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

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The value of the lighted lamp (Mt 5:15-5:16)

“No one,

After lighting a lamp,

Puts it

Under a bushel,

But on the lampstand.

It gives light

To all in the house.

In the same way,

Let your light

Shine before others,

So that they may see

Your good works.

They give glory

To your Father,

Who is in heaven.”

 

οὐδὲ καίουσιν λύχνον καὶ τιθέασιν αὐτὸν ὑπὸ τὸν μόδιον, ἀλλ’ ἐπὶ τὴν λυχνίαν, καὶ λάμπει πᾶσιν τοῖς ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ.

οὕτως λαμψάτω τὸ φῶς ὑμῶν ἔμπροσθεν τῶν ἀνθρώπων, ὅπως ἴδωσιν ὑμῶν τὰ καλὰ ἔργα καὶ δοξάσωσιν τὸν πατέρα ὑμῶν τὸν ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς.

 

This saying of Jesus can be found in Mark, chapter 4:21, and Luke, chapter 8:16. This time, Matthew is closer to Luke. After lighting a lamp (καίουσιν λύχνον), no one puts it under a bushel (οὐδὲ… καὶ τιθέασιν αὐτὸν ὑπὸ τὸν μόδιον), but rather on a lampstand (ἀλλ’ ἐπὶ τὴν λυχνίαν). Thus, the light from the lit candle lamp would shine on everyone in the house (καὶ λάμπει πᾶσιν τοῖς ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ). Once again, Matthew, instead of leaving it generic, applied this to his disciples. Their light should shine before other men (οὕτως λαμψάτω τὸ φῶς ὑμῶν ἔμπροσθεν τῶν ἀνθρώπων). Thus, others would see their good works, (ὅπως ἴδωσιν ὑμῶν τὰ καλὰ ἔργα), since it was not about faith alone. The ultimate result would be that others would glorify their heavenly father (καὶ δοξάσωσιν τὸν πατέρα ὑμῶν τὸν ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς). This is the first mention of their father in heaven (τὸν πατέρα ὑμῶν τὸν ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς), since the scene after the Baptism of Jesus just had a voice from heaven (φωνὴ ἐκ τῶν οὐρανῶν) talk about his beloved son, not explicitly the heavenly father.