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Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary

Transfiguration of Christ

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This event relates to a very remarkable occurrence in the history of our Lord's life, which is recorded by three of the evangelists, Matthew 17; Mark 9; Luke 9. The substance of what we learn from their accounts is, that upon a certain occasion Jesus took Peter, James, and John, into a high mountain apart from all other society, and that he was there transfigured before them; his face shining as the sun, and his raiment white as the light; that moreover there appeared unto them Moses and Elias, conversing with him; and that while they spake together on the subject of his death, which was soon afterward to take place at Jerusalem, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice out of the cloud proclaimed, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." The Apostle Peter, adverting to this memorable occurrence, says, "We have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eye- witnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount," 2 Peter 1:16-18 . This event is to be considered:

1. As a solemn confirmation of the prophetic office of Christ.

2. As designed to support the faith of the disciples, which was to be deeply tried by his approaching humiliations; and to afford consolation to the human nature of our Lord himself, by giving him a foretaste of "the joy set before him."

3. As an emblem of humanity glorified at the resurrection.

4. As declaring Christ to be superior to Moses and Elias, the giver and the restorer of the law.

5. As an evidence to the disciples of the existence of a separate state, in which good men consciously enjoy the felicity of heaven.

6. As a proof that the bodies of good men shall be so refined and changed, as, like Elias, to live in a state of immortality, and in the presence of God.

7. As exhibiting the sympathy which exists between the church in heaven and the church on earth, and the instruction which the former receives from the events which take place in the latter:—Moses and Elias conversed with our Lord on his approaching death, doubtless to receive, not to convey information.

8. As maintaining the grand distinction, the infinite difference, between Christ and all other prophets: he is "THE SON." "This is my beloved Son, hear him." It has been observed, with much truth, that the condition in which Jesus Christ appeared among men, humble, weak, poor, and despised, was a true and continual transfiguration; whereas the transfiguration itself, in which he showed himself in the real splendour of his glory, was his true and natural condition.

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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Transfiguration of Christ'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. 1831-2.

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