Thirdmill Study Bible

Notes on Matthew 17:2-18:35

<< Previous Note(s)Matthew Main PageNext Note(s) >>

Transfigured - Matthew 17:2

Transfigured ... face shone like the sun. These moments of transfiguration communicated Jesus' true identity and nature; he shares in God's radiant glory. This indicates Jesus divine nature. He is like Moses but greater (2 Cor. 3:7-18).

Moses and Elijah – Matthew 17:3

Moses and Elijah. Moses and Elijah are two of the most important figures of the Old Testament, both of whom saw a glimpse of God's glory (Exod. 33:18-34:7; 1 Kgs. 19:5-18). Here they met with Jesus who shined forth God's glory. Moses and Elijah also represent two key aspects of the Jewish Scriptures, the Law and the Prophets (Matt. 5:17; 7:12; 11:13; 22:40).

Three shelters – Matthew 17:4

Three shelters. Peter's suggestion that they build three shelters referred to the time of the Exodus when the Israelites lived in tents in the wilderness. This came to be remembered as the Feast of Tabernacles/Sukkot (Lev. 23:33-43). Peter must have believed that the kingdom of heaven was coming to the earth at that moment and thus the expectant Jews would celebrate with this appropriate feast (Zech. 14:16).

Jesus' sonship – Matthew 17:5

Voice out of the cloud. This was the second time when God speaks from the heavens to affirm Jesus' sonship and divine authority. The first was at another crucial event and turning point in the book, at Jesus' baptism (Matt. 3:16-17). In both cases God the Father affirmed the unique Father-Son relationship he has with Jesus, confirming Jesus' authority over all the earth — "Listen to him."

Elijah's coming – Matthew 17:12

Elijah has already come. The Jewish expectation was that the mysterious prophet Elijah (who never died but was taken up by God to heaven, 2 Kgs. 2:1-18) would come back as a herald of the coming of God's kingdom (Isa. 40:1-11; Mal. 3:1-18). There is a double sense in which this came true through Jesus: Elijah returned and met with Jesus at the Transfiguration (Matt. 17:1-11) and Elijah came figurally in John the Baptist who played the role of herald (Matt. 3:1-5; 17:13).

The second prediction - Matthew 17:22

The Son of Man will be delivered into the hands of people. This was the second of three times (Matt. 16:21; 20:18-19) that Jesus predicts his own future suffering, death, and resurrection, reminding his hearers of his purpose.

Teaching for the Church - Matthew 18:1-35

This chapter contains the fourth of Matthew's five major teaching blocks, this one giving instructions for life together among Jesus' disciples, the church. The placement of these instructions is modeled after the OT story. Even as Moses led the people through the wilderness (with a miraculous water crossing and feedings) and then gave instructions for how to live well together, so too Jesus has reformed the people of God through similar activities (chapters 14–16) and then gave them directives. The focus of this block of teaching is on living with each other in humility and with forgiveness and mercy toward each other as the primary virtue.

The Greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven? - Matthew 18:1-4

The disciples' question to Jesus about who is the greatest in the kingdom is a natural human question, but it also reveals the disciples' limited understanding (little faith). The same question will come up again in 20:20-28, and this provides a kind of literary frame to chapters 18–20. These chapters together give various instructions about the life together of the people of God in the kingdom. The answer Jesus gave to the question of who is greatest was similar both times — it is the humble and the servants who enter the kingdom and who are its true leaders.

Related Resources

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

<< Previous Note(s)Matthew Main PageNext Note(s) >>