The Transfiguration

Matthew 17:1-5

From Exegetical Commentary on Matthew, 2006, AMG Publishers.

Scholars are not certain which mountain Jesus and His three disciples ascended for this great event. Luke just calls it "a mountain" (Luke 9:28). We do know that Jesus was in northern Galilee, since immediately following the transfiguration, He went to Capernaum. Both Mount Tabor and Mount Hermon (the taller of the two) have been suggested as the site.

[1] Peter, James, and John were selected to witness "apart" (kat' idan; privately; from kat [2596], according to; and dios [2398], one's own) from others the high point of Jesus' visible glory as well as the low point of His humiliating agony in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matt. 26:37; Mark 14:33). These were rare privileges for these three, who also stood nearby when Jairus' daughter was raised from the dead (Mark 5:37; Luke 8:51).

[2] In Philippians 2:6, 7, we learn that Jesus Christ subsisted in the "form (morphē [3444]) of God" but emptied Himself, taking the "form (morphēn) of a servant (dolou [1401])." Since sovereignty and service are antithetical concepts, the precise contrast in "form" seems to be between rule and obedience. The "form of God" is not service, and the "form of service" is not sovereignty. So Jesus added service to His sovereignty by becoming the God-Man, veiling His rule and accenting His service to the point of washing feet and dying on the cross.

Theologians call this "kenosis," from the Greek word ekénōsen (2758), "He emptied Himself" ("made himself of no reputation" in the kjv), in Philippians 2:7. He emptied Himself by adding human-not subtracting divine-predicates, by adding service, not subtracting sovereignty. 

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