In Matthew 26:34, we see Jesus telling Peter that before rooster crows, you will disown me three times:

“Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” NIV

However, in Mark, it says the rooster will crow twice:

“Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.” NIV

Is this a discrepancy, or is the language used in Matthew allow for plurality? What is the significance of the rooster crowing twice?

  • A belated welcome to BH.SE. Did you get the sort of answer you were looking for? There are lots of examples of Matthew "correcting" or "simplifying" Mark. In this case, the way Mark presents Jesus' words is a bit convoluted and Matthew gets right to the point: "you will disown me three times and then the rooster will crow." Was there something more you were asking about?
    – Jon Ericson
    Jan 23 '12 at 18:57

One issue is that Mark was written in Rome about 30 years after the actual events. According to the earliest tradition of Papias, Origen, and Tertullian, the source of the account was actually the Apostle Peter.

While some commentators maintain that the “twice” refers to specific points of time—midnight and dawn, respectively—A Dictionary of Christ and the Gospels, edited by James Hastings, indicates that

“as a matter of fact cocks crow during the night, in the East as elsewhere, at irregular times from midnight onward.”

Apparently, Jesus was not referring to the specific time when Peter would deny him. Rather, he was giving a sign to mark his words to Peter, which were accurately fulfilled that very night. I find it interesting and noteworthy that this is exactly the kind of detail that Peter would have remembered of the account and thus would have passed this onto Mark to record in his writing.

  • The early Church Fathers held that Mark's Gospel account was more or less dictated to him by Peter.
    – user33515
    Jun 24 '19 at 20:53

This sort of detail is something that scholars use to support the concept of Markan priority. The line of thinking is that Mark generally includes more granular details than the other accounts (as the one you mentioned above). The next step is that this would imply that Mark was temporally "closer" to the original event and so was able to recall/include these events (perhaps from Peter).


The rooster could not have been the actual bird. First, this was the night prior to the Passover. There would not have been any foul inside the city gates in preparation of this event. Secondly, the term "rooster crowing" was a common term relating to the third watch as recorded in Mark 13:35. The third watch 'rooster' is the guard tower calling out the end of the watch.


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