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Transfigured September 10, 2008

Posted by Tim in Life in Christ.

My parents were recently given a collection of writings by Kenneth Wuest, a New Testament Greek scholar who, among other things, helped compose the much-respected NASB.  I thought I’d share one of his brief studies.  His language is a tad dated, and certainly academic, but well, well worth the effort.

Transfigured Saints

We read in Matthew 17:2 that our Lord “was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.”  The word “transfigured” is from a Greek word made up of two words, one word referring to the outward expression one gives to his inmost true nature, the other, signifying a change of activity.  We could translate, “His mode of expression was changed before them.”

Our Lord’s usual mode of expression while on earth in His humiliation, was that of a servant. … Our Lord now gave expression to the glory of His deity.  The word “transfigured” here means that He changed His outward form of expression, namely, from that of a servant to that of Deity.

We have in II Corinthians 11:12-15 another Greek word of the direct opposite meaning, namely, the act of changing the outward expression of that which inwardly remains the same, that outward expression not being representative of that person’s inmost nature.  Satan, his false apostles and ministers assume an outward expression which does not correspond to their true natures.  Before masquerading, and that is what the Greek word means, as an angel of light, Satan gave outward expression to his inmost nature.  But in order to mislead the human race and gain followers, he had to pose as an angel of light.  He changed that outward expression which was expressive of his inmost nature, and assumed another, which did not correspond to it.  Satan masquerades as an angel of light, whereas he is all the while an angel of darkness.

Cool, huh?  At this point, I’m curled up, reading with much interest.  My mind is engaged, the lines are being drawn.  I love parallel structures in literature, especially scripture, especially between authors.  Then, old man Wuest hits me between the eyes with this:

In Romans 12:2, we have both words used.  Paul exhorts the saints not to be conformed to this world.  Here he uses the word found in our Corinthian passage.  Christians must not change their outward expression from that of a true expression of their inmost natures, to an assumed expression not true of their new regenerated inmost being, that assumed expression patterned after the world.  he exhorts them instead to be transformed, and here we have the same Greek word which is used in the Matthew passage and translated “transfigured.”  Saints are to change their outward expression from that which was true of them before salvation, when they gave expression to what was in their indwelling sinful nature, to an expression of their inmost regenerated being.  Then they would be transfigured saints.

Crazy.  Oh wait, he’s not done.  Brace yourself.

Thus Paul exhorts the saints not to assume as an outward expression the fashions, habits, speech expressions, and artificiality of this evil age, thus hiding that expression of themselves which should come from what they are intrinsically as children of God.  How saints sometimes like to have just a dash of the world about them so as not to appear too unworldly.  How a coat of worldliness can cover up the Christ within.  But instead, saints are to be transformed, that is, give expression of what they really are, partakers of the divine nature, indwelt by the Spirit.  They are to do so by having their inward life renewed by the Holy Spirit so that the Lord Jesus may be seen.  Thus they will be transfigured saints.  And as our Lord was seen by the disciples, shining resplendent in the glory of His deity, so the saints will shine with a heavenly radiance pervading their thoughts, words, and deeds even on their earthly pilgrimage, lighting many a lost wanderer home amid the darkening shadows of this age.

Wow!  Can I just say how comforting it is to be taught by one so grounded in the Word.  I appreciate the openness and personal nature of my generation’s Christian faith, but I am often refreshed by the loving confidence of the saints who have just recently gone before, who did not need feelings or followers to confirm their message, for it sprung immediately from God’s revealed truth.

Stop masquerading.  Be transfigured.



1. Julie - September 21, 2008

Wow! Such a great share, Tim!

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