Jesus said to him, Truly I say to you, That this night, before the cock crow, you shall deny me thrice.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Thou shalt deny me thrice.—The agreement of all the four Evangelists places the fact of the prediction beyond the shadow of a doubt, and the prevision which it implies is obviously more than a general insight into the instability of the disciple’s character, and involves a power essentially superhuman. We must not forget what the disciple could not fail to remember, that to the sin thus foretold was attached the penalty, that he who was guilty of it should be “denied before the angels of God” (Luke 12:9). That was the law of retribution, but as with all such laws, the penalty might be averted by repentance.
Before the cock crow - Mark and Luke add, before the cock crowed twice. The cock is accustomed to crow twice once at midnight, and once in the morning at break of day. The latter was commonly called cock-crowing. See Mark 13:35. This was the time familiarly known as "the cock-crowing," and of this Matthew and John speak, without referring to the other. Mark and Luke speak of the "second" crowing, and mean the same time, so that there is no contradiction between them.
Deny me thrice - That is, as Luke adds, deny that "thou knowest" me. See Matthew 26:74.
For the exposition, see on Lu 22:31-38.See Poole on "Matthew 26:35".
that this night before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice; which is, as if he should say, thou wilt not only be offended because of me, and flee from me, and be scattered with the rest, as will be the case of all of you; but thou wilt deny that thou knowest me, that thou belongest to me, or hast any concern with me; and this thou wilt do not only once, but again and again, even three times, one after another, and that this very night, before the cock has done crowing. In Mark it is said, "that this day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice",
Mark 14:30; which may be reconciled with the words of Matthew, and the other evangelists, by observing, that the word "twice" is not in Beza's ancient copy, which he gave to the university of Cambridge, nor is it in the Ethiopic version; which if allowed to be the true reading, the difficulty is removed at once; but whereas it is in other copies, no stress must be laid on this, nor is there any need of it: for whereas the cock crows twice in the night, once at midnight, and again near break of day; and which latter crowing being louder, and more welcome, and most taken notice of, is, by way of eminence, called the cock crowing; and is what Matthew here has respect to, and so designs the same as Mark does; and the sense of both is, that before the cock crow a second time, which is most properly the cock crowing, Peter should three times deny his master, as he did; see Mark 13:35, where cock crowing is distinguished from midnight, the first time the cock crows, and means the second time of crowing; and where Mark is to be understood in the same sense as Matthew, and both entirely agree. So cock crowing and midnight are distinguished by the Jews, who say (b),
"that on all other days they remove the ashes from the altar, , "at cock crowing", or near unto it, whether before or after; but on the day of atonement,
and who also speak of the cocks crowing a first and second, and even a third time (c),
"Says R. Shila, he that begins his journey before cock crowing, his blood be upon his head. R. Josiah says, he may not proceed , "until he repeats"; that is, until he crows twice: and there are, who say, until he trebles it, or crows a third time: of what do they speak? of a middling one, i.e. which neither crows too soon, nor too late.Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Matthew 26:34 f. Πρὶν ἀλέκτορα φωνῆσαι] before a cock crows, therefore before the day begins to dawn. Cock-crowing occurs in the third of the four night watches (see on Matthew 14:24), which watch lasted from midnight till about three o’clock, and is called ἀλεκτοροφωνία in Mark 13:35. For the opposite of the πρὶν ἀλ. φων., see Plat. Symp. p. 223 C: πρὸς ἡμέραν ἤδη ἀλεκτρυόνων ᾀδόντων; Lucian, Ocyp. 670: ἐπεὶ δʼ ἀλέκτωρ ἡμέραν ἐσάλπισεν; Horace, Sat. i. 1. 10. For a later modification of the expression in conformity with the repeated denials, see Mark 14:30. On the question as to whether or not ἀλέκτωρ can be considered good Greek, consult Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 228 f. This prediction as to the time was subsequently confirmed by the actual crowing of a cock, Matthew 26:74.
ἀπαρνήσῃ με] thou wilt deny me, deny that I am thy Lord and Master. Comp. Celsus in Origen, ii. 45: οὔτε συναπέθανον οὔτε ὑπεραπέθανον αὐτοῦ, οὐδὲ κολάσεων καταφρονεῖν ἐπείσθησαν, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἠρνήσαντο εἶναι μαθηταί. For σὺν σοὶ ἀποθ. comp. John 11:16.
ἀπαρνήσομαι] The future after οὐ μή (see Hartung, Partikell. p. 157; Winer, p. 471 f. [E. T. 635]) is rather more expressive of a confident assertion than the subjunctive, the reading of A E G, etc.
ὁμοίως καὶ πάντες, κ.τ.λ.] Considering the sincere but as yet untried love of each, this is not an improbable statement, though it is found only in Matthew and Mark.Matthew 26:34. ἐν. τ. τ. ν., repetition of statement in Matthew 26:31, with added emphasis (ἀμὴν, etc.), and = never? This night I tell you.—πρὶν ἀλέκτορα φωνῆσαι: more exact specification of the time to make the statement more impressive = before the dawn.—ἀλέκτωρ, poetic form for ἀλεκτρυών. This fowl not mentioned in O. T.; probably introduced into Palestine after the exile, possibly from Babylon (Benzinger, pp. 38, 94). Not allowed to be kept in Jerusalem according to Lightfoot, but this is contradicted by others (Schöttgen, Wünsche). In any case the prohibition would not apply to the Romans. Though no hens had been in Jerusalem, Jesus might have spoken the words to mark the time of night.—τρὶς, thrice, suggestive of denial in aggravated form; on which, not on the precise number of times, as an instance of miraculous prediction, stress should be laid.34. before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice] “This day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice” (Mark). A curious difficulty has been raised here from the fact that it was unlawful for Jews to keep fowls in the Holy City. Such rules, however, could not be applied to the Romans.Matthew 26:34. Ἐν ταύτῃ τῇ νυκτὶ in this very night) It was already night; and it was more wonderful that this should happen by night than by day.—πρὶν, before that) A considerable portion of the night remains after cock-crow. Peter’s never, therefore, is utterly refuted.—ἀλέκτορα, the cock) The bird here intended is that strictly so called, cf. Mark 13:35; see 3Ma 5:23. There were some of them in Jerusalem, though, as Lightfoot says, they were few in number, at least with the Jews. They could not, however, prevent the Romans from having them; and so much the more wonderful, therefore, was our Lord’s prediction.—φωνῆσαι, crow) St Mark adds δὶς, twice. The sense in St Matthew is, Before the cock crow once thou shalt deny Me, and thou shalt deny Me thrice.—τρὶς, thrice) The Saviour knows us much better than we know ourselves.—ἀπαρνήσῃ, thou shalt deny) The sin of the mouth shall be added to the offence of the heart.
 The sin of the mouth is hurtful to faith.—V. g.Verse 34. - Peter's boast elicits a crushing reply from his Lord, foretelling the special sin of which he would be guilty, and the very time of the night when it should be committed. This night, before the cock crow. The word "cock" is without the article, so the meaning may be "before a cock crow;" i.e. probably before midnight. Cocks were unclean birds, and not kept by strict Jews, and their voice was not much heard in Jerusalem; though it is quite different now, where barn door fowls swarm round every house. One of the night watches, that about 3 a.m., was known as "cock-crow" (see Mark 13:35). Some think this is what is meant here. Thou shalt deny me thrice. What Peter denied was that he knew anything of Christ, or had ever been his follower (see vers. 69-75; Luke 22:34).
A little more graphic if the article is omitted, as in the Greek. Before a single cock shall be heard, early in the night, thou shalt deny me. Dr. Thomson ("Land and Book") says that the barn-door fowls "swarm round every door, share in the food of their possessors, are at home among the children in every room, roost overhead at night, and with their ceaseless crowing are the town-clock and the morning-bell to call up sleepers at early dawn."
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