Read & Study the Bible Online - Bible Portal

Verses 5-8

Matthew 17:5-8. While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them Such, probably, as took possession first of the tabernacle, and afterward of Solomon’s temple, when those holy places were consecrated. See Exodus 40:34; 1 Kings 8:10-11; where we are told that the cloud filled the house of the Lord, so that the priests could not stand to minister, because of the cloud: for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of the Lord. This, it is well known, used to be termed the shechinah, or visible symbol of the divine presence. A similar cloud, it seems, now overshadowed Jesus and his two glorified attendants, and therefore is termed by Peter, 2d 2 Peter 1:17, the excellent glory. And behold a voice out of the cloud Namely, the voice of God himself; This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased The same testimony which the Father bore to Jesus at his baptism, as recorded Matthew 3:17, where see the note. Thus, for the full confirmation of the disciples’ faith in Jesus, Moses, the giver of the law, Elijah, the most zealous of all the prophets, and God speaking from heaven, all bore witness to him. Hear ye him As superior even to Moses and the prophets. This command of the Father plainly alluded to Deuteronomy 18:15, and signified that Jesus was the prophet of whom Moses spake in that passage, and concerning whom he enjoined, Unto him shall ye hearken. Luke informs us that the three disciples feared as they (namely, as Moses and Elias) entered into the cloud; but now, at the very moment when they heard the voice coming from the cloud, probably as loud as thunder, (see John 12:29,) and full of divine majesty, such as mortal ears were unaccustomed to hear, they fell flat to the ground on their faces, being sore afraid; an effect which visions of this kind commonly had on the prophets and other holy men to whom they were given. See Genesis 15:12; Isaiah 6:5; Ezekiel 2:1; Daniel 10:8; Revelation 1:17. It seems human nature could not of itself support such manifestations of the divine presence. In this condition the three disciples continued till Jesus came and touched them, and, raising them up, dispelled their fears. And when they had lifted up their eyes (Mark says, When they had looked round about) they saw no man Saw no man any more, says Mark, save Jesus only with themselves. In Luke we read, When the voice was passed, Jesus was found alone.

This transfiguration of our Lord was doubtless intended for the following, among several other very important purposes: 1st, To prevent his disciples from being offended at the depth of affliction into which they were soon to see him plunged. For their beholding him clothed with such glory would tend to establish them in the belief of his being the Messiah, notwithstanding the sufferings which he was to pass through; and the conference which he had with Moses and Elias concerning those sufferings, and the death in which they were to terminate, might make them sensible how agreeable it was to the doctrine of Moses and the prophets that the Messiah should be evil-entreated and die before he entered into his glory. 2d, To arm them for, and encourage them under, their own sufferings, by a demonstration of a future state, and a display of the felicity of that state. Here they see Moses, who had died in the land of Moab, and was buried in a valley in that land. Deuteronomy 34:5, alive in a state of glory. This then was a demonstration to them of the immortality of the soul, for Moses, it is certain, had not been raised from the dead with regard to his body, Christ being the first-fruits from the grave, or the first whose body rose to immortal life, as is evident from 1Co 15:20 ; 1 Corinthians 15:23; Acts 26:23; Colossians 1:18; Revelation 1:5. Here they also see Elijah, who indeed had not died, but had been translated, that is, as the apostle expresses it, had not been unclothed of the body, but clothed upon with an immortal body, or whose mortality had been swallowed up of life, 2 Corinthians 5:4. He was therefore in that state of glory in which the saints will be after the resurrection and the general judgment. The disciples, therefore, had thus full proof, even of a two-fold state of future felicity awaiting the righteous, first, in their souls, immediately after death; and secondly, in both their bodies and souls after the resurrection. And it is remarkable that St. Paul particularly distinguishes these states, 2 Corinthians 12:2-4, speaking of being caught up both unto paradise, the state and place of holy souls after death; and also into the third heaven, the state and place of the faithful after the resurrection. This discovery, made to the disciples, was of great importance, and very necessary in those times when the opinions of the Sadducees were so prevalent; and it appears from all the epistles in the New Testament, that the apostles derived great support under their sufferings from the prospect of the future glory that awaited them, in their hopes of which this vision must have greatly confirmed them. 3d, To show them the superiority of Christ as a teacher, lawgiver, and mediator, to Moses and Elias, who, though both eminent in their stations, were only servants, whereas this was God’s beloved Son; and, of consequence, that he was to be preferred to all that had preceded him, whether patriarchs or prophets, and therefore that the gospel was more excellent than the law, the Christian than the Jewish dispensation. For when Moses and Elias (representing the law and the prophets) were present, the Father from heaven commanded that his Son should be heard in preference to them. 4th, That the preceding dispensations of the law and the prophets were in perfect harmony with Christ and his dispensation, were introductory thereto, and to terminate therein; for when Moses and Elias had disappeared, Jesus remained as the sole teacher of his disciples, and of consequence of his church and people.

Be the first to react on this!

Scroll to Top

Group of Brands