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Mark 14:71

ESV But he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know this man of whom you speak.”
NIV He began to call down curses, and he swore to them, 'I don't know this man you're talking about.'
NASB But he began to curse himself and to swear, 'I do not know this man of whom you speak!'
CSB Then he started to curse and swear, "I don't know this man you're talking about! "
NLT Peter swore, 'A curse on me if I’m lying — I don’t know this man you’re talking about!'
KJV But he began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not this man of whom ye speak.

What does Mark 14:71 mean?

Peter is afraid. Not only is he the follower of the man who is on trial upstairs, he is the man who cut the ear off Malchus, one of the high priest's servants (John 18:10–11). Now Peter is surrounded by the high priest's other servants as well as his personal guard. In fact, one of the servants is related to Malchus (John 18:26). Immediately after Peter's assault, Jesus healed Malchus (Luke 22:51), and it was apparently too dark and chaotic for Jesus' arresters to get a good look at Peter, but between Peter's Galilean accent and the continued interest from the servant girls, the men with Peter around the fire are beginning to wonder.

To avoid his own punishment, Peter again uses an official judicial denial and adds an oath that tempts punishment. Jewish cultural oaths were usually along the lines of, "Let it be done to me and more also if I am lying." We see the formula from Jezebel (1 Kings 19:2) and Ruth (Ruth 1:17), among others. In his panic, Peter dares God to punish him for lying, as he lies.

"Know," as translated here, is from the Greek root word oikeios. It comes from the word for house, and means to be part of someone's household, someone's close friend. Peter is all these things to Jesus. He has traveled with Jesus for three years. Along with John and James, he is one of Jesus' closest friends. But whatever love he feels for Jesus, Peter has also been using Him. Peter is willing to follow Jesus because Jesus will restore Israel and give the disciples positions of power (Matthew 19:28). When it looks like this won't happen, Peter discovers his love is too shallow to be faithful to Jesus for Jesus' sake.

Jesus further addresses Peter's failing after the crucifixion when He reconciles their relationship (John 21:15–17). Three times Jesus asks Peter if Peter loves Him. The first two times, Jesus uses the word agape. Agape love includes all the feelings associated with love, but also an intentional self-sacrifice for the benefit of others (see 1 Corinthians 13). Peter responds that he feels phileo for Jesus—brotherly love. Peter has learned that he does not have in himself the courage or faithfulness to love Jesus sacrificially. Finally, Jesus asks Peter if he feels phileo for Jesus, and Peter answers in the affirmative. After Jesus ascends into heaven, when the Holy Spirit indwells Peter and the other Christ-followers (Acts 2:1–4), then Peter becomes what he always claimed to be: a faithful, fierce, courageous follower of Jesus.
What is the Gospel?
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