Book Logo CroppedBible Lessons


By Donald P. Moss

Related topics for this article....

Christ and the Disciples in Gethsemane - Spiritual Slumber

Three Denials of Peter

Three Reinstatements of Peter


Series Content


Series Introduction

Foreshadows Introduction

Volume 1 -THE GARDEN OF EDEN - Adam's Creation and His
Spiritual and
Physical Environments


Volume 3 - JOSEPH, EPHRAIM AND MANASSEH - A Foreshadow of God's Agenda for Jew and Gentile

Volume 4  - CROSSING THE JORDAN RIVER - A Foreshadow of Salvation for Jew and Gentile

Volume 5 - THE BOOK OF REVELATION - God's Agenda for the End Time


Volume 7  - CHRIST IN THE TABERNACLE - A Foreshadow of Redemption


Bible Lessons


This quick study is a sub-topic support for the foreshadows in Volume 5 - THE BOOK OF REVELATION - God's Agenda for the End Time.


The following scriptures are scriptural validation of the foreshadow of the three ministries of the gospel to the Gentiles. The tree ministries of the gospel are not literally revealed in scriptures, but are seen by overlaying the events in Peter's experiences with Christ. Peter's three denials of Christ, His three visions given him by the Holy Spirit and his three reinstatements by Christ on the shore of the lake are important events for Christians' understanding. No other apostle had experiences such as these. All of which revealed aspects of God's mercy and grace in each ministry of the gospel. This revelation is hidden manna in the New Testament.


The THREE VISIONS OF PETER is a special scripture included in the gospel for a specific purpose. Until one sees metaphorical foreshadowing in the gospel, then specific purposes for scriptures like the three visions of Peter will never be completely understood.

The Bible contains hidden manna concerning God's agenda for the ministry of the gospel (great commission) to Israel and to the Gentiles. Through foreshadows the church can better understand the full counsel of scriptures concerning the end time. With this insight the church will be inspired to be watchful and ready for Christ's coming for the church in pre-tribulation times. Many times in the gospel Christ exhorts the church to be watchful and ready (Matthew 25: 1-13) for His return because the church will not know the day or hour of his return, which will come "like a thief in the night" (I Thessalonians 5:2, Luke 12: 35-40, Matthew 24: 36-44, Mark 13: 32-37). The church's readiness and watchfulness will be greatly enhanced when confusion about end time agenda is eradicated with illumination of the Word.

Acts 10:9-19 (NIV) - About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. (10) He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. (11) He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. (12) It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles of the earth and birds of the air. (13) Then a voice told him, "Get up, Peter. Kill and eat." (14) "Surely not, Lord!", Peter replied. "I have never eaten anything impure or unclean." (15) Then the voice spoke to him a second time, "Do not call anything impure that God has made clean." (16) This happen three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back into heaven. (17) While Peter was wondering about the meaning of the vision, the men sent by Cornelius' house found out where Simon's house was and stopped at the gate. (18) They called out, asking if Simon who was known as Peter was staying there. (19) While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, "Simon, three men are looking for you. (20) So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them."

This vision is a foreshadow of the gospel being sent to the Gentile nations and is concerned with Christ's sending Peter to Cornelius' house with the gospel. Cornelius is a Roman Centurion (Gentile) in the Italian Regiment (Acts 10:1).

Peter's vision contains images of clean and unclean animals as defined in the Mosaic Law (Leviticus 11). Peter, having a Jewish religious background and knowledge of the Law, did not want to kill and eat unclean animals. But, the vision is not concerned with the actual eating of animals, it is concerned with the Gentiles, who are thought to be unclean by Jewish tradition because they are not circumcised and they do not follow ceremonial rites nor do they attend festivals established under the Law.

Christ tells Peter not to call them unclean because He has made them clean. Meaning, the Gentiles are not to be rejected just because they are not under the Law of circumcision or ceremonial rites of clean and unclean food, etc.

"While Peter was wondering about the meaning of the vision" three men from Cornelius' house arrived at the gate and the Holy Spirit told him to go with them to preach the gospel to the household of Cornelius, a Gentile. Peter was wondering about the meaning of the vision because he had never previously thought about God having an agenda for the Gentiles. At the time of this vision, God's agenda for the gospel was still hidden in Him until after the resurrection of Jesus (mystery of God). Paul was the apostle chosen by God to receive revelation of the mystery of God. Without a doubt, this scripture is concerned with foreshadowing the ministry of the gospel to the Gentiles.

Peter was given this vision three times, not because it was difficult to communicate with Peter, but rather because this vision contains hidden manna about God's three ministry agenda for the gospel.


These scriptures reveal spiritual dynamics associated with each of the three ministries of the gospel.


Matthew 26:36-44 (KJV) -

Verse 36 - Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and He saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.

Verse 37 - And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee and began to be sorrowful and very heavy.

Verse 38 - Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.

"Watch" - (Strong's Concordance - Greek) #1127 - gregoreuo (gray-gor-yoo'-o); from #1453; to keep awake, i.e. watch (literally or figuratively): metaphorically, to give strict attention to, to be cautious, to take heed lest through remission and indolence some destructive calamity suddenly overtake one

#1453 egeiro (eg-i'-ro); to arouse from sleep, to awake; to arouse from the sleep of death, to recall the dead to life; to raise up, that is, to cause to be born.

The Greek word egeiro, reveals Christ seeing into the future rather than seeing the event of the current moment. His exhortation to watch is centered on the time of his death and resurrection. After which, his followers will be born again by faith. This is a time when He is not in their presence, but has gone ahead of them into the kingdom of God. Thus, He says to tarry and watch while he is in heaven and until he returns to them again at his second advent, even as He left and returned to them in the Garden of Gethsemane. If the church is watching, the church will not be caught sleeping or in spiritual slumber when Christ returns.

Matthew 26 (Con't) -

Verse 39 - And He went a little further, and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me: nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt." (40) And He cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, "What, could ye not watch with Me one hour?"

"Sleep" - (Brown-Driver-Brigg's Concordance) #2518 katheudo (kath-yoo'-do); to lie down to rest, i.e. (by implication) to fall asleep (literally or figuratively): metaphorically: to yield to sloth and sin, to be indifferent to one's salvation.

"Sleep" - (Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words) - katheudo #2518, "to go to sleep," In the epistles of Paul it is used as follows: (a) of natural "sleep," e. g., 1 Thessalonians. 5:7; (b) of carnal indifference to spiritual things on the part of believers, Ephesians. 5:14; 1 Thessalonians 5:6,10 (as in Mark 13:36), a condition of insensibility to divine things involving conformity to the world.

Christians in the future will have to be watchful and alert to avoid spiritual slumber. A slumber that is due to carnal indifference to spiritual things, to be insensitive to divine things. Through this carnal indifference, Christians will unwittingly yield to sloth and sin.

When Christ returns He will find many in the church slothful, in a spiritual state of slumber and indifferent to their own salvation and spiritual things. The book of Revelation addresses the issue of carnal indifference to spiritual things in the seven letters to the seven churches - See For the Eyes of Your Understanding - Volume 6.

There is another parable that reveals the effects of spiritual slumber.

Matthew 13:24-30 (KJV) - Another parable put He forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man who sowed good seed in his field: (25) But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way (26) But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. (27) So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? From whence then hath it tares? (28) He said unto them, "An enemy hath done this". The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? (29) But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. (30) Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.

Christ's call for the Christian to be watchful is a call to be on guard and do not slumber. Lest the enemy will sow carnal indifference to spiritual and divine things. At the time of harvest (end time) the wheat will be separated from the tares and gathered into the kingdom of God. The time of harvest is a time for judging between carnal things (things common to man) and divine things (things sown by God's Word). 

Matthew 26 (Con't) -

Verse 41 - Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

"Temptation" (Thayer's Expository) #3986 peirasmos (pi-ras-mos'); from #3985; a putting to proof by experiment; adversity.

#3985 peirazo (pi-rad'-zo); from #3984; to test objectively. To try whether a thing can be done, to attempt, to endeavor

#3984 peira (pi'-rah); from the base of #4008 (through the idea of piercing); a test, i.e. attempt, experience: to learn to know by experience.

#4008 peran - beyond, on the other side

Temptation is a test of the Christian's faith. The word temptation is based in "peran" meaning it comes from beyond, the other side (dark side). From peran the word "peira" is derived, meaning that man will learn to know faith by experiencing faith during times of testing by spiritual forces. Then "peirazo" means this testing is objective, to test one's faith for patience and perseverance. "Peira" means this testing results in an experiential knowledge of faith, as compared with to an intellectual knowledge of faith. Faith moves from head knowledge and is etched in our souls through experience. Then "peirasmos" means passing the test of our faith provides proof to us that through our faith in Christ we overcome.

Satan sets his snares through carnal enticements which tempt one to deny God by denying His Word. Temptation is continually pressing in cause a separation between God and His children. When tempted Christians need to recall the words of Christ when He was tempted by the satan - Matthew 4:3-4 (KJV) - And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. (4) But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

This temptation is again expressed in -

Psalms 95:8 (KJV) - Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness.

The Israelites' time in the desert was a time of temptation. From the other side, God told them that He had given them the promise land, to go and take possession of it (peran). This command was an objective test of their faith in God's word (peirazo). This experience of faith would be a lesson in learning by experience (peira). If their faith was steadfast they would gain victory and their faith would be proven by the experience (peirasmos). God's plan was to change their character through faith with signs and wonders. But, the Israelites, except Joshua and Caleb, retreated from victory by doubting their ability to stand against the giants in the land. So, they failed to experience God's ability working through them by faith. Adversity to faith is doubt. The spirit of fear lured them into denying God's spoken promise. 

Remember, after Adam disobeyed God, he responded to God's call "Adam where are you? - Genesis 3:9-10 (KJV) - And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? (10) And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.

Adam, because of his shame and guilt, was afraid. He hid himself from God because fear caused him to be defensive in his reaction to God's call. Adam sensed he was naked because he lost his purity and innocence. Sin results in a relational separation from God.

Forty years later Joshua led the Israelites to take the promise land by conquest. In addressing the nation on the east side of the Jordan River, giving them instructions received from God, he repeatedly told the Israelites to be "strong and courageous" while taking possession of the land. Surely, Joshua did not want the Jews to, once again, waver in their faith when tempted by the spirit of fear.

Temptation is not from God.

Luke 4:13 (KJV) - And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season.

It was the devil who tempted Jesus in the desert, and it is the devil's tempting the believer to disobey God's Word. The devil desires that every born again Christian lose faith in God. But, God allows temptation because it is necessary for the proofing and manifestation of steadfast faith.

Temptation places the believer at the crossroads of making a decision between man's ideas (vain precepts of man's truth) and God's spiritual truths. Faith and decision of the believer is proven by his faithful perseverance, submission, commitment and devotion to God and His Word. If he chooses carnally, his heart will be weighted down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, etc. Carnal indifference to the Word of God will cause the believer to slumber. At the end time the believer's ability to escape forthcoming tribulation events will be proven genuine by his spiritual alertness and faith. Luke 18:8 (NIV) -...However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?"

Matthew 26 (Con't) -

Verse 42 - He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from Me, except I drink it, Thy will be done.

Verse 43 - And He came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy.

Verse 44 - And He left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.

Three separate times Christ came to his disciples and found them sleeping and not watching. In a literal perspective, this three-visitation scenario makes little sense. But, when considering the fact that Christ is seeing into the future, it makes sense in the light of the three ministries of the gospel. With each ministry of the gospel, there is a call to watch and pray, so the believer will not fall into spiritual slumber and the temptation to be complacent and carnally indifferent to spiritual things. When Christ returns for the church, will he find disciples in spiritual slumber? Or, will He find pro-active faith? This is the call of God through His word - Luke 12:35-36 (NIV) - "Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, (36) like men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door. This verse of scripture states that those who are dressed for service (alert servants) and those whose lamps are burning (vibrant zealous faith) will immediately receive Him when he returns (Second Advent).

1 Corinthians 3:12-15 (KJV) - Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; (13) Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. (14) If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. (15) If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

Every Christian's work of service to God will be judged by fire. If his service abides through judgment, he will receive his reward immediately. If his work does not pass judgment he will suffer loss of the pre-tribulation reward. He will still be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames of the seven year tribulation. The pre-tribulation judgment of the church raises the issue and questions the precept that the whole corporate body of Christ will be harvested at pre-tribulation.

When the church realizes that some will receive the pre-tribulation reward and some will loose the reward, the Christian will examine himself to see if he qualifies or disqualifies for the reward. This will result in the revival of the body of Christ, and the corporate church will desire and will seek to hear the words - Matthew 25:21 (NIV) - "His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'

Some times Christians will not wake from spiritual slumber until they realize their slumberness will cost them when Christ judges the corporate body of Christ.

The question for each Christian is this - When Christ suddenly comes will He find watchfulness and alertness or will He find spiritual slumber and carnal indifference to spiritual things?



The thrust of the gospel is an invitation to accept Christ as Savior and Lord. Once a person has heard the gospel, he must accept or deny what he has heard. He must choose. Not making a choice is to refuse the gospel.

John 3:36 (NIV) - "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him."

Denial of Christ separates one from grace and eternal life. He remains in a mortal state of darkness and death. He must turn to God to be saved from eternal death. God is in a systematic process of eliminating sin from His total creation; man, earth and heaven. It is not sensible to think that God will allow sin to occupy the total creation for an indefinite time. God is pure and holy and is raising up a body of believers without spot or blemish - Ephesians 5:27 (KJV) - That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. He will not allow sin to endure indefinitely.

If he accepts Christ then his sins are forgiven by God and he is under grace! He is reborn, a new creation in Christ! The blood of Christ covers him and he is saved. This begins his transformation as a child of God.

To deny the gospel is to deny Christ because Christ is the Word - John 1:1, 14 (KJV) - In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (14) And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

The three denials occur in Matthew 26:65-75. Christ predicted Peter's denials in the following account;

Matthew 26: 31-35 (NIV) - Then Jesus told them, "This very night you will all fall away on account of Me, for it is written: `I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.' (32) But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee." (33) Peter replied, "Even if all fall away on account of You, I never will." (34) "I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times." (35) But Peter declared, "Even if I have to die with You, I will never disown You."

During each ministry of the gospel, those who follow Christ will be persecuted on account of His name. Peter's denial was based in fear. Peter was afraid that he also would also be crucified with Jesus. Peter had to choose between taking up his cross and following Christ or to deny he knew Him. Peter chose to deny Christ. After his third denial he began to call down curses on himself -

Matthew 26:74 (NIV) - Then he began to call down curses on himself and he swore to them, "I don't know the man!" His third denial was different from his first two denials. His third denial brought down consequences. This is a metaphor of God's agenda revealing a unique event after the third ministry of the gospel. Meaning, after the third ministry of the gospel there will be a periods of great wrath for those who have denied Christ, first for the Jews and then for the Gentiles.

Peter's denial occurred prior to his receiving the power of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. After Pentecost Peter's fear of persecution for following Christ turned to joy.

Acts 5: 41-42 (NIV) - The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. (42) Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.

So, with every gospel ministry there will be the temptation to deny Christ; to refuse to repent when God's Word calls for repentance, continuing to hold on to old habits and behavioral patterns.

Christ's Prediction of Peter's Three Denials As Recorded in the Gospel of John.

John 13: 36-38 (NIV) - Simon Peter asked him, "Lord, where are you going?" Jesus replied, "Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later." (37) Peter asked, "Lord, why can't I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you." (38) Then Jesus answered, "Will you really lay down your life for me? I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!"

The call of the disciple is to "deny himself and take up his cross and follow me" - Matthew 16:24 (NIV). The essence of Christianity is based in self denial. But, the adversary satan tempts the Christian to not deny self, but to deny Christ, as Lord. The question is asked of every Christian "Will you really lay down your life for Christ?"

One unrepentant denial is enough to turn away from Christ. Why does the scripture include three denials of Peter?

The three denials of Peter foreshadow the spiritual dynamic for each of the three ministries of the gospel to the Gentiles. When the testimony of Christ is heard, it must be accepted or denied.



Likewise, the three reinstatements of Peter foreshadow forgiveness as an integral part for each of the three ministries of the gospel. Through repentance and rededication of their lives to "feeding his sheep", Christ forgives and reinstates those who have denied him.

John 21:15-17 (NIV) - When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?" "Yes, Lord," he said, "You know that I love you." Jesus said, "Feed my lambs." (16) Again, Jesus said, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me?" He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Take care of my sheep." (17) The third time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" He said, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Feed my sheep."

Each ministry of the gospel is based in forgiveness and reinstatement for those who backslide or fall away. Reinstatement for the backslider is activated by truly loving Jesus. This is the reason Jesus asked Peter three times if he truly loved him.

Once reinstated the Christian is commissioned to be involved in the ministry of the gospel according to the call God places on him. The complete Christian experience cannot be attained apart from the ministry of grace and love to others. Christ's call to those who have fallen away, "(your name) do you love me? Then feed my lambs". Re-instatement is based in love for Jesus. Love for God empowers each Christian for ministry.

In summary, denial of Christ will always be overcome by Christ's forgiveness when the Christian repents. Christ always restores those who repent and turn back to him with all their heart. This is a spiritual dynamic that was established in the Old Testament.

Deuteronomy 30:1-4 (NIV) - When all these blessings and curses I have set before you come upon you and you take them to heart wherever the Lord your God disperses you among the nations, (2) and when you and your children return to the Lord your God and obey him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command you today, (3) then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you. (4) Even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens, from there the Lord your God will gather you and bring you back.

Christ will reinstate, restore and bless anyone who repents and re-dedicates his life to following Christ. Forgiveness empowered by love is the foundation of the ministry of the gospel. In each gospel ministry there will be denials of Christ and there will be God's forgiveness and reinstatement.