The Transfiguration: A Prototype of the Second Coming
2 Peter 1:16-21
Truth Taught- Peter’s proof of Christ’s Parousia is that He and the others were eyewitnesses. They saw the future glory and power of Christ.
In the section before us today, the Apostle Peter is going to look back at the Transfiguration of Jesus as he, James and John witnessed it first-hand. Peter is going to tell us what the Transfiguration means, he will give us a true interpretation of that wonderful event.
Matthew 17:1–13 (ESV)
17 And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2 And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. 3 And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. 4 And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 5 He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” 6 When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. 7 But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” 8 And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.
9 And as they were coming down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, “Tell no one the vision, until the Son of Man is raised from the dead.” 10 And the disciples asked him, “Then why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?” 11 He answered, “Elijah does come, and he will restore all things. 12 But I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man will certainly suffer at their hands.” 13 Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist.
The Transfiguration definition- To be changed from flesh and blood to a glorified body. For Jesus, He was being shown to his disciples as He really is, in His heavenly glory.
One purpose of the transfiguration of Christ into at least a part of His heavenly glory was so that the “inner circle” of His disciples could gain a greater understanding of who Jesus is. Christ underwent a dramatic change in appearance in order that the disciples could behold Him in His glory. The disciples, who had only known Him in His human body, now had a greater realization of the deity of Christ, though they could not fully comprehend it. That gave them the reassurance they needed after hearing the shocking news of His coming death.
Why does Peter go from teaching us about the importance of adding virtue to our faith and reminding us to continue in the truth in which we have been established to the Transfiguration? The key is found in the fact that God’s promises are reality, however, some are not yet visible.
He is stirring us up to faith and obedience by sharing who Jesus Christ really is. His appearance is glorious and radiant.
2 Peter 1:16–21 (ESV)
16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
1. The Transfiguration Is the Preview of Jesus’ Parousia (1:16)
16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.
Peter’s proof of Christ’s Parousia is that He and the others were eyewitnesses.
Peter is stirring us up to confidence in all we have believed. He’s, here, putting some of the finishing touches on our faith.
He begins to lay out the groundwork so that we won’t be taken in by false teaching and the scoffers that will come.
2 Peter 3:1–4 (ESV)
3 This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2 that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, 3 knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. 4 They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.”
The false teachers and scoffers are those who teach that Jesus is not returning. They say all this second coming stuff is simply cleverly devised tales, made up stories or simply myths invented by the disciples to influence Jesus’ followers.
What does Peter say? 16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ
Here Peter connects the Transfiguration with Christ’s coming or Parousia. He literally calls the Transfiguration Jesus’ power and coming. Dunamai and Parousia…literally, Peter’s Hendiadys meaning Christ’s indescribable powerful, dynamic, advent.
Matthew 24:30–31 (ESV)
30 Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
The way Peter refutes their false claims and their scoffing unbelief is to explain to the false teachers to come and to Christ’s true followers is that Christ’s second coming is a reality because we saw the preview. Peter says, we have seen Him as He will be. We saw the future. We saw Christ in His glory.
Deuteronomy 19:15 (ESV)
15 “A single witness shall not suffice against a person for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offense that he has committed. Only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall a charge be established.
Matthew 18:15–16 (ESV)
15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.
Peter, James and John were the three witnesses who testified that Jesus Christ indeed was glorified on that day on that mountain and He will return again in the same way. They are the divinely appointed three witnesses. The charge is confirmed and proof is there.
Jesus not only showed His inner circle His glory and majesty but also showed them the future. He showed them a glimpse of His Second Coming.
One purpose of the transfiguration of Christ into at least a part of His heavenly glory was so that the “inner circle” of His disciples could gain a greater understanding of who Jesus is.
Here we see the second purpose of the Transfiguration: Jesus was showing His disciples a prototype or a preview of His second coming.
This view of the future is not something made up, not speculation, not a man-made tale and not a myth it is a proven future reality that all people would be wise to believe. Place your hope in the reality of Christ and His return.
2. The Transfiguration Highlights Jesus’ Status: He Is the King and Will Judge the Nations (1:17-18)
17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.
Peter’s proof of Christ’s Parousia is that He and the others were eyewitnesses. They heard God speak and give the status of honor and glory to His Son
Honor and Glory is another of Peter’s word combinations which mean status of divine glory.
God declared that His Son alone has been given this unique place in all the universe of glory and honor. This status comes as a result of Jesus being perfectly obedient to the Father. The Father bestows upon His Son this exalted status because He is perfectly obedient. So sure, is our salvation in Christ that God gives Him this status before He goes to the cross!
Peter not only interprets the Transfiguration event as a glimpse of the future Christ at His return but he also interprets God’s words for us as well.
He makes sure we understand that this is the same status God has invested in His Son even before Jesus was incarnate…
Psalm 2:7–12 (ESV)
7 I will tell of the decree:
The Lord said to me, “You are my Son;
today I have begotten you.
8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
and the ends of the earth your possession.
9 You shall break them with a rod of iron
and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”
10 Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
be warned, O rulers of the earth.
11 Serve the Lord with fear,
and rejoice with trembling.
12 Kiss the Son,
lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
When Christ returns, He will judge and rule over all nations. He will reward those who love Him and those who are His enemies will experience unspeakable wrath and fury.
It is not by accident that Jesus took the three disciples up onto the Holy Hill or Holy Mountain. It is during this pre-parousia event God declares His Son to be His King that He sets in place on His holy hill.
Psalm 2:6 (ESV)
6 “As for me, I have set my King
on Zion, my holy hill.”
God declares this is My Son, My King that I have placed on My holy mountain. Let the nations cower in fear because My Son has the status of power and glory. He will rule with justice and might. The nations that rage against Him are complete fools. Those who love Him will find protection and refuge.
3. The Transfiguration Confirms That All Scripture Is to Be Trusted (1:19-21)
19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
Peter’s point here is that one does well to pay attention to all of Scripture since it points to Jesus and His glory and the Transfiguration is proof that all Scripture is truth because it points to the reality that they were eyewitnesses to.
To have something made more certain in ancient Greek is to confirm it. Peter is not saying that experience gives Scripture believability. He saying that the prophets spoke about the coming Messiah and the return of Christ and we saw it…it is confirmed.
He continues to refute the scoffers by explaining how Scripture came to be. How did the Bible originate?
20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
No one ever produced Scripture on their own. God called Prophets to write and inspired them to write what they wrote. The doctrine of inspiration is explained here by Peter. men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
Scripture is not a product of man but a product of God.
The Holy Spirit produced the power needed for these called men to write. Peter uses a special play on words here.
The Pneuma (Spirit) carried them along like the wind (Pneuma) carries a sailboat. The wind carries the boat the sails simply capture the wind. The men wrote, they were the sails but it was the Holy Spirit who carried them along and produced sacred Scripture through them.
The Transfiguration confirms the Scriptures because that’s what they wrote about. Here, specifically, Peter refers to OT prophecies (words written by the Prophets) what about the NT? Is it also Scripture? Does the Transfiguration also confirm the NT writings?
2 Peter 3:15–16 (ESV)
15 And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16 as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.
Scoffers and false teachers are Scripture twisters. Peter here tells us they twist the OT Scriptures and they twist the NT Scriptures as well.
Beloved, this event, the Transfiguration fully confirms the entire Bible cover to cover. Peter would tell us, you would do well to read it, believe it, and live by it because Jesus is coming again. Peter would also say, I know He is because we saw Him!
Are you convinced the Bible is true? That it’s God’s Word to us?
Do you read it daily? Do you believe it? Do you live by what it teaches?
1 & 2 Peter and Jude by Thomas Schreiner
Jude and 2 Peter by Gene L. Green
The Letters of 2 Peter and Jude by Peter H. Davids
Word Biblical Commentary by Richard Bauckham
1&2 Peter by Alexander Nisbet