THE TRANSFIGURATION: Matthew 17:1-13
v1 μεθ (μετα) + acc. "after" - after [six days]. Temporal, possibly "on the sixth day", is more likely that the phrase "after six days." This purposely draws on a Sinai motif: the glory of the Lord was on the mountain six days / Moses was with the Lord on the mountain six days, cf. Ex.24:15-18.
παραλαμβανει (παραλαμβανω) pres. "[Jesus] took with him" only the inner circle of apostles(Peter, James and John) get to witness the inner-workings of Christ's mission.
αναφερει (αναφερω) pres. "led up" - as with Moses, Jesus leads his disciples up the mountain to confront the divine.
υψηλον adj. "high [mountain]" - again the Sinai motif although no particular mountain is identified. Some suggest Meron between Caesarea Philippi and Capernaum, others Hermon north of Caesarea Phillipi, some Tabor between Carmel and Galilee.
κατ ιδιαν "by themselves" an idiom for “privately”.
v2 μετεμορφωθη (μεταμορφοω) aor. pas. "he was transfigured" - visibly changed, a divine passive, ie. God does the changing. The focus is Jesus' face, but Matthew tells us his whole presence (cloths and all) radiated. There are some scholars who consider this a misplaced resurrection account.
εμπροσθεν + gen. "before [them]" λαμψεν (λαμπω) aor. "shone" - another Sinai motif; Jesus' face glows like the face of Moses in Ex.24:29-35
λευκα adj. "white" - Bright white clothing is a common Biblical motif for the garb of heavenly beings (Dan.7:9) and resurrected righteous.
v3 και ιδου "And behold” another idiom meaning "just then".
ωφθη (οραω) aor. pas. "there appeared to" – intransitive; a word used of beings that make their appearance in a supernatural manner.
συλλαλουντες (συλλαλεω) pres. part. "talking with" – There is a certain surreal quality of this scene, like looking at a Picasso and trying to puzzle out the painter’s intent. It is meant to be opaque in the sense that they can ;’see’ what is happening, but they are not privy to the ‘private’ conversation occurring between these three figures. The conversation about his “exodus" (a la Luke) is not mentioned by Matthew.
v4 αποκριθεις (αποκρινομαι) aor. pas. part. "[Peter] answered [said] τω/ Ιησου (ους ου) dat. "to Jesus" a dative of indirect object, Peter does not dare speak to either Moses or Elijah..
κυριε (ος) voc. "Lord" - Mark uses "Rabbi" and Luke has "Master" (επιστατεσ) In each case it is an address to the teacher.
σκηνας (η) "tabernacles, tents, booths, dwellings” another allusion to the Exodus, literally the “Feast of Booths” or Sukkoth.
v5 λαλουντος (λαλεω) pres. part. "while [he] was [still] speaking" with whom’ Peter or Moses & Elijah is unclear. The point seems to be God gets the last word, not Peter or the prophets.
νεφελη (η) "a cloud" - a sign of God's OT presence, his Shekinah glory; another Exodus image, rthe “pliiar of cloud by say” (Ex.19:9, 24:16-25).
ο υιος μου ο αγαπητος "my son whom I love" - a divine word to the disciples and not just to Jesus at his baptism. This is sometimes taken as an allusion to Ps.2:7 (the crowning of the messiah and his victory over the nations) or Isaiah 42 (the suffering servant). Mark 9:7 and Luke 9:35 omit εν ω ευδοκησα, "with him I am well pleased." What seems unlikely is that the term "beloved son" (more literally unique/one and only son) expresses a filial relationship with God - the reference is messianic.
v6 ακουσαντες (ακουω) aor. part. "when [the disciples] heard " επι + acc. "[they fell facedown] to [the ground]" - - a descriptive way of saying "they did obeisance"
σφοδρα adv. "terrified" a STRONG Greek word, referring back to the terror that the children of Israel felt when God spoke to them from the cloud covering Sinai.
v7 αψαμενος (απτω) aor. part. "touched" - the function here is more adverbial; "Jesus came forward and having touched them said" perhaps an idiom “he raised them to their feet saying…”
μη φοβεισθε (φοβεω) pres. imp. "don't be afraid" again, a connection, foreshadowing? of the resurrection account.
v8 επαραντες (επαιρω) aor. part. "when [they] looked up" – the Shekinah was gone.
v9 καταβαινοντων (καταβαινω) gen. pres. part. "as [they] were coming down [the mountain]" – a transitory clause, what goes up, must come down, literally and theologically.
ενετειλατο (εντελλω) aor. + dat. "commanded”
μηδενι ειπητε (ειπον) aor. subj. "don't tell anyone". Jesus maintains the so called “messianic secret” for this is the fifth time Jesus has commanded secrecy (here only till the raising of the Son of Man). But the reason for his is unclear, so this is likely an old tradition passed down uncritically.
το οραμα (α ατος) "what you have seen" - the vision requires a midrash; which is the resurrection, εως + subj. "until ο υιος του ανθρωπου "the Son of Man" (Jesus' favorite messianic title) εγερθη/ (εγειρω) aor. pas. subj. "has been raised"
v10 τι ουν "why therefore” Presumably this command prompts the disciples' question, the logic of which is not clear. Are the disciples questioning Jesus' command? If the Scribes are right and Elijah precedes the messiah, shouldn't the disciples tell everyone what they have just seen?
v11 αποκριθεις (αποκρινομαι) aor. pas. part. "[Jesus] answering" μεν...δε "to be sure ....... but" - "on the one hand [Elijah is coming .....] (v11b), but on the other hand [I tell you that Elijah has already come .....], (v12).
αποκαταστησει (αποκαθιστημι) fut. "he will restore/reestablish/bring back”. The future tense is interesting; is Jesus simply confirming that the disciples have properly understood the Scribes' teaching on the role of Elijah? The Scribes are right, but only in part?
v12 υμιν dat. "[I tell] you" - οτι that back to the Sermon on the Mount, ηλθεν (ερχομομαι) aor. "has [already] come" - the eschatological age has come and the promised Elijah has fulfilled his work.
ουκ επεγνωσαν (επιγινωσκω) aor. "they did not recognize [him]" – an idiom. “how could they be so rigtht and so wrong at the same time”?
ουτως "in the same way" the Baptist is dead, and now the Son of man is going
πασχειν (πασχω) pres. inf. "to suffer" - [is about] to suffer.
υπ (υπο) + gen. "by [their hands]"
v13 συνηκαν (συνιημι) aor. "understood" - obviously based on something more than v12 (a growing knowledge of the Jesus’ messiahship). Matthew's point is that unlike the Scribes, the disciples do understand the Baptist's role, which makes them more astute than the Scribes at the very least.