Shortly after a dispute among the disciples as to which one should be considered the greatest (Luke 22.24), Jesus specifically addresses Peter as “Simon, Simon” (v. 31). The repetition of the name (see 10.41; Acts 9.4) implied an earnest and somber tone of warning. Christ Himself had given Simon the name Peter (6.14), but here He reverted to his old name, perhaps to intensify His rebuke about Peter’s fleshly overconfidence. The context also suggests that Peter may have been one of the more vocal participants in the dispute of v. 24.
“Satan,” Jesus told him, “has asked for you.” Though addressed specifically to Peter, this warning embraced the other disciples as well. The pronoun “you” is plural in the Greek text. “That he may sift you as wheat.” The imagery is apt. It suggests that such trials, though unsettling and undesirable, have a necessary refining effect.
Nevertheless, Jesus said, “I have prayed for you” (v. 32). The pronoun “you” is singular. Although it is clear that He prayed for all of them (John 17.6–19), He personally assured Peter of His prayers and of Peter’s ultimate victory, even encouraging Peter to be an encourager to the others. “That your faith should not fail.” Peter himself failed miserably, but his faith was never overthrown (see John 21.18, 19).