Luke 22: 31-34 – Jesus Predicts Peter’s Denial

The fidelity and loyalty of the disciples will be subjected to further test before they can receive the promised reward. This passage which we entitled “Prediction of Peter’s Denial” contains also Jesus’ saying about the satanic plot to effect the defection and apostasy of all the disciples, Jesus’ prayer for Peter and Peter’s own reaction to what Jesus said. In short, the present passage is in the form of a dialogue between Jesus and Peter. Luke 22: 31-32 have no parallel in the other gospels and the following verses (Lk 22: 33-34) retain certain contacts with Mark 14: 29-30.

The words of Jesus to Simon in Luke 22: 31 begin rather abruptly. Thematically, however, it is connected with Satan’s influence on Judas in effecting his disloyalty and his betrayal of Jesus (Lk 22: 3-6). Satan wanted to bring about downfall of not only of Judas but also of all the disciples. Although Jesus’ words are addressed to Simon, the Greek word for “you” in this verse is plural whereas it is singular in the following verse (Lk 22: 32). The passion of Jesus is also a time of trial for his disciples. It is part of Satan’s plan to procure the defection of all Jesus’ disciples. Jesus earnestly alerts the attention of Simon to this fact by repeating his name, ‘Simon, Simon.’ Although Peter will eventually deny that he knows Jesus (Lk 22: 56-60), Jesus has prayed for Peter that his faith may not fail (Lk 22: 32). As a result of Jesus’ prayer Peter’s faith will not fail, despite his denial of Jesus under the influence of Satan. After his conversion and repentance it will be Peter’s task to strengthen his ‘brothers’ in their fidelity and loyalty to Jesus.

Who are the ‘brothers’ whom Peter is commissioned to strengthen and confirm in their faith? At first sight it would seem that Peter’s fellow disciples are meant here. This is correct, but the term ‘brothers’ has also a wider connotation and it is used in Acts of the Apostles in reference to believers in general (cf. Acts 1: 15-16; 2: 29; 15: 13, 23, 32-33 etc). Therefore the role that Peter is entrusted with is a leadership role. He is to strengthen the rest of the disciples in their fidelity to Jesus and play a vital leadership role in the early Church. The first part of the Acts of the Apostles makes it abundantly clear that Peter was the undisputed leader of the nascent Church.

Jesus’ words to Peter in Luke 22: 31-32 provoked a strong reaction in Peter. Apparently, Peter never imagined that this fidelity to Jesus will ever be shaken; therefore he protests his loyalty saying that he is ready to suffer imprisonment and death. Despite Peter’s enthusiastic affirmation of faith Jesus foretells his downfall (Lk 22: 34). Jesus’ prediction of his denial by Peter in Luke 22: 34 id based on gospel of Mark 14: 30. The change of name from Simon (Lk 22: 31) to Peter (Lk 22: 34) perhaps carries with it an ironic reference to its meaning (Peter = rock). In the Lukan verse Peter will deny that he knows Jesus but in gospels of Mark and Matthew (Mk 14: 30; Mt 26: 35) Peter’s denial concerns the person of Jesus. The denial itself is described in Luke 22: 56-60.

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