Before the rooster crows, but was it once or twice?


Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.”

“I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.”

Before the rooster crows, but was it once or twice?So which one is it?  Was Jesus telling Peter the rooster was going to crow once, or twice?  Does it matter?

Well, yes it does matter.  You don’t want to give someone a “free pass” to say there’s a discrepancy between the Gospels, and therefore there is an error in the Bible.  There should be at least an attempt to see why this apparent discrepancy might exist. 

However, first and foremost we need to see if it’s really even different.  Conclusions are no better than the assumptions upon which they’re based.  So, we really cannot just assume the verses disagree without verifying it.

Before the rooster crows – what do the various Gospels actually say?

Matthew

Mt 26:34 “I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.”

Mt 26:74 Immediately a rooster crowed. 75 Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.

Mark

Mk 14:30 “I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.”

Mk 14:72 Immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times.” And he broke down and wept.

Luke

Lk 22:34 Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.”

Lk 22:61 The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” 62 And he went outside and wept bitterly.

John

Jn 13:38 Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!”

Jn 18:27 Again Peter denied it, and at that moment a rooster began to crow.

A side note on roosters in the Gospels

The word rooster shows up only twelve times in the entire NIV.  All but one of them is in the Gospels.  And, of those eleven, only one is not part of what we just read about Peter denying Jesus.   

Here’s that one other Gospel occurrence of rooster.

The Day and Hour Unknown

Mk 13:32 “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be on guard! Be alert ! You do not know when that time will come. 34 It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with his assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.

Mk 13:35 “Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. 36 If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. 37 What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’ ”

I bring this up because it’s about timing.  

Verse 35 talks about evening, midnight, when the rooster crows, or at dawn.  That implies “when the rooster crows” is a specific time.  For those of us who have been taught that the rooster crows at dawn, this may seem problematic.  However, from my experiences of living close enough to someone having roosters that I could hear them – they crow at other times besides dawn. 

When does a rooster crow?

The Holman Bible Dictionary tells us this about the rooster (aka cock).

COCK Strutting, crowing bird (rooster), Zarzir motnayim (Prov. 30:31). The crowing of the cock is probably the most well-known bird sound in the Bible. All of the NT references to the cock (except the mention of “cockcrow” in Mark 13:35) relate to Peter’s denial of Christ. Jesus warned Peter that before the cock crowed twice, Peter would deny Him three times (Mark 14:30). Roosters first crowed about midnight and a second time around three o’clock in the morning. Their crowing occurred so punctually that the Romans relied on this bird sound to signal the time to change the guard.  1)Brand, C., Draper, C., England, A., Bond, S., Clendenen, E. R., & Butler, T. C. (Eds.). (2003). Cock. In Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (p. 314). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

What / when are the watches?

It gets a bit more complicated here.

Watch. Principal unit for the division of the night in both the OT and NT. During the OT period, the night was divided into three military watches. The beginning or evening watch ran from sunset to roughly 10:00 PM (Lm 2:19); the middle or night watch was from 10:00 PM to 2:00 AM (Jgs 7:19); and the morning watch was from approximately 2:00 AM until sunrise (Ex 14:24; 1 Sm 11:11). During the Roman period, the number of watches was increased from three to four. These were either described by number (first, second, etc.) or as evening, midnight, cock-crowing, and morning (Mt 14:25; Mk 6:48). The respective watches ended at roughly 9:00 PM, midnight, 3:00 AM, and 6:00 AM. Since the watches were divided primarily for security and military purposes, the term “watch” was occasionally used to refer to the watchmen as well as the time during which they were watching (Jer 51:12).  2)Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. (1988). Watch. In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (Vol. 2, p. 2132). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

We have to remember the people then didn’t have smart phones.  (How did they survive??)  They didn’t even have watches.  There were portable sun-dials, but they really aren’t usable at night.  There may have been hourglasses back then, but there must be an issue related to carrying them around (glass) and being sure they were turned over at all the correct times, Etc.  It seems a reliable rooster was the best option.  

We can also see the two different timings of “the watches”, depending on whether one was referring to the Jewish or the Roman schedule.  Given the schedule from Mark 13:35, it seems Mark / Jesus used the Roman schedule, at least for that passage.  

Mk 13:35 “Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn.

We also see that even though the rooster crowed at midnight, the third watch of the night referred to the 3:00 AM watch, on the Roman schedule.

So what?

You may be thinking I’m going to use that issue – the rooster crowing twice during the night to explain the difference between once or twice.  That alone would be too easy.  Let’s keep going.

Let’s look at the Gospel authors

Is there anything in the backgrounds of the Gospel authors that might answer the question about how many times the rooster crows before Peter denies Jesus for the third time?  They were different men and wrote to address different audiences.  It’s worth a little time to check this out.

Matthew

Matthew became not only an apostle but also the writer of the first gospel. He left behind an undying image of his Lord. Matthew has given us The Galilean Gospel – unique in every way. When he rose and left all to follow Christ, the only things Matthew took out of his old life were his pen and ink. It is well for us that he did, since he took them with him for such a good purpose.

Matthew’s gospel is striking in that it alone gives us the Parables of the Kingdom. The theme of his book, known as “the Hebrew Porch of the New Testament” is The King and His Kingdom. Some fifty-six times he uses the word “kingdom.” In his record of the life and labors of Christ, Matthew has given us the image of Christ as it fell upon his own heart.

Trained to systematic methods and well acquainted with Jewish character and religion, Matthew was fitted to commend Christ to the Jews. He appeals to the student of Old Testament literature. As a writer, he is before us as an eyewitness of the events he describes and as earwitness of the discourses he records. As to his qualifications, Matthew had a love of truth and was sensible of the mercy of God, and the misery of man. In self-effacing humility, he loses sight of himself in adoration of his Hero.

Mark

Mark’s mother was a godly, well-to-do widow in Jerusalem and her house was a favorite meeting place for the saints (Acts 12:12; Col. 4:10). Her brother, Barnabas, Mark’s uncle, was a wealthy Levite from the island of Cyprus (Acts 13:1-5). In Barnabas, Mark had a staunch and gifted friend and counselor (Acts 11:24). While we are not told how or when Mark became a disciple of Christ, it is evident that he owed his conversion to Peter, since the apostle speaks of him as “Marcus, my son” (1 Pet. 5:13). Thereafter he became a close companion of Peter for about twelve years. Doubtless Mark had heard and seen Christ. Tradition identifies Mark as “the certain young man,” who followed Christ when all His disciples forsook Him and fled (Mark 14:51).

Mark became an attendant of Paul and Barnabas when they set out on their great mission tour (Acts 13:5), and these two godly men must have had a formative influence upon the character of young Mark. However, our next glimpse of him is disappointing. In the early years of his service, Mark was guilty of vacillating (Acts 13:13; 15:38). The ploughman looked back. So full of promise, Mark failed Paul and Barnabas at a crisis and brought about a severance of friends. The fear of what lay ahead in arduous missionary enterprise moved Mark to retrace his steps (Acts 13:13; 15:38).

As the ministry of Mark was peculiarly a Gentile one, he is recognized by his Gentile name. Writing specifically for Romans, who stood for power, Mark manifests Christ’s power in service. Accustomed as Mark was to the might of Rome’s legions, he exhibits the soldier’s rapidity of movement and readiness to repel attack, and gives us in his shortest and simplest gospel, a progressive series of victorious conflicts. Vividness, compactness, direction, circumstantial evidence characterize his gospel.

Luke

Luke was a man of learning and knowledge, an exact observer and faithful recorder. His medical training taught him to be exact. He is in the first rank as a reliable historian, scholarly, skilful and sympathetic (Luke 1:1-3; Acts 1:1-3). His gospel is the most literary of the four. With his Greek mind he had a sense of form, a beautiful style—studied and elaborate. A poet, he was unsurpassed as a word-painter. Luke’s gospel has been described as the most wonderful book ever written, the most beautiful book in the world. Above it and within it we hear the rustle of the angels’wings, the music of angels’songs.

Luke’s qualifications for his great ministry were manifold. Above and beyond all else, he had the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Then there was his long and close companionship with Paul, and Luke the follower of Paul set down in a book the Gospel which Paul loved to preach. Luke also had abundant opportunities for personal acquaintance with other apostles. His liberal education also indicated that in him God had a proper vessel for the accomplishment of His plan. The wisdom of the divine choice was justified.

Luke’s mission was to proclaim Christ’s humanity. His is The Gentile Gospel, thus he traces Christ’s lineage back to Adam, and gives prominence to the sympathy and sociableness of Jesus as the Man (Luke 15:1) who came to save (Luke 19:10). As the representative of Grecian reason and culture, Luke presented Christ as the true Representative of universal man.

John

This younger brother of James has the rare distinction of being known as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” The original of his name means, “whom Jehovah loves” and John’s experience corresponded to his name. From the many references to this honored disciple we can gather these facts:

His godly parents were probably cousins of Christ, and John was their youngest son.
His mother followed Christ, ministered unto Him, was at the Cross and among those who went to anoint the body of Christ with sweet spices.
His father was a fisherman owning his own vessel and prosperous enough to hire servants.
John himself was also a successful fisherman.
He was the youngest of the disciples, the Benjamin among the Twelve.
He was one of the select triumvirate, Christ’s inner cabinet of three, Peter and James being the other two.   3)All The Men Of The Bible; Zondervan Publishing House; Grand Rapids, Michigan; A Division of HarperCollins Publishers

Mark  – The Gospel According to Peter?

There’s an interesting reference in the segment about Mark.  

While we are not told how or when Mark became a disciple of Christ, it is evident that he owed his conversion to Peter, since the apostle speaks of him as “Marcus, my son” (1 Pet. 5:13). Thereafter he became a close companion of Peter for about twelve years.

There’s a book titled “The Gospel According to Peter: Mark and I & II Peter“.  The author points out a couple of things in this scene that are only included in Mark’s account of the event.  

The first has to do with Peter’s response when Jesus said Peter would deny Him three times before the rooster crowed once – or twice.

Let’s look at how that’s presented in each of the Gospels.

Matthew

Mt 26:31 Then Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written:
“ ‘I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ 32 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”

Mt 26:33 Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.”

Mt 26:34 “I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.”

Mt 26:35 But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same.

Here’s the first one.  The other Gospel accounts will be compared to this one.

Mark

Mk 14:27 “You will all fall away,” Jesus told them, “for it is written:
“ ‘I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep will be scattered.’ 28 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”

Mk 14:29 Peter declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not.”

Mk 14:30 “I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.”

Mk 14:31 But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the others said the same.

Mark and Matthew tell pretty much the same thing.

Luke

Lk 22:24 Also a dispute arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. 25 Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. 26 But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. 27 For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. 28 You are those who have stood by me in my trials. 29 And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, 30 so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Lk 22:31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

Lk 22:33 But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”

Lk 22:34 Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.”

Lk 22:35 Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?”
“Nothing,” they answered.

Lk 22:36 He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. 37 It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.”

Lk 22:38 The disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.”
“That is enough,” he replied.

Luke’s account of Jesus predicting Peter’s denial before the rooster crows is very short.  In fact, it’s only two sentences.  The reason I included the passages on either side of those two verses is to show that Luke includes it more as a thought in the middle of two other “more important” topics.  It could even be viewed as part of Jesus’ warning to Peter that Satan wants to sift him as wheat.  The take-away from this is really that this particular warning wasn’t high on Luke’s priority list, as determined by the Holy Spirit.  

John

Jn 13:31 When he [“he” refers to Judas, when Judas had left the Last Supper when identified as the one who would betray Jesus, although Judas was the only one of the twelve who knew this]  was gone, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.

Jn 13:33 “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.

Jn 13:34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Jn 13:36 Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?”
Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.”

Jn 13:37 Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.”

Jn 13:38 Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!

Jn 14:1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.”

In one way, John’s account of the warning from Jesus to Peter about the impending denial is similar to Luke’s.  John sandwiches it between words from Jesus to His disciples about events that are about to take place.

Did we learn anything?

All of this begs the question – did we learn anything from all that, or was it a waste of time and virtual ink?

Actually, yes, we did learn something.  We learned something that I glossed over, mostly to see if you’d notice it.  I said “Mark and Matthew tell pretty much the same thing.”  The emphasis should be on “pretty much“.  They actually didn’t say the same thing.

Matthew:

Mt 26:33 Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.”

Mt 26:34 “I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.”

Mt 26:35 But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same.

Mark:

Mk 14:29 Peter declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not.”

Mk 14:30 “I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.”

Mk 14:31 But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the others said the same.

Did you catch it?

It wasn’t what Peter actually said.   It’s how Peter said it.

Mt 26:35 But Peter declared,

Mk 14:31 But Peter insisted emphatically,

“Declared”, from Matthew is defined as follows, from the Greek word used.

3004 λέγω, εἴρω [lego /leg·o/] v. A root word; TDNT 4:69; TDNTA 505; GK 3306 and 1649; 1343 occurrences; AV translates as “say” 1184 times, “speak” 61 times, “call” 48 times, “tell” 33 times, and translated miscellaneously 17 times. 1 to say, to speak. 1A affirm over, maintain. 1B to teach. 1C to exhort, advise, to command, direct. 1D to point out with words, intend, mean, mean to say. 1E to call by name, to call, name. 1F to speak out, speak of, mention.  4)Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.

“insisted emphatically”, from Mark is defined as the following two Greek words that were used.

2980 ἀπολαλέω, λαλέω [laleo /lal·eh·o/] v. A prolonged form of an otherwise obsolete verb; TDNT 4:69; TDNTA 505; GK 654 and 3281; 296 occurrences; AV translates as “speak” 244 times, “say” 15 times, “tell” 12 times, “talk” 11 times, “preach” six times, “utter” four times, translated miscellaneously three times, and “vr speak” once. 1 to utter a voice or emit a sound. 2 to speak. 2A to use the tongue or the faculty of speech. 2B to utter articulate sounds. 3 to talk. 4 to utter, tell. 5 to use words in order to declare one’s mind and disclose one’s thoughts. 5A to speak.  

4057 περισσῶς [perissos /per·is·soce/] adv. From 4053; GK 4360; Three occurrences; AV translates as “the more” once, “out of measure” once, and “exceedingly” once. 1 beyond measure, extraordinary. 2 greatly, exceedingly.  5)Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.

What we learned

I mentioned “The Gospel According to Peter” a bit earlier.  Here’s what it says about this difference that may seem to be minor.

14:31
NASB “kept saying insistently”
NKJV “spoke more vehemently”
NRSV “said vehemently”
TEV  “answered even more strongly”
NJB  “repeated still more earnestly”

This term (perisseia) for excess or extreme degree is used often in its various forms in the NT (cf. Matt. 5:20; 27:23; Acts 26:11; Phil. 1:9; 1 Thess. 4:1). The intensified form with its ek prepositional prefix is only found in Mark. It is probably from Peter himself! He remembered how vehement his denial was!

“ ‘Even if’ ” This is a THIRD CLASS CONDITIONAL sentence which means potential action. Literally “even if it must be.”

“ ‘I will not deny You’ ” Peter truly felt this way. With all his heart and will power he was determined to stand by Jesus! As David’s sins and subsequent forgiveness function to encourage later believers, so too, Peter’s assertions and failures. Sinful, weak humans want to do the right thing (cf. Rom. 7), they just find themselves incapable! Jesus can deal with failure, but not unrepentant unbelief.  6)Utley, R. J. D. (2000). The Gospel according to Peter: Mark and I & II Peter (Vol. Volume 2, p. 181). Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International.

Is there a difference between once and twice?

After all this, have we learned anything?  Are “once” and “twice” different?  Or are they actually saying the same thing?

Let’s look at what we have in a table format.  That should paint a more clear picture of where we are.

New Testament Night Watches

HourRooster Crows AtJewish WatchRoman Watch
6:00 PMeveningevening
7:00 PMeveningevening
8:00 PMeveningevening
9:00 PMeveningmidnight
10:00 PMnightmidnight
11:00 PMnightmidnight
12:00 AM (midnight)midnightnightrooster crowing
1:00 AMnightrooster crowing
2:00 AMmorningrooster crowing
3:00 AM3 AMmorningmorning
4:00 AMmorningmorning
5:00 AMmorningmorning
6:00 AM6 AM, although it's the end of the watch

There are a few things to note in the table.

  • During the time that we, today, would consider “night”, the rooster could crow either two or three times.  It really depends on the person.  For myself, being more of a “night person”, I would say the rooster crows three times each night, because 6 AM is still night.  A “morning person” might say the rooster crows twice at night, since 6 AM is “obviously” morning.

  • Given this type of scenario, it’s possible that a Jewish person would say the rooster crows one time during the night.  Given that the morning watch starts at 2 AM, the only instance of a rooster crowing during the night watch is at midnight.

  • On the other hand, the Roman morning watch doesn’t start until 3 AM.  Since the midnight and rooster crowing watches tun from 9 PM to 3 AM, the roosters would crow twice during those watches.  I include both midnight and rooster crowing, because both are between evening and morning.

The timing of all this is important as well.  It’s probably safe to assume the meal started around 6 PM.  However, we have no way to know how much time elapsed between the start of the meal and the statement that Peter would deny Jesus.  Therefore, we also cannot know whether or not it was past midnight.  It’s very ambiguous.  Likely for a reason.  Maybe to stimulate our minds and get us to really think about things?

Why is this difference in watch timing important?

Why does this matter? 

Remember, earlier we looked at the target audience for each of the Gospel authors.  Matthew and John wrote for a Jewish audience.  Mark and Luke wrote for a Gentile audience, which includes Romans.  Also remember that while John and Luke included only a quick reference to the event, Matthew and Mark had more details on what happened.  That means the more detailed accounts are from Matthew – for the Jewish audience, and from Mark – for the Gentile audience.

Furthermore, consider the earlier reference to Marks gospel as “The Gospel according to Peter”.  The excerpt below tells us something of the close relationship between Mark and Peter.

Mark was once a co-worker with Barnabas and Paul, but deserted them at Perga. Paul held this against Mark and refused to take him on the second mission tour. Barnabas took Mark, his cousin, with him and then he appeared with Simon Peter with whom he did his greatest work. When Mark had made good with Barnabas and Peter, Paul rejoiced and commends him heartily to the Colossians (Col. 4:10). In the end Paul will ask Timothy to pick up Mark and bring him along with him to Paul in Rome, for he has found him useful for ministry, this very young man who made such a mistake that Paul would have no more of him.  7)Robertson, A. T. (1933). Word Pictures in the New Testament. Nashville, TN: Broadman Press.

Given that closeness, it’s not at all unusual for Mark to have knowledge, and therefore details, that the other Gospel authors did not have.  It’s not surprising that Matthew would write, Mt 26:35 But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same – while Mark would write the much stronger statement from Peter, Mk 14:31 But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the others said the same.

Conclusion

So we’re left with Matthew, who wrote for a Jewish audience, likely using the Jewish night watches to keep track of time.  And we have Mark, who wrote for a Gentile audience, likely using the Roman night watches to keep track of time.  That’s the initial probable reason for the different number of times the rooster would crow.  It’s not that they are putting words in Jesus’ mouth – or that they’re necessarily talking about something different.  They’re probably just recording the event in a way that makes the most sense to them and / or their audience.

Add to that the closeness of Mark and Peter.  I saved that for last, because it’s probably the single most compelling piece of evidence.  All the Gospel authors remember the event.  But each wrote according to the relative importance they attach to that event – and the details of it that they believe to be important to record.  But Mark had Peter.  Mark had access to the one person being told that he would deny Jesus three times.  Peter would have remembered his response – and from what we know of Peter from these Gospels, it’s completely believable that it would be what Mark recorded. 

I bring all of this up to remind us that what Mark wrote should not be dismissed as a mistake, or an error.  Of the three, if there was an error – Mark would have been the least likely to have made it.  Peter would have made sure of that.  So the fact that three of them record the rooster crowing once (at least we assume an unspecified number is once) and one of them records that Jesus said before the rooster crows twice – that lends credence to both being correct.  Correct from their point of view – or from the point of view of their intended audience.

To be sure, some complain that the Bible authors somehow got together and colluded to write something that always agreed.  Some say, they agreed too much.  And yet, we have instances like this where there appears to be a disagreement as to what happened – and it gets pointed out as an error.  I found nothing on the topic while I was researching this.  I did an electronic search through the books I have – more than 1200.  I didn’t find even one that attempted to explain this difference.

I think it’s important to at least try though.  Not looking for an explanation leaves unchallenged both arguments – that the authors colluded with each other – and that they disagreed with each other.  Obviously, both cannot be true.  I submit – neither is true.  

When we don’t have enough faith to even be willing to research challenges to the Word of God – there’s a problem.  We shouldn’t be afraid.  

Ask, Seek, Knock

Mt 7:7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

Mt 7:9 “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

Of course, this is about asking something in Jesus’ name – something appropriate.  Certainly, something like asking for clarity of Jesus’ own words and experiences here on earth are appropriate and worthy of an answer.

Jesus Sends Out the Twelve

Mt 10:11 “Whatever town or village you enter, search for some worthy person there and stay at his house until you leave. 12 As you enter the home, give it your greeting. 13 If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. 14 If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town. 15 I tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town. 16 I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.

Mt 10:17 “Be on your guard against men; they will hand you over to the local councils and flog you in their synagogues. 18 On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.”

No, those of us in the U.S. aren’t likely to get flogged (not yet anyway).  But being questioned about God’s Word, under any circumstances where it is challenged, seems like something we would be “given” what to say.  Not necessarily in a vision, but one way or another, if we let Him, the Holy Spirit will guide us through times that seem too challenging for us.

Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit

Jn 14:25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Through that sequence of passages, we see that not only will the answers be given, when we honestly and truly ask, but that we will have peace in the process.  So, as God often said in the Bible, Do not be afraid.  Do not be afraid when something comes up that may appear to be an error.  Ask.  Seek.  And learn in the process.


For a deeper look into the “Ask, Seek, Knock” passage, please see The problem of “Ask and you will receive”.

 

References   [ + ]

1. Brand, C., Draper, C., England, A., Bond, S., Clendenen, E. R., & Butler, T. C. (Eds.). (2003). Cock. In Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (p. 314). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
2. Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. (1988). Watch. In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (Vol. 2, p. 2132). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.
3. All The Men Of The Bible; Zondervan Publishing House; Grand Rapids, Michigan; A Division of HarperCollins Publishers
4, 5. Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.
6. Utley, R. J. D. (2000). The Gospel according to Peter: Mark and I & II Peter (Vol. Volume 2, p. 181). Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International.
7. Robertson, A. T. (1933). Word Pictures in the New Testament. Nashville, TN: Broadman Press.

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