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Matthew 17:5

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

A bright cloud overshadowed them - Or as six MSS. and Ephraim read it, a cloud of light, νεφελη φωτος ; which reading Griesbach has admitted into the text. As a bright cloud, or a cloud of light could not overshadow, or cast any kind of shade, the word επεσκιασεν should be translated, surrounded them. A cloud was frequently the symbol of the Divine presence; but such a cloud had always something very remarkable in its appearance. Ezekiel, Ezekiel 1:4, represents it as a great cloud, and a fire unfolding itself, and a brightness about it, and out of the midst thereof, as the color of amber out of the midst of the fire; and in Ezekiel 1:28, he tells us that this was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. See also Exodus 16:10; Exodus 40:33, etc.; Ezekiel 43:2, and 1 Chronicles 5:14. But it was generally in a thick, dark cloud, that God manifested himself under the law; see Exodus 19:9; Exodus 20:21. This might be designed as emblematical of the old covenant, which was but the shadow of the good things which were to come, Hebrews 10:1; and the cloud of light mentioned here, the emblem of that glorious display of God, in his Gospel, by which life and immortality were brought to light, 2 Timothy 1:10.

This is my beloved Son - Ουτος εϚιν ο υιος μου ο αγαπητος, εν ω ευδοκησα, This is my Son, the beloved one, in who I have delighted, or, been well pleased. God adds his testimony of approbation to what was spoken of the sufferings of Christ by Moses and Elijah; thus showing that the sacrificial economy of the old covenant was in itself of no worth, but as it referred to the grand atonement which Jesus was about to make; therefore he says, In him Have I delighted, (ευδοκησα ), intimating that it was in him alone, as typified by those sacrifices, that he Had delighted through the whole course of the legal administration; and that it was only in reference to the death of his Son that he accepted the offerings and oblations made to him under the old covenant. Hear Him. The disciples wished to detain Moses and Elijah that they might hear them: but God shows that the law which had been in force, and the prophets which had prophesied, until now, must all give place to Jesus; and he alone must now be attended to, as the way, the truth, and the life; for no man could now come unto the Father but through him. This voice seems also to refer to that prediction in Deuteronomy 18:15. The Lord shall raise up a Prophet like unto me: Him Shall Ye Hear. Go no more to the law, nor to the prophets, to seek for a coming Messiah; for behold he Is come! Hear and obey him, and him only.

This transfiguration must have greatly confirmed the disciples in the belief of a future state, and in the doctrine of the resurrection; they saw Moses and Elijah still Existing, though the former had been gathered to his fathers upwards of 1400 years, and the latter had been translated nearly 900.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

A bright cloud overshadowed them - The word “overshadow” here means, rather, to “be diffused” or “spread” over them. It does not mean that it made a shade. A cloud was the symbol of the divine presence. Thus, God went before the Israelites in a cloudy pillar - dark by day and bright by night Exodus 14:19-20; he appeared on Mount Sinai in a cloud bright by fire Exodus 24:15-17; and a cloud, the symbol of the divine presence - called the Shechinah - dwelt continually in the most holy place in the temple, 1 Kings 8:10-11; Ezekiel 1:4; Ezekiel 10:4. When, therefore, the disciples saw this cloud, they were prepared to hear the word of the Lord.

This is my beloved Son - This was the voice of God. This was the second time that, in a remarkable manner, God had declared this. See Matthew 3:17. This was spoken to confirm the disciples; to make known to them that it was their duty to hear Christ rather than any other, and to honor him more than Moses and Elijah; and to strengthen their faith in him when they should go forth to preach the gospel after he was shamefully put to death. After this, it was impossible for them to doubt that he was truly the Son of God. See 2 Peter 1:17-18.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Now the disciples beheld somewhat of Christ's glory, as of the only begotten of the Father. It was intended to support their faith, when they would have to witness his crucifixion; and would give them an idea of the glory prepared for them, when changed by his power and made like him. The apostles were overcome by the glorious sight. Peter thought that it was most desirable to continue there, and to go no more down to meet the sufferings of which he was so unwilling to hear. In this he knew not what he said. We are wrong, if we look for a heaven here upon earth. Whatever tabernacles we propose to make for ourselves in this world, we must always remember to ask Christ's leave. That sacrifice was not yet offered, without which the souls of sinful men could not have been saved; and important services were to be done by Peter and his brethren. While Peter spoke, a bright cloud overshadowed them, an emblem of the Divine presence and glory. Ever since man sinned, and heard God's voice in the garden, unusual appearances of God have been terrible to man. They fell prostrate to the earth, till Jesus encouraged them; when looking round, they beheld only their Lord as they commonly saw him. We must pass through varied experiences in our way to glory; and when we return to the world after an ordinance, it must be our care to take Christ with us, and then it may be our comfort that he is with us.
Ellen G. White
Lift Him Up, 37.5

There were occasions when He spoke with the dignity of His own true greatness. “He that hath ears to hear,” He said, “let him hear.” In these words He was only repeating the command of God, when from His excellent glory the Infinite One had declared, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.” Standing amid the frowning Pharisees, who sought to make their own importance felt, Christ did not hesitate to compare Himself with the most distinguished representative men who had walked the earth, and to claim preeminence above them all. LHU 37.5

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Ellen G. White
Fundamentals of Christian Education, 405

“The entrance of Thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple,”—to those who are not self-sufficient, but who are willing to learn. What was the work of the God-given messenger to our world? The only-begotten Son of God clothed His divinity with humanity, and came to our world as a teacher, an instructor, to reveal truth in contrast with error. Truth, saving truth, never languished on His tongue, never suffered in His hands, but was made to stand out plainly and clearly defined amid the moral darkness prevailing in our world. For this work He left the heavenly courts. He said of Himself, “For this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth.” The truth came from His lips with freshness and power, as a new revelation. He was the way, the truth, and the life. His life, given for this sinful world, was full of earnestness and momentous results; for His work was to save perishing souls. He came forth to be the True Light, shining amid the moral darkness of superstition and error, and was announced by a voice from heaven, proclaiming, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” And at His transfiguration this voice from heaven was again heard, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him.” FE 405.1

“Moses truly said unto the fathers, A Prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; Him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever He shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that Prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.” Christ brought to our world a certain knowledge of God, and to all who received and obeyed His word, gave He power to become the sons of God. He who came forth from God to our world gave instruction on every subject about which it is essential that man should know in order to find the pathway to heaven. To Him, truth was an ever-present, self-evident reality; He uttered no suggestions, advanced no sentiments, notions, or opinions, but presented only solid, saving truth. FE 405.2

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Ellen G. White
The Desire of Ages, 746

In the sufferings of Christ upon the cross prophecy was fulfilled. Centuries before the crucifixion, the Saviour had foretold the treatment He was to receive. He said, “Dogs have compassed Me: the assembly of the wicked have enclosed Me: they pierced My hands and My feet. I may tell all My bones: they look and stare upon Me. They part My garments among them, and cast lots upon My vesture.” Psalm 22:16-18. The prophecy concerning His garments was carried out without counsel or interference from the friends or the enemies of the Crucified One. To the soldiers who had placed Him upon the cross, His clothing was given. Christ heard the men's contention as they parted the garments among them. His tunic was woven throughout without seam, and they said, “Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be.” DA 746.1

In another prophecy the Saviour declared, “Reproach hath broken My heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none. They gave Me also gall for My meat; and in My thirst they gave Me vinegar to drink.” Psalm 69:20, 21. To those who suffered death by the cross, it was permitted to give a stupefying potion, to deaden the sense of pain. This was offered to Jesus; but when He had tasted it, He refused it. He would receive nothing that could becloud His mind. His faith must keep fast hold upon God. This was His only strength. To becloud His senses would give Satan an advantage. DA 746.2

The enemies of Jesus vented their rage upon Him as He hung upon the cross. Priests, rulers, and scribes joined with the mob in mocking the dying Saviour. At the baptism and at the transfiguration the voice of God had been heard proclaiming Christ as His Son. Again, just before Christ's betrayal, the Father had spoken, witnessing to His divinity. But now the voice from heaven was silent. No testimony in Christ's favor was heard. Alone He suffered abuse and mockery from wicked men. DA 746.3

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Ellen G. White
The Desire of Ages, 694

Christ's agony did not cease, but His depression and discouragement left Him. The storm had in nowise abated, but He who was its object was strengthened to meet its fury. He came forth calm and serene. A heavenly peace rested upon His bloodstained face. He had borne that which no human being could ever bear; for He had tasted the sufferings of death for every man. DA 694.1

The sleeping disciples had been suddenly awakened by the light surrounding the Saviour. They saw the angel bending over their prostrate Master. They saw him lift the Saviour's head upon his bosom, and point toward heaven. They heard his voice, like sweetest music, speaking words of comfort and hope. The disciples recalled the scene upon the mount of transfiguration. They remembered the glory that in the temple had encircled Jesus, and the voice of God that spoke from the cloud. Now that same glory was again revealed, and they had no further fear for their Master. He was under the care of God; a mighty angel had been sent to protect Him. Again the disciples in their weariness yield to the strange stupor that overpowers them. Again Jesus finds them sleeping. DA 694.2

Looking sorrowfully upon them He says, “Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.” DA 694.3

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