Peter at the Charcoal Fire by Patrick Henry Reardon

As It Is Written . . .

Peter at the Charcoal Fire

by Patrick Henry Reardon

The Greek word anthrakia (cf. the English derivative “anthracite”), meaning a charcoal fire, is found only twice in the New Testament, both times in the Gospel according to St. John. The first instance is in 18:18 and designates the courtyard fire where the officers and servants of the high priest stood warming themselves through the chilly night of Jesus’ trial before the Sanhedrin. Simon Peter likewise came to that place and stood near a cousin of Malchus. It was there by the charcoal fire that Simon thrice denied even knowing our Lord, going so far as to confirm the denials with an oath.

It is most significant, surely, that that event, so embarrassing to the chief of the Twelve Apostles, is narrated in detail in each of the four canonical Gospels, for it is thus made to stand fixed forever in the memory of Holy Church. From this story, all believers down through the ages are to learn two lessons that they must never forget:

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Patrick Henry Reardon is pastor emeritus of All Saints Antiochian Orthodox Church in Chicago, Illinois, and the author of numerous books, including, most recently, Out of Step with God: Orthodox Christian Reflections on the Book of Numbers (Ancient Faith Publishing, 2019).

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