Ministry of the Word
  The Sifting of Simon Peter (Lk 22:31-34)



Q. Is Satan for real ?

Q. If Satan exists, what kind of powers does he have ?

Q. What is the relationship between God & Satan ?

Q. Is Satan Gods adversary ?

Q. Are Satan’s powers by the permission of God ?

Q. Can Satan hurt you more than God permits him to hurt you ? (surprised), Is God in League with Satan ?


This article will answer some of these queries.


14When the hour came, he took his place at the table, and the apostles with him. 15He said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer;

23Then they began to ask one another, which one of them   it could be who would do this. 24A dispute also arose among them as to which one of them was to be regarded as the greatest.

26But not so with you; rather the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves. 27For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.(REBUKE)  28“You are those who have stood by me in my trials; 29and I confer on you, just as my Father has conferred on me, a kingdom, 30so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

31“Simon, Simon, listen! Satan has asked (Gk demanded) to sift all of you like wheat, 32but I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

33And he said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death!” 34Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the cock will not crow this day, until you have denied three times that you know me.”

60But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about!” At that moment, while he was still speaking, the cock crowed. 61The Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.” 62And he went out and wept bitterly.


Lk 22:15 Jesus declares his eagerness to eat the Passover with them.

Lk:24 There is a dispute who would be the greatest.

Lk22:26 Jesus mildly rebukes them.

Lk 22:28 There is an assurance & promise.


There must have been a stir of excitement--what a prospect: the great messianic kingdom established, and the apostles ruling with Jesus!


Lk 22:31 Satan demands to sift Simons & the disciples.

Lk 22:32 Jesus promises prayers so that he  will never let Satan destroy our faith & hope, requests Simon to strengthen his brothers too.

Lk 22:33 Simon is ready to go to prison & die for Jesus.

Lk 22:34 Jesus tells him ,that the cock will not crow, until Peter has denied him 3 times.


Let's take verses 31 and 32 "Simon, Simon, behold Satan demanded to have you." The first thing to notice here is that the word "you" is plural. (This is obvious in Greek, not English.) Jesus is telling Simon Peter that Satan has demanded to have all the disciples. To whom has Satan made this demand? Probably to God the Father.


In the book of Job Satan is pictured as having access to God and making demands of him. Listen to this interchange, which may be typical of how Satan opposes us.


Job Ch 1:1There was once a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job. That man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil. 2There were born to him seven sons and three daughters. 3He had seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen, five hundred donkeys, and very many servants; so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the east.

4His sons used to go and hold feasts in one another’s houses in turn; and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. 5And when the feast days had run their course, Job would send and sanctify them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all; for Job said, “It may be that my children have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts.” This is what Job always did.

6One day the heavenly beings came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. 7The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the Lord, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” 8The Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man who fears God and turns away from evil.” 9Then Satan answered the Lord, “Does Job fear God for nothing? 10Have you not put a fence around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11But stretch out your hand now, and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” 12The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, all that he has is in your power; only do not stretch out your hand against him!” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.

(Job 1:9-12).Then Satan answered the Lord, "Does Job fear God for nothing ? Have you not put a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands and his possessions have increased in the land. But put forth your hand now and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face!" And the Lord said to Satan, "Behold, all that he has is in your power; only upon himself do not put forth your hand"

Then when Job's faith does not fail at the loss of his family and possessions, Satan returns to God and says,

(Job 2:4-6). "Skin for skin, all that a man has he will give for his life. But put forth your hand now and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face!" And the Lord said to Satan, "Behold he is in your power, only spare his life"


We see in both cases Satan has to go to God for permission before he can get Gods children into trouble.


We have seen here that Satan has an allegiance with God.


Then we need to know how powerful is Satan:

Two implications from this are important for our lives. One is that Satan has a lot of power in this world. Jesus calls him the "prince" or "ruler of this world" (John 16:11) and Paul calls him the "god of this age" (2 Cor. 4:4) and the "ruler of the authority of the air" (Eph. 2:2). He blinds the minds of unbelievers (2 Cor. 4:4) and holds them in his snare until God releases them through the gospel (2 Tim. 2:25, 26). He can take life, as with Job's children, ruin health, as with Job's body (cf. also Luke 13:16), torment with demons (Luke 11:18), provoke evil deeds (Luke 22:3) and cause natural disasters (Job 1:19)


èThis is for real:

Satan is real, has great power and must be reckoned with.

Satan's power is by permission from God.

There are not two ultimate powers in the universe. There is only one: God.

"Satan demanded to have you," and their meaning: Satan cannot hurt us any more than God permits.


Q. Why would God grant to his archenemy any of his demands?

Q. Why does God tolerate the activity of Satan at all?


Revelation 20:2-3  He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss, and locked.


Rev. 20:10 Then after the 1000 years and the final victory of God he will be thrown into the lake of fire forever.


Q. Then why doesn't he do it now? Why go on century after century permitting Satan to wreak havoc in the world?

A. It may be that this is none of our business and that we should trust the wisdom and goodness of God without an answer.


I think the reason God permits Satan to persist in his "sifting" work is that in the end it will be good for the church and will bring more glory to God. It's clear from the whole N.T. that God intends to bring the bride of Christ to perfection through affliction and temptation


1 Peter 1:6 In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, 7so that the genuineness of your faith—being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed.


1 Peter 3:17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if suffering should be God’s will, than to suffer for doing evil.


Rom. 8:17 and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.


Through suffering and trial our faith is refined. We are drawn to rely ever more heavily on God and we are moved to cherish his grace more strongly. Satan has his role to play in fanning the flames of our refining furnace and so God awaits the appointed day of judgment.

God picture God as an omniscient general,  PERMITS US TO USE OUR FREE WILL, also keep a check. Instead of steam rolling over the enemy.


What does Satan aim to do, with reference to verse 31 ? What does "sifting like wheat" refer to in real life?

"sifting like wheat" means doing something to make the disciples' faith fail. Here Jesus gives an assurance he says, "But I prayed for you that your faith fail not."


We can imagine a picture like this: The word sift is interesting, Satan has a big sieve with jagged-edged wires forming a mesh with holes shaped like faithless men and women. What he aims to do is throw people into this sieve and shake them around over these jagged edges until they are so torn and weak and desperate that they let go of their faith and fall through the sieve as faithless people, right into Satan's company. Faith cannot fall through the mesh. It's the wrong shape. And so as long as the disciples hold to their faith, trusting the power and goodness of God for their hope, then they will not fall through the mesh into Satan's hands.


Here Satan wants to place Peter in a sieve and sift him as wheat. He wants to shake him, throw him around, give him a rough time. Satan wants to show Peter as a false believer. He wants to collect evidence that proves Peter is a fake. Peter does not have what it takes to be a leader of Christ’s Church, Satan has decided that Simon Peter must fall into temptation, that makes his work easier with the other disciples.


Why Peter, Satan knows what’s God’s will for Peter in advance.

Satan (adversary , One's opponent in a contest. has demanded to sift you (disciples’) as wheat."

Implied here the sovereignty and providence of God. Satan needs to ask– before he can touch any of God's children. Remember how Satan couldn't touch Job without God' permission? We see the same thing here: he can't touch Peter and the other disciples without God's blessing. Here is a reminder that God is sovereign, God is in control. He sets the boundaries, the limits, the borders for Satan. Satan can go only so far and no further. Satan can only do what God permits or allows him to do.

èWe see in our Scripture reading that Satan must be getting desperate!

1.Jesus has already instituted the Lord's supper; 2.He has told His disciples that soon He would be dying for them to pay for their sin, to ransom them from the power of the devil, and to reconcile them to God.

3.Satan knows the cross of Christ is just around the corner. Satan knows that the cross and the grave means his defeat and that is something Satan won't accept!

4.So he barges into heaven and demands the disciples. If he can't stop Jesus – though he certainly will try for the next three days – then he will try to stop the disciples.

5.After all, the twelve disciples are the men whom Jesus will use to spread the gospel and plant His Church; the disciples are the foundation of the Church.

6.If the devil can't beat Jesus directly then he will try indirectly by tearing the disciples away from God – and so prevent the gathering and building of the Church.


However strong our faith is Satan will do any thing to destroy our faith. If he can do it by suffering he will try that; if he can do it by wealth, he will try that.


Peter learned a good lesson that night. Some 30 years later he wrote in 1 Peter 5:8, 9. "Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. Resist him firm in your faith."


Jesus pictured Satan as a farmer shaking Christians in his sieve. Peter pictures Satan as a lion who can devour anything but faith.


The only person that can fit through Satan's sieve is an faithless unbeliever. The only thing that will fit down the lion's throat is an unbeliever.


(1 John 5:4). for whatever is born of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith. If we hold it fast to the end, Satan cannot destroy us.



It is encouraging to know that God is infinitely stronger than Satan and that if we simply trust God to the end he will give us eternal life.

But it is doubly encouraging, doubly hopeful that Jesus Christ and God the Father are aligned with us through prayer.


èIn Vs 32 Jesus  Notice, Jesus prays to his Father for Simon (Now the word "you" is singular in verse 32: I prayed for "you," that is, Simon). He prays that God will preserve Simon from destruction. And Jesus is sure that his prayers will be answered. Because he says later, "And when you have turned, strengthen your brothers." Jesus also knows that Simon will deny him three times. In verse 34. Jesus said, ‘I tell you, Peter, the cock will not crow this day, until you have denied three times that you know me.’ Before the cock crows & the cock will not crow, is not the same.


It is a temporary weakness of Peter, a brief faltering of confidence, but it is followed quickly by bitter tears of repentance (Luke 22:62) ( And he went out and wept bitterly.)


The Father granted Satan the power to sift Simon, but, in response to Jesus' prayer, he did not let Simon fall through the sieve. Nor will he ever let any of his children fall through Satan's sieve. We are not left without a shield against the enemy, nor are we left to hold this shield of faith merely by our own strength. He has his son Jesusto protect us in prayer


In John 10:27-30 he says, My sheep hear my voice and I know them, and they follow me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. My Father who has given them to me is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of my Father's hand. I and the Father are one.


What about the other 10 apostles ? Satan was going to sift them too. Did Jesus pray for them? Yes he did. But he did not ask the Father to guard their faith in the very same way he guarded Peter's. God broke the back of Peter's pride and self-reliance that night in the agony of Satan's sieve. But he did not let him go. He turned him around and forgave him and restored him and strengthened his faith. And now it was Peter's mission to strengthen the other 10. Jesus provided for the 10 by providing for Peter. The strengthened becomes the strengthener.


God strengthens our faith through another person. God sends us some Simon Peter who brings just the word of grace we need to keep on in the faith:

Luke 22:31-38  Luke 22:32  "But I Have Prayed for You"

EXERGESIS: More details.

At the beginning of our Scripture reading we are told of a high-level conference between God and Satan.

We realize Satan has access to God.

God even brags with Satan about Job.

We realize that God always wants us to succeed while Satan always wants us to fall and fail. God wants to deliver us and Satan wants to destroy us.

What has happened to Job & Peter is also true for us we need to remember that we are in God's hand, first of all, and not Satan's

What is Jesus’ assurance :
“I have prayed for you ..."
Did Job have any support ?
Do you remember Job's complaint when he was being tested and tried and sifted by Satan? The Lord God gave Satan permission to do dreadful things to Job – so Job lost his camels, his herds, his servants, his children, his health. Job complained that in all of this he had no Redeemer, no Mediator, to argue his case before God and to defend him from the devil's attacks.

(Job 9:33) Nor is there any mediator between us, Who may lay his hand on us both.

But in Luke 22 there is a Mediator, One Who stands between God and the disciples as they face the devil's attacks. This Mediator says, "But I have prayed for you ..."

What did Jesus pray? Luke doesn't tell us in (Jn 17:11) Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name--the name you given me,

So that they may be one, as we are.


protect them, preserve them, guard them. Jesus knows what Satan wants to do. Jesus knows Satan's plan to stop his work.


(Heb 7:25) ... [Jesus] is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.

Jesus prays for us, right now, in heaven! He prays for each one of us by name. He prays for us as we struggle with temptation.


I want you to notice exactly what Jesus prays for. Jesus does not pray, "Father, do not allow Satan to sift your children." That's not what Jesus prays for. Instead, He asks that God keep us, hold us, preserve us, guard us, and protect us! Or, as our Scripture reading puts it, "But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail." Jesus does not ask God to spare us from being sifted; He asks only that our faith will not fail as we are sifted. Rather, He prays that we and Peter might hold on to the faith in the face of temptation and trial.

A Theological Problem

I am sure you see a theological problem here. Jesus knew about Peter's fall beforehand, and even predicted it, but did nothing to prevent it. But if Jesus knew beforehand what would happen, why didn't he pray for God to deny Satan's request? Why does God and Jesus allow Peter and the other disciples and us to be sifted by Satan? If God knows about our failures even before we fail, why doesn't He stop us? Why does He allow, why doesn't He stop, Satan's sifting?
The best possible answer comes from the book of James.

(James 1:2-4) Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, (3) because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. (4) Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Second, we are stripped of all pride. We realize we cannot stand on our own for even a moment.

Third, we become totally dependent upon God. We realize we need to totally surrender to him Him, His grace, His mercy, His strength, His power, His Spirit, His prayers. We realize we are in His hands.

Fourth, we become prepared for greater work in the church and kingdom. In some way we can't begin to understand, Peter had to fall so God could raise him up again. Think of it this way: the falling part was Peter's doing; the raising part was God's doing to prepare Peter for great and wondrous things in the church and kingdom.


God often uses humble and broken people to accomplish great things
-Abraham who lied two times about Sarai being his sister rather than his wife
-Jacob who stole his brother's birthright by deceit
-Tamar who played the prostitute
-Moses who murdered an Egyptian
-David who was an adulterer and a murderer
-Paul who persecuted the church
-Peter who denied knowing the Lord
For each and everyone of these saints, the testing of their faith,

& the sifting by Satan, helped prepare them to do the Lord's work.

When we face temptation we are to pray. But standing alongside us as we pray is a Mediator, a Redeemer – Jesus Christ the Lord. He Who went to the cross for us, He Who suffered and died for us, prays for us when Satan attacks us.

Please bring it some where the following :

1.   God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability but with temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

1 Corinthians 10 : 13


2.   When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God can not be tempted by evil nor does He tempt anyone.

        James 1 : 13.
Compilled by Tony DIAS


Sept 2012.

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