Matthew 17:1
And after six days Jesus takes Peter, James, and John his brother, and brings them up into an high mountain apart,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
XVII.

(1) After six days.—St. Luke’s “about eight days” (Luke 9:28) may be noted as an example of the mode of reckoning which spoke of the interval between our Lord’s death and resurrection, about six-and-thirty hours, as three days.

Peter, James, and John.—The three retain their position, as in the raising of Jairus’s daughter, as the elect among the elect. (Comp. also Matthew 26:37; Mark 13:3.) Looking to the grouping of the Apostles it might have seemed natural that Andrew also should have been there, but his character seems to have been always retiring, and, it may be, was wanting in the intensity of faith which belonged to his brother, the Rock-Apostle, and to the two Sons of Thunder.

Into an high mountain.—A tradition of uncertain date fixes on Tabor as the scene of the Transfiguration, but this was probably due to the conspicuous position of that mountain, as it rises abruptly from the plain of Esdraelon. The Gospel narratives leave the locality altogether uncertain, but as Cæsarea Philippi was the last place mentioned, and a journey through Galilee follows (Mark 9:30), it is more probable that the scene is to be found on one of the heights of Hermon. Tabor, it may be added, was crowned with a fortress, which at this time was likely to be occupied, and this is obviously inconsistent with the solitude which the narrative implies.

Matthew 17:1-2. After six days — Reckoning exclusively from that in which the discourse recorded in the preceding chapter was delivered, to that on which the transfiguration took place, or, including those two days, about eight days after, as Luke has it: Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother — The three disciples whom he honoured with a peculiar intimacy, (see Mark 5:37; and Matthew 26:37,) and bringeth them up into a high mountain apart — From the people and his other disciples. Jerome tells us, that there was a tradition in his days, handed down from the times of the apostles, that this was mount Tabor, famed in ancient history for the victory which Deborah and Barak gained over Sisera, Jdg 4:14. Dr. Macknight, however, thinks “the order of the history determines the transfiguration to some mountain not far from Cesarea Philippi, rather than to Tabor, which was situated in the south of Galilee. For after the transfiguration, it is said, Mark 9:30, that they departed and passed through Galilee, and then came to Capernaum. Now it is not very probable that the evangelist would in this manner have narrated our Lord’s journey from the mount of transfiguration to Capernaum, if that mountain had been in Galilee, the region in which Capernaum stood. Yet upon the faith of the tradition mentioned above, the Christians very early built a monastery and church on the top of Tabor, which church was dedicated to Jesus and his two attendants, Moses and Elias. And from 2 Peter 1:18, they called the mountain itself, the holy mountain. And he was transfigured before them — Namely, before these three disciples. It was necessary that so remarkable an occurrence should be supported by sufficient witnesses; and hence it was that the three above mentioned were chosen, because so many were required among the Jews to establish a fact, and no more were chosen, because this number was sufficient. The word μετεμορφωθη, rendered here, transfigured, may either imply that there was a transformation made in the substance of his body, according to the import of the word in Ovid, and other writers; or that the outward appearance only of his body was altered, which seems most probable from the expression used by Luke, who says, το ειδος του προσωπου αυτου ετερον, the appearance of his countenance, or person: was changed: and this change, according to that evangelist, took place while he was praying, chap. Matthew 9:29. And his face did shine as the sun — Became radiant and dazzling, and shone like the sun in its unclouded, meridian clearness; and so was incomparably more glorious than the face of Moses at the giving of the law. And his raiment was white as the light — Became, says Mark, shining exceeding white, as snow, so as no fuller on earth could white it. Was white and glistering, says Luke, or white as lightning, as λευκος εξαστραπτων properly signifies. It seems it was bright and sweetly refulgent, but in a degree inferior to the radiancy of his countenance. “The indwelling Deity,” says Mr. Wesley, “darted out its rays through the veil of his flesh: and that with such transcendent splendour, that he no longer bore the form of a servant. His face shone with divine majesty, like the sun in its strength; and all his body was so irradiated by it, that his clothes could not conceal his glory, but became white and glistering as the very light, with which he covered himself as with a garment.”17:1-13 Now the disciples beheld somewhat of Christ's glory, as of the only begotten of the Father. It was intended to support their faith, when they would have to witness his crucifixion; and would give them an idea of the glory prepared for them, when changed by his power and made like him. The apostles were overcome by the glorious sight. Peter thought that it was most desirable to continue there, and to go no more down to meet the sufferings of which he was so unwilling to hear. In this he knew not what he said. We are wrong, if we look for a heaven here upon earth. Whatever tabernacles we propose to make for ourselves in this world, we must always remember to ask Christ's leave. That sacrifice was not yet offered, without which the souls of sinful men could not have been saved; and important services were to be done by Peter and his brethren. While Peter spoke, a bright cloud overshadowed them, an emblem of the Divine presence and glory. Ever since man sinned, and heard God's voice in the garden, unusual appearances of God have been terrible to man. They fell prostrate to the earth, till Jesus encouraged them; when looking round, they beheld only their Lord as they commonly saw him. We must pass through varied experiences in our way to glory; and when we return to the world after an ordinance, it must be our care to take Christ with us, and then it may be our comfort that he is with us.Matthew 17:1-9. See also Mark 9:2-10; Luke 9:28-36.

And after six days - That is, six days from the conversation recorded in the last chapter.

Luke Luk 9:28 says, about an eight days after. Matthew mentions the six days that intervened between the day of the conversation and the transfiguration. Luke includes both those days, and thus reckons eight. Besides, Luke does not pretend to fix the precise time. He says, "about an eight days after."

Taketh Peter, and James, and John - These three disciples were with him, also, in the garden of Gethsemane, Mark 14:33. He designed to prepare them in an eminent degree for the work of the gospel ministry by the previous manifestations of his glory, and of his patience in suffering.

Into a high mountain apart - That is, apart from the other disciples. It is commonly supposed that this was Mount Tabor, a high mountain in Galilee. The name of the mountain is not, however, mentioned in the New Testament. Luke adds Luke 9:28 that he went up there to pray. Our Saviour prayed much. When he did it he chose to be alone. For this purpose he often ascended mountains or went into the deserts. There is something in the solitude and deep and awful stillness of a lofty mountain favorable to devotion.

CHAPTER 17

Mt 17:1-13. Jesus Is Transfigured—Conversation about Elias. ( = Mr 9:2-13; Lu 9:28-36).

For the exposition, see on [1321]Lu 9:28-36.Matthew 17:1-9 The transfiguration of Christ.

Matthew 17:10-13 He instructs his disciples concerning the coming of Elias,

Matthew 17:14-21 healeth the lunatic,

Matthew 17:22,23 foretells his own passion,

Matthew 17:24-27 and payeth tribute.

See Poole on "Matthew 17:2".

That is, so long after Christ's conversation with his disciples at Caesarea Philippi, Peter's confession of him, and the reproof he gave him, upon his intimating that he should suffer and die, and Christ's resentment of it; after he had discoursed about his disciples taking up their cross, and following him; and of men's losing and finding their lives; and after the promise, or prophecy, that he had given out, that some then present should not die, until he came into his kingdom. Mark says the same as here, Mark 9:2 but Luke 9:28 says, it was about an eight days after, which may be reconciled in this manner; Matthew and Mark leave out the day in which Christ delivered the above sayings, and that in which he was transfigured, and so reckon but six days; and Luke takes them both into the account, and makes it eight days, so that they all agree; and it appears, in short, to be that day seven night.

Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother: Peter is taken, though he had so lately offended his master; Christ did not bear the offence in mind, but freely forgave him, and still loved him: James was not the brother of our Lord, who was of that name, but the Son of Zebedee; as appears from John being his brother, who was the beloved disciple; these three were all favourite disciples, and were at other times admitted to be with him, when others were not, Matthew 26:37. Such a number was taken, as being proper and sufficient to bear witness of the truth of the following account of Christ's transfiguration;

and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart. Luke says, to pray; as he was wont to do, in such places. This mountain is generally said to be Tabor; but for what reason does not appear. Christ was going to Caesarea Philippi, when he had that discourse with his disciples, which this account is connected with; and though it was a week after, yet we have no intimation of his removing from these parts, with his disciples; only of his leading them up into a mountain: and quickly after this, we hear of him at Capernaum, which was ten miles from Mount Tabor. Dr. Lightfoot (z) thinks, that this was the mountain, which Caesarea was at the foot of; where formerly, the first idolatry was set up, one of Jeroboam's calves; and now the eternal Son of God is shown, in the confession of Peter, and in the illustrious demonstration of the Messiah. Since the goodly mountain Lebanon, and which was a very high one, was in those parts which Moses had a sight of before he died; why may it not be that, which he now descended upon, to be one of the witnesses from heaven, of Christ's transfiguration?

(z) Hor. Heb. in Mar. ix. 2.

And {1} {a} after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart,

(1) Christ in his present company is humble in the gospel, but all the while he is Lord both of heaven and earth.

(a) Luke counts eight days, containing in that number the first and last, and Matthew speaks but of the days between them.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Matthew 17:1. Comp. Mark 9:2 ff.; Luke 8:28 ff.; 2 Peter 1:16 ff. Μεθʼ ἡμέρας ἕξ] Luke 9:28 : ὡσεὶ ἡμέραι ὀκτώ. This ὡσεί makes it unnecessary to have recourse to any expedient for reconciling the numbers. Chrysostom, Jerome, Theophylact, Erasmus, and many others, are of opinion that Luke has included the dies a quo and ad quem.

εἰς ὅρος ὑψηλόν] Since the fourth century there has been a tradition that the mountain here referred to was mount Tabor, the situation of which, however, was such as altogether to preclude this view. If we are to understand that Jesus remained during the six days in the neighbourhood of Caesarea Philippi, we may, with some probability, suppose that the height in question was one of the peaks of Hermon, a clump of hills standing to the north-east of that town.

Those three disciples were the most intimate friends of Jesus. Comp. Matthew 26:37. For ἀναφέρει, comp. Luke 24:51; 2Ma 6:10; Polyb. viii. 31. 1.

κατʼ ἰδίαν] so that they alone accompanied him to this mountain solitude.Matthew 17:1-13. The Transfiguration (Mark 9:2-13, Luke 9:28-36).Ch. Matthew 17:1-13. The Transfiguration

Mark 9:2-13; Luke 9:28-361. after six days] Within a week of Peter’s confession. St Luke has “about an eight days after,” according to the common Jewish reckoning, by which each part of a day is counted as a day.

Peter, James, and John] The three who were chosen to be with their Master on two other occasions, (1) the raising of Jairus’ daughter, (2) the agony in the Garden of Gethsemane.

a high mountain] A contrast suggests itself, between this mountain of the Kingdom of God, and the mountain of the kingdoms of the world, ch. Matthew 4:8.

An old tradition placed the scene of the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor. It is known, however, that the summit of Tabor was at this period occupied by a fortress, and there is no hint given of Jesus being in that neighbourhood. Many regard one of the spurs of the snowcapped Hermon as the most likely spot. Cæsarea Philippi, the last named locality, lies under Hermon, and its glittering cone of snow may have suggested the expression in Mark “exceeding white as snow,” if, indeed, the words “as snow” are to be admitted into the text.Matthew 17:1. Ἡμέρας ἓξ, Six days) St Luke says, ὡσεὶ ἡμέραι ὀκτὼ, as it were, about, eight days; enumerating the days both of the word and the deed. This definition of time intimates some connection with what has just preceded. The teaching concerning the Song of Solomon of God, and His departure, or Passion, was confirmed by the Transfiguration.—παραλαμβάνει, taketh with Him) Our Lord knew what was about to happen on the Mount.—ὁ Ἰησοῦς, Jesus) As the name of Jesus is introduced here to indicate the commencement of a new portion of the Gospel history, it is clear that the declaration in ch. Matthew 16:28 does not refer exclusively to the Transfiguration.—τὸν Πέτρον καὶ Ἰάκωβον καὶ Ἰωάννην, τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ, Peter and James, and John his brother) St Matthew candidly relates those circumstances also in which other apostles were preferred to himself. The writings of Peter and John, who were present on the occasion, are extant: the former mentions this event in his second epistle (2 Peter 1:17-18): the latter takes it for granted,[776] as a thing well known, and attested by sufficient evidence. Cf. on the choice of the three apostles here selected, ch. Matthew 26:37.—ὅρος a mountain) The name of the mountain is not mentioned, and thereby superstition is prevented. Several very remarkable divine manifestations have been made on mountains; see Acts 7:30; Acts 7:38. The opinion which regards Tabor as the scene of the transfiguration is specious. See Jeremiah 46:18.

[776] No doubt the transfiguration was included in the reference, John 1:14, “We beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”—ED.Verses 1-13. - The Transfiguration of Jesus. (Mark 9:2-13; Luke 9:28-36.) This mysterious event was intended primarily to confirm the faith of the three apostles who were to have the chief hand in founding the Church. The Lord had just announced his future sufferings and death. This prediction had been a grievous blow to Peter, and doubtless to the others also. He had stumbled at the cross, and had brought on himself a stern rebuke for his slowness and worldliness. So to comfort the chosen three under the thought of what awaited their Master, they were shown a glimpse of the glory which he has in heaven; they saw the Law and the prophets yielding subjection to him; they heard the voice of the Father announcing his Sonship. Henceforward they might take courage under all circumstances; the cross would be no infamy or disgrace - would open the way to victory and glory. Here was a foretaste of the blessedness of heaven - to be with Christ and his saints in his kingdom. Such was the Transfiguration to the three witnesses. To the world, when in due time it was made known, it taught lessons of the Incarnation, the resurrection of the body, the glory that shall be the portion of the righteous. For Christ himself it was the culminating point of his earthly life, "the solemn installation of our Lord to his sufferings and their result" (Alford). Verse 1. - After six days. St. Luke says, "about an eight days after these sayings," either speaking indefinitely, or using the inclusive method of reckoning which we find in the recounts of our Lord's resurrection. The days are counted from the time of Peter's confession and Christ's subsequent announcement. The little company were still in the neighbourhood of Caesarea Philippi, though we know not exactly in what place, and nothing is told of the events of this week. The memorable day may be specially noticed as being the same day of the week as that on which the great confession was made in the previous se'nnight; or, if we regard the typical bearing of numbers in Scripture, the six days signify the world and daily labour, the seventh, "after six days," typifies heaven and rest. Peter, James, and John. These three, the chosen of the chosen, had already witnessed Christ's power over death in the chamber of Jairus's daughter; later they were present at the agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. They who had seen his glory were strengthened to behold his sweat of blood. These men formed the inner circle of his friends; to them he gave the privilege of knowing more of his inner life and nature. They were selected for various reasons - Peter, for his energy, zeal, and love, and the part he was to play in the founding of the Church; John, because he was beloved by Christ, and was to be the recipient of Divine revelation; James, because he was to be the head of the Church of Jerusalem, and soon to drink of Christ's cup and war a good warfare. The James here named is the son of Zebedee, and brother of John, and was put to death by Herod Agrippa (Acts 12.). An high mountain. The only tradition concerning the locality of the Transfiguration (which none of the inspired narratives further identifies) affixes it to Mount Tabor, the beautiful isolated mountain, which rises some eighteen hundred feet on the northeast of the Plain of Esdraelon. This tradition, as far as we know, was first published in the fourth century A.D, by St. Cyril of Jerusalem ('Catech.,' 12:16) and St. Jerome (Ep. 44. 'Ad Marcell.;' Ep. 108. 'Ad Eustoch.'), and thence was generally adopted and upheld till the sixteenth century, both by commentators and travellers. Since then more accurate examination and historical criticism have thrown grave doubts on this identification. The summit of Tabor has from a very early age been occupied by habitations. It is spoken of in 1 Chronicles 6:77 as including in its limits a city and its suburbs. Later it was strongly fortified, and the whole area was surrounded with a wall, of which the ruins can still be traced. In our Lord's time the town and the fortress covered the level portion of the hill, and there would have been no place of retirement where he could have withdrawn apart for the purpose of the vision. There is another reason that makes Tabor unlikely to have been the scene of the Transfiguration. The last geographical notice left our Lord and his disciples outside Galilee in the neighbourhood of Paneas. It was about a three days' journey thence to Esdraelon; but no mention is made of any such movement during this week, and it is after the Transfiguration that the synoptists intimate that the return to Galilee took place (see ver. 22; Mark 9:30). We must therefore surrender the old tradition, and look in the vicinity of Caesarea for the high mountain of our narrative. There was no lack of such in that region, and it was doubtless on one of the offshoots of Hermon that the glorious vision was vouchsafed, though more precise identification is impossible. Hermon itself is called by the Arabs Jebel-esh-Sheikh, "The Chief Mountain," and the way in which the locality is introduced in the narrative, without further specification, seems to point to some eminence of the most obvious and best known hill of the district. St. Peter, when in after years he alluded to it, called it merely "the holy mount" (2 Peter 1:18); and we may conclude that we are not intended to know more about it, lest we should be tempted to make more of the material circumstances than of the great reality. St. Luke notifies that the Lord retired to this place in order to pray. It may have been that he prayed for the enlightemnent of the apostles - that they might receive the teaching of the Transfiguration and the subsequent sayings. Taketh (παραλαμβάνει)

Rev. gives the force of the preposition παρά, taketh with him.

Apart (κατ' ἰδίαν)

Not said of the mountain, as isolated, but of the disciples; so that they might be alone with him. Compare Mark 9:2, apart by themselves (κατ' ἰδίαν μόνους: lit., apart alone).

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