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©Michael Player

Chapter 18:15-18 (ESV)

Posted on September 17, 2023  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 18:15-18 (ESV) - Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he entered with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, but Peter stood outside at the door. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the servant girl who kept watch at the door, and brought Peter in. The servant girl at the door said to Peter, “You also are not one of this man's disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” Now the servants and officers had made a charcoal fire, because it was cold, and they were standing and warming themselves. Peter also was with them, standing and warming himself.

Question to consider: Why do you think Peter wanted to go inside the courtyard of the high priest?

Much of the debate around the authorship of this gospel account hinges on how a fisherman from Bethsaida and disciple of John the Baptist would even have had the ability to write the books he was supposed to have authored. If John was the author and made these references to himself as an unnamed disciple, it is also curious as to how he would be known to the high priest and be able to get Peter into his courtyard.

One theory is that John’s father, Zebedee, took the miraculous catch of fish given to Peter and the other boys and became a supplier to the priests in Jerusalem and so John was known by them (from Who’s Who of the Bible by Ronald Brownrigg). Maybe the catch was not only abundant but filled with the best tasting fish in all of Israel? 

Another possibility was that John, like Peter, had an amanuensis— someone well-versed in Greek and Hebrew who wrote down John’s dictated account. Like John Mark had occasionally interjected himself into Peter’s account in his gospel, this amanuensis could have done the same thing by calling himself “another disciple”. One such person could have been Jesus’ friend, Lazarus. Back in chapter 11, Lazarus was referenced as one whom Jesus loved, and if he really was once known as Simon the Pharisee, he would have had the inside connections to get Peter into the courtyard. There are other clues which I’ll point out later that may make more sense if they refer to Lazarus. The only thing that makes me question this idea is that the Pharisees were plotting the death of Lazarus at this point so I have my doubts that he wouldn’t be arrested at the gate.

Two others that make sense were Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea since they were part of the Sanhedrin, highly educated, and secret disciples. Personally, I lean toward the latter, because Nicodemus was mentioned a few times directly during Jesus’ ministry so it doesn’t make a lot of sense that he would be mentioned secretly here. Joseph’s name was only mentioned after Jesus’ death when he outed himself as a disciple in asking for Jesus’ body. Up until that point, he acted in secrecy so it stands to reason that he could get Peter into the courtyard. It also makes sense that he would be able to give us details about the trial since he would have been in the room when it took place.

When the servant girl questioned Peter, it was posed with the negative in mind like she didn’t really think the one asking her to let him in would have asked her to let in one of Jesus’ disciples. Of course, she had to ask because Peter had a Galilean accent and probably didn’t look like someone who belonged in the court of the high priest. Because of the way she asked, it would have been easy for Peter to say, “I am not.” That is probably how he justified it to himself— one little fib in order to get close enough to rescue Jesus if he saw an opportunity. So Peter stood by the fire and warmed himself as he looked for the moment in which he could fight for Jesus— just like he said he would do.


Dear heavenly Father, we ask that You help us to go out of our way to be truthful even when it is easier to lie. Thank You for Your promise to never leave us, nor forsake us. Please keep us from forsaking You. Amen.