Guest Post: Follow up comments on Peter and Easter

March 27, 2005    By: Blake @ 10:24 pm   Category: Scriptures

(Note: This is a guest post based on a comment that Blake made that I thought was too good to get buried at the end of a dying thread. With his permission I’m reposting it here. Enjoy! -GFJ)

I wanted to return to a question that many of you have asked about the prophecy that Peter would deny Christ thrice. I had kinda been wating for someone to bring this up, but since it now appears that (that) thread is dead, I think it may now be useful.

I believe that Victor Ludlow’s suggestion that Jesus was not as much predicting what Peter would do as telling Peter what to do might be accurate. In other words, the Greek is open to the reading that Christ says effectively: “Peter, deny me three times this night…” knowing that Peter was essential to the Church and that his life was in danger if he were linked to Jesus. So Peter didn’t deny Jesus, rather, he followed his Master’s instruction to say that he didn’t know him to preserve his life. Jesus knew that Peter would be important to the survival of the nascent church and that it was essential to preserve his life. Peter “wept bitterly” not so much because he had betrayed the Master, but because he had been required by circumstances to deny him and the Master had been taken to face death.

Similarly, a knowledge of Jewish customs at Passover gives us insight into how Jesus knew that Judas would betray him (and in fact already had at the time Jesus predicted that one of them would betray him). I won’t go into great detail except to observe that Judas was the keeper of the purse and he had the duty to gather a donation for the poor that would be given to them at the door of the Temple at the conclusion of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Judas had already agreed with the Jewish officials to identify Jesus when he stated what is sometimes taken as a prophecy that Judas would betray him.

Further, Jesus knew that Judas would dip his sop into the same sop bowl as Jesus because it was the Passover custom to recline at a triclinium table with the person on the left sharing a sop bowl with the person on his right. We know that Judas sat next to Jesus because he dipped a sop in the same bowl — and Jesus knew that Judas was sharing the bowl and would dip further because they had shared the same sop bowl throughout the Passover meal (the last supper) and would continue to do so. Thus, it was a matter of just practical common sense that Judas would dip his sop in the same bowl.

I also want to just mention on this Easter that we all came to this earth with faith that Christ would see his mission to its conclusion. WE didn’t know for sure that he would; but we had faith in him. We trusted him to see it through. All could have been lost if Jesus had not done the Father’s will in finishing the work he was given by going through with the atonement. Everything hung in balance in that moment in Gethsemane — the entire world. We had faith in Jesus — not because it was certain or somehow impossible for Jesus to fail (as some of you appear to think), but faith is possible only because it was possible for him to fail. We trusted his love and commitment to us and our salvation. Praise be to our Lord and God for his love in seeing his mission through to its end — in suffering. I believe that he inquired of his Father genuinely whether that cup couldn’t pass from, genuinely asking if there wasn’t some other way that the atonement could be accomplished. He didn’t enter the atonement with absolute forekowledge, already knowing that it was inevitable that he would do it — rather, it was a genuine and open question for him as to whether that cup might pass. All glory to him for loving us that much and seeing it through to its better end and its gorious conclusion!


  1. Blake,
    Thank you for the Easter Message, I didn’t really hear too much of an Easter Message at church today. And unfortunately my significant other, and the little one are out of town, so no easter dinner for me either.

    Where did you get the information about Peter’s denial of Christ in the greek being open to the translation that Christ commanded peter to deny him? I find this very interesting. I’m learning Greek, and I might know enough to go check it out, but a little guidance would help.

    Comment by Craig — March 28, 2005 @ 9:34 am

  2. Blake,
    I don’t know if you are familiar with this or not, but I found this article in an old 1979 Ensign article by Bruce C. Hafen.

    Consider also the case of Peter on the night he denied any knowledge of his Master three times in succession. Some of us commonly regard Peter as something of a weakling, whose commitment was not strong enough to make him rise to the Savior’s defense. But I once heard President Spencer W. Kimball offer an alternative interpretation of Peter’s behavior. In a talk to a BYU audience in 1971, President Kimball, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, said that the Savior’s statement that Peter would deny him three times before the cock crowed just might have been a request to Peter, not a prediction. Jesus just might have been instructing his chief apostle to deny any association with him in order to insure strong leadership for the Church after the crucifixion. As President Kimball asked, who could doubt Peter’s willingness to stand up and be counted when you think of his boldness in striking off the ear of the guard with his sword when the Savior was arrested in Gethsemane. President Kimball did not offer this view as the only interpretation, but he did suggest there is enough justification for it that it should be considered. So what is the answer-was Peter a coward, or was he so crucial to the survival of the Church that he was prohibited from risking his life? We are not sure. This is a scriptural incident in which there is some ambiguity inhibiting our total understanding.

    I looked into the greek, but I guess I don’t know enough to pick up on such subtle nuances. I’m going to ask my teacher about it tomorrow.
    Had you ever heard that Spencer W. Kimball had said this?

    Comment by Craig — March 28, 2005 @ 9:37 am

  3. Blake, thanks for that inspiring last paragraph. Cheers.

    Comment by J. Stapley — March 28, 2005 @ 9:39 am

  4. Craig: Look at the form of the verb in the Greek: tris me haparnese — it is the command form. It is properly translated just as it appears in the KJV Mark 14:30 “thrice thou shalt deny me.” It is not just a future tense but a command to do something in the future.

    Wow, I had no idea that this idea had been endorsed as a possibility in the Ensign. Great find. Thanks for pointing that out.

    Comment by Blake — March 28, 2005 @ 9:40 am

  5. Really? My Greek may be rusty, but haparnese in Mark 14:30 is a 2ms future middle (deponent) indicative verb (according to Bibleworks).

    I can’t find a similar form for a middle 2ms imperative of any kind…

    Am I way off in my Greek reference book or are you?

    Comment by Ben S. — March 28, 2005 @ 10:36 am

  6. Ben: The middle voice of future tense is subject to the reading (I didn’t say that it was mandated but open to the interpretation that) “you shall deny me,” and not merely “you will deny me.” The particular feature of this voice is that is can also be speaking of what a person shall do rather than merely what they will do (though there is no isomorphic English translation of this voice). So yeah, I suggest that not only is your Greek rusty, but maybe it was never really new.

    Comment by Blake — March 28, 2005 @ 11:43 am

  7. Blake, and Ben,
    I talked to my greek teacher today, and asked him about it. He said what Blake is saying is true, that it is a 2nd person, future, infinitive, middle voice, but that it can act as an imperative. He wasn’t sure he would agree with translating it that way himself, but he said that it is open to that interpretation. Actually just bringing it up caused quite a stir in the classroom, one student was pretty passionate about Peter’s innocence, it was fitting given that it reflected Peter’s passion when the guards tried to take Christ. :)

    Comment by Craig — March 28, 2005 @ 12:33 pm

  8. I swear ears were gonna fly!

    Comment by Craig — March 28, 2005 @ 12:34 pm

  9. Blake: It’s been seven years of non-use, but I did take three semesters at BYU. It’s obviously suffered since then.

    If I understand you correctly, you’re saying harpanese is not an imperative in terms of morphology, but that the middle voice can be understood to have that nuance. Correct?

    Comment by Ben S. — March 28, 2005 @ 12:36 pm

  10. Ben: I think what you say is correct. The verb form does not require that it be understood as a command or imperative, but it can be. Compare the English command: “you shall go to church on Sunday.” We could also say it: “you will go to church on Sunday,” where the future tense middle voice is indicated to means something like, “I am asking you to go to church on Sunday,” or “you shall go to shall church on Sunday.”

    Comment by Blake — March 28, 2005 @ 3:32 pm

  11. Blake and Ben,
    One other thing about the word for deny, it is not pronounced haparnese with a rough breathing, it is pronounced aparnese with smooth breathing. Not that it matters all that much, but I’m taking greek and my teacher is pretty strict about stuff like that so I think its rubbing off on me.

    Comment by Craig — March 28, 2005 @ 10:47 pm

  12. Craig: You are of course correct that it is a soft aspirant. I just don’t know how to render for it non-Greek readers who wouldn’t have any idea what “‘” means. So I decided to go with an “h” because it’s the closest thing we have in English.

    Comment by Blake — March 29, 2005 @ 12:22 am

  13. Blake; I do not speak Greek so cannot enter into that discussion. However, for what it might be worth, I was introduced to the concept you promote while in Jerusalem a few years ago. Our guide was Andy Skinner, Chairman (??) of the Dept of Religion (??) at BYU. He introduced the same idea while we were in the very area it likely happened. I was impressed with the concept and felt that it had great merit.


    Comment by George — March 30, 2005 @ 7:07 am

  14. […] Blake, who explained Peter’s denial […]

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