The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire BibleMatthew 17:3
And behold there appeared unto them…
Moses and Elias;
Moses the giver of the law, and Elias one of the
chief of the prophets: one of them had been dead near a thousand and
five hundred years, and the other had been caught up to heaven,
about nine hundred years before this. The Jews sometimes speak of
these two as together. They say F3,
``that the Shekinah never descends below, but (whylaw hvm) ,
"Moses and Elias" ascend above.''
Yea, they expect that these two will come together in future time;
for so they represent F4 a God saying to Moses;
``Moses, as thou hast given thy life for them (the
Israelites) in this world, so in time to come (the days of
the Messiah) when I shall bring Elias the prophet, (txak)
(Nyab Mkynv) , "you two shall come together".''
Now they came. Luke says, they appeared "in glory": in glorious
bodies, in a glory upon their bodies; like, though inferior, to the
glorious body of Christ, now transfigured: that they appeared in
their own real bodies, no doubt need be made; about the body of
Elijah, or Elias, there is no difficulty; since he was carried soul
and body to heaven, he died not, but was changed; and has ever since
remained in a glorious body, in which he doubtless now appeared: and
why this should not be the case of Moses, or why he should appear in
another body, and not his own, I see not; for though he died, yet he
was buried by the Lord, and no man ever knew the place of his
sepulchre; and there was a dispute about his body, between Michael
and the devil, all which are uncommon circumstances: so that it
might be, that his body was, quickly after his death, raised and
restored to him; or at this time, as a pledge of the resurrection of
the dead, as Christ's transfiguration was of his glory. The Jews
have a notion that Moses is not dead, but is ascended, and stands
and ministers to God, in the highest heavens F5: the appearance of
these two with Christ, was to show, that Christ is the end of the
law and prophets; that there is an entire agreement between him and
them, and that they have their full accomplishment in him; and also
shows, that he was neither Elias, nor any of the prophets, as some
took him to be; since he was distinct from them, and the chief and
more glorious than any of them. If it should be asked; how came the
disciples to know these two to be Moses and Elias, since they never
saw them before, nor could have any statues or pictures of them,
these being not allowed among the Jews; nor do the accounts of them
in Scripture seem to be sufficient to direct them to such a thought;
especially, since by their glorification, they must be greatly
altered: it may be replied, they knew them, either by immediate
divine revelation, or by the discourse that passed between them and
Christ; for it follows,
talking with him.
The Jews often speak of the appearance of Elias to
their doctors, and of his conversing with them, and teaching them.
Whether this is done with design to lessen the glory of this
appearance, I will not say; however, they cannot reasonably object
to the probability of this account, since they make it to be so
frequent among themselves; though they look upon it as an high
favour, and that such are holy good men, that are indulged with it,
take an instance or two: thus they say F6 of a certain person,
``Lo! the pious man, whom Elias used (hydhb yetvm) , "to
And elsewhere it is said F7,
``R. Phineas and R. Mari, the sons of R. Chasda, were godly
men, (Mhme rbdm whylaw) , "and Elias was talking with them",
and they were priests.''
What Moses and Elias were talking with our Lord about, is expressed
by Luke, (See Gill on 9:31).
F3 T. Bab. Succab, fol. 5. 1.
F4 Debarim Rabba, sect. 3. fol. 239. 2.
F5 T. Bab. Sota, fol. 13. 2. Maimon. praefat. ad Seder Zeraim in
Talmud. fol. 86. 4.
F6 T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 7. 2.
F7 Juchasin, fol. 101. 1. Vid. fol. 79. 1. & 118. 2. & 13. 132. 1. &
T. Bab. Cetubot, fol. 106. 1.
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Gill, John. "Commentary on Matthew 17:3". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". <http://classic.studylight.org/com/geb/view.cgi?book=mt&chapter=017&verse=003>. 1999.