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Peter didn’t know what he was saying

1. He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 16:15-17).

2. From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! (Matthew 16:21-23a)

3. And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he said. (Luke 9:33)

1. In the first case, as Jesus and the Disciples came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, Jesus asked the men a question. “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”

They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

Jesus pressed them, asking a second time, “But who do you say that I am?”

This time Peter answered and it was the correct answer. “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus explained that Peter had not answered correctly because he was smart, or intuitive, or spiritually advanced. That particular response had been given to Peter from heaven above, not by flesh and blood. 1 Corinthians 2:14 says that spiritual things are discerned through the Spirit, and in this case, Peter had responded not through “flesh and blood” or, the human mind, but from the Spirit. Pete spoke, unaware that he was being used by the Spirit to utter truth.

The Christian religion is a revealed religion, has its rise in heaven; it is a religion from above, given by inspiration of God, not the learning of philosophers, nor the politics of statesmen. Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible

Does it surprise you to see a vivid example of how the Spirit uses our own tongues to utter truth, sometimes, unknowingly?

2. A few verses later, another conversation. The Lord revealed that He would suffer and die. And again, Peter spoke quickly, saying let it not be so, this will not happen. Jesus just as quickly rebuked Peter, whose mouth was now being used as a mouthpiece of hell. The devil was now using Peter, where the Spirit had used him moments before!

How quickly has the “rock” turned to a devil! The fruit of divine teaching the Lord delighted to honor in Peter; but the mouthpiece of hell, which he had in a moment of forgetfulness become, the Lord shook off with horror. Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

In one moment, heaven was blessing Peter. In another moment, hell was using Peter to tempt Jesus to sin. Now let’s look at the third case.

3. Peter in this case was blurting that he would make a tent (shrine) for all three of the transfigured visitors, Moses, Elijah, and Jesus, thus putting the Son of God on the same level as the two mere men.

Luke editorially inserted that Peter did not know what he was saying. The thought is not that Peter misunderstood the significance of the kingdom setting—he was correct in that. The problem was that he forgot Jesus’ prediction that He would suffer (Luke 9:23–24). The Bible Knowledge Commentary.

This third example from Peter shows us that we can be simply human, forgetful and mixed up at any moment, even (especially) at heightened moments of spiritual pressure.


Is it possible that we can be so easily used by satan to tempt even close friends? Yes. Satan used Eve to tempt her husband. Satan used Peter to tempt Jesus. The serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. (Genesis 3:1)

Is is surprising that we can be so blessed with spiritual insight one moment and blurt something from satan the next? No.

Is it upsetting to think that we, and even the disciples who were IN the presence of God every day, can be so mixed up we do not even know what we are saying? Peter didn’t know what he was saying not when the Spirit used him nor when satan used him nor when he was speaking in the flesh.

The point is, we humans are ridiculous creatures. We think that because we have achieved things, like build the Great Wall of China, or gone to the moon a few times, that we are so advanced. But we are children, imbecilic sometimes, and at all times, are in need of Jesus. Since when does a small child not need his mother to hold his hand crossing the street? Since when does a small boy not be tempted by a candy store? Since when does a little girl blurt out sayings that are inappropriate to the situation? We are children in need of the Holy Spirit to help us guard our tongue. We need the Spirit to help us conform our mind. We need the Spirit to help us destroy satan’s fortresses in our mind and build up towers of truth in their place. We are impressionable children. The question is, which direction will we allow ourselves to be impressed toward? If not one, then the other.

It was certainly sobering for me to read of Peter being used by both the Spirit and the devil within just a few verses of each other.  I pray with fervor that the Lord would keep me from being the temptation of someone else.  Though I hate my own sin, it’s my own and I take responsibility for it. But to be used by satan as a temptation to cause someone else to sin, that is a worse thing indeed.

It just makes me realize all the more how much we need to cling closely to Jesus. We do this by reading His word, praying to Him, and fellowshipping in a congregation in which we repent, learn, sing, give, and praise Him.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8)


Christian writer and Georgia teacher's aide who loves Jesus, a quiet life, art, beauty, and children.

One thought on “Peter didn’t know what he was saying

  1. Amen! I too dread the thought of being a stumbling stone to someone else. If I recollect something I’ve said or done that could be, then I pray that God will be merciful and protect that other person and keep them from sin, and forgive me too.


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