The man knelt before Jesus (Mt 17:14-17:14)

“When they came

To the crowd,

A man came to Jesus.

He knelt before him.”

 

Καὶ ἐλθόντων πρὸς τὸν ὄχλον προσῆλθεν αὐτῷ ἄνθρωπος γονυπετῶν αὐτὸν

 

As Jesus left the small group of his disciples, they went towards the crowds (Καὶ ἐλθόντων πρὸς τὸν ὄχλον).  A man then approached Jesus and knelt before him (προσῆλθεν αὐτῷ ἄνθρωπος γονυπετῶν αὐτὸν).  There is something similar to this in Luke, chapter 9:37-38.  However, only Matthew has the man kneel in front of Jesus.

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Elijah and John the Baptist (Mt 17:12-17:13)

“‘But I tell you!

Elijah has already come.

They did not recognize him.

But they did to him

Whatever they pleased.

Thus,

The Son of Man

Is about to suffer

At their hands.’

Then the disciples

Understood

That he was speaking

To them

About John the Baptist.”

 

λέγω δὲ ὑμῖν ὅτι Ἡλείας ἤδη ἦλθεν, καὶ οὐκ ἐπέγνωσαν αὐτὸν, ἀλλ’ ἐποίησαν ἐν αὐτῷ ὅσα ἠθέλησαν· οὕτως καὶ ὁ Υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου μέλλει πάσχειν ὑπ’ αὐτῶν.

τότε συνῆκαν οἱ μαθηταὶ ὅτι περὶ Ἰωάνου τοῦ Βαπτιστοῦ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς.

 

The comparison of John the Baptist and Elijah can also be found in Mark, chapter 9:12-13, but without the remark about the disciples understanding it.  Jesus told his disciples in a solemn pronouncement (λέγω δὲ ὑμῖν).  He said that Elijah had already come (ὅτι Ἡλείας ἤδη ἦλθεν), but they did not recognize him (καὶ οὐκ ἐπέγνωσαν αὐτὸν).  They did to him whatever they pleased or wanted to do (ἀλλ’ ἐποίησαν ἐν αὐτῷ ὅσα ἠθέλησαν).  Thus, the Son of Man was also about to suffer at their hands (οὕτως καὶ ὁ Υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου μέλλει πάσχειν ὑπ’ αὐτῶν.).  Then the disciples understood (τότε συνῆκαν οἱ μαθηταὶ) that Jesus was talking to them about John the Baptist (ὅτι περὶ Ἰωάνου τοῦ Βαπτιστοῦ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς).  The murdered John the Baptist was the new precursor prophet Elijah.

The role of Elijah (Mt 17:10-17:11)

“The disciples asked Jesus.

‘Why then do

The Scribes say.

That Elijah must come first?’

Jesus replied.

‘Elijah is indeed coming.

He will restore all things.’”

 

Καὶ ἐπηρώτησαν αὐτὸν οἱ μαθηταὶ λέγοντες Τί οὖν οἱ γραμματεῖς λέγουσιν ὅτι Ἡλείαν δεῖ ἐλθεῖν πρῶτον;

ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν Ἡλείας μὲν ἔρχεται καὶ ἀποκαταστήσει πάντα·

 

The role of Elijah can be found also in Mark, chapter 9:11, as well as here in Matthew.  The disciples of Jesus asked, questioned or interrogated him (Καὶ ἐπηρώτησαν αὐτὸν οἱ μαθηταὶ λέγοντες) about why the Scribes (Τί οὖν οἱ γραμματεῖς) said that Elijah had to come first (λέγουσιν ὅτι Ἡλείαν δεῖ ἐλθεῖν πρῶτον).  The prophet Malachi, chapter 4:5, had also foretold the coming of Elijah.  He said that Yahweh was going to send the prophet Elijah before the great and terrible day of Yahweh would come.  These Scribes were contemporary religious experts who determined the traditions to be followed.  They were professional copiers of manuscript documents, although they had a wider role in Jewish society.  Jesus did not disagree with this comment.  He responded (ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν) by reiterating that Elijah was indeed coming to restore all things (Ἡλείας μὲν ἔρχεται καὶ ἀποκαταστήσει πάντα).  There is no doubt that the role of Elijah, a 9th century BCE northern Israel prophet, dominated late Jewish thought.

 

Jesus asks them to be silent (Mt 17:9-17:9)

“As they were coming down

The mountain,

Jesus instructed them.

‘Tell no one

This vision,

Until the Son of Man

Has been raised

From the dead.’”

 

Καὶ καταβαινόντων αὐτῶν ἐκ τοῦ ὄρους ἐνετείλατο αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς λέγων Μηδενὶ εἴπητε τὸ ὅραμα ἕως οὗ ὁ Υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐκ νεκρῶν ἐγερθῇ.

 

Once again, we are back at the messianic secret that can be found in all 3 synoptic gospels, Mark, chapter 9:9, Luke, chapter 9:36, and here in Matthew that is closer to Mark.  Jesus and his 3 disciples came down or descended from the mountain (Καὶ καταβαινόντων αὐτῶν ἐκ τοῦ ὄρους).  He commanded, instructed, or ordered them (νετείλατο αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς λέγων) not to tell anyone about this spectacular vision (Μηδενὶ εἴπητε τὸ ὅραμα) until the Son of Man had been raised from the dead (ἕως οὗ ὁ Υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐκ νεκρῶν ἐγερθῇ).  They would be free to speak about this after the death and resurrection of Jesus, but not before that turning point among the followers of Jesus.

The adoration of the three apostles (Mt 17:6-17:8)

“When the disciples heard this,

They fell to the ground,

Face down.

They were overcome

With fear.

But Jesus came.

He touched them.

Saying.

‘Get up!

Do not be afraid!’

When they looked up,

They saw no one

Except Jesus himself alone.”

 

καὶ ἀκούσαντες οἱ μαθηταὶ ἔπεσαν ἐπὶ πρόσωπον αὐτῶν καὶ ἐφοβήθησαν σφόδρα.

καὶ προσῆλθεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς καὶ ἁψάμενος αὐτῶν εἶπεν Ἐγέρθητε καὶ μὴ φοβεῖσθε.

πάραντες δὲ τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς αὐτῶν οὐδένα εἶδον εἰ μὴ αὐτὸν Ἰησοῦν μόνον.

 

This adoration of the apostles can be found in all 3 synoptic gospels, Mark, chapter 9:8, Luke, chapter 9:36, and here in Matthew, which is more elaborate, even though there are other differences in all 3 accounts.  When the disciples heard (καὶ ἀκούσαντες οἱ μαθηταὶ) this voice from the cloud say that Jesus was the beloved Son, in whom the Father was well pleased, they fell face down to the ground (ἔπεσαν ἐπὶ πρόσωπον αὐτῶν).  They were greatly terrified (ἔπεσαν ἐπὶ πρόσωπον αὐτῶν).  However, Jesus came (καὶ προσῆλθεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς) to them.  He touched them (καὶ ἁψάμενος αὐτῶν).  Then he told them to get up (εἶπεν Ἐγέρθητε) and not be afraid (μὴ φοβεῖσθε).  When they looked up or lifted up their eyes (πάραντες δὲ τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς αὐτῶν), they saw no one (οὐδένα εἶδον), but only Jesus himself alone (εἰ μὴ αὐτὸν Ἰησοῦν μόνον).  Where were Moses and Elijah?  Was this just a dream?

The voice from the cloud (Mt 17:5-17:5)

“While Peter

Was still speaking,

Suddenly,

A bright cloud

Overshadowed them.

A voice from the cloud said.

‘This is my beloved Son.

I am well pleased

With him.

Listen to him!’

 

ἔτι αὐτοῦ λαλοῦντος, ἰδοὺ νεφέλη φωτεινὴ ἐπεσκίασεν αὐτούς, καὶ ἰδοὺ φωνὴ ἐκ τῆς νεφέλης λέγουσα Οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ Υἱός μου ὁ ἀγαπητός, ἐν ᾧ εὐδόκησα· ἀκούετε αὐτοῦ.

 

The voice from the cloud can be found in all 3 synoptic gospels, Mark, chapter 9:7, Luke, chapter 9:34-35, and here in Matthew, but there are minor differences in all 3 accounts.  The wording of the voice from the clouds sounds almost exactly like the voice from heaven in chapter 3:17, after the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River by John the Baptist.  Instead of heaven there, it is a bright cloud here.  This voice did not address Jesus personally.  However, the idea of a heavenly voice had a very strong tradition in the Jewish writings of the Hebrew Bible, especially among the prophets.  The Baptism of Jesus, like the transfiguration here, has become the starting point for any theological reflection about early Christian Christology.  While Peter was still speaking (ἔτι αὐτοῦ λαλοῦντος), suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them (ἰδοὺ νεφέλη φωτεινὴ ἐπεσκίασεν αὐτούς).  This voice from the cloud (καὶ ἰδοὺ φωνὴ ἐκ τῆς νεφέλης) said that Jesus was his most beloved Son (λέγουσα Οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ Υἱός μου ὁ ἀγαπητός), in whom he was well pleased (ἐν ᾧ εὐδόκησα).  However, here there is the further admonition to listen to him (ἀκούετε αὐτοῦ).  Matthew has a clear connection between the Baptism of Jesus and his transfiguration.  Both times, the Father as the voice from heaven or the clouds pronounced that Jesus was his beloved Son in whom he was well pleased

Peter wants to set up three tents (Mt 17:4-17:4)

“Peter said to Jesus.

‘Lord!

It is good for us

To be here.

If you wish,

I will make

Three tents here,

One for you,

One for Moses,

And one for Elijah.’”

 

ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ ὁ Πέτρος εἶπεν τῷ Ἰησοῦ Κύριε, καλόν ἐστιν ἡμᾶς ὧδε εἶναι· εἰ θέλεις, ποιήσω ὧδε τρεῖς σκηνάς, σοὶ μίαν καὶ Μωϋσεῖ μίαν καὶ Ἡλείᾳ μίαν.

 

The remarks of Peter can be found in all 3 synoptic gospels, Mark, chapter 9:5, Luke, chapter 9:33, and here in Matthew, but there are minor differences in all 3 accounts.  Peter responded (ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ ὁ Πέτρος), once again as the leader of this small group of apostles.  He spoke to Jesus as the Lord (εἶπεν τῷ Ἰησοῦ Κύριε).  It was good for them to be there (καλόν ἐστιν ἡμᾶς ὧδε εἶναι).  If Jesus wanted it (εἰ θέλεις), Peter was going to set up 3 tents or dwellings here (ποιήσω ὧδε τρεῖς σκηνάς), one for Jesus (σοὶ μίαν), one for Moses (καὶ Μωϋσεῖ μίαν), and one for Elijah (καὶ Ἡλείᾳ μίαν).