“Get behind me, Adversary.” The Greek is hupago opiso satanas, “Go behind me, Adversary.” This is a very strong rebuke. Jesus is calling Peter an “Adversary,” and is likely comparing him by the figure hypocatastasis to the Devil.
[For more on the figure of speech hypocatastasis, see commentary on Rev. 20:2.]
The Greek is similar to what Jesus said to the Adversary in Matthew 4:10, hupago Satanas “Go, Adversary.” It is most likely that what Jesus said to Peter was just a rebuke meaning “Get away from me”;a “Get out of my sight.”b However, the addition of opiso (“behind, after”), which can in certain contexts be translated “follow,” (“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men”; Matt. 4:19, ESV) has led some people to conclude that Jesus is saying in essence, “Get following me,” meaning, “become a disciple again.” Although that is a lexical possibility, there are a couple of reasons that militate against it. For one thing, if Jesus was telling Peter to be a follower again, it seems that he would not have added “Adversary.” After all, “Follow me again, Adversary,” does not seem very likely. Secondly, early scribes ascribed the same phrase to the Adversary himself in Luke 4:8. Although modern textual research shows that the phrase was added later, many Greek texts in the Western family have the same phrase in Luke 4:8 when Jesus was speaking to the Adversary (which is why “Get thee behind me, Satan” appears in the KJV). Thus it is clear that the early scribes did not think it was a request to return to being a proper follower, or disciple. Given the evidence, it seems that Jesus was strongly rebuking Peter, saying in essence, “Go away from me, Adversary,” a harsh rebuke that would have gotten Peter’s attention immediately, and caused him to think about the seriousness of the situation.
“Adversary.” The Greek word for Adversary is Satanas (#4567 Σατανᾶς), which has been transliterated into “Satan” in most versions. This causes the important meaning of the word “Satan” to be lost. For more information on it, see commentary on Mark 1:13.
[For information on the names of the Devil, see Appendix 14: “Names of the Devil”.]