DID PETER USE OBSCENITIES WHEN DENYING CHRIST?
by Shawn Brasseaux
Was Peter employing vulgarities in these two passages? “Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew” (Matthew 26:74). “But he began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not this man of whom ye speak” (Mark 14:71). Long ago, this author remembers his pastor teaching on this topic, claiming Peter was uttering “four-letter words” or expletives. Is that true of Peter?
The “cursing” and “swearing” were not filthy language but rather strong religious language. It was something to the effect of, “I am not associated with the man! Heaven curse me if I am lying!” This is Peter’s third denial, so it is most extreme. In modern speech, someone would say, “God strike me dead if I am not telling the truth when I say I know not the man!” At this point, Peter considers the Lord Jesus as nothing but “the man… this man of whom ye speak.” So dominated by the flesh, he cannot bring himself to even say Jesus’ name! Poor Peter is distancing himself from the very God-Man he passionately claimed he would so vigorously defend.
We will recall his boastful statements made some hours prior, as found in Matthew 26:33-34: “Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended. Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.” Peter argued still. As we know quite well, the Lord, regrettably, was correct in this prediction (Matthew 26:69-75; Mark 14:66-72; Luke 22:54-62; John 18:25-27).
Friends, let us be ever so careful in our words, remembering to place more emphasis on God’s love and faithfulness than on our (fickle) love and (un)“faithfulness.” By the way, to discover God’s solution to Peter’s dilemma, be sure to read our John 21 study linked below!