Discipleship and Repentance in Matthew’s and Luke’s Portrayals of Peter’s Denial
Peter’s denial of Jesus is a story that occurs in all four gospels. Though the main events remain the same, each gospel writer endows the story with unique and often contrasting details that speak to each gospel’s focus and themes. Michael Coogan notes that an important theme in the gospel of Luke is “discipleship” (95). The theme of discipleship is certainly evident in Luke’s account of Peter’s denial of Jesus. Luke’s version of the story provides a contrast to Matthew’s account; while Luke portrays Peter sympathetically as a repentant disciple with a unique connection to Jesus, Matthew emphasizes Peter’s separation from Jesus as a result of his denial. Each gospel writer’s portrayal of Peter’s relationship with Jesus in this pericope takes on a larger significance: in contrast to the gospel of Matthew, in which Peter seems estranged from Jesus, the gospel of Luke emphasizes Jesus’ relationship with those chosen as his apostles, further reflecting the theme of discipleship.
Though Matthew and Luke’s account of this story differs, the versions share several details in common. Both accounts initially take place in a courtyard and involve Peter and several other characters. Matthew and Luke state that Peter was “following [Jesus]...
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