BUFF SCOTT, JR.
Our Terrestrial Body vs. Our Future
The transfiguration of our Lord, Moses, and Elijah was surely supernatural and as real as real can be. I can confidently say the episode was not a vision, not a nightmare, not a movie scene, and not figurative.”
However, inasmuch as the 9th verse of Matthew, chapter 17 [KJV & ESV]
speaks of a “vision,” I need to clarify my statement above. “Tell no one the vision until the Son of Man is raised from the dead,
Jesus told the three men who were with Him.” The NIV does not carry “vision,” and reads, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen.”
When Jesus called the incident a “vision,” it is unlikely He was referring to the kind
of vision portrayed in many scriptures. My hunch is that He used a term similar to “gazed at, a spectacle” or “that which is seen, spectacle” [Strong & Thayer]
. The Greek term is horama
. A vision, then, is not something “gazed at.” Peter, James, and John “gazed at” what was occurring.
Ananias had a vision [Acts 9:10]
. Peter had a vision [Acts 10:17]
. In neither vision was there an audience. I’ve checked both the Old and New scriptures on “visions,” and at no time was there another person or persons gazing at the visions! They were private and personal. But the “vision” on the Mount was seen by three men! The “vision” was not private and personal.
The scene of transfiguration involved three personages. Jesus was actually
there on the scene but transfigured to a different form. If He was actually there, so were Moses and Elijah. As noted, the New International Version
puts it, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seem until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”
This seems to capture the actual remark Jesus made. “Vision” is not used. This coincides with Mark’s account. “...He charged them to tell no one what they has seen” [Mark 9:9, English Standard Version]
. Again, “vision” is not employed.
Luke notes that the three men “...kept silent and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen” [Lk. 9:36, English Standard Version]
. “Vision” was excluded from Luke’s account. So here again the account seems to entail an occurrence
“gazed at” by others.
But even if the whole episode was a “vision,” as the term is usually understood, which is highly unlikely, it at least teaches that Moses and Elijah were and are still alive—not in the flesh, but yet alive out
of their fleshly bodies. On this occasion, they appeared in heavenly forms, just as Jesus did. And Jesus was actually
A “vision” is usually associated with sleep. Peter, James, and John fell asleep before
the vision, as per Luke’s account, but they were fully
awake during the transfiguration. No one was asleep when it happened. The three men were wide awake and saw what they saw.
Also, the terms “transfigured” or “transformed” do not usually translate into someone having a vision. In other words, “vision” here is not to be understood as a dream, a fantasy, or a nightmare. it was a supernatural appearance of three personages.
Further, the transfiguration was intended to show the final abolition of the whole ceremonial Law. The “event” actually occurred! It was not figurative but real. Yes, Moses’ body was in the grave, not on the Mount of Transfiguration. But his spirit
, the real
Moses, was there on the Mount.
Even if James 2:26 and a few other passages are correctly translated “breath” [“body without the spirit is dead,” for example]
, there are many other passages whose contents and contexts define “spirit” as the crux of a man.
“Spirit” and “soul” are often used interchangeably. I have checked and re-checked each Hebrew and Greek term relating to “spirit,” and I am convinced the scriptures teach that man’s nucleus—essence/center
—is his spirit. Plus, as noted above, we always have the contents and context wherein the term is used—spirit, wind, or breath
. That, in itself, should help define which term is meant.
Note the following. “...yielded up His spirit [Matt. 27:50]
; “Father, into your hands I command my spirit” [Luke 23:46]
; “...and He bowed His head and gave up His spirit” [John 19:30]
; “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” [Steven, Acts 7:59]
. “Spirit” in these passages entail the essential character
or principle element that drives a man to act or prompts him to produce and achieve. It does not seem logical to conclude that our God is engaged in preserving a man’s breath.
When God allowed a medium to “bring up” Samuel at the insistence of King Saul, Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?” [I Sam. 28:8-19]
. Disturbed him from what? From his peace and serenity. It seems Samuel’s spirit, the real
Samuel, was in a place of paradise or ecstasy before he was brought up—a tranquil and delightful heavenly domain, wherever that might have been located in God’s eternal province.
Samuel told Saul, “...you and your sons shall me with me tomorrow”
[in physical death]. Saul and his sons were killed in battle the next day. Saul and his sons died a biological death. Samuel died a biological death—“be with me” in death, the Prophet told Saul. Even though God had withdrawn His blessings from Saul and had become his enemy, He used a Medium to “bring up” Samuel to inform Saul of his earthly departure. Samuel was/is still alive after physical death!
The repentant criminal is still alive following his demise on the cross. So is Stephen, the first recorded martyr. Where?
Somewhere in God’s celestial expanse.
If you recall, Paul was caught up to paradise, a part of God’s glorious region [II Cor. 12:2-3]
. He noted that he did not know “whether in the body or out of the body.” If “out of the body,” such would mean the actual
Paul—his spirit—was caught up. But even if Paul’s spirit was not caught up to view that heavenly scene, but instead his physical self, he at least implied
a man’s spirit lives on following his physical departure.