Luke 22:31-38 – Peter’s Denial and Scripture Fulfilled (Jan. 28th)

Message Notes:  Preparing for the Storm Jan 28

OPENING DISCUSSION:

Spend time with your group members talking about their understanding of two things: Peter’s denial and the different parts of Old Testament Scripture that Christ fulfilled. Regarding the first one, the account of Peter denying his association is widely known. Talk with your group members about why they think he denied him. Moreover, why do they think Jesus predicted that this would happen? Second, ask your group about which parts of OT Scripture Jesus fulfilled. Chances are, someone will mention something about Jesus suffering on the cross for our sins. In this passage, Jesus mentions a prophecy of him being counted among the outlaws. 

BIG PICTURE/MAIN IDEA:

Synopsis:  Jesus reveals to Peter his future betrayal and warns the disciples to be strong in midst of trials.

The warfare with Satan that Jesus won in the wilderness and that Judas lost had started again, this time for Peter. Peter stood in Job’s shoes. As the prime example of the righteous of his generation, he must pass Satan’s muster. Satan wanted to accuse him and show him wanting. Jesus was also ready to prepare the disciples for the immediate events leading to his death. He used their past history to prepare them for future actions.

KEY POINTS IN THE PASSAGE:

  • Jesus foretells of Peter’s lapse under pressure.
  • Jesus warns his disciples of dangerous times ahead and urges them to be prepared.

WHAT DOES IT SAY?

READ Luke 22:31-38 and answer the questions below:

What did Jesus pray for Peter to have and do when he’s tempted by Satan?

How did Peter respond to Jesus? What did Jesus predict would happen?

What did Jesus remind the disciples of in v. 35?

What did Jesus say they should take with them this time?

What did Jesus say would be fulfilled?

What did the disciples say they had in v. 38 and how did Jesus respond?

Jesus revealed that Peter would deny Him three times that same night before the rooster crows. However, He assured Peter that in spite of Satan’s desire to sift the disciples (you is pl. in the Gr.) like wheat (i.e., to put them through difficult times), Peter’s faith would not fail. He would be restored (turned back), and would be the leader of the disciples (i.e., the leader of the group of brothers). Peter protested, thinking that he was strong, stating that he would even go to prison or to death for Jesus.

Jesus also pointed out to His disciples that they had never lacked anything while they were with Him and were sent out to minister for Him (cf. 9:3). However, now that He was to be taken away from them, they would have to make preparations for their ministries including a purse … a bag, and … a sword for personal protection. Jesus was about to die and be numbered with the transgressors, a quotation from Isaiah 53:12.

WHY DOES IT MATTER?

Use the information from the text and the commentary notes below to help discern responses to the following questions. 

  • Why do you think Jesus told Peter ahead of time that he would betray him?
  • Why do you think Jesus brought up the time when he sent them out two by two to proclaim the kingdom?  
  • Why do you think the disciples pointed out to Jesus the two swords?

The third part of Jesus’ farewell discourse begins with his statement that Satan, whose activity has intensified since 22:3, had sought to separate the disciples (the “you” in 22:31 is plural) from Jesus. He would not be successful, however, for Jesus had prayed on their behalf. As a result, although Peter (and the other disciples also) would fall, he would return and find restoration. Jesus then commanded Peter to strengthen the church after his restoration. Peter protested that he was prepared to suffer imprisonment and even death for Jesus, but he was told that before the cock crowed he would, in fact, deny three times that he knew Jesus.

The last account in Jesus’ farewell discourse is not found in any of the other Gospels. In it, Jesus contrasts the past mission of the disciples in 9:1–6 (and the seventy disciples of 10:4) with the changed situation that was about to take place. On their early mission, the disciples went out without provisions and depended entirely on the hospitality of their hearers. In the new situation brought about by Jesus’ death (22:37), they must go equipped and be prepared to face hostility and persecution. This involved their purchasing a “sword” because what the Scriptures said about the death of God’s Son was about to be fulfilled. The opposition to Jesus that had been mounting was about to come to its culmination, and the end was very near. To Jesus’ frustration, however, the disciples failed to grasp his meaning in the use of the sword metaphor, and he concluded the conversation.

HOW DOES IT APPLY?

What can we learn from this passage about betrayal and restoration?

How can you begin to pray for your faith to be strengthened during trials? 

Take some time to think about the fulfillment that Christ would be numbered with the transgressors. According to the Gospel, he did this to pay the penalty for our sins, not his own. How can you begin to live a life of gratitude for the sacrifices he made on your behalf? 

COMMENTARY NOTES:

22:31 Simon, Simon. See comments on 10:41. The use of Peter’s “pre-Christian” name (see comments on 6:14) instead of “Peter,” the name he was called as one of the great leaders of the church, is probably intentional. Peter shortly would revert back to an earlier life-style and behavior, predating his following Jesus (6:13–14). [Behold.] The NIV leaves this Greek term (idou) untranslated and loses the dramatic intensification placed upon the following words. Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. The meaning of this verse is uncertain. Its interpretation is further complicated by the fact that the word translated “asked” (NIV) or “demanded” (RSV) is found nowhere else in the NT or LXX. The nearest analogy is found in Job 1–2, where Satan is permitted to test Job. This and the vocabulary in Amos 9:9 suggests the following interpretation: “Satan is seeking [a dramatic aorist] to shake you disciples violently as one sifts wheat and to cause you to fall.” The metaphor of sifting wheat should not be pressed in order to determine what is “wheat” and what is “chaff,” for this contrast is not mentioned. The use of this metaphor is simply intended to indicate the coming time of testing (cf. Luke 3:17; Amos 9:9). One should not interpret this as God’s granting a request by Satan for permission to test the disciples as in Job 1–2. The saying speaks primarily of Satan’s trying to unsettle the disciples and cause them to become unfaithful. Although Luke tended to avoid emphasizing the disciples’ failures (note his omission of Mark 8:32–33; 14:27–28, 50), he was aware of their faults and was not averse to mentioning them. The “you” here (hymas) is plural and refers to Peter and the other disciples (not Peter and Judas). By mentioning the role of Satan in Peter’s denial, Luke may have been seeking to increase his readers’ empathy toward the apostle.

22:32 I have prayed. The “I” is emphatic. Jesus’ prayer would prove greater than Satan’s attempt to undo his disciples’ allegiance. Jesus prayed as their advocate against Satan (“the accuser”). Compare John 17:6–26; 10:27–29. Compare 1 John 2:1, where the risen Christ continues to intercede before the Father for his followers. For you, Simon. The “you” (sou) here is singular, and Jesus’ attention turned from the disciples in general to Peter in particular. That your faith may not fail. The “that” (hina) reveals the purpose of Jesus’ prayer as well as its content. “Faith” here refers not to correct doctrinal belief but to “faithfulness.” Jesus prayed that Peter (and the other apostles) would not lose their faithfulness, i.e., their loyalty to him (cf. Luke 18:8; Acts 14:22) during this sifting period. Jesus, as well as Luke’s readers, knew that Peter would deny the Lord (Luke 22:34, 54–62). Thus the content of this prayer should not be understood as a prayer that Peter would not deny Jesus. If this were so, then Jesus’ prayer failed completely. Rather the prayer was that Peter would not disavow his allegiance and loyalty to Jesus. This Peter did not do; and the reader, who is aware of Peter’s leadership role in the early church, knows that Jesus’ prayer for Peter was answered. When you have turned back. The “you” is emphatic. The issue was not whether Peter would repent but what he would do after he repented. Jesus foreknew that Peter’s faith would not fail but that after his denial he would repent because he prayed for him. Although the verb (epistrephas) can mean “having physically returned” (back to Jerusalem), it must be understood here as referring to Peter’s repenting. Note how it is used together with “repent” (metanoein) in Acts 3:19; 26:20. Although turn back is not used in the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11–32), what turning back means is described metaphorically in the action of the prodigal son (re)turning back to his father. Peter’s true faith and perseverance would be revealed in his repentance, not in his sinlessness. Strengthen your brothers. In the NT this verb frequently describes the process of helping someone grow in the Christian faith. How Peter fulfilled this is seen in Acts by his leadership in completing the number of the disciples to twelve (1:15–26), his preaching at Pentecost (2:14–40), his early preaching and leadership in Jerusalem (chaps. 3–5), and his role in the expansion of the church to Samaria (8:14–25) and to the Gentiles (chaps. 10–11; 15:7–11). “Brothers” therefore refers to more than just the other apostles and is essentially a synonym for “believers” (cf. Acts 1:15; 15:23). For the Johannine parallel to this, cf. John 21:15–19.

22:33 Lord, I am ready. Compare John 13:37. For the fulfillment of the first part of Peter’s confession, cf. Acts 5:17–42; 12:1–11. The fulfillment of the latter part of his confession is not recorded in Acts but was no doubt known both to Luke and his readers. Note the parallels in Acts 21:13; 23:29.

22:34 You will deny … that you know me. The Lukan account differs here slightly from Mark 14:30 and Matt 26:34. In Mark and Matthew, Peter would “disown” Jesus, whereas in Luke he would “deny knowing” Jesus. Luke may have been seeking to avoid a misconception that Peter by his denial disowned Jesus in the sense of Luke 12:9 (cf. 9:26). The fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy will be recounted in 22:54–62.

22:35 When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals. This describes the mission of the seventy (cf. 10:4) better than the mission of the Twelve (cf. 9:3). However, since the Twelve are being addressed here, Luke probably had both passages in mind. Did you lack anything? The question expects a negative response. Earlier they could count on the people’s hospitality (cf. 9:4; 10:5–9). “Nothing,” they answered. As 10:17 indicates, the disciples did not lack anything. On the contrary in their ministries they experienced great spiritual victories.

22:36 But now. The “but” is emphatic. A new situation was arising. What that situation was is explained in 22:37, but first Jesus explained how to prepare for this new situation. The “now” did not take place immediately at this point but looked forward to the post-resurrection period. And if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. Even if the exact interpretation of this verse is uncertain, it is clear that a new situation is envisioned. The disciples would soon encounter greater opposition and even persecution (cf. Acts 8:1–3; 9:1–2; 12:1–5). The reference to the purchase of a sword is strange. Attempts to interpret this literally as a Zealot-like call to arms, however, are misguided and come to grief over the saying’s very “strangeness.” Understood as a call to arms, this saying not only does not fit Jesus’ other teachings but radically conflicts with them. Also if two swords are “enough” (22:38), war with the legions of Rome was certainly not envisioned. The “sword” is best understood in some metaphorical sense as indicating being spiritually armed and prepared for battle against the spiritual foes. The desperate need to be “armed” for these future events is evident by the command to sell one’s mantle, for this garment was essential to keep warm at night.

22:37 It is written … must be fulfilled in me. For a more literal translation of this verse see the RSV. Once again the divine “must” (dei) appears. Jesus’ forthcoming death had been foretold in Scripture, so that it was not fate or tragedy that awaited him but the fulfillment of the divine will and plan. The divine passive is present in the infinitive “be fulfilled,” i.e., God will fulfill it in me. He was numbered with the transgressors. Compare Isa 53:12. This finds its fulfillment for Luke in 23:32–33, 39–43. This is the only place in the Gospels where Isa 53 is quoted. What is written about me is reaching its fulfillment. This last clause in the Greek text can mean either (1) What is written about me is now to be fulfilled or (2) What has been written about me now comes to its climax. The difference is not so much one of substance as nuance. Each interpretation reinforces the first part of the verse, which emphasizes the central place of Jesus’ death in Scripture and God’s sovereign rule in all that was about to take place. The purpose of this verse is to explain the “but now” of Luke 22:36. Whereas their union of destinies will one day lead to the apostles’ sharing in the Son of Man’s reign (22:29–30), in the more immediate future the treatment facing Jesus also awaited them. Thus they must arm themselves with a similar resolve to fulfill God’s plan for them despite prison, persecution, and even death.

22:38 See, Lord, here are two swords. The disciples misunderstood Jesus’ words in 22:36 by interpreting them literally, and their lack of understanding is most evident at this point. That they were armed is evident from 22:49–50. The wearing of a sword for protection against thieves was common (Sabb. 6:4). “That is enough,” he replied. Clearly two swords were not enough for any planned armed resistance. Jesus’ words are best understood as breaking off further conversation as in Deut 3:26, i.e., “Enough of this [foolish] conversation.” Compare also 1 Kgs 19:4; 1 Chr 21:15.

Posted in Group Notes, Luke 14, Luke: A Jesus for Everyone