Stand​ Down and See the End: Peter’s Characterization in the Gospels


Peter, Gospels, Bible, biblical studies, New Testament


Peter’s bold, passionate, and zealous personality is readily grasped from the New Testament text. At times Peter’s eagerness lands him in trouble as Jesus has to restrain and redirect him. Peter’s denial of Christ[1] at the high priest’s house is one of the most well-known episodes of the Gospels, but it seems to contradict the portrayal of Peter’s zealousness that we grow accustomed to from other Gospel episodes. This paper will examine Peter’s denial by applying narrative methodology to the depiction of Peter in the Gospels. While we cannot know exactly what was in Peter’s mind that night, we can benefit from closely examining the New Testament text and the interactions between Jesus and Peter leading up to this pivotal moment. Several times Jesus had to tell Peter in effect to “stand down.” By the time of the trial at the high priest’s residence, Peter was simply following behind to “see the end” (Matthew 26:58). Peter was no longer ready to engage others in defense of his Master, but he still followed to see what would happen (while most of the other Apostles fled from the Garden of Gethsemane and abandoned their Master). Through the narrative study of earlier episodes, it becomes apparent that Peter often acted out of fear, ignorance, and impulsiveness—characteristics also revealed in the denial scene.

Original Publication Citation

“Stand Down and See the End: Peter’s Characterization in the Gospels.” In The Ministry of Peter, the Chief Apostle. 43rd Annual Sperry Symposium. Ed. Frank F. Judd Jr., Eric D. Huntsman, and Shon D. Hopkin. Provo and Salt Lake City: BYU Religious Studies Center and Deseret Book Company, 2014; 67-90.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Religious Studies Center




Religious Education


Ancient Scripture

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor