“But whosoever shall DENY me before men, him will I also DENY before my Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:33 KJV)
Some read this verse and think to themselves that if we , as believers, deny Christ with our mouth with others, that when Jesus comes, He will deny a believer from entrance into Heaven by revoking their Salvation.
But wait a minute. what about Peter then? Look at Matthew 26:69-75:
“Now Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee.
But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest. And when he was gone out into the porch, another maid saw him, and said unto them that were there, This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth. And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man. And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech bewrayeth thee. Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.” (Matthew 26:69-75 KJV)
So what happened to Peter after he denied knowing the Lord three times on that night of great despair? Did Jesus deny Peter when He rose from the dead and suddenly appeared in the upper room? NO. In fact, Peter was fully restored and became a leader in the early Church!
So if Matthew 10:33 and later Matthew 26:69-75 are in conflict in the same book then the belief that Jesus will revoke our Salvation at His return cannot be true. We must remember that the Bible had no chapters – that was added later for our studying benefit. Matthew needs to be read as one continuous work to understand passages in proper context.
In fact, using proper context of Jesus own words, we see Jesus is not contradicting Himself in Matthew 10:33 and Matthew 26:34.
The big confusion here lies with the English translation of the word DENY. In the Greek language two different words are used for the English word ‘deny’ comparing Judas and Peter and the types of differing denial of Christ:
The English translation word ‘Deny‘ in Matthew 10:33 in Greek is :
“ἀρνέομαι arnéomai, ar-neh’-om-ahee; perhaps from G1 (as a negative particle) and the middle voice of G4483; to contradict, i.e. disavow, reject, abnegate:—deny, refuse.” – from Strongs.
The word translated as ‘deny‘ in Matthew 10:33 means to REJECT or REFUSE someone whereas the one where Peter ‘denied knowing Christ‘ as Jesus said he would in Matthew 26:34 means to deny being ACQUAINTED with someone. It is a different Greek word:
“ἀπαρνέομαι aparnéomai, ap-ar-neh’-om-ahee; from G575 and G720; to deny utterly, i.e. disown, abstain:—deny.” – From Strongs.
So in Peter’s case, Jesus was not talking the same word in regards to DENY as in Matthew 10.
In Matthew 26:69-74 Peter repeatedly claimed he wasn’t acquainted with Jesus. He wasn’t being truthful, but he wasn’t rejecting or refusing what Jesus was offering, which is the gift of salvation.
Failing to speak up for Christ when we have an opportunity may be wrong and we , as believers may fail in our faith with regret as Peter, but it is not the same as rejecting Salvation through belief in Jesus as The Christ and Messiah, God in the flesh, and what Christ has offered us. This type of denial will not cause Him to reject us either by proper context.
God always looks at our hearts and knows our true beliefs. Failing to acknowledge Christ to every person you meet will not negate your Salvation. It may grieve God as we see that Jesus had prayed for Peter beforehand, knowing how badly it would affect Peter’s faith in his own belief.
Matthew 10:6 shows the proper context for all of Matthew 10 and it is all about unbelievers. The Disciples were being sent out to reach the lost people in Israel who believed in their good works and Law of Moses obeying to save them.
“But go rather to the LOST SHEEP of the house of Israel.” (Matthew 10:6 KJV)
It is these unbelievers that Matthew 10:33 is speaking about. Matthew 10:33 is a warning to those who reject the Gospel of Salvation through the Messiah, Jesus The Christ.
“But whosoever shall DENY me before men, him will I also DENY before my Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:33 KJV)“
If someone hears the Gospel and denies Christ as the Messiah and savior, they, as unbelievers, do not have thier sins forgiven and as such will be denied at Christ’s coming.