The year was.… 42 AD
“Peter motioned with his hand for them to be quiet and described how the Lord had brought him out of prison. “Tell James and the other brothers and sisters about this,” he said, and then he left for another place. In the morning, there was no small commotion among the soldiers as to what had become of Peter. After Herod had a thorough search made for him and did not find him, he cross-examined the guards and ordered that they be executed.”
(Acts 12:17-19a NIV)
Peter. What a guy! Not many prison escapees get an angelic escort. But not many prison escapees have The Risen Jesus endorsing the escape. After Herod killed James (John’s brother), lots of folks gave the execution a big thumbs up*, so Herod arrested Peter, intending to ‘do him in’ too. But Jesus had other plans. After this miraculous escape from prison Peter was now a fugitive of the Roman Government.
But, as indicated*, the Romans weren’t the only ones with reason to be upset with him.
The purpose of this missive is to draw your attention to yet another detail:
John’s Gospel tells us that when Jesus was arrested (c. 30 AD), Peter cut the ear off the servant of the high priest.
Here’s what’s weird. Matthew’s, Mark’s and Luke’s versions of the event don’t mention Peter. Check ’em out:
written 43-45 AD in Rome (Mark 14:47 NIV)
“Then one of those standing near drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.”
Did Mark not know it was Peter? I believe that Mark was at Jesus’ arrest and that he witnessed the whole thing (Mark 14:51, 52), so he would had to have known. Also, Mark’s Gospel was based on Peter’s sermons, according to the early church fathers.
written 45-58 AD (Matthew 26:51 NIV)
“With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.”
Another one of those ‘one of’s instead of naming Peter. Did Matthew not know? Wasn’t he there too?
written 61-62 AD, in Rome. (Luke 22:50 NIV)
“And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear.”
Did Luke not know? He’s the only one who didn’t witness the event. But Luke more than likely got his information directly from Peter (Acts 21:18) (Luke was in the Jerusalem area while Paul waited in prison for two years before his trial before Festus (Acts 21: 15; 24:27). If so, it would explain why he added the important detail that Jesus healed the ear! Why didn’t he mention Peter’s name?
Then there’s….. John!!
JOHN who ‘spilled the beans!‘ “Peter did it!” (I paraphrase.) He even names the servant’s high priest, Malchus for the first time, and Jesus’ correction of Peter.
75-100 AD. (John 18:10-11 NIV)
“Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?””
Why? Did John have some beef, some unsettled score with Peter? Was he ‘ratting him out?’
The reason for Matthew’s, Mark’s and Luke’s silence and John’s broadcast of the truth is simple, as indicated by the dates of their authorship. When the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) were written, Peter was alive. They were just protecting him. By the time John wrote his gospel c. 80 AD, Peter had already been executed c. 66-67 AD. There was no risk in incriminating the dead.
This comparison of the four accounts is just one example of why we can trust the Gospels, and further evidence of their early publication. Contrary to popular opinion, they weren’t written down ‘post 70 AD after a long oral tradition’. And they were never published ‘anonymously’ as I believed until a few short months ago. The truth is in the details. Sometimes it takes some digging.
Question: “Why the secrecy regarding Peter, when Paul was an ‘open book’ signing his own name on letters?”
Answer: Paul was a Roman Citizen. Peter wasn’t. Paul’s citizenship gave him privileges that saved his neck time after time, privileges that Peter could not claim for himself. Some examples: Acts 16:37, & Acts 22:25-29:
25 As they stretched him out to flog him, Paul said to the centurion standing there, “Is it legal for you to flog a Roman citizen who hasn’t even been found guilty?”
26 When the centurion heard this, he went to the commander and reported it. “What are you going to do?” he asked. “This man is a Roman citizen.”
27 The commander went to Paul and asked, “Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?”
“Yes, I am,” he answered.
28 Then the commander said, “I had to pay a lot of money for my citizenship.”
“But I was born a citizen,” Paul replied.
29 Those who were about to interrogate him withdrew immediately. The commander himself was alarmed when he realized that he had put Paul, a Roman citizen, in chains.