Bible - General Questions

Is There a Discrepancy Between Mark's & Luke's Accounts of Peter's Denial of Christ?

By Dr. Paul M. Elliott
Remember the believer's first rule for interpreting the Bible: Always compare Scripture with Scripture.

From the TeachingtheWord Bible Knowledgebase

The careful student of the Word can quickly resolve the apparent discrepancy between these two accounts by employing the believer's first rule for interpreting the Bible: Always compare Scripture with Scripture.

The Alleged Discrepancy

Some Bible critics have alleged that there is a discrepancy between the accounts of Peter's denial of the Lord Jesus as recorded in Mark 14:66-72 and Luke 22:54-62. Some sincere students of the Scriptures have also wondered about this. Here are the two accounts, with the allegedly conflicting verses in bold:

Mark chapter 14 -

66. Now as Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came.

67. And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, "You also were with Jesus of Nazareth."

68. But he denied it, saying, "I neither know nor understand what you are saying." And he went out on the porch, and a rooster crowed.

69. And the servant girl saw him again, and began to say to those who stood by, "This is one of them."

70. But he denied it again. And a little later those who stood by said to Peter again, "Surely you are one of them; for you are a Galilean, and your speech shows it."

71. Then he began to curse and swear, "I do not know this Man of whom you speak!"

72. A second time the rooster crowed. Then Peter called to mind the word that Jesus had said to him, "Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times." And when he thought about it, he wept.

Luke chapter 22 -

54. Having arrested Him, they led Him and brought Him into the high priest's house. But Peter followed at a distance.

55. Now when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat among them.

56. And a certain servant girl, seeing him as he sat by the fire, looked intently at him and said, "This man was also with Him."

57. But he denied Him, saying, "Woman, I do not know Him."
58. And after a little while another saw him and said, "You also are of them." But Peter said, "Man, I am not!"

59. Then after about an hour had passed, another confidently affirmed, saying, "Surely this fellow also was with Him, for he is a Galilean."

60. But Peter said, "Man, I do not know what you are saying!" Immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed.

61. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, "Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times."

62. So Peter went out and wept bitterly.

The alleged discrepancy is between Mark 14:69 and Luke 22:58. Mark records a second accusation against Peter from the servant girl, while Luke records a second accusation coming from "another". This word is a masculine pronoun in the Greek, meaning that this was another man, not the girl; Peter's answer, "Man, I am not!" affirms this.

The Explanation

This suspected discrepancy is quickly resolved when we further compare Scripture with Scripture. In the parallel account in Matthew 26:69-75, we read that Peter was one among many bystanders who were in the courtyard outside the palace of the high priest where Jesus was being questioned. We read in Matthew 26:73 that several people questioned Peter about his association with Jesus. Therefore it becomes evident that the accounts in Mark 14:69 and Luke 22:58 record two different challenges to Peter as he stood in the courtyard.

The Sure Answer to Accusations Against the Word

This explanation reminds us once again that Scripture is its own infallible interpreter. The Apostle Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 2:13 that our reliance is not upon man's wisdom but upon wisdom "which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual." That last phrase would be literally rendered, "comparing things from the Spirit with things from the Spirit" - in other words, in the context, "comparing inspired Scripture with inspired Scripture." That is how the Christian stays on the path of sound doctrine, and it is the sure foundation upon which we answer accusations that are raised against the inerrancy of God's Word.


Copyright 1998-2023 TeachingTheWord Ministries