There are 13 thoughts on “Peter’s Tears”.

  1. More about Greek verbs. Sometimes future tense is used with an imperative meaning. In the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, Exodus 21 contains the Ten Commandments, which certainly have an imperative force. In verse 9, “six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work”, the two verbs are future tense. Since the King James Bible translators rendered the future form of “deny” in Matthew 26:34 as “thou shalt deny” rather than “thou wilt deny” they likely had the imperative sense in mind. All the modern versions of the Bible I have checked that are not based on updates of the King James Version, render it “you will deny” and some include in a heading that here Jesus foretells or predicts Peter’s denial. So my previous comment about the specific form of the Greek verb here is not as helpful as one would like.

    • The reference to the Ten Commandments in the Septuagint should be Exodus 20, not 21. Sorry about the typing error.

  2. The richness of Greek verb forms is useful here. The Greek text has απαρνησηι (aparnesei), which is future – you will deny – rather than the imperative of a command.

  3. “Second this article omits the experience of Peter taking on a group of armed men that easily could have killed him; hours later we are to believe that he cowers before a damsel, a maid and a group of men?”

    Or, Peter is trying to gain as much information as he can about Jesus’ plight, and having his cover blown imperils his efforts. Of course, one cannot rule out a simple case of his losing his nerve amidst the tension of uncertainty. The text also bears another important clue as to why this is not a command by Jesus. Swearing oaths had become somewhat frivolous and commonplace, yet Jesus had restored its gravity, insisting for instance that all communications be yea, nay, and here was Peter vehemently denying his identity with a false oath.

  4. Indeed, words, phrases, and events in the scriptures can have multiple meanings simultaneously. You will see that I made this point very clearly at the beginning of the article about Peter. In fact, I have an article coming out in an upcoming issue of Journal of the Book of Mormon and other Restoration Scriptures precisely about the meaning of ‘remember’ in the Book of Mormon. I also recognize the possibility that the Savior’s comment to Peter can be read as an imperative. You also notice that I said nothing in the article itself against the ‘imperative’ reading. It was only when several of the on-line comments criticized my treating the comment as prophecy that I pointed out some of the difficulties with the ‘imperative’ perspective, especially since their support of the ‘imperative’ hypothesis seemed to exclude the ‘prophetic’ hypothesis. That “shalt” may serve as an imperative is evident throughout the KJV, but equally evident is its use as a helping verb in the future tense of a prophetic utterance. So the question is, ‘is it one or the other, or both?’ Just because a word can have multiple meanings in a scriptural text does not mean that each usage employs all possible meanings simultaneously. That’s why systactical, logical, and structural analyses of language need to complement lexical studies.
    In my article, I offered logical and structural support for the ‘prophetic’ perspective. There may be weaknesses in this argument, but the fact that it does not support the ‘imperative’ perspective is not one of them.I look forward to a systematic exposition in a scholarly venue of the ‘imperative’ hypothesis, and if it excludes all other readings of Christ’s statement, then I hope that the author will account for James Talmage’s of this interchange between Christ and Peter (Jesus the Christ, 1976 edition, p. 631).
    Again, I do not claim that Christ’s comment could not have been an imperative, only that this reading presents some difficulties with the KJV text that cannot be ignored. When giving the initial paper at BYU and then while revising the article for publication, I repeatedly encountered the ‘imperative’ argument. Not being a scholar of biblical languages beyond a few undergraduate courses, I asked several BYU faculty members who are knowledgable of Greek, Hebrew and other biblical languages if they could direct me to published scholarship that develops the ‘imperativce’ thesis. Not one of them sent me a single title. So, while I do not reject it, I chose to omit it from my article. If I erred in doing so, I apologize; nevertheless, the on-line comments so far have not convinced me of my sin of omission.
    Lastly, I have to make a pointed comment at one of the prior responses. I challenge the commentator to find in my article the ‘f’ word (meaning ‘fear’) or the ‘c’ word (meaning ‘cowardice’) as I applied them to Peter’s character. I do not believe that of Peter and I said nothing of the kind. Please consider my article more carefully and provide in response either better support for or a more reasonable reassessment of your extreme mis-reading.

  5. Yes, but “remember” sometimes means more than what goes on in our memories. It is often another word for “obey or keep” and not just “do not forget.”

  6. I appreciate the interest of and comments from the readers of this article. I would like to respond in the following manner.
    1. Prophecy or command? While it is possible that Jesus intented his comment to Peter (Matthew 26:24) as a command, but Peter clearly took it as a prophecy. As Theodore observes, had Peter taken Jesus’ comment as a command, his response, “. . . yet will I not deny thee,” would have placed him in categorical rebellion of his Savior, an action that he had never done, before or afterwards. Similarly, the evangelist had Peter remembering the comment after, not before the cock crowed; hence he was not motivated by the comment as he denied knowing Jesus. Thirdly, Christ’s comment as a command does not logically follow the conversation at the end of the Last Supper. Christ had prophesied, “All ye shall be offended because of me this night” (Matt. 26:31), to which Peter protested his loyalty. Christ’s comment came in response. A further prophecy naturally follows, but a command does not.
    (note: I will add to this response later this evening)

  7. The concept that Jesus commanded Peter to deny Him is not supported in the context.

    “Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples.” (KJV Matthew 26:34-35)

    If Peter had taken it as a commandment he was refusing to obey it, as did the other apostles.

    “Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew. 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.” (KJV Matthew 26:74-75)

    Peter didn’t remember the Lord’s statement until after he had denied Him.

  8. Well thought out article! I don’t disagree with anything in it but please allow me to add two probable factors:

    First, weeping bitterly for one’s errors is the most sincere form of confession and acknowledgment of wrongdoing. It is the first step towards repentance, and subsequent forgiveness. It is the deep agony expressed by Alma the younger when he was “racked with eternal torment” because of his sins (Alma 36:12).

    Second, we need to cut Peter and the other apostles a little slack because at that time they had not yet received the Gift of the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost had previously fallen upon Peter when he told Jesus, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16), but until after the resurrection of Jesus, Peter did not have the right to the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost (John 20:22). As Paul stated, “no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost” (1 Corinthians 12:3). At the Last Supper Jesus told His apostles that He was going to die. Later that night, in the Garden of Gethsemane, “they began to complain in their hearts, wondering if this be the Messiah” (JST Mark 14:36). This is a remarkable statement after they had been with Him for three years! All they had heard and seen in that time had not thoroughly convinced them. They still had in mind that the Messiah was to save Israel from the control of Rome, but now He tells them He is going to die? After they had received the Gift of the Holy Ghost there was never any doubt.

    The Gift of the Holy Ghost is an ordinance of the Melchizedek Priesthood and was taken away from the midst of Israel because of disobedience at Mt. Sinai. The Law of Moses was given then as a substitute for the Gift of the Holy Ghost (D&C 84:24-27). In Jewish tradition the Law of Moses was given on the day of Shavuot (Pentecost) and the Holy Ghost was at the time of the apostles made manifest again on that same day, after Jesus had fulfilled the Law of Moses (Acts 2:1-4; 3 Nephi 15:4-5). It was probably on the day of Pentecost when Jesus appeared to the Nephites and told them that in Him was the Law of Moses fulfilled.

  9. I agree with both Britton and John. Who better selected to be a witness of the trial so as to be able to report on the events thereafter than Peter? No other apostle evidenced the same level of courage as did Peter. A dangerous assignment requiring the instruction to deny his relationship. How else were these events to be reported upon so that Matthew and others were able to record these historical events? I submit that Peter wept because of the injustice he experienced and his inability to intervene because he was commanded not to intervene.

  10. I would likewise concur with the conclusion of the previous two comments: the “thou shalt” deny is an imperative, not a prophetic phrase.

    In addition to Peter’s defense of Jesus hours later, there is the Luke account wherein immediately prior to the “thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me” injunction, the Savior tells Peter, “Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not….”

    When the foregoing is linked to the imperative that he deny knowing Him, it would appear that the Savior is effectively telling Peter that he will be the President of the Church, that Satan would therefore destroy him if possible; and that to preserve his life, it would be required that Peter deny knowing the Christ in the coming hours.

    President Kimball’s address, “Peter my Brother” calls attention to this: “Peter was under fire; all the hosts of hell were against him. The die had been cast for the Savior’s crucifixion. If Satan could destroy Simon now, what a victory he would score.”

    President Kimball continues, “Is it possible that there might have been some other reason for Peter’s triple denial?”

    I think Peter wept bitterly as obedience to the imperative to deny knowing the Savior was a hard thing for this man who courageously defended his Lord against the mob that dark evening on the Mount of Olives and who, in chapters 2 and 3 of Acts, stood forthrightly before the same crowd that had crucified Christ, boldly denouncing them.

    The denial was a task he obediently performed but it ran counter to his inclination and unflinching loyalty to the Master.

  11. First, I agree with Britton that shalt is indeed a command, an imperative. Second this article omits the experience of Peter taking on a group of armed men that easily could have killed him; hours later we are to believe that he cowers before a damsel, a maid and a group of men? Third, nothing in the scriptural account ever hints a shred of cowardice. Peter denied knowing his savior because the Lord told him to.

  12. I am not well versed in the languages of the bible, but one of the phrases that Christ used “Verily I say unto thee, that this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.” appears to have another possible intent. Could it be possible that knowing the difficulties that were coming, and the plan that He had for Peter, the Lord was commanding Peter to deny him?

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