In Defense of the Faith

Mar 1 2015

More Contradictions Involving Peter’s Denial?

Question: I read something about Peter’s denial of the Lord that stumped me in a paper published by a group of atheists. It pointed out that according to Mark’s account, Peter’s second denial was the result of questioning by the same maid who precipitated his first denial (Mark:14:69). But Matthew:26:71 says it was another girl, and Luke:22:58 says it was a man . After Peter’s first denial, Mark:14:66–69 and Matthew:26:58, 71 have Peter leaving the fire in the courtyard and going to the gateway, where he was questioned by whoever it was. But John:18:25 has Peter warming himself at the fire in the courtyard when he was queried. How do we reconcile all of this?

Response: I am always impressed at the great deal of time and effort expended by critics in attempting to find some flaw in the Bible. Someone had to work very hard to assemble this series of apparent contradictions. Here is one more instance where it would seem that the desire to find discrepancies zealously manufactures nonexistent problems.

Mark:14:69 clearly says “ a maid,” not the same maid, consistent with Matthew’s “ another maid.” Luke:22:58 doesn’t say it was a man who queried him. Peter’s reply, “ Man , I am not,” could be an expression he used habitually; and if not, then Peter would likely have used it because of the men surrounding him who heard the maid’s question. She wasn’t whispering in Peter’s ear in an attempt to save him embarrassment! Peter’s main concern would obviously be to defend himself in the eyes of the men standing around the fire with him, who had heard this damning accusation.

In fact, precipitating the second denial, the maid, as one would expect, is indeed speaking not only to Peter but to the men warming themselves at the fire with him. This is clear from both Matthew:26:71 (“said unto them that were there”) and Mark:14:69 (“began to say to them that stood by”). John:18:25 shows more clearly that the men around him got involved in Peter’s questioning, exactly as one would expect. No wonder he said, “ Man . . . .” There is absolutely nothing contradictory in these accounts, though they are being told from slightly different perspectives. To insist upon contradiction betrays the wish as father to the thought.

As for Peter “going to the gateway,” there is no such statement or implication in any of the accounts. John tells us that Peter stood outside for a short time when he first arrived until he was brought inside. Matthew, Mark, and Luke are consistent in having Peter in the palace, then going onto a porch but still within the palace during his three denials.

—  An excerpt   from  In Defense of the Faith (pp. 100-102)  by  Dave Hunt