyard to hear word of Jesus’ fate rather than to be right there with Jesus, then that would cause a perplexing question to the maid that let him through the courtyard door with the other disciple that was with Jesus. She would be wondering why Peter wasn’t with the other disciple and Jesus. The word ‘then’ beginning John 18:17 which says: “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”, takes on a different meaning which means “after the maid saw Peter with the other disciple of Jesus”, not necessarily giving a time or place. The fact that she saw Peter with that disciple coming into the courtyard is what prompted her question to Peter.

THE SECOND DENIALS LISTED IN EACH GOSPEL ARE THE FOLLOWING:

Matthew 26:71-72: 71 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. 72 And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man.

Mark 14:68b-70a: And he went out into the porch; and the cock crew. 69 And a maid saw him again, and began to say to them that stood by, This is one of them. 70 And he denied it again.

Luke 22:58: 58 And after a little while another saw him, and said, Thou art also of them. And Peter said, Man, I am not.

John 18:18-25: 18 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. 19 The high priest then asked Jesus of his disciples, and of his doctrine. 20 Jesus answered him, I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing. 21 Why askest thou me? ask them which heard me, what I have said unto them: behold, they know what I said. 22 And when he had thus spoken, one of the officers which stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, Answerest thou the high priest so? 23 Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smitest thou me? 24 Now Annas had sent him bound unto Caiaphas the high priest. 25 And Simon Peter stood and warmed himself. They said therefore unto him, Art not thou also one of his disciples? He denied it, and said I am not.

The first thing to understand on the second denial is to whom Peter was addressing when giving his second denial. Matthew and Mark reveal a maiden but in Luke and John, Peter is addressing a man. Seems to conflict, but they do not. In Matthew, the maid is not speaking to Peter but to “them that were there” with Peter and did not speak to Peter directly. The maid spoke to others near Peter. In Mark, the same is happening, the maid began to say “to them that stood by” and not to Peter. Luke reports a man spoke (directly) to him and Peter denied it. John reports that “they” questioned Peter directly and Peter denied it. So in Matthew and Mark, the maid tells those standing by Peter that Peter is Jesus’ disciple, and then these people directly ask Peter in John if he is a disciple, and in Luke, one man asks him if he is a disciple or with Jesus. The only thing that seems to conflict is Luke and John conflicting each other, a group questioning Jesus in John versus one man questioning Jesus in Luke.

It would seem strange that a group of people all at once would say “Art not thou also one of his disciples?” Or a bunch of them repeat the same thing to Peter all in a row. What seems to fit here is that the second maid on record came over, and knowing Peter rebuffed the first maid and denied it to her, did not address Peter directly this time like the first maid, but just told those around Peter, all hearing, and one of them speaking to Peter for the rest of them who suddenly had questions. Those surrounding Peter had the same question and thoughts after the maid told them and addressed them through one man. What this means is that Wierwille and Bullinger’s assertion that there were six denials hinges on some of these denials in different gospels, being the same, are shown to be different.

HERE IS A RECORD OF THE THIRD DENIALS IN EACH GOSPEL:

Matthew 26:73-75: 73 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 betrayeth thee. 74 Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew. 75 And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.

Mark 14:70b-72: And a little after, they that stood by said again to Peter, Surely thou art one of them: for thou art a Galilaean, and thy speech agreeth thereto. 71 But he began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not this man of whom ye speak. 72 And the second time the cock crew. 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.

Luke 22:59-62: 59 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 Galilaean. 60 And Peter said, Man, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew. 61 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. 62 And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.

John 18:26-27: 26 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? 27 Peter then denied again: and immediately the cock crew.

Matthew and Mark seem to indicate a group speaking to him while Luke and John indicate an individual spoke to him. Again, these are not contradictions. While the first two gospel writers of Matthew and Mark concentrate on the whole of the group confronting Peter, Luke and John narrow in specifically on one man in the group, and in John, specifically, one of the servants of the high priest, related to the man whose ear was cut off by Peter. This would make sense as Peter walked into the area known to the servants of the high priest and given a reason, though not an excuse, for Peter to try to hide who he was for fear of arrest.

THE DENIALS BEFORE ANNAS AND CAIAPHAS

Wierwille indicates different denials by Peter while Jesus was before Annas and Caiaphas. Wierwille lists his first denial was when Jesus was before Annas in John 18:15-18. He then lists Peter’s second, third, fourth and fifth denials while Jesus was before Caiaphas. The problem is not rendering the denials upon whom Jesus was before in his trial, but the fact that Wierwille and Bullinger read into the denials too literally.

Wierwille claimed the first denial was while Jesus was before Annas and was by the young female doorkeeper (the first maiden) as he entered the door from the street of the courtyard. But the scripture does not say that. As explained previously, the young maiden approached him later because he did not keep with the other disciple of Jesus and instead went his separate way into the courtyard. This is what caused that question of the maiden to Peter in the first place.

Wierwille also assumes that the first denial listed in Matthew is another maiden or damsel questioning if he was with Jesus is actually another maiden other than the one listed in John on the first denial because of the location. But John does not make specifically clear where that maiden questioned Peter, only that she did. Matthew tells the place, which was not at the door but in the courtyard. These are not two different denials but one in the same. Wierwille’s first and second denials are one and the same, and are just the records of the first denial only. Peter was beside the fire in the courtyard sitting at the time of the first denial.

Peter after being annoyed by that question and trying to avoid that first maiden, got up and went to the porch area in the courtyard, where another group was huddling by a fire. In other words, Peter got away from her and just went to another fire. But at the second fire in the location of the porch area, and the first cock crew, according to the record. The cock crew after his first denial. Notice Peter did not weep after the first cock crow. But the record shows another maiden (Matthew 26:71) approached the group he was with at the fire and did not confront Peter directly, but told the group of men he was with. Here, as recorded in John 18:25, Peter was standing at the time. The reason the maid spoke to the others may be that the maid knew how Peter reacted to the first maid of the high priest and decided not to confront Peter directly, leaving it to the men. Also notice that the first maid knew Jesus was of Galilee and may have assumed Peter was also. This may have been important because the word may have gone around about Peter’s violent confrontation with the other servant of the high priest, and people in the palace may have been trying to track Peter down. Actually, Wierwille’s third and fourth denials are one and the same, and are just the second denial.

Wierwille also states that the fifth denial occurred while Jesus was before Caiaphas, happened in the courtyard area with Peter standing next to the fire and had several accusers. Then he says that the sixth denial occurred immediately after the fifth denial at the fire in the courtyard and the accuser was a servant of the high priest. The only problem of this is that after each of the denials he mentions on these two denials, the cock-crowing happened. In fact, in recording the third denials of each gospel as they have them listed, the cock-crowing occurred. And it cannot be confused with the first cock-crowing because the record shows that happened after the first denial in Mark 14:68b. In addition, Wierwille asserts that because Matthew 26:73-74a, Mark 14:70b-71, and the second denial of John 18:25 were done by a group of people against Peter, then they must be separate and distinct denials from Luke 22:59-60a and John 18:26-27a, the third denial in John, but Wierwille’s sixth denial records in which those records state the accuser was a servant of the high priest.

Again, Wierwille admits the location is the same for these denials, but states that these denials must have happened “immediately after” each other. In other words, the group came up and questioned Peter, then a servant of the high priest either separately or together with the group asked Peter and Peter denied the group, then denied the servant of the high priest. This is not possible because in Luke 22:59 it specifically states that the two denials have at least a one hour gap between them. Wierwille never thought to look at the individual records of the third denials as a record of a group confronting Peter in Matthew 26:73, where, an hour after his second denial, the group of men there accused him of a Galilean accent by saying “thy speech betrayeth thee” and a more direct accusation in Mark 14:70b where the group states “thou art a Galilean”. Luke addresses just one of the accusers in the group that said “Of a truth this [fellow] also was with him, for he is a Galilean”. The record shows Peter taking several hits here as yet another quote from a servant of the high priest, separate from the one present in the garden where Peter cut off the ear of the other servant of the high priest, this time in John 18:26. Here it says that there was yet another servant of the high priest present in the garden with that other servant Peter smote, and this servant identifies him by saying, “Did I not see thee in the garden with him (Jesus)?

What seems to be very apparent here is that after the first denial by Peter by the maiden doorkeeper, that maiden did not let up and most likely spoke about it later to her peers, where another maiden came up and spoke to the men with him rather than address him herself to use more force to get him to admit he was with Jesus. She tells the men there he was with Jesus of “Nazareth” while the first maid asked Peter if he was with Jesus of “Galilee“. The first thing to know is that the town of Nazareth is in the province of Galilee. In fact, it was the northernmost of the three provinces of Palestine in Jesus’ day. To say that Jesus was of Galilee was to identify Jesus as that not only of his origin but where his ministry began and many miracles first took place giving Jesus’ reputation his initial and greatest impact. The second maid using “Jesus of Nazareth” was to identify Jesus as an individual as that was a common address at that time. The first maid addressed Jesus to Peter as the one who was known for his power and influence and was arrested and the second maid addressed Jesus as just Jesus, of Nazareth, the one known to not only come from Nazareth inside Galilee but was rejected by his own townspeople. Only a man, and possibly a common criminal at that.

The men the second maid advised inquired to Peter is he was associated with Jesus, and Peter gave his second denial. Since Peter spoke in a Galilean dialect, and they knew Jesus “of Nazareth” was Galilean, someone may have gone out to inquire further of other people inside the palace. Peter’s accent giving him away, someone sought to get someone to identify Peter. This is where they may have come up with the other servant of the high priest, who was there at the garden at the arrest of Jesus and saw Peter cut off the ear of his kindred servant of the high priest. Someone may have brought this man to Peter to identify him. Then Peter within one hour is subject to scrutiny by the men around him. If questioning the man’s speech and dialect, at first Peter standing there does not answer right away, although ultimately he does, because if he does open his mouth, out comes the speech to convict him of being a Galilean, lending him suspect to possibly being with Jesus. The group saying “Thy speech betrayeth thee” and “thou art a Galilean” are one and the same accusation and depending which gospel writer writes it, the conclusion is the same without contradiction. They might just as well said it as one phrase, “Thou speech betrayeth thee, THOU ART a Galilean”. How does one respond to that without further “betraying” his speech? He at first says nothing. Then the record in Luke fits, as Peter, silent, admitting nothing, one individual comes forth and says, frustrated by Peter’s silence, “Of a truth, this (fellow) was also with him (Jesus), for he IS a Galilean.”

Why did this man say that about Peter? Probably because Peter for the moment was not answering their question, so his silence was seen as evidence of guilt. But still, Jewish law and tradition always require witnesses, and the law usually required two of them. The group had at least one, and this was the other servant of the high priest who had seen Peter in the garden with Jesus. He comes forward then to identify him by saying, “Did I not see thee in the garden with him (Jesus)?

It was at this point, after excessive interrogation by this group he was with by the fire, that the gospel of Mark records Peter as “cursing and swearing” and then issuing his third denial. The cursing and swearing may have been the mental pressure he was under or a way to appear more common and not associated with Jesus, we do not know. Most likely at that point, Peter blew his top and cursed and swore, denying Jesus. Then the cock crowed. This was the record of the day breaking again or around six o’clock in the morning. Peter probably shouted at the top of his voice to make it clear his denial of Jesus to make them all back off, as he was close enough to Jesus in the porch of the palace in the inner courtyard for him to see Jesus, hearing him, turn around and look at Peter. Peter then ran off and wept. He was not taken in, as the order was to take only Jesus. The matter of Peter cutting off the ear of the servant of the high priest in the garden must have been overlooked because Jesus healed the man and the authorities just wanted to make an example of Jesus and frighten the rest of his followers as that was easier than spending resources and money arresting hundreds, if not thousands of followers. This included the disciples of Jesus. Wierwille’s fifth and sixth denials are one and the same denial, the third denial.

THE COCK-CROWING AS MENTIONED BY JESUS

According to Easton’s Bible Dictionary, the Jews in the time of Jesus had adopted the Greek and Roman division of the night into four watches, each consisting of three hours, the first beginning at sunset or six o’clock in the evening (Luke 12:38; Matthew 14:25; Mark 6:48). But there was an ancient division known as the first and second cock-crowing and was still in use at well at this time. The cock usually crows several times after midnight and this is called “the first cock-crowing”. Then the cock again crows at the dawn of day and this is called the second crowing. The best thing to do here is list the record of what Jesus said and then the records of the cock-crowings:

Matthew 26:34: 34 Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.

Matthew 26:74-75: 74 Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew. 75 And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.

Note the mentioning of one cock-crowing in Matthew.

Mark 14:30: 30 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 14:66-68: 66 And as Peter was beneath in the palace, there cometh one of the maids of the high priest: 67 And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked upon him, and said, And thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth. 68 But he denied, saying, I know not, neither understand I what thou sayest. And he went out into the porch; and the cock crew.

Mark 14:70b-72: And a little after, they that stood by said again to Peter, Surely thou art one of them: for thou art a Galilaean, and thy speech agreeth thereto. 71 But he began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not this man of whom ye speak. 72 And the second time the cock crew. 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.

Note in the gospel of Mark that Jesus mentions two cock-crowings and then later records both cock-crowings, on the first and the third denials of that gospel.

Luke 22:34: 34 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 22:60: 60 And Peter said, Man, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew. 61 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. 62 And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.

Note that in Luke they mention the one cock-crowing. Also note that Jesus said to Peter, “the cock shall not crow this day…” meaning that the Hebrew day beginning at 6:00pm, the Last Supper was after 6:00pm. As you read on, it will become clear.

John 13:38: 38 Jesus answered him, Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice.

John 18:26: 26 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? 27 Peter then denied again: and immediately the cock crew.

THE GOSPEL OF JOHN MENTIONS THE ONE COCK-CROWING.

Easton’s Bible Dictionary states that if there is mention of one cock-crowing instead of two, then that emphatically means the second, or the one at dawn or in the morning. If two are mentioned therefore, the first cock-crowing alludes to the fact that it was just after midnight, and the last cock-crowing is in the morning at dawn. This means that Jesus was brought into the high-priest’s palace just prior to midnight or thereabout for a kangaroo midnight court and trial. Peter followed, and his first denial happened just about midnight. The gospel of John alludes to a lot of time detailing the trial of Jesus between Peter’s denials but is not specific. Peter’s denials were not just one-two-three in a row as many believe. His first denial was around midnight when the proceedings began before Annas and then sometime later Jesus was led to Caiaphas where Peter denied him then. The second denial was roughly 5:00am. How do we know this? Because the second cock-crowing is roughly at dawn or six o’clock in the morning and the following verses tell the times of the last two denials is Luke:

Luke 22:54-61: 54 Then took they him, and led him, and brought him into the high priest’s house. And Peter followed afar off. 55 And when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the hall, and were set down together, Peter sat down among them. 56 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. 57 And he denied him, saying, Woman, I know him not. (First denial right after midnight at the first cock-crowing; see Mark 14:66-68) 58 And after a little while (a “little while” here refers to approximately five hours, as you will see) another saw him, and said, Thou art also of them. And Peter said, Man, I am not. 59 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 Galilaean. 60 And Peter said, Man, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew. 61 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. 62 And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.

That last cock-crowing and third denial was “one hour” after the second denial. Since the last cock-crowing took place at roughly 6:00am, then subtract one hour and you have the second denial at roughly 5:00am. The first cock-crowing being at roughly midnight, then you have the time span of Peter’s denials. They were roughly in the span of six hours from midnight when Jesus trial began to 6:00am when the soldiers were battering Jesus. This fulfilled what Jesus said in that he said that Peter would deny him three times that very day before the cock-crowing. The gospel of Mark was specific as to being between midnight and dawn and the other three gospels of Matthew, Luke and John allude to the time of the third denial only or the second-cock-crowing at dawn. The Hebrew day beginning at six o’clock or so in the evening, Jesus foretold Peter would deny him three times before the next morning.

“TWICE SHALT THOU DENY ME THRICE”

Wierwille, in order to “prove” the ‘six denials’ theory, takes a verse and changes it a little:

Mark 14:30: 30 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.

Notice that in this verse that there is a comma after “twice” referring to the cock-crowing twice. Because Wierwille states that punctuation was never in the originals, he moves the comma to make the verse read as such:

“And Jesus saith unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this day, even this night, before the cock crow, twice thou shalt deny me thrice.”

If you multiply twice times thrice you get six denials. But to move a comma after rendering a reading into scripture of great magnitude changes scripture, which we are not allowed to do. Besides, this is the only verse which specifically gave the exact time frame of the denials, which were from midnight to six o’clock in the morning, roughly. Note that here in that same verse, it says, “that this day, even this night” which specifically refers to a twelve hour period, not a twenty-four hour period. The two cock-crowings refer to midnight to morning in ancient Hebrew, thus the punctuation as given was accurate and should have been left alone.

The correct rendering of the section of verse was, in fact, “before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. It means to leave it as is.

THE CHRONOLOGY OF THE DENIALS

The events as recorded in all four gospels and putting the facts together are as such:

At the Last Supper, sometime after six o’clock in the evening, Jesus tells Peter that he shall deny him three times between midnight and dawn or roughly six-o’clock in the morning, roughly in the next twelve hours.

Jesus later goes with his disciples, including Peter, to pray in the garden of Gethsemane which was over the brook Cedron in the Mount of Olives. The gospel record of Luke 22:39 says Jesus was accustomed to doing this therefore he had done this before and often. It says in John 18:2 that Judas knew of this place. From being with Jesus prior to his betrayal, he knew where Jesus would be that night.

Judas came to the garden with a “band” of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees with lanterns, torches, and weapons (John 18:3). The word “band” is a bad translation. It sounds as if Judas came with the men and officers chief priests and Pharisees with about twelve men or so. According to The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible; 1984 Edition the Greek word for “band” here is spĕira, which means a mass of men as in a Roman military cohort.  E.W. Bullinger in his Companion Bible in its fourth printing by Zondervan Publishers, has a note next to John 18:3 that states that the word “band” refers to a cohort, which is the tenth part of a legion, which according to Bullinger was six-hundred men. A legion is 6,000 men. What is significant here is that the chief priests and Pharisees were so afraid of Jesus Christ they brought out an armed force of six-hundred men. This could be a fear that the Jewish authorities thought there would be a mob following Jesus, which was not the case.

When the servant of the high priest came with Judas to arrest Jesus, Peter then took a knife and cut off the servant’s ear. Jesus quiets things down by ordering his disciples to disarm and heals the servant’s ear. Peter and the disciples then fled and left Jesus for fear of retaliation.

After Jesus arrest late in the evening, Peter and another of Jesus’ disciples follows Jesus to the palace of the high priest. After the maiden doorkeeper lets the other disciple who knew the high priest of Jesus through the gate, Peter waits outside for word of being allowed in. This tells us that special permission is needed to get in at this time. This may be due to the fact that the high priest and the Sanhedrin are holding a closed, midnight kangaroo court. The disciple comes back and gives word to the maiden to let Peter in. The maiden knows that the disciple who knows the high priest is a friend of Jesus therefore takes for granted that Peter is likewise a disciple.

Peter does not follow the other disciple but instead finds a warm fire to sit by to await word on Jesus. The maiden, concerned that Peter did not follow the disciple, wonders what Peter’s business is in the palace courtyard. She asks if Peter was “also” a disciple of Jesus (as opposed to just the man that accompanied Peter through the gate. Peter denies he knows Jesus, is annoyed, gets up, and walks away from her toward the porch area of the palace courtyard and finds another fire to warm himself while the first cock-crowing is heard which means it is midnight at this time. Peter stays in the porch area by a fire near where Jesus is being tried and abused and by five o’clock in the morning, another maiden, who possibly had been talking to the first maiden, comes to where he stands warming himself and advises those around Peter that he (Peter) was a disciple of Jesus. The men around him ask if he is a disciple and he (Peter) denies it. These men pick up his Galilean accent, and suspicious, go seek others who might identify him.

An hour later, those that sought another witness returned and inquired of Peter one more time if he was with Jesus because Peter’s Galilean dialect gave him away on the last denial. (Either that, or Peter was shooting the breeze with those around him that had other dialects, which is possible but doubtful especially when he was trying to lie low for being with Jesus). A man who just may have convicted him on his silence alone then addressed Peter, most likely not answering the men because it was his speech that gave him away. Then the other servant of the high priest came forward claiming to be an eye-witness to Peter, of which Peter had to defend himself, so cursing and swearing loudly, denies Jesus a third time, and the cock-crowing occurred for the second time being morning. Jesus, overhearing Peter in the porch area, turned to look at Peter. Peter then realizing what he had done, went off and wept.

SUMMARY

It is important to note that the gospel writers, while writing their recollection or account of the life of Jesus Christ, rely on whom they are addressing the gospel to as well as describing the events in certain order that they saw as witnesses or heard from other sources. As the Word of God is inspired by God, what these men wrote as God inspired them is written in the writer’s own words but not contradicting any other record. In fact, each gospel account seems to complement the other gospel accounts. A picture of what Peter was doing is derived by all four accounts. While the chronology of events written here are not exactly written in any gospel, putting the written accounts together is like putting the pieces of a puzzle together to determine what most likely happened. But whatever one wants to believe, one thing IS clear. Peter denied Jesus three times, not six, and we should not try to interpret scripture the way it was done by Wierwille and Bullinger in these accounts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CASE AGAINST THE SIX DENIALS OF PETER, THE [E. W. Bullinger]          1

 

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