Did The Cock Crow Once Or Twice?

Most people know the story of Jesus predicting that Peter would deny Him three times before the cock, male fowl, would crow. However, a term is added in the Gospel of Mark that seems to be at odds with the other Gospels.
Did The Cock Crow Once Or Twice?
Source - Image owned, uploaded and copyrighted 2015 by the author, Peter P. Macinta (BrotherPete).

No matter what canonical Gospel you read, every one of them contains the record of Christ going to the cross, dying on the cross, and being raised from the dead. With that, all four record the fact that Peter denied Jesus three times and all four mention the crowing of a male bird.

Matthew, Luke, and John record Christ as basically saying to Peter that Peter would deny Him three times “before the cock crows.” All these Gospels seem to indicate there was no crowing until Peter’s third denial.

The Gospel of Mark is a little different though. It records Christ as

stating (Mark 14:30), “Verily I say unto you, that this day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, you shall deny me thrice.” Sure enough, we read in verse 72, “And the second time the cock crew. And Peter called to mind the word that Jesus said unto him, Before the cock crows twice, you shall deny me thrice. And when he thought thereon, he wept.”

At first glance, this looks like Mark is in conflict with the other Gospels. He records Jesus as saying “twice” and upon the fulfillment of the prediction by the Holy Spirit writes, “And the second time the cock crew.” The word “twice” does not occur in the other Gospels’ account and all those Gospels mention only one crowing.

However, elsewhere in the Gospel of Mark we have an indicator of how all of this can be reconciled. In Mark 13 we have Christ’s discourse on the signs of His return. That chapter ends with a number of admonitions one of which is found in verse 35, “Watch therefore: for you know not when the master of the house comes, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning.”

Notice that a portion of time, most likely a 12 hour period, is punctuated by four points in time: even, midnight, the cockcrowing, and the morning. Also keep in mind the terms “once” or “one time" are not used by the other Gospels for Christ’s prediction and its fulfillment. Essentially all the other Gospels have Christ saying that “the cock shall not crow.” He does not use the terms “once” or “one time,” therefore He indicated the time of cockcrowing.

Though a lone cock might crow hours before the hint of dawn, there is that time just before or during sunrise that more than one bird crows. That is what we see in the Gospel of Mark. There was a lone crow at Peter’s first denial, but upon the third there was the second crow which initiated the male fowl’s fellows to “chime in.” I can imagine in my mind the chorus of crowing after Peter’s third denial, underscoring Peter’s failure to keep his word that he would not deny Christ, even if it meant death.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the Gospel of Mark, attributed to John Mark who had accompanied Paul and Barnabas on the first missionary journey (Acts 13:5), was most likely written around 64 to 68AD according to Unger{1}. Unger lists 58AD{2} for the year Luke was written. Most other Holy Bible scholars might offer slightly different dates, but in all cases that I have seen the Gospel of Luke was written before the Gospel of Mark. So Mark’s usage of the terms “twice” and “second time” might have been a way to clarify to his readers that,


if they had seen the Gospel of Luke, by the Holy Spirit Luke was speaking of the time of cockcrowing.

In regard to the Gospel of Mark, or any other Gospel for that matter, stating what Jesus had said it is good to keep in mind that such records are not necessarily direct quotes. Also, in some cases some things might be added for clarity or in other cases there are omissions or additions to bring out a specific point.

If you would like to compare all four Gospels concerning this matter of the prediction and fulfillment of Peter’s denial, here are the references{3}:

  • Christ’s prediction is found in Matthew 26:34; Mark 14:30; Luke 22:34; John 13:38.
  • The fulfillment of Christ’s prediction is found in Matthew 26:69-75; Mark 14:66-72; Luke 22:55-62; John 18:15-18 and 25-27.

Let us conclude, though, with a main point of the prediction and fulfillment of Peter’s denial. Until he is baptized in the Holy Spirit as recorded in the book of the Acts Of The Apostles, Peter operated mostly in his own strength. Though he was sincere in his statements of loyalty to Christ, he consistently trusted in himself. But upon going through failure he was then ready to receive the promised power from on high (Luke 24:9) and once he is filled with the Holy Spirit to overflowing unto supernaturally speaking in another language he never knew (Acts 2), he became quite bold against those who would restrict the preaching of the Gospel (Acts 4:13) and quite peaceful in Christ though facing death (Acts 12:1-19).

With that, for those that are true disciples of Christ we must always remember how frail we are and always depend upon the grace of God through Christ to enable us to stand firm in our faith despite affliction, persecution, or anything else that might come our way.

Notes:

{1} Unger, Merrill F.: Unger's Bible Handbook (Mood Press, Chicago, IL: 1967), p493

{2} Ibid. p511

{3} You can read these passages online at http://www.biblegateway.com or http://www.blueletterbible.org/ .

Find more apologetics information at http://www.sapphirestreams.com/life/api.html .

Unless otherwise noted all Holy Scripture is from the 1769 Authorized Version with spelling of some words updated for our time in addition to changing LORD to YHVH as it rightly should be when the text so indicates. An * next to the abbreviation for another translation or version indicates the same for the text presented.

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Article Written By BrotherPete

I am a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, having served over forty years as a pastor. I graduated from Northeast Bible College of Green Lane Pennsylvania and have a Bachelors Degree in Bible. I am enthused about the Word of God and how it can make a positive change in the life of anyone once it is teamed up with faith and the Holy Spirit. I am happily married. Visit www.sapphirestreams.com.

Last updated on 28-07-2016 287 2

Please login to comment on this post.
  • nbillett  28-12-2016
    It is one thing to judge the past external behaviours of a person, but it is what is taking place inside a person that speaks a most about the future.
    reply 0
  • ashutoshd dwivedi  08-02-2015

    right sir, we are pleased to the lord for mercy and this gives us the message to be have the faith to the lord.

    reply 0
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