Robertson's Word Pictures of the New TestamentMatthew 17:2
- He was transfigured before them (metemorpwth emprosten autwn).
- The word is the same as the metamorphoses (cf. Ovid) of pagan mythology. Luke does not use it. The idea is change (meta-) of form (morph). It really presents the essence of a thing as separate from the sxhma (fashion), the outward accident. So in Romans 12:2 Paul uses both verbs, sunsxematizeste (be not fashioned) and metamorpouste (be ye transformed in your inner life). So in 1 Corinthians 7:31 sxhma is used for the fashion of the world while in Mark 16:12 morph is used of the form of Jesus after his resurrection. The false apostles are described by metasxhmatisomai in 2 Corinthians 11:13-15. In Philippians 2:6 we have en morphi used of the Preincarnate state of Christ and morphn doulou of the Incarnate state (Philippians 2:7), while sxhmati wv antrwpov emphasizes his being found "in fashion as a man." But it will not do in Matthew 17:2 to use the English transliteration metamorpwsiv because of its pagan associations. So the Latin transfigured (Vulgate transfiguratus est) is better. "The deeper force of metamorpoustai is seen in 2 Corinthians 3:18 (with reference to the shining on Moses' face), Romans 12:2" (McNeile). The word occurs in a second-century papyrus of the pagan gods who are invisible. Matthew guards against the pagan idea by adding and explaining about the face of Christ "as the sun" and his garments "as the light."