Peter’s Denial

Workshop Leaders’ Bible Study

This workshop leader’s Bible study is a historical, theological, and contextual introduction to the Peter’s Denial rotation of Kirk of Kildaire’s Faith Quest workshop rotation program.  It is intended to provide workshop leaders with:

·       A historical context for understanding the Bible story.

·       A Biblical context for reading and teaching the story.

·       The theological basis for the concepts to be taught to the children.

In Kirk of Kildaire’s Faith Quest program, workshop leaders attend a one-hour Bible study two weeks prior to the start of a new rotation.  This Bible study helps workshop leaders understand how the concepts to be taught to the children are derived from the Bible story and how the lessons in the rotation fit together to reinforce the concepts.  It also provides an opportunity for the workshop leaders to grow in their own faith and understanding of the Bible.

It will be helpful to have a chalkboard, whiteboard, or flip chart for writing down questions or observations during the Bible study.

Note:  This is not a comprehensive study of the text, but only a few notes to help provide context and background for workshop leaders.  Consult titles cited in the reference list at the end of these notes for more information.



Matthew 26:31-35 and 57-75

Memory verse for this rotation:

            “All of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory.” — Romans 3:23 (CEV)


o    Jesus’ prophecies always come true.

o    We may deny our faith in Jesus, but Jesus is always faithful to us.

o    Like Peter, we can recognize our mistakes.

o    It is better to be a follower who fails than one who fails to follow.

o    Even though we all make mistakes, we can still do great things to honor God.


Prayer Concerns & Prayer

·       If workshop leaders do not know each other, give them an opportunity to introduce each other and say which workshop they will be leading.

·       Begin the Bible study by praying for God’s guidance as teachers begin a new rotation.

Reading the text

Ask a workshop leader to read the text aloud. Ask the workshop leaders what questions came to mind as they heard the story or read it before the Bible study.  Write down any questions that arise and will need to be answered during the Bible study.


Historical, Theological, and Biblical Contexts

Background on Matthew

            Scholars believe that Matthew was written anonymously around 90 AD in Antioch by a Greek-speaking Jewish-Christian who was probably a teacher in his community (Boring, 107).  The church later attributed the Gospel to Matthew to offer legitimacy.  The Gospel was probably written " to give direction to the community in a time of transition" (Spivey and Smith, 98).  Matthew is the only Gospel to actually use the term church to describe the community of believers (Boring, 97).  It is believed that Matthew's community was a wealthy urban community that had been dealing with a great deal of transition in the Jewish faith and leadership and began to turn its mission towards Gentiles (Boring, 100).



            Matthew is a Gospel, a unique and new genre.  It is a narrative whose intention is to tell about the revelation of God in the person of Jesus Christ and to describe the community of believers who follow this Jesus.  It is a historical document in the sense that it deals with a particular person (Jesus) in a particular context (Boring, 90).



            Matthew is made up primarily of 5 speeches or discourses by Jesus embedded in a narrative.  Both the narrative and the speeches are important.  Eugene Boring offers the following outline in his commentary (pp. 120-124):


I. The Conflict of Kingdoms Initiated and Defined 1:1-12:21

A.    A title for the gospel 1:1

B.    Jesus as Messianic King: Son of David and Son of God 1:2-25

C.    Conflict with the Kingdom of this age 2:1-23

D.    Jesus in relation to John the Baptist 3:1-4:17

E.     The Call of the Disciples 4:18-22

F.     The Authority of the Messiah 4:23-9:35

G.    The Disciples authorized and sent 9:36-10:42

H.    The Ministry of Jesus in relation to John the Baptist 11:1-19

I.       Conflict with the Kingdom of this age 11:20-12:14

J.      The Servant King 12:15-21

II. The Conflict of Kingdoms Developed and Resolved 12:22-28:20

A.    Conflict, Decision, and Gathering the True Community 12:22-50

B.    Speaking in parables 13:1-52

C.    The Formation of the new community amid continuing conflict 13:53-17:27

D.    Life together 18:1-35

E.     Conflict and ultimate polarization 19:1-22:46

F.     The Judgment Discourse 23:1-25:46

G.    Jesus' Passion and Resurrection 26:1-28:20




            Matthew is concerned with three main themes in his gospel.

1.     The Conflict of Kingdoms and the nature of the kingdom of God:  As Eugene Boring notes we see the “kingdom of God in the present, in conflict with the evil kingdom of this age, but ultimately triumphing over it” (112).

2.     The identity of Jesus Christ:  Jesus is portrayed as the divine Son of God, the new king who will inaugurate a new kind of kingdom, and the fulfillment of law and scripture.

3.     The identity of the true people of God:  They are characterized by discipline and forgiveness and are sent “in mission as representatives of Christ and with His authority” (Boring, 112).


             The writer of Matthew had several sources including the Gospel of Mark.  The scene in 31-35 has been reproduced from Mark almost exactly (Boring, 474).  The scene in verses 57-75 takes place at the house of Caiaphas and “is composed so as to juxtapose Jesus’ confession before the high priest with Peter’s denial in the high priest’s courtyard” (Boring, 479).  Matthew follows Mark’s lead in presenting the Jewish rather than the Roman leaders as the ones responsible for Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion (Boring, 479).

Interesting Words/Phrases/Ideas

v. 31 “skandalizo” = stumble over, be offended.  Even believers can stumble.  The kingdom that Jesus introduces is radically different than what is expected.  We find that even the disciples “will stumble at the prospect of a Christ who chooses to be crucified rather than to retaliate” (Boring, 474).

God is the one who will act to scatter sheep – God is in control.

v. 32-35  cock crow – third watch of the night.  Peter denies that he will desert Jesus.


v. 64 Jesus avoids using an oath (later Peter uses an oath and even curses when denying Jesus).  He does not directly answer the question put to him.

v. 65 “tore his clothes”  this was “a ritual expression of indignation when one hears blasphemy” (Boring, 480).

v. 67-68  The priests mock Jesus and challenge him to prophesy while in fact Jesus’ prophecies are already coming true both in the way he is being treated and in the way Peter is responding at that same moment to his challengers (Boring, 481).

v. 69-75  Peter represents all believers – he failed, repented, became a faithful follower and was “entrusted with the Christian mission” (Boring, 481).  Peter’s actions and words are most vividly viewed when compared directly with the actions and words of Jesus. 



·       The Conflict of Kingdoms and the nature of the kingdom of God:  Again we see that what Jesus has in mind conflicts with what the disciples expect.

·       The identity of Jesus Christ:  Jesus does not deny the claim that he is the Messiah, thereby confirming it as true.

·       The identity of the true people of God:  Peter is a representative of all believers- we all fall short of the example set for us by Jesus, but we can still do great things in God’s name.

Workshop Summaries

Ask each workshop leader to summarize his or her workshop.  As they do so, point out the concepts that each lesson reinforces.  Ask workshop leaders if they have any questions about the logistics or practical application of their lesson.

Antioch Arcade:  The children will play a game to reinforce their knowledge of the details of the story and will discuss the concepts being covered by the lesson.

Apostles’ Playhouse:  The children will explore and practice the movement games of mirroring and flocking and compare what they learn from that experience to Peter and his denial.  They will talk about how different things around us can distract us from being a good follower of Jesus.

Creation Station:  The children will create a portrait of sadness showing either their own face or Peter’s.  They will talk about how even though Peter made mistakes, he was still able to do great things for God.

Good News:  The children will meet Peter and ask him questions about his denial of Jesus.  They will learn how Peter went on to become the Rock of the Church and a very important disciple.

Holywood:  The children will view the VeggieTales video Larry-Boy! & the Fib From Outer Space!  They will discuss what makes someone not want to tell the truth, what happens when we lie, how to recover from lying, and compare two instances of this from the Bible story and from the video.

Review Questions

Return to the questions that were gathered at the start of the hour.  Have they been answered?  Are there any further questions about the Bible story or about the lessons?

Closing Prayer

Close the Bible study with a prayer.



Boring, M. Eugene. “Matthew.” New Interpreter’s Bible, vol. VIII. Leander Keck, et al. editors. (Nashville, Abingdon Press, 1995).  pp. 474-481..

Spivey, Robert A. and D. Moody Smith. Anatomy of the New Testament. (New Jersey, Prentice-Hall, 1995). pp. 97-129