Matthew 17:1-9


Step I - (Initial) Acquaintance
A. Comparison of English or other published translations

"transfigured" vs. "Jesus' appearance changed" (NLT)

what does it mean to be transfigured/changed


what kind of change is it

transfiguration as a special, specific kind of change

tabernacle vs. shelter (NIV), shrines (NLT), booths (RSV), dwellings (NRSV), memorials (Message) or tents (original language?)

place of worship vs. place to live vs. place of safety

which is most important at this time?





tents - dwelling place for those who cared for altar?

B. Greek/Hebrew Textual Criticism

singular form of tent vs. plural (three)?

assimilated by scribes to plural found in parallel accounts (Mark 9:5, Luke 9:33)

does it make a difference to have them all in the same/one tent?

C. One's Own Rough Translation

  1. Tabernacle?

Step II - Disposition
A. Genre - How the text says what it says

  1. Matthew's three epiphanies - Christophanies
  2. Jesus comes to disciples again (like resurrection scene in ch. 28 or sea of Galillee scene in ch. 14
  3. Something different about Jesus
  4. Jesus came to them

B. Personal Interaction - Questions and observations

  1. where are we most comfortable?
  2. Simply existing - dwelling
  3. In special orientation to God - worship
  4. Out of danger - safety
  5. Does this whole business of what Peter plans to build say more about the builder or the occupant?
  6. What is different about Jesus that is made clear in the Christophanies
  7. Are these differences bad news or good news?
  8. Danger of comparing ourselves to Christ, jumping to conclusion that Christ is like us and we are like Christ
  9. What is the difference between us coming to Jesus and Jesus coming to us?
  10. Why does Jesus keep coming back?
  11. Why is this whole thing such a secret?

C. Organization - Where the elements of "B" are located

  1. Where do we reside
  2. Secrecy
  3. Is our place of residency (safety, security, worship, the past [memorial]) a secret
  4. Threes - three tents, three epiphanies/Christophanies - Trinitarian idea?

Step III - Composition
A. Immediate Context - preceding/following pericope

  1. Before - Peter's confession
  2. Jesus foretelling his death and resurrection
  1. After - Jesus heals the demon-possessed boy
  2. Another prediction of death and resurrection (v. 22)

B. Organization of the Compositional Whole

  1. Second of three Christophanies
  2. 1 - Sea of Galilee (ch. 14)
  3. 2 - Transfiguration (ch. 17)
  4. 3 - Post-resurrection (ch. 28)
  5. Theophany vs. Epiphany vs. Christophany

F. Issues of Authorship

Step IV - Context
A. Primitive Christianity

  1. dazzling white/face shining - see this same kind of language in
  2. "touching" brings healing, life

B. Old Testament and Judaism

  1. Exodus language?
  2. Moses
  3. Mountaintop - coming down
  4. Shining face as result of encounter with God

E. Hellenistic World

Step V - Distillation
A. Summary of Salient Features

  1. Building program interrupted by "beholding" of shining cloud, voice from cloud
  2. Never mentioned again in this story
  3. Fell upon face, afraid
  4. Jesus comes to them and touches them
  5. Then simply on the way down, without any discussion of "what about the tents?"
  6. Is this a relocation of the project?
  7. Build among people/down from mountaintop instead of exclusive mountaintop location
  8. Jesus' return to the valley to minister to human need
  9. Perhaps our call to move ministry outside the walls of the church
  10. Yet, let's not move too hastily
  11. Affirmations not so much about us but about Jesus
  12. Christ is like us, and so he will return to valley to help
  13. Christ is not like us, and so he is the only one who can help
  14. Mystery
  15. Maybe that's why it was a secret

B. Smooth Translation

B. Hermeneutical Bridge

  1. Where we build (mountaintop, valley)
  2. What we build (shelter, tabernacle, memorial, tent)
  3. Implications for mission/orientation to God
  4. How we build
  5. Us - imperfectly
  6. Christ - differently

Step VI - Contemporary Address
A. Description of Audience

  1. Local UMC congregation that is in process of building

B. Intended Goals for the Address

  1. Christophany?
  2. Who is Jesus and why is it important (that he is different from us)

C. Address