Add parallel Print Page Options

The Transfiguration

17 Six days later[a] Jesus took with him Peter, James, and John the brother of James,[b] and led them privately up a high mountain. And he was transfigured before them.[c] His[d] face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. Then Moses[e] and Elijah[f] also appeared before them, talking with him. So[g] Peter said[h] to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you want, I will make[i] three shelters[j]—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, a[k] bright cloud[l] overshadowed[m] them, and a voice from the cloud said,[n] “This is my one dear Son,[o] in whom I take great delight. Listen to him!”[p] When the disciples heard this, they were overwhelmed with fear and threw themselves down with their faces to the ground.[q] But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Do not be afraid.” When[r] they looked up, all they saw was Jesus alone.

As they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them,[s] “Do not tell anyone about the vision until the Son of Man is raised from the dead.” 10 The disciples asked him,[t] “Why then do the experts in the law[u] say that Elijah must come first?” 11 He[v] answered, “Elijah does indeed come first and will restore all things. 12 And I tell you that Elijah has already come. Yet they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they wanted. In[w] the same way, the Son of Man will suffer at their hands.” 13 Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them about John the Baptist.

Read full chapter


  1. Matthew 17:1 tn Grk “And after six days.”
  2. Matthew 17:1 tn Grk “John his brother” with “his” referring to James.
  3. Matthew 17:2 sn In 1st century Judaism and in the NT, it was believed that the righteous would be given new, glorified bodies in order to enter heaven (cf. 1 Cor 15:42-49; 2 Cor 5:1-10). This transformation meant that the righteous will share the glory of God. The account of Jesus’ transfiguration here recalls the way Moses shared the Lord’s glory after his visit to the mountain in Exod 34:28-35. So the disciples saw Jesus transfigured, and they were getting a private preview of the great glory that Jesus would have following his exaltation.
  4. Matthew 17:2 tn Here καί (kai) has not been translated.
  5. Matthew 17:3 tn Grk “And behold, Moses.” The Greek word ἰδού (idou) has not been translated because it has no exact English equivalent here, but adds interest and emphasis (BDAG 468 s.v. 1).
  6. Matthew 17:3 sn Commentators and scholars discuss why Moses and Elijah are present. The most likely explanation is that Moses represents the prophetic office (Acts 3:18-22) and Elijah pictures the presence of the last days (Mal 4:5-6), the prophet of the eschaton (the end times).
  7. Matthew 17:4 tn Here δέ (de) has been translated as “so” to indicate that the appearance of Moses and Elijah prompted Peter’s comment.
  8. Matthew 17:4 tn Grk “Peter answering said.” This construction is somewhat redundant and has been simplified in the translation.
  9. Matthew 17:4 tc Instead of the singular future indicative ποιήσω (poiēsō, “I will make”), most witnesses (C3 D L W Γ Δ Θ [Φ] 0281 ƒ[1],13 33 1241 1424 M lat sy co) have the plural aorist subjunctive ποιήσωμεν (poiēsōmen, “let us make”). But since ποιήσωμεν is the reading found in the parallel accounts in Mark and Luke, it is likely a motivated reading. Further, the earliest and best witnesses, as well as a few others (א B C* 700* as well as some versional and patristic witnesses) have ποιήσω. It is thus more likely that the singular verb is authentic.
  10. Matthew 17:4 tn Or “booths,” “dwellings” (referring to the temporary booths constructed in the celebration of the feast of Tabernacles).sn Peter apparently wanted to celebrate the feast of Tabernacles or Booths that looked forward to the end and wanted to treat Moses, Elijah, and Jesus as equals by making three shelters (one for each). It was actually a way of expressing honor to Jesus, but the next verse makes it clear that it was not enough honor.
  11. Matthew 17:5 tn Grk “behold, a.” The Greek word ἰδού (idou) has not been translated here or in the following clause because it has no exact English equivalent here, but adds interest and emphasis (BDAG 468 s.v. 1).
  12. Matthew 17:5 sn This cloud is the cloud of God’s presence and the voice is his as well.
  13. Matthew 17:5 tn Or “surrounded.”
  14. Matthew 17:5 tn Grk “behold, a voice from the cloud, saying.” This is an incomplete sentence in Greek which portrays intensity and emotion. The participle λέγουσα (legousa) was translated as a finite verb in keeping with English style.
  15. Matthew 17:5 tn Grk “my beloved Son,” or “my Son, the beloved [one].” The force of ἀγαπητός (agapētos) is often “pertaining to one who is the only one of his or her class, but at the same time is particularly loved and cherished” (L&N 58.53; cf. also BDAG 7 s.v. 1).
  16. Matthew 17:5 sn The expression listen to him comes from Deut 18:15 and makes two points: 1) Jesus is a prophet like Moses, a leader-prophet, and 2) they have much yet to learn from him.
  17. Matthew 17:6 tn Grk “they fell down on their faces.” BDAG 815 s.v. πίπτω 1.b.α.ב. has “fall down, throw oneself to the ground as a sign of devotion, before high-ranking persons or divine beings.”
  18. Matthew 17:8 tn Here δέ (de) has not been translated.
  19. Matthew 17:9 tn Grk “Jesus commanded them, saying.” The participle λέγων (legōn) is redundant and has not been translated.
  20. Matthew 17:10 tn Grk “asked him, saying.” The participle λέγοντες (legontes) is redundant and has not been translated.
  21. Matthew 17:10 tn Or “do the scribes.” See the note on the phrase “experts in the law” in 2:4.
  22. Matthew 17:11 tn Grk “And answering, he said.” This has been simplified in the translation.
  23. Matthew 17:12 tn Here καί (kai) has not been translated.