This Week's Focus Passage

Luke 9:29 ‘His countenance was altered, and his raiment became white and dazzling.’

This Week’s Focus Passage: Luke 9:29

‘His countenance was altered, and his raiment became white and dazzling.’


This, of course, is Luke’s account of the ‘transfiguration.’ Both Matthew and Mark have, in their particular gospels, granted the readers of the New Testament, two additional perspectives on this very singular event. Matthew and Mark each make use of the terminology, or word, ‘transfiguration,’ while Luke has not done so. Yet it is most conspicuous that Luke is relating the identical event being considered.

We may read the entirety of this remarkable occurrence, in Luke 9:28-36, as follows;

And it came to pass about eight days after these sayings, that he took with him Peter and John and James, and went up into the mountain to pray. And as he was praying, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment became white and dazzling. And behold, there talked with him two men, who were Moses and Elijah; who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep: but when they were fully awake, they saw his glory, and the two men that stood with him. And it came to pass, as they were parting from him, Peter said unto Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah: not knowing what he said. And while he said these things, there came a cloud, and overshadowed them: and they feared as they entered into the cloud. And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is my Son, my chosen: hear ye him. And when the voice came, Jesus was found alone. And they held their peace, and told no man in those days any of the things which they had seen. 

Again, Matthew and Mark employ the term; the word, ‘transfigure,’ while Luke does not follow them in this. W. E. Vine, in his, ‘A Comprehensive Dictionary of the Original Greek Words with their Precise Meanings for English Readers,’ helps us somewhat, with regard to the word, ‘transfiguration,’ when he has recorded these remarks about this twice employed word, “Luke (in 9:29) avoids this term, which might have suggested to Gentile readers the metamorphoses of heathen gods, and uses the phrase egeneto heteron, “was altered,” lit., ‘became (ginomai) different (heteros).’ This is a possible consideration, with Luke being a Gentile himself, while Matthew and Mark were both Jews. 

    Changing direction; we note the fact that, in verse 36, we are informed that ‘they [quite evidently, Peter, John, and James) held their peace, and told no man in those days any of the things which they had seen. In reference to this ‘holding their peace…and telling no man,’ is should be observed that in both the Matthean and the Marcan accounts, we may read, firstly in Matthew 17:9, And as they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen from the dead. And in Mark 9:9, the parallel version reads, And as they were coming down from the mountain, he charged them that they should tell no man what things they had seen, save when the Son of man should have risen again from the dead, virtually identical with Matthew’s account. Did they obey this charge? It appears that they surely did. We are not made aware of any occasion where any of these three privileged apostles told anyone of the ‘things which they had seen’ when Christ took them apart with Himself, apart up into the mountain to pray. These things are not told, as far as we can determine, until after the Son of man was risen from the dead. We may read, in Peter’s second epistle, chapter one, and verses 17-18, Peter’s written words, For he received from God the Father honor and glory, when there was borne such a voice to him by the Majestic Glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: and this voice we ourselves heard borne out of heaven, when we were with him in the holy mount. 

    Peter withheld revealing this blessed account, as he was charged, until after the Son of man was raised from the dead. But after the resurrection, indeed, after the giving of the Spirit at Pentecost, promised by Christ, he related everything. This he did, in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, as we find in Acts 2. Peter, here, being filled with the Holy Spirit, pronounces to his audience, the reality of what they had just witnessed; namely, the promised outpouring of the Spirit of Christ. We may assume that Peter was reminded of that very promise, as well perhaps of the symbol of the coming glory of Christ that he himself was witness to in the transfiguration. He declares to his hearers in clear and unmistakable terms, that;

This Jesus did God raise up, whereof we all are witnesses. Being therefore by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he hath poured forth this, which ye see and hear.—Acts 2:32-33.

Christ’s glory was manifested in that transfiguration, along with the vocal testimony of the Father, when he repeated those words that He had spoken upon the baptism of His beloved Son, when He declared, This is my Son, my chosen; hear ye him.

    Peter was thus witnessing of the promised glory of the Savior, here now at Pentecost. Was this not the purpose for which Jesus took His three chosen witnesses with Himself ‘up into the mountain,’ where He was transfigured before them? There was witness of this glory also given latterly, by John, when he wrote, in his first epistle, in the very introduction to that letter to the churches, where he said;

That which was from the beginning, that which we have heard, that which we have seen with our eyes, that which we beheld, and our hands handled, concerning the Word of life (and the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare unto you the life, the eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us)—1 John 1:1-2.

John was, in this epistle, undoubtedly, referring to the witness of the transfiguration of the Christ, for it was later, on the Isle of Patmos, that he was the special witness to the vision of the glorified Savior. This remarkable vision is recorded in Revelation 1:12-16. John states that he heard a voice behind him, and when he turned, he saw one like unto a son of man. This language is, of course, reflective of Daniel 7:13, where we read of Daniel’s night visions, where there came with the clouds of heaven one like unto a son of man. What Daniel dreamed, John saw on Patmos. And, by the grace of God in Christ, we may anticipate, for John has added in his epistle, the words of 3:2, We know that, if he shall be manifested [and He will], we shall be like him; for we shall see him even as he is. Is this not what the apostle Paul was given to write in 2 Corinthians 3:18, But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord the Spirit? We might submit that Christ was transfigured to intimate the determined occasions of His people being transformed into the same image.

David Farmer, elder

Fellowship Bible Church  


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