Where did Peter deny Jesus?

In the upper room of a house in Jerusalem, Jesus made a break with the Jewish Passover and instituted a New Covenant meal that would be ratified the next day in His blood. It was also on this occasion that Jesus looked at the faces of His disciples and said something none wanted to hear, “You will all fall away because of Me this night” to which Jesus sources Zechariah 13:7 as support for His prophetic announcement (Matt 26:31). Peter would have none of such talk and pledged that he would go to the death with Jesus (Matt 26:33, 35). However, Jesus put His prophetic finger specifically on Peter and said to him, “Truly I say to you that this very night, before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times” (Matt 26:34).

According to John 18:17 it appears that Peter’s denials took place at the house of Annas, the former High Priest. However, according to Matthew 26:69 Peter’s denials took place at the home of Caiaphas, the current High Priest and son-in-law of Annas. Obviously, these are two different homes with two different men presiding. One well-known research professor comments on the John 18 passage with nothing more than, “In John, this was the time when Peter denied Jesus.” The problem is that such comments fail to resolve the obvious problem of Peter’s denials being in seemingly contradictory places.

The solution, however, is not difficult to see. In John 18:5 Peter makes his first denial of the night at the house of Annas during Jesus’ first Jewish hearing. Then he follows the crowd with Jesus over to the house of Caiaphas where Peter makes his further denials during the second Jewish hearing (Matt 26:69–75; Mark 14:66–72; Luke 22:55–65; John 18:25–27). So where did Peter deny Jesus? First, right outside the doorway of Annas’ house and then sitting in the courtyard of Caiaphas’ house while warming himself by a fire.

7 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Scott Christensen on January 22, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    John 18:13 says Caiaphas was high priest the year of Jesus’ crucifixion. Verse 15 indicates that John was known to the high priest which I take to be Caiaphas not Annas. The verse then indicates that John entered the court of the high priest with Jesus. Annas is clearly the high priest in verse 19. But the earlier mentions of the high priest I believe refer to Caiaphas. Thus, I take it that Annas simply had a pretrial hearing with Jesus in Caiaphas’ house not his own seperate house. Possibibly he met in a seperate wing of the house while other members of the Sanhedrin were being gathered for the officual hearing before Caiaphas. Peter’s denials then took place all in the same courtyard.

    • Scott,

      You could be right and I think you are on a few points. Many believe that Annas (Caiaphas’ father-in-law) may have had an “apartment” within the same high priest mansion. All I can say is could be. I also agree that the scene in John 18 is a preliminary “hearing” before Annas and then he is sent to Caiaphas (John 18:24). If they are all in the same home then there is no problem.

      However, the wording of John 18:24 is odd if Annas is essentially turning around to Caiaphas and now saying, “your turn.” Also, Peter’s first denial takes place in the home of Annas (John 18:16) and his subsequent denials in a courtyard by a fire (of the High Priest Caiaphas).

      It’s not a hill to die on but something worth considering. Thanks for your feedback friend. I hope all is well in ministry for you.


  2. Posted by Scott Christensen on January 24, 2011 at 12:43 am

    I believe the high priest mentioned in vs. 16 is the same high priest mentioned in verse 13 and 15 and the most logical antecedent of those references would be Caiaphas.

    I thought a good deal about this problem when I preached this passage a few months ago. I see no problem with vs. 24 if the preliminary trial before Annas took place in a different part of the palace (i.e. a seperate “apartment” if you will).

    In either case, not much rides on whatever position you take. What is important is that there exists viable solutions to the apparent contradiction.

    BTW, I really like John Wenham’s “Easter Enigma” for resolving problems in the resurrection narratives. It helped open my thinking for resolving other problems like this in the passion narratives as a whole. It doesn’t seem like too many commentators are interested in resolving these questions anymore.

    • Hey Scott,

      Thanks for the tip on the Wenham volume, I was not aware of it. You are exactly right on the commentator issue. As I read through them they seem more concerned to deal with mythical problems like “Q” rather than offer any meaningful exegesis of the text. Are you still preaching through John? I’m getting close to the end of Matthew.


  3. Posted by Scott Christensen on January 24, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    I just finished chapter 18 yesterday (sermon number 193). I am thoroughly enjoying the last several chapters of John and how he captures the drama and significance of Christ’s passion.

  4. Posted by Aji Matthew on January 25, 2011 at 11:54 am

    Dear brother,
    I have got a question regarding the crowing of the rooster. Jesus told that rooster will not crow until Peter denies. So did the rooster crow before the normal time or after the normal time to fulfill Jesus’ words?

    • Aji,

      Thanks for the question. I’m not sure I completely understand what you’re asking but according to all three synoptics (Matt 26:34; Mark 14:30; Luke 22:34) and John (13:38) Jesus predicted Peter would deny Jesus before the rooster crowed. The idea being that Peter’s denials would come quickly, even that very night. Let me know if I’m not answering your question.


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