Peter’s Denials Part I: Important Background Considerations -- By: Max G. Mills

Journal: Journal of Dispensational Theology
Volume: JODT 17:51 (Summer 2013)
Article: Peter’s Denials Part I: Important Background Considerations
Author: Max G. Mills


Peter’s Denials
Part I: Important Background Considerations

Max G. Mills

Max G. Mills, M.Div., Ph.D., assistant professor online (counseling and family studies), Liberty University, Lynchburg, Virginia

The accounts of Peter’s denials in the Gospels contain many difficulties, which have been frequently cited as contradictions. Harmonization of these narratives has been a matter of debate for many years. Arthur Wright, at the close of the nineteenth century, declared, “The Gospels have so mixed up the various incidents, that their statements are often confused.”1 Those who seek to ridicule literal interpretations of the Bible use such instances of supposed Scriptural contradictions today. In denying the historical accuracy of the Gospels, James Barr said, “Harmonization through the production of multiple events is the most thoroughly laughable of all devices of interpretation.”2

The questions regarding a harmonization of Peter’s denials directly relate to the prophecy given by the Lord Jesus Christ regarding those denials. The predictive statements of Christ must be evaluated as all other prophets on the basis of Deuteronomy 18:22: “When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him (NASB). Both the credibility of the Lord’s prophecy and the credibility of the Bible as God’s revelation are at issue. Paul Feinberg correctly evaluated the importance of this issue when he stated, “The truth of His Word will be demonstrated in the fulfillment or failure of His words . . . the prophet is accredited by the total, absolute truthfulness of his words.”3

Therefore, it is important to prove that in the accounts relating to Peter’s denials, while the Gospel narratives are not exhaustive in their comprehensiveness, they are without error. The purpose of this article is

to reconcile the divergences of circumstances in the Gospel accounts of Peter’s denials as far as it is necessary to demonstrate the historical accuracy of the events. The elements recorded in the narratives of the four Gospels can be harmonized. The article herein will establish from the grammatical and contextual evidence that Peter’s denials are limited to three occasions, that the denials are not necessarily recorded in the same order by all four Gospels, that the three denia...

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