According to everything I have ever learned, forgiveness is based on repentance. This usually requires asking God for forgiveness for our sins.
Weeping bitterly is not a sign of repentance. It is likened to a criminal that has been caught.

The account in John shows a post-death picture of Jesus and Peter. Not only did Peter not make amends, say I'm sorry, anything at all.
He could not tell Jesus he loved him.
There is nowhere an indication that Peter was sorry for denying Jesus.
There was no way he could say he did not know who Jesus was.
God told him personally.
His behavior borders on the unforgivable sin.
People cite Peter's work after the fact. That is not the question.
Did Peter ever ask for forgiveness? Why not?

Also being exasperated that Jesus asked him three times, if he loved him, is not a sign of repentance. Weeping bitterly and exasperated are not signs of repentance.

Why would Jesus ever give his role as shepherd to someone like this?

  • You're saying that none of these are signs of repentance (weeping bitterly and reassuring someone of your love), when all of these are things that people throughout the Bible have done as signs of repentance. What is the basis for your claims about repentance?
    – user32540
    Nov 15, 2018 at 15:26
  • Reassuring love would work. Peter said he had affection for Jesus. Jesus gave him three chances to change his answer. Repentance is a pretty deep subject, but off the top of my head, I would say being sorry would be a start. Asking Jesus to forgive him . This is what any normal person does when they feel they have wronged someone.
    – we'emeth
    Nov 15, 2018 at 16:49
  • I suppose it just depends on your translation. Some of my translations say "affection" and some say "love".
    – user32540
    Nov 15, 2018 at 17:10
  • Jesus uses three different words for love in John 21:15-17. Take this to Biblical Hermeneutics SE. Nov 15, 2018 at 19:14
  • 1
    This question is too subjective here. Ask a Catholic, ask a Baptist, ask a Mormon, ask a Jehovah’s Witness... there are no’Truth Answers’ on this site. Nov 17, 2018 at 23:11

3 Answers 3


Yes, Peter did repent, which Jesus calls "turning back" (from his betrayal):

Luke 22:31-32 (DRB) And the Lord said: Simon, Simon, behold Satan hath desired to have you [plural], that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and thou, being once converted, confirm thy brethren.

The Greek ποτε επιστρεψας (here translated "being once converted") means "when thou shall have turned back." Strongs's Definition of ἐπιστρέφω: "to revert (literally, figuratively or morally)."

There is no physical turning in context to be had. This must refer to his betrayal and subsequent repentance.

  • Betrayal would definitely call for an apology. And to have to return morally would infer that Peter knowingly sinned. This would also call for an apology. Jesus prayer for Peter still doesn't seem like an apology. Peter had the opportunity to apologize. He got to the beach before the others. I would think that morally turning from a betrayal would start with a simple apology.
    – we'emeth
    Nov 15, 2018 at 23:44
  • Well Jesus presumably prayed that Jesus would forgive him; or rather had forgiveness already. Nov 15, 2018 at 23:50
  • Jesus being able to forgive I'm sure is the best option for Peter at this point.
    – we'emeth
    Nov 16, 2018 at 0:37
  • Did Peter take it? Did he ask Jesus for forgiveness?
    – we'emeth
    Nov 16, 2018 at 0:39
  • 1
    So in essence you have admitted you [have no need to ask this question] (know the answer)? Also, the Bible doesn't say Peter didn't ask for forgiveness, so you have committed the fallacy of argument from silence... sorry. Nov 16, 2018 at 22:21

John 21:15-19 is where Jesus asks Peter three times, "Lovest thou me?" To understand what is going on in this exchange, you need to know the context.

In Matthew 26:33, before Peter denied Jesus, he basically said that he loved Jesus more than anyone else. "Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended. I would die before I would deny you."

So, after Peter's thrice denial, meeting Jesus again, he is waiting for the "I told you so." Jesus asks first, "Do you still think you love (agape) me more than anyone else?" Agape is the love where you lay down your life for another. Peter's sheepish reply in effect says, "I would characterize my love more like brotherly love." I've been busted. I'm embarrassed. Don't rub it in. Can we move on?

So Jesus changes the question a little: "Do you agape me? Maybe not more than everyone else, but still, do you agape me?" Peter is not going to be boastful again, so he sticks with the brotherly love, having already proved that his love was not the agape variety.

Then Jesus changes the question again: "So you would characterize your love as brotherly love?" Peter, wishing Jesus would move on and not press the point, agrees: "Yes, my love for you is brotherly love."

At that point Jesus says, Peter, you are once again mistaken. Your love is agape love. Jesus then proceeded to tell Peter how he would lay down his life to the glory of God.

Thank God He does not write us off after we make a mistake(s).

  • A mistake? No a knowingly lie. A disownment. After accurate knowledge , chooses to house Satan in opposition to Jesus mission. Way to excuse Peter for treating our Lord like the enemy.
    – we'emeth
    Nov 25, 2018 at 13:38
  • Mt 26:33...clearly Peter lied.
    – we'emeth
    Nov 25, 2018 at 13:41
  • Also Cephas stands condemned by James and reprimanded by Paul. Which reinforces his refusal of grace. Not all accept the gift of forgiveness. Wouldn't he just out of respect alone apologize?
    – we'emeth
    Nov 25, 2018 at 13:49
  • @we'emeth It is uncharitable to attribute to malice that which can be explained by simple error. Maybe it would be of value to take an introspective look into why you find no Christian charity in your heart for Peter. I've run into similar problems before, in terms of manifesting that same lack. Nov 25, 2018 at 17:18
  • I love Jesus more than Peter. Peter simply chose Satan over God. By having Divine knowledge of Christ. Having personally attended the transfiguration made his denial put him on the enemies side.
    – we'emeth
    Nov 26, 2018 at 0:47

Mankind cannot avoid being forgiven by their own action or inaction

You ask

Why would Jesus ever give his role as shepherd to someone like this?

Because Jesus is more forgiving than you are, and doubtless more forgiving than I am. Your question includes a wide variety of signs and behaviors that, in your opinion, are preconditions for forgiveness. Forgiveness doesn't require any precondition.

God's love is unconditional, as is the love Jesus has for us. We can be forgiven without being or acting repentant.

  • That said, in Catholic tradition, for example, remission of sins and absolution is considered to be incomplete without sincere repentance on the part of the sinner when confession mortal sins and seeking to turn back toward God, toward Christ.

    But none of that restricts God', nor Christ's, ability to forgive. Put another way, no action of a sinner can prevent divine forgiveness. We don't have the power.

    Example: I can forgive my wife, or my enemy, or as Pope John Paul II did I can forgive someone who tried to shoot and kill me. Forgiveness is a gift given that is In No Way contingent upon the actions of the recipient.

The problem to solve in your question isn't Peter being forgiven; it is in your misunderstanding of how forgiveness works. It's a common misunderstanding of more than forgiveness.

Some things can only be given

Thanks can only be given. I can't take your thanks.
An apology can only be given. You can't take an apology from me.
Love can only be given. You can't take love from someone.
Likewise, forgiveness. It can only be given. You can't stop me from forgiving you, but you could, for example, not accept an apology. (but I'd still have offered or given it)

About Jesus' forgiveness, and his unconditional giving

With Jesus dying on the Cross, he gave all of his humanity for the forgiveness of all of mankind (not just me, not just you, and not just Peter). Jesus' forgiveness is of a divine quality. It didn't matter what Peter did, or did not, do. Jesus' forgave, and forgives, him. And you. And Sola Gratia. And me.

Luke 23:34

Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do

This answer was a challenge to the frame of the question.


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