Bible Study Notes on Matthew 17 – 20180126

Writing
Bible Study Notes

Matthew 17:1  “…after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John…”
Luke records it as eight days.  Commentary suggests it’s the difference of time reckoning between a Jewish tax collector and a Gentile physician.  The inner circle of disciples, Peter, James, and John.  Given Jesus’s humanity as well as His divinity, it’s hard to know exactly why He seemed to be closer to these than the others.  Personalities could play a part.  Also, the particular gifts that each had.  We know Peter was given to leadership and John to being very receptive of spiritual things.  Not sure of James as he was killed not long after Jesus ascended, but I’m sure it was something apparent.  And we’re not privy to everything that was said and done.

1  “…a high mountain…”
Commentary says a tradition says Tabor, but due to the isolation and considering the text timeline, may have been Hermon.  Gospels don’t say.

2  “…transfigured…”
Or transformed.  His divine glory was uncovered and allowed the disciples present to see Him closer to His natural state.

3  “…Moses and Elijah appeared…”
How would the disciples know it was Moses and Elijah.  I believe this is evidence of our abilities after the sin nature is removed.  As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13, then I shall know as I am known.  Our appearance may be different from that of down here, but we will know each other, perhaps even those we never got to meet while on earth.

9  “…Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man is risen from the dead”
Interesting.  Not sure if there was a particular reason or just the normal deal of not wanting people coming to make Him an earthly king at this time.  Commentaries aren’t specific, but they allude to the ideas that this being an obvious sign of His divinity and Messiah-ship, the coming time of persecution and crucifixion could hinder some’s faith or cause confusion and unbelief.  After the resurrection, His divinity would be obvious and thus this incident would be totally believed as fact.

12-13  “…Elijah has come already…He spoke to them of John the Baptist”
Jesus spoke of this earlier in the book.  The prophecy of Malachi says that Elijah would come and restore the hearts of the fathers and children before the coming of the day of the LORD.  Jesus affirms this as being John the Baptist who paved the way for Christ and set things on the right path for Jesus to bring salvation by preaching repentance for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand.  Of course, Jesus did the actual restoration, but John helped plow the field in preparation.

17  “…faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you?  How long shall I bear with you…”
Seemed a bit harsh.  Commentary suggested Jesus was referring to the responses He witnessed.  Crowd was more interested in seeing a miracle than in helping a sick child.  The disciples were apparently only trying the method of exorcism rather than the true faith in God to heal him.  Jesus told them later they couldn’t do it due to their unbelief.

20  “…faith as a mustard seed…”
Unsure as to the depth of this phrase.  What exactly did Jesus mean.  Certainly if we believe in Christ for salvation, that should show we have at least as much faith as a mustard seed, yet we don’t go around moving mountains.  Seems more must be involved.  I think, as also the commentaries suggested, that it’s not a prescription for power, but an assurance that anything can be overcome by faith in God and in submission and obedience to His will.  Had the disciples been more focused on compassion for the child and, having faith that the power was of God, entreated God’s will on his behalf, they may have been able to cast the demon out.

21  “…this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting”
Not referring to the lone act of removing the demon, but the condition of the person acting.  Only one who had spent time praying and fasting would be equipped to exercise what was needed to remove this type.  Obviously the disciples weren’t to that point.

23  “…the third day He will be raised up…”
Phrasing different than three days and three nights, but the meaning is the same.  How important it is to understand the context and particular nuances of what is written to gain the proper interpretation.

26-27  “…the sons are free.  Nevertheless, lest we offend them…give it to them for Me and you”
The logic of what happened is obvious, but I couldn’t see why it was necessary.  Taking the whole incident in view, we have Peter telling religious officers that Jesus pays the temple tax, that which was used in the service of God.  Yet, Peter had already confessed and been reminded that Jesus was the Son of God.  He may not have thought that idea out completely to all of its consequences.  I think Jesus was using this as a boost to Peter’s understanding.  In truth, Jesus was the Son of God, therefore the temple tax wouldn’t apply to Him.  But that opens the question of what Peter should have said.  If he had made the connection, should he have told the official no because Jesus would be exempt due to His position.  To do so would have been to openly proclaim that Jesus was the Messiah, something Jesus had told them not to do.  Of course, we are getting close to the passion week when Jesus would allow the people to hail Him as the Messiah, so perhaps he would have been OK with Peter’s assertion.  Something to think about.

I hope you enjoy reading and studying His word.  May it accomplish what He desires.  Please feel free to comment or post questions.  Thanks for reading!

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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