Matthew chapter 17

Jesus is transfigured and meets Moses and Elijah. He heals a demon-possessed lad. He predicts his own execution. And he pays the temple tax. [UPDATED]





VERSE 1. After six days, Jesus took with him Peter, James, and John his brother, and brought them up into a high mountain by themselves.

Peter, James, and John. Within the disciples, they constitute an inner circle.

a high mountain. Jesus went up a high mountain to deliver the Sermon on the Mount.


VERSE 2. He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his garments became as white as the light.

He was transfigured. Jesus was transformed to reveal a tiny fraction of his future glory.

His face shone like the sun. That happened to Moses as well:

Exodus 34:29. When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant in Moses’ hand, when he came down from the mountain, Moses didn’t know that the skin of his face shone by reason of his speaking with him.

white as the light. This phenomenon is echoed in other places in the Bible:

Daniel 7:9. I watched until thrones were placed, and one who was ancient of days sat. His clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool. His throne was fiery flames, and its wheels burning fire.

Jeremiah 23:29. “Is not my word like fire,” declares the LORD, “and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?” (NIV translation)

Matthew 17:2. He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his garments became as white as the light.

Matthew 28:3. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow.

Revelation 1:14. His head and his hair were white as white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire.


VERSE 3. Behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them talking with him.

Moses. Moses represents the Law of the Old Testament.

Elijah. Elija represents the Prophets of the Old Testament era.


VERSE 4. Peter answered, and said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you want, let’s make three tents here: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”

Lord. This is an interesting title for Peter to use, in light of Matthew chapter 7:

Matthew 7:21. Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

let’s make three tents. This is a very strange thing to say.

Peter tends to say things without thinking first.


VERSE 5. While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them. Behold, a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Listen to him.”

a bright cloud. This cloud represents God the Father:

Exodus 24:15-16.  Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. 16 the LORD’s glory settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days. The seventh day he called to Moses out of the middle of the cloud.

Revelation 14:14.  I looked, and saw a white cloud, and on the cloud one sitting like a son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle.

This is my beloved Son. God the Father describes Jesus as his beloved Son. This also happened in Matthew chapter 3:

Matthew 3:17. Behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”


VERSE 6. When the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces, and were very afraid.

were very afraid. This was a paranormal experience, and naturally they were overcome with fear.


VERSE 7. Jesus came and touched them and said, “Get up, and don’t be afraid.”


VERSE 8. Lifting up their eyes, they saw no one, except Jesus alone.

they saw no one, except Jesus alone. They are experiencing the ideal. They had eyes only for Jesus Christ!

We pray this be true of us as well. Let’s be single-minded for Jesus Christ!


VERSE 9. As they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying, “Don’t tell anyone what you saw, until the Son of Man has risen from the dead.”


VERSE 10. His disciples asked him, saying, “Then why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?”


VERSE 11. Jesus answered them, “Elijah indeed comes first, and will restore all things,


VERSE 12. but I tell you that Elijah has come already, and they didn’t recognize him, but did to him whatever they wanted to. Even so the Son of Man will also suffer by them.”


VERSE 13. Then the disciples understood that he spoke to them of John the Baptizer.




VERSE 14. When they came to the multitude, a man came to him, kneeling down to him, and saying,


VERSE 15. “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is epileptic, and suffers grievously; for he often falls into the fire, and often into the water.


VERSE 16. So I brought him to your disciples, and they could not cure him.”

they could not cure him. The disciples were unable to drive out a demon. They were powerless. Why was this?


VERSE 17. Jesus answered, “Faithless and perverse generation! How long will I be with you? How long will I bear with you? Bring him here to me.”

Faithless. Jesus begins to tell the disciples why they were powerless to drive out this demon. The first reason is that they were faithless.

In our day, very few of us Christians are able to drive out demons. We have lots of clever ways to justify our lack of power:

  • The time of deliverance from demons ended with the apostles
  • Deliverance ministries do not fit into a dispensationalist theory of salvation history
  • The demons in the Bible are just myths

However, the best explanation for our lack of power is that we lack faith.

How long will I bear with you? It is no delight for Jesus Christ to put up with our lack of faith.


VERSE 18. Jesus rebuked him, the demon went out of him, and the boy was cured from that hour.


VERSE 19. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately, and said, “Why weren’t we able to cast it out?”


VERSE 20. He said to them, “Because of your unbelief. For most certainly I tell you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will tell this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.

Because of your unbelief. How many times do we not see answers to prayer, simply because we do not believe that God can answer us?

nothing will be impossible for you. This is a remarkable statement! There is nothing that will be impossible for us. There is nothing that will be impossible for you.

Can you let these words of Jesus sink into you? What if it is true? What would this mean for you? How would it change your life?


VERSE 21. But this kind doesn’t go out except by prayer and fasting.”

by prayer and fasting. In some situations, belief-filled praying is not enough. We need to add fasting. How do you know when to add fasting? Perhaps you would like to explore our many articles on fasting.




VERSE 22. While they were staying in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is about to be delivered up into the hands of men,

What was the mission of the Lord Jesus Christ? How did he himself define it? Here are the verses we find in the four gospels »

Matthew 12:40. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

Matthew 16:21.  From that time, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and the third day be raised up.

Matthew 17:22-23. While they were staying in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is about to be delivered up into the hands of men, 23 and they will kill him, and the third day he will be raised up.”

Matthew 20:19. and will hand him over to the Gentiles to mock, to scourge, and to crucify; and the third day he will be raised up.


VERSE 23. and they will kill him, and the third day he will be raised up.” They were exceedingly sorry.




VERSE 24. When they had come to Capernaum, those who collected the didrachma coins† came to Peter, and said, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the didrachma?”


VERSE 25. He said, “Yes.” When he came into the house, Jesus anticipated him, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth receive toll or tribute? From their children, or from strangers?”


VERSE 26. Peter said to him, “From strangers.” Jesus said to him, “Therefore the children are exempt.


VERSE 27. But, lest we cause them to stumble, go to the sea, cast a hook, and take up the first fish that comes up. When you have opened its mouth, you will find a stater coin. Take that, and give it to them for me and you.”


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Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.


Author: todd

At Explore the Faith, I share insights into the Bible and theological writings. If you like what I write, become my partner by donating. Help me reach the world for the Lord Jesus Christ.