Bible Question:

When Jesus said to Peter that Satan has desired to have him to sift him as wheat, what did He mean? Did Jesus mean that Satan had made a request to God to test Peter? Did Satan have the right then to test the 12 Apostles?

Bible Answer:

Jesus’ warning to Peter occurred just after the Lord’s Supper. It is found in the gospel of Luke.

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” (NASB) Luke 22:31-32

The Greek word which is translated as “demanded” actually has the idea of a “request.” Therefore, we can conclude that Satan had asked permission to severely test the Apostle Peter. God decided to grant his request. God apparently allows Satan to test people on occasion. Job 1-2 tells us that God allowed Satan to severely test Job. Job lost members of his family, much if not all of his wealth, and he was struck with sickness. God also allowed Satan to afflict the Apostle Paul with an illness that would never go away (2 Cor. 12:7-9). Scripture says that neither Job or Paul had sinned. Job’s trial was a test to prove his faithfulness. Paul’s trial was to keep him from pride. Peter’s trial was a test of his faithfulness. But he failed the test when he denied Jesus three times” (Luke 22:54-62).


Satan at times may test those who are followers of Jesus Christ, but he must ask God for permission. Satan had the right to ask for permission to test the apostles. The apostle Paul tells us that we, including himself, struggle against evil forces, in the book of Ephesians.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. (NASB) Eph. 6:12

Our victory is found in depending on God. It is described as putting on the full armor of God (Eph. 6:10-17). There is a previous question which discusses the Armor of God. We would encourage you to read it.

Reference Links:

Where did Satan come from?
Satan In A Rage
How could Satan be in the presence of God?
What is the meaning of the dragon in the Bible?
Why did the angel (Satan) become evil even though he was in the presence of God?