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Tuesday
Apr022013

Theological Term of the Week


The Transfiguration
A mysterious transformation in the appearance of Jesus that occured on a mountain in the presence of Peter, James, and John.

  • From scripture:
  • And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only. (Matthew 17:1-8, ESV)

    For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts … . (2 Peter 1:16-19, ESV)

  • From D. A. Carson, commenting on Matthew 17:1-8 in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary:
  • The effect of the Transfiguration on the disciples reminds us of Daniel (Dan 10:7-9 … .). The visible glory of the Deity brings terror, but Jesus calms his disciples fears… . Matthew alone tells us that the divine splendor the disciples “fell facedown to the ground” (v.6), a prelude to their seeing no one “except Jesus” (v.8). These words are pregnant with meaning. Compared with God’s revelation through him, all other revelations pale. Supporting, pointing, prophetic roles such revelation may enjoy; but that Jesus is God’s Son is primary. Therefore, all must “listen to him” (v. 7.) 


    The Transfiguration was largely for the disciples (Jesus brought the inner three to it; he was transfigured before “them”; the Voice spoke to “them” … . ) This does not mean that they understood it fully; but it was a crucial step in the symbol-charged self-disclosure of Jesus that would be much better understood (2 Peter 1:16-19) following the Resurrection. For the present, it indelibly confirmed the disciples’ conviction that Jesus was the Messiah.
Learn more:
  1. The Bible: Matthew 17:1-8, Mark 9:2-8, Luke 9:28-36
  2. Holman Bible Dictionary: The Transfiguration
  3. Christian Apologetics and Research Ministy: What is the transfiguration?
  4. Ligonier Ministries Blog: The Transfiguration
  5. Blue Letter Bible: What Was the Significance of Jesus’ Transfiguration?
  6. Bob Deffinbaugh: The Transfiguration
  7. J. Ligon Duncan: The Glory of Christ: The Transfiguration (audio download)

Related term:

  • ascension of Jesus
  • triumphal entry
  • priest (as an office of Christ)
  • resurrecton of Jesus

Filed under Person and Work of Christ

Do you have a term you’d like to see featured here as a Theological Term of the Week? If you email it to me, I’ll seriously consider using it, giving you credit for the suggestion and linking back to your blog when I do.

Clicking on the Theological Term graphic at the top of this post will take you to a list of all the previous theological terms in alphabetical order.

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