What does Matthew 17:2 mean?
ESV: And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light.
NIV: There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.
NASB: And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light.
CSB: He was transfigured in front of them, and his face shone like the sun; his clothes became as white as the light.
NLT: As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed so that his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as light.
KJV: And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.
Verse Commentary:
This simple sentence describes one of the most amazing events in the lives of Peter, James, and John. This moment confirmed in dazzling light what they already believed to be true: Their master Jesus was the Son of the God of heaven. The word "transfigured" comes from the Greek word metamorphoō. This is the root word for English terms like metamorphosis and is translated as "transformed" in verses like 2 Corinthians 3:18.

This moment connects Jesus to both Moses and Elijah, who appear in the following verses. Moses' face also shone brightly after He spent time with God (Exodus 34:29–30), but that shining was only the reflection of God's glory. Jesus is transformed from the inside out into His glorious appearance in heaven before coming to earth. Peter, James, and John are witnessing Jesus in a state more representative of His nature as the Son of God.

The two words that characterize Jesus' transfigured appearance are "light" and "white." His face shines like the sun, and His clothes are as white a light. Mark's account describes Jesus' clothes as more intensely white than anyone on earth could bleach them (Mark 9:3). Jesus literally becomes a source of light before their eyes.

The disciples are witnessing nothing less than the glory of God in the person of Jesus. It is a moment that will stick with them forever, confirming to them Jesus' identity as God's Son. John will begin His own gospel affirming the fact that "we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father" (John 1:14). Peter will also testify about it in one of his letters: "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" (2 Peter 1:16–18).
Verse Context:
Matthew 17:1–13 follows Jesus' prediction that some of the disciples won't die before seeing Him coming in His kingdom (Matthew 16:28). Peter, James, and John see Jesus transfigured—radiating the glory of God––while talking with Moses and Elijah. Peter blunders in his attempt to contribute to the moment. The voice of God the Father identifies Jesus as His Son and commands the disciples to listen to Him. Jesus tells the three not to tell anyone else what they've seen until after He is raised from the dead. He answers their question about a prophecy involving Elijah.
Chapter Summary:
Jesus takes Peter, James, and John up on a high mountain. There, they see Him "transfigured" into a shining, divine form. They also see Christ speaking with Moses and Elijah but are commanded not to speak of this event until later. Jesus heals a demon-afflicted boy after the disciples cannot cast the demon out. Jesus very clearly tells the disciples He will be delivered into the hands of men, killed, and raised on the third day. After explaining why He is exempt from a temple tax, Jesus agrees to pay it and tells Peter to find the money in the mouth of a fish.
Chapter Context:
Matthew 17 begins with the fulfillment of Jesus' prediction at the end of the previous chapter: that some of those present would not die before seeing Him coming in His kingdom. Jesus casts out a demon, predicts His death, and commands Peter to pay a temple tax with a coin from the mouth of a fish. This leads Matthew back to extensive records of Jesus' teachings, continuing through chapter 20.
Book Summary:
The Gospel of Matthew clearly shows the influence of its writer's background, and his effort to reach a specific audience. Matthew was one of Jesus' twelve disciples, a Jewish man, and a former tax collector. This profession would have required literacy, and Matthew may have transcribed some of Jesus' words as they were spoken. This book is filled with references to the Old Testament, demonstrating to Israel that Jesus is the Promised One. Matthew also includes many references to coins, likely due to his former profession. Matthew records extensive accounts of Jesus' teaching, more than the other three Gospels.
Accessed 4/18/2024 7:04:58 PM
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