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Brooklyn Museum – The Ear of Malchus (L'oreille de Malchus) – James Tissot
A depiction of Peter striking Malchus (c. 1520, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Dijon)

Malchus /ˈmælkəs/ was the servant of the Jewish High Priest Caiaphas who participated in the arrest of Jesus as written in the four gospels. According to the Bible, one of the disciples, Simon Peter, being armed with a sword, cut off the servant's ear in an attempt to prevent the arrest of Jesus.

Biblical accounts

Simon Peter cutting off Malchus' ear is related in all four canonical gospels, in Matthew 26:51, Mark 14:47, Luke 22:50–51, and John 18:10–11, but Simon Peter and Malchus are named only in the Gospel of John. Also, Luke is the only gospel that says Jesus healed the servant. This was Jesus' last recorded miracle prior to his resurrection.

The relevant passage in the Gospel of John, KJV, reads:

10 Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest's servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant's name was Malchus.
11 Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?

James F. McGrath suggests that this account reflects an event that did happen, in that early Christians would hardly have invented a story portraying themselves as violent.[1]

Later in Chapter 18, John records that a relative of Malchus witnessed Peter's assault in the Garden of Gethsemane, and identified Peter as a follower of Christ. Peter denied this.

Literature and arts

Thornton Wilder wrote a short play entitled, "The Servant's Name Was Malchus". It appeared in the collection The Angel That Troubled the Waters and Other Plays.

The Fire Gospel, a 2008 novel by Michel Faber, centres on the discovery of the fictional lost gospel of Malchus.

Malchus was portrayed by Paul Brightwell in the 2013 TV miniseries The Bible.

In the 2004 Mel Gibson film The Passion of the Christ, Malchus is represented as an armed member of the temple guard.

See also


  1. ^ "McGrath, James F., "The Case of the Severed Ear", Patheos, September 20, 2014". 2014-09-20. Retrieved 2018-04-19.

External links