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The Gospel According to Matthew: Chapter 17

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1Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. 2And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. 3Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. 4Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I a Gk brother's will make three dwellings b Gk brother here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 5While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; c Other ancient authorities read for the road is wide and easy with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” 6When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. 7But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.” 8And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone.

9As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, “Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.” 10And the disciples asked him, “Why, then, do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” 11He replied, “Elijah is indeed coming and will restore all things; 12but I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but they did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man is about to suffer at their hands.” 13Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them about John the Baptist.

14When they came to the crowd, a man came to him, knelt before him, 15and said, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly; he often falls into the fire and often into the water. 16And I brought him to your disciples, but they could not cure him.” 17Jesus answered, “You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him here to me.” 18And Jesus rebuked the demon, a Gk he and it b The terms leper and leprosy can refer to several diseases came out of him, and the boy was cured instantly. 19Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” 20He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a c Other ancient authorities read Truly I tell you, not even mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” d Other ancient authorities read Gergesenes; others, Gerasenes

22As they were gathering e Gk reclined in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into human hands, 23and they will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised.” And they were greatly distressed.

24When they reached Capernaum, the collectors of the temple tax f Gk were reclining came to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the temple tax?” f Gk were reclining 25He said, “Yes, he does.” And when he came home, Jesus spoke of it first, asking, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tribute? From their children or from others?” 26When Peter g Other ancient authorities lack often said, “From others,” Jesus said to him, “Then the children are free. 27However, so that we do not give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook; take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a coin; h Gk lacks of the synagogue take that and give it to them for you and me.”

Notes:

c Gk brother's

d Gk brother

e Other ancient authorities read for the road is wide and easy

a Gk he

b The terms leper and leprosy can refer to several diseases

c Other ancient authorities read Truly I tell you, not even

a Other ancient authorities read Gergesenes; others, Gerasenes

a Gk reclined

b Gk were reclining

c Other ancient authorities lack often

d Gk lacks of the synagogue

Text Commentary view alone

17.1–8 : The Transfiguration

(Mk 9.2–8; Lk 9.28–36 ).

1 :

Six days, cf. Ex 24.16 . Peter, James, and John are often an inner circle of the disciples. The high mountain may be Mount Hermon, in close proximity to Caesarea Philippi; the traditional identification is Mount Tabor, south of Nazareth.

2 :

Transfigured, having a divine appearance. Face shone, like Moses’ face (Ex 34.29 ) after encountering God on Mount Sinai. Clothes …‐white, like the “Ancient One” in Daniel's vision (Dan7.9 ).

3 :

Moses, Elijah, showing the continuity of Jesus and his teaching with Israel's lawgiver and the prophetic precursor of the messiah (Mal 4.5–6 ).

5 :

The voice echoes the baptismal one ( 3.17 ), adding the command to obey Jesus’ word (cf. Deut 18.15 ).

6 :

Fell to the ground, cf. Dan 8.18; 10.9 .

17.9–13 : The importance of John the Baptist

(Mk 9.9–13 ). The expectation that Elijah would precede the coming of the messiah (Mal 4.5–6 ) becomes in the Synoptic Gospels the belief that John the Baptist was that Elijah. His execution anticipates the suffering and death of the messiah ( 14.1–2 ).

17.14–21 : Faith and acts of power

(Mk 9.14–29; Lk 9.37–43 ). The healing of the boy with epilepsy instructs the community about the relationship between accomplishing great deeds and possessing even the smallest amount of faith.

17 :

Faithless and perverse generation, Deut 32.5,20 .

20 :

Mustard seed, Lk 17.6 . Say to this mountain, ‘Move, was an “impossible thing” that only God could do.

17.22–23 : Jesus’ second prediction of betrayal and death

(Mk 9.30–32; Lk 9.43–45 ). Cf. 16.21; 20.17–19 .

22 :

Were gathering, for the pilgrimage to Jerusalem for Passover. Be betrayed, the passive verb suggests that God permits Jesus’ passion (cf. Isa 53.6,10 ).

17.24–27 : The question of taxes.

The first of two Matthean sections devoted to the problem of paying taxes (see also 22.17 ). A revolt against Rome broke out in Judea in 66 CE. Payment of tax or tribute to Rome was a precipitating factor in that revolt.

24 :

Temple tax, each Jewish male was to pay a half‐shekel annually in March (Ex 30.13 ) for support of the Temple. After the revolt against Rome, Jews were forced to pay this tax to support the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus in Rome (Josephus, War 7.218 ).

26 :

The children are free, suggests Jesus believes payment of the tax is not required in Israel.

27 :

So that we do not give offense, Matthew encourages Jewish Christians to maintain solidarity with the larger Jewish community.

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