Here is some food for thought on scripture inerrancy. Accuser #1, the accusation, and Peter's response MATTHEW: One of the servant girls approached Peter. "You also were with Jesus the Galilean." "I do not know what you mean." MARK: One of the High Priest's servant girls came by and looked at Peter. "You also were with the Nazarene, Jesus." "I neither know nor understand what you mean." LUKE: A servant girl looked right at Peter. "This man also was with him." "Woman, I do not know him." JOHN: The girl who was attending the gate questioned Peter. "Are not you also one of this man's disciples?" "I am not." The location of the first denial MATTHEW: Peter is sitting in the courtyard with others, these presumably being the guards with whom Peter initially sat. MARK: Peter is warming himself by the fire in the courtyard, presumably still sharing it with the guards. LUKE: Peter is sitting by the fire in the middle of the courtyard, sharing it with those who seized Jesus. JOHN: The girl who questioned Peter is stationed at the gate. The denial plainly occurs just after Peter enters and before he has moved beyond the range for a normal conversation. (There is no suggestion that either the girl or Peter were shouting over a distance, and we must not rewrite the text to conform to our prejudices.) The timing of the first denial MATTHEW: The sequence of events is identical to Mark's account. MARK: The denial occurs after Peter seats himself in the courtyard, after Jesus is questioned at some length and confronted with many witnesses. (Jesus is questioned in the presence of all the chief priests and elders, and they ask him if he is the son of God. His answer causes the High Priest to ask, "Why do we still need witnesses?" The fatal question--and final judgment --occurred that night.) In many translations a cock crows immediately after Peter's denial. LUKE: Those who had seized Jesus had kindled a fire and were seated. Peter joins them. An unspecified (but apparently short) interval passes before the denial. JOHN: There is no appreciable delay as Peter had followed at a distance and was shortly admitted to the courtyard. The denial occurrs as Peter passes the gate, before he warms himself at the fire, before Jesus is questioned. Accuser #2, the accusation, and Peter's response MATTHEW: A servant girl recognized Peter near the entrance to the courtyard and pointed him out to bystanders. (She is a different girl than accuser #1.) "This man was with Jesus of Nazareth." "I do not know the man." (As an oath.) MARK: A servant girl saw Peter in the gateway or passageway and pointed him out to some bystanders. ("And the maid saw him, and began again to say..." can only refer to the previous maid mentioned in Mark 14:66. Thus, she is the same girl as accuser #1.) "This man is one of them." Scripture only tells us that Peter denied the accusation. LUKE: A man passing by recognized Peter. (The "some one else" who saw Peter, presumably at the campfire, would not be one of that group. Those around the campfire were already aware of Peter's presence.)br> "You also are one of them." "Man, I am not." JOHN: A spokesman for some of those around the campfire put the question to Peter. (They are the "others" [Good News Bible] who are near enough to converse with Peter.) "Are not you also one of his disciples?" "I am not." The location of the second denial MATTHEW: Peter went out to the "porch." (The Good News Bible interprets the location as "the entrance of the courtyard" and The New English Bible speaks of a "gateway.") It is there that Peter is pointed out. MARK: Peter is in the "gateway" ("passageway" or "porch") when he is pointed out. (This appears to be the same spot as in Matthew's account.) LUKE: There is no sign that Peter has moved from the campfire when someone else notices him "a little later." JOHN: Peter is standing near the fire to keep warm. The timing of the second denial MATTHEW: Peter walks a short distance, presumably because the first accusation left him in an uncomfortable spot. A servant girl quickly spots him. ("And when he went out to the porch, another maid saw him...") MARK: Peter walks a short distance, presumably because the first accusation left him in an uncomfortable spot. He is spotted again by his first accuser. LUKE: A "little later" Peter is again identified. JOHN: The High Priest questions Jesus about his disciples and about his teaching. How long this took is not clear. Accuser #3, the accusation, and Peter's response MATTHEW: The bystanders who had witnessed the second denial approached Peter. "Certainly you are also one of them, for your accent betrays you." "I do not know the man." (Sworn with a curse.) MARK: The bystanders who had witnessed the second denial soon questioned Peter again. "Certainly you are one of them; for you are a Galilean." "I do not know this man of whom you speak." (Sworn with a curse.) LUKE: Another man, who had not previously accused Peter, lodged the third accusation. "Certainly this man also was with him; for he is a Galilean." "Man, I do not know what you are saying." JOHN: One of the servants of the High Priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, questioned Peter. (He is probably a member of the campfire group since his question immediately challenges the second denial.) "Did I not see you in the garden with him?" Scripture only tells us that Peter denied the accusation. The location of the third denial MATTHEW: A little earlier Peter had been in the gateway or entrance of the courtyard. He is probably still there. MARK: Peter still seems to be in the "gateway" ("passageway" or "porch") as the same bystanders accuse him again after a little while. There is no suggestion that they had to seek Peter out. LUKE: Peter is probably still warming himself at the fire. The third accusation, which consists of a forceful statement combined with evidence, is likely a delayed response to Peter's first or second denial. We have the same audience which witnessed Peter's earlier denial(s) and, thus, a stronger accusation is required. Therefore, Peter is probably still at the campfire. In Luke, all the action seems to take place around the campfire, and there is not the slightest hint that Peter left the area during the course of his three denials. JOHN: Peter is standing by the fire warming himself when the second accusation occurs, and the third accusation appears to follow immediately. The timing of the third denial MATTHEW: A little while passes. At the third denial the cock immediately crows. ("And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, 'Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.'") There is no hint of two cock's crows. MARK: A little while passes. At the third denial the cock immediately crowed a second time. ("And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him, 'Before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times.'") The next morning all the officials gather to plan their strategy; there is no evidence that Jesus was questioned further. LUKE: About an hour passes. Peter had not finished his third denial when the cock crowed. ("And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, 'Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.'") There is no hint that the cock crowed a second time. Luke actually tells us that the cock would not crow that day until the third denial! The next morning the chief priests and scribes gather and ask Jesus if he is the son of God. Jesus' answer causes one of them to ask, "What further testimony do we need?" The fatal question occurred that morning. Obviously, final judgment has not been pronounced before that moment. JOHN: Possibly only a few seconds have elapsed. The third accusation follows on the heels of the second, and it appears to challenge Peter's second denial. And, at once, the cock crowed.