26 One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of him whose ear Peter cut off, said, “Did I not see you in the garden with Him?” 27 Peter then denied again; and immediately a rooster crowed.
One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of him whose ear Peter cut off, said,
Peter’s final denial of the Lord came from a question from a relative of the man that he tried to kill in the garden of Gethsemane, Malchus, the servant of the high priest.
“Did I not see you in the garden with Him?”
This is the third question about Peter’s loyalty to his Lord. This question is more specific in that it specifies where Peter was seen. This was especially a dangerous question because it put Peter at the scene where he attempted to kill Malchus’ relative.
The Greek expects a “yes” answer. The accuser of Peter knew who he was.
27 Peter then denied again;
Peter denied the Lord for the third time. This particular denial included cursing and swearing (Mk 14:17).
and immediately a rooster crowed.
Jesus had predicted that Peter would deny Him three times (Jn 13:38). The rooster crowed while Peter made his denial of the Lord.
The denials of Peter are difficult to interpret, but there is a reasonable explanation.
All four gospels include Peter’s denials, but only John divides them into two parts. This gives a clearer sense of these events occurring at the same time that Jesus was being grilled by Annas.
There is a possibility that Peter denied Jesus three or six times if we compare all four gospels. It is also possible that Peter denied Jesus three times before the rooster crowed once (Jn 18:27) and three more times before it crowed the second time (Mk 14:72). It is also possible that Peter’s denials were denials of more than one question by more than one questioner.
There are some who think that there is a contradiction in the denials of Peter in the gospels. Matthew 26:34, Mark 14:30, and John 13:38 expect three denials. None of the synoptic gospels’ second denial corresponds to John’s account. John, however, splits two denials into what the synoptics consider as the third denial. In other words, what others considered the third denial John considered only the second denial.
William Hendrickson gives a plausible explanation. The text does not say that Peter limited his denials to three denials and no more. This is how the four gospels may correspond:
First Denial: Mt. 26:58, 69, 70; Mk 14:54, 66–68; Lu 22:54–57; and John 18:15–18
Second Denial (Matthew, Mark, Luke): Mt. 26:71, 72; Mk 14:69, 70; Lu 22:58; not John
Third Denial (Matthew, Mark, and Luke): Mt. 26:73–75; Mk 14:70–72; Lu 22:59–62; Jn 18:25 (the second denial, as counted by John)
Third Denial (as counted by John): Jn 18:26, 27