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Rev. Ronald C. Purkey claims no originality for this Bible study outline.

However, every outline posted on this website has been taught by Rev. Purkey.

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SCRIPTURE: Matthew 17:1-12


KEY VERSE: And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. (Matthew 17:2)


INTRODUCTION: I’ve always enjoyed mountain climbing. There's no feeling quite like arriving at the summit and being able to look back on the long, hard trail that you have walked to get there -- and to see far off in the distance, cooled by the breeze that always blows up there. No wonder people use the expression "mountaintop experience" to refer to those times when we feel especially close to God.


Three of Jesus' disciples had a genuine mountaintop experience in Matthew 17:1-12, but they also discovered a basic fact of life: mountaintops are a great place to visit, but it is not practical to try to live there. When Peter wanted to erect three tents on the mountaintop…, the voice from heaven rebuked him and reminded him to pay attention to Jesus, not to the mountaintop.


Indeed, every time that I have ever climbed a mountain, I have always had to climb back down to the valley after all that exhilaration. The same seems to be true in my spiritual life: whenever I have a great spiritual "mountaintop experience," something always happens to bring me back to the "valley" of everyday life, where everyday problems (and joys) abound.


How wonderful to know that the Lord Jesus to whom we feel close on the mountaintop is also the Jesus who is with us every day in the valley. -- David C. Cook Publishers, Bible-in-Live, “At the Top




The transfiguration of Jesus Christ is one of the key events in His earthly ministry. This was the only time His glory, veiled in human flesh, was allowed to shine forth (see John 1:14). “Transfigure” is the same as our English word metamorphosis and means “a change from within.” This glory was not the reflection of outward light; it was the revelation of inward glory. The same word is used in Romans 12:2 (“transformed”) and 2 Corinthians 3:18 (“changed”) referring to the Christian’s growth in holiness.


A. The Participants Of The Transfiguration. (Matthew 17:1-3)


And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him. (Matthew 17:1-3)


There were seven: (1) Christ, (2) Peter, (3) James, (4) John, (5) Moses, (6) Elijah, and (7) God the Father. Peter, James, and John had three special experiences with Jesus Christ –here on the mount of transfiguration, in the home of Jairus, and in the Garden of Gethsemane. In each instance, Jesus taught them a new lesson about Himself.


B. The Purposes Of The Transfiguration.


1. The Transfiguration was a picture of the coming kingdom.


Jesus promised that some of the disciples would not see death until they had seen His kingdom (Matthew 16:28). If you read carefully Peter’s explanation in 2 Peter 1:16-20, you will find that it has to do with the promised kingdom.


Peter had just recently confessed Christ as the Son of God (Matthew 16:16) and had learned the truth about Christ’s coming death (Matthew 16:21-23). Peter and the other disciples were probably asking, “If He is going to die on the cross, what about all the promises of the kingdom? Will they be fulfilled?”


2. The transfiguration assured believers that the Word of God would stand.


Christ in His transfiguration assured them that the Word of God would stand and the kingdom would come. The scene is actually a picture of the kingdom: (1) Christ glorified, (2) the three apostles representing the redeemed Israel, (3) Moses representing saints who died in Christ, (4) Elijah representing saints who were raptured (for Elijah did not die), and (5) the multitudes at the foot of the mountain representing the other nations.


3. The transfiguration was used to strengthen Christ for His suffering.


Moses and Elijah talked with Him about His coming “decease” (“exodus”) at Jerusalem (Luke 9:30-31), and the voice of God the Father came as another encouragement to the Son. It was also an encouragement to the disciples as they faced separation from the Lord as He experienced His suffering and death. Had they remembered this scene, they would not have failed Him or lost hope when He died.




A. Peter Was So Excited At What He Was Experiencing That He Blurted Out A Plan To Build Three Memorials.


Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. (Matthew 17:4)


1. Simon Peter could never resist an opportunity to make a speech.


Every occasion was an good one for him. Peter generally got to his feet to say something, and usually it was to say the wrong thing -- that is, until the Day of Pentecost!


2. Simon Peter should have kept quiet; here it is the wrong thing.


God Himself rebukes Peter, as we shall see, because he was attempting to place Moses and Elijah on the same plane with the Lord Jesus. Luke offers the explanation for this indiscretion of Peter’s by stating, “… not knowing what he said” (Luke 9:33). And there are a lot of people who talk without knowing what they are saying! Peter was rebuked. He should have kept still.


Jesus was Transfigured


It is helpful to be reminded that the Lord Jesus is the only one who is being “transfigured” here. Moses and Elijah have simply appeared. Part of the coming rebuke that follows Peter's blurted out suggestion may be based, in part, that Peter is putting the Lord Jesus on the same plane as Moses and Elijah. Although Peter previously confessed Jesus as the Christ, it could be that he still was not understanding the supremacy of Christ over all of God's appointed leaders (even Moses and Elijah). – David C. Cool Publishers, Bible-in-Life


B. Immediately, A Cloud Overshadowed Them And God Spoke Directly To Peter, James, And John.


While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him. (Matthew 17:5)


1. This is God the Father’s testimony to Jesus, the Son.


Jesus is the final authority in matters of revelation. What Moses, Elijah and the prophets had to say was wonderful. The writer to the Hebrews says: “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son …” (Heb. 1:1-2). The Son is the One who came to earth as the final revelation of God to man.


2. Now notice the great statement by the Father.


“This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.” Have you ever heard a voice out of heaven commending you and saying that God was well pleased with you? Well, He has never said that to me either. In fact, He has never said it to anyone but to Jesus Christ.


The Lord Jesus is the only One who ever has been well pleasing to God the Father. And you and I well never get into God’s presence until we are in Christ by faith. When we receive Christ as our Savior, then we are placed in the body of believers. Christ is the only One in whom God has been pleased, and we are accepted in the Beloved.


C. After They Heard The Voice Of God, Moses And Elijah Disappeared Leaving Jesus As The Center Of Their Attention.


And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid. And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid. And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only. (Matthew 17:6–8)


Do you want a good motto for your life? I suggest these two words: Jesus only. He is the One who is the authority. I hope you will mark those two words, Jesus only, in your Bible. They provide a good motto for all of us.




A. Jesus Instructed Them That They Not Tell Anyone About Their Experience Until After His Resurrection.


And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead. (Matthew 17:9)


1. Why wait until the Resurrection to tell it?


This is the fifth time in Matthew that the Jesus tells the disciples to be silent about what they have seen, specifically as those events relate to Jesus' identity as the Messiah. It’s possible that news of this story may have stirred up misdirected political support, proclaiming Jesus to be a conquering Messiah. Also, the most direct "proof" of Jesus' identity would be His resurrection, so the He instructed [Peter, James, and John] to wait until after He was raised from the dead to tell the others. One can just picture the three disciples, sitting around a campfire with others after the Ascension, finally being able to tell this story. – David C. Cook Publishers, Bible-in-Life


Why should it be told at the time of the Resurrection? Because it is part of the gospel story. It tells who Jesus is. He is the perfect Lamb of God. He has been tested for three years, and at this time He is on the way to the cross to die for the sins of the world. God required a lamb without blemish, and the Lord Jesus Christ is the only One who could die a substitutionary death for mankind, because He was sinless. In His perfect humanity He was transfigured. He is the hope of mankind.


2. Jesus Christ, the hope of the world.


The hope of mankind is not in science or education. Both of them are letting us down today. They have created Frankenstein monsters, and we do not know what to do with them. For example, they have invented a gasoline automobile in Detroit, Michigan, that is giving us a lot of trouble by polluting the air and clogging all the highways. Science cannot solve the problem. The hope of the world just happens to be in a Person by the name of Jesus Christ! Be sure you know Him; He is your only hope.


B. Jesus Explained That Elijah Came In The Ministry Of John The Baptist And Next Would Come The Suffering Of The Son Of Man.


And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. (Matthew 17:10-11)


1. A remarkable statement.


Jesus confirms what was said in the prophecy of Malachi. But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. (Matthew 17:12)


2. A reasonable statement.


This raises a question in the minds of a great many people regarding John the Baptist. Was he really Elijah? What our Lord is doing in this chapter is trying to anticipate the argument that Jesus had to die on the cross because John the Baptist was not Elijah -- and Elijah has to come before Christ returns to establish His kingdom. The Lord Jesus is saying that if they would receive Him as King, John would be Elijah.


Warren Wiersbe’s Explanation


Coming down the mountain, the disciples asked about Elijah, referring to the promises in Malachi 3:1; 4:5-6. Christ states that John the Baptist fulfilled these promises in spirit (Luke 1:17), but that Elijah himself would come. – Warren Wiersbe, Expository Outlines of the New Testament, Ed. 4


3. A redemptive statement.


“Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them” -- this is the second time the Lord Jesus mentions His approaching crucifixion. Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist. (Matthew 17:13)


He Put It In Writing


Two days after the April 27, 1996, cease-fire in Lebanon, a TV interviewer asked Israel's prime minister how the new agreement differed from one a few years earlier. He replied, "This one is in writing, whereas the former one was verbal over the telephone. Print has a different value."


Spoken words can be forgotten, or they can be changed when they are repeated. Written words, though, aren't dependent on memory, and they can't be easily ignored or changed.


In the Old Testament, when God spoke to the people of Israel, He told His prophets to write down what He said (Deuteronomy 5:22; Jeremiah 36:2; Habakkuk 2:2). He didn't want His words to be forgotten or misrepresented.


Likewise, when Jesus lived on earth, God gave audible approval of His Son (Matthew 17:5). John, who saw the transfiguration and heard God's voice from heaven, did not merely tell others. Under the guidance of God's Spirit, he wrote a book (the Gospel of John) and three letters (1,2,3 John) so that all his readers would know truth from error, believe on Christ, and be filled with joy (1 John 1:4).


When we read God's Word, we too can "hear" God speak. We can begin to learn of His greatness, glory, and goodness. Are you finding that true? – Dennis J. De Haan, Our Daily Bread, June 9, 1997


CONCLUSION: A valley can be so deep that we do not see much sunlight at all. On a mountaintop, it is usually easy to see the sun shining brightly above and around us.


The Lord Jesus shines on the mountaintops of life, but He is also shining in our valleys as well. Psalm 23:4 reminds us: "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me."


THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: “When you open your Bible, ask the Author to open your heart.”


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REFERENCES: References used in this Bible study are the Scofield Reference Bible, the Believer’s Bible Commentary, David C. Cook Publishers Bible-in-Life, Dr. Cliff Robinson Bible Outlines, Dr. Lee Roberson’s Sermons, KJV Bible Commentary, Our Daily Bread, The Bible Reader’s Companion Ed. 3, The Nelson Study Bible: New King James Version, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, (Warren) Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines of the New Testament Ed. 4, (Warren) Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines of the Old Testament, With the Word Bible Commentary, Warren Wiersbe’s “Be” Series: Old & New Testaments,  and selected illustrations.



E-Mail: Ronald Purkey


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