Chapter # 9 Paragraph # 5 Study # 1
January 24, 2010
28 And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray.
29 And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering.
30 And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias:
31 Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem.
32 But Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep: and when they were awake, they saw his glory, and the two men that stood with him.
33 And it came to pass, as they departed from him, Peter said unto Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias: not knowing what he said.
34 While he thus spake, there came a cloud, and overshadowed them: and they feared as they entered into the cloud.
35 And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him.
36 And when the voice was past, Jesus was found alone. And they kept it close, and told no man in those days any of those things which they had seen.
1901 ASV Translation:
28 And it came to pass about eight days after these sayings, that he took with him Peter and John and James, and went up into the mountain to pray.
29 And as he was praying, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment became white and dazzling.
30 And behold, there talked with him two men, who were Moses and Elijah;
31 who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.
32 Now Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep: but when they were fully awake, they saw his glory, and the two men that stood with him.
33 And it came to pass, as they were parting from him, Peter said unto Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah: not knowing what he said.
34 And while he said these things, there came a cloud, and overshadowed them: and they feared as they entered into the cloud.
35 And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is my Son, my chosen: hear ye him.
36 And when the voice came, Jesus was found alone. And they held their peace, and told no man in those days any of the things which they had seen.
- I. The "Problematic" Eight Days Reference.
- A. It is problematic because both Matthew 17:1 and Mark 9:2 say it was "after six days".
- B. It is not problematic in terms of "accuracy": the way people counted "days" in the first century was "elastic" enough for one count to be "eight" and another "six". For example, it was often the case that a "day" was a reference to a segment in a twenty-four hour period (even an hour or two of a particular twenty-four hour period was identified as a "day"). On the other hand, if one wished to make sure that the reader/hearer understood a full period, the counting would not include "partial" days. Thus, if Matthew and Mark did not count the part of the day in which the words of Jesus were finished and also did not count the part of the day in which Jesus actually took the disciples up to the heights of the mountain, their count would have been "after six intervening twenty-four-hour periods". But, if Luke did count both the tailing off period of the teaching and the initial hours of the trip up the mountain, his count would have been "eight" days as discernibly distinct "dates" on a calendar because of the way "days" are so marked. An event that occurs at 11:59 P.M. on a calendar day that has its beginning and end marked by 12:00 A.M. is followed by "events" after the change of time that happened "after a day" when, in reality, only a few minutes had transpired. Thus, it is not an "accuracy" issue.
- C. The "problem" is why Luke would go with "eight", or why Matthew and Mark would opt for "six". It is a "problem" of attempting to understand what each author was attempting to do with his reference to the number of days. What difference, for instance, does it make in any case how many days went by? Many, if not most, of the events recorded by the four writers of the Gospels are "untimed" in the sense that they are not "tied" to anything previous to them, or after them, in any kind of "number of days". But ... some are, and those that are, are so tied, for some reason in the author's mind that he wants to get into his readers' minds. We ignore it only to our own loss. Biblical writers were "jot and tittle" accurate and had no extraneous words from the heart of God to the minds of men.
- 1. Luke only has two references to "eight" in his Gospel and one in Acts.
- a. There is a record in Luke 2:21 to the legal issue of "circumcision" on the "eighth day". This brings into question the issue of why God set "circumcision" "after eight days had been accomplished." Without dispute, anyone whose thoughts were guided by a seven-day week as established throughout the Bible would immediately "know" that an "eighth" day event marked it as "after a week had passed". Additionally, anyone who was aware of the biblical focus upon the "Sabbath" as a day of "rest" after diligent labor and the resurrection of the Son of Man on "the first day of the week" would have little problem with the notion that "a new beginning" had been initiated. That God would set the covenantal sign of circumcision upon "a day of a new beginning" is not a strange thing. It marks the mentality of the opportunity of "beginning anew". So also with the biblical doctrine of "resurrection from the dead" as the beginning point of a radically new era of "Life" indeed.
- b. In the record of Acts 9:33 the healing of a man who had been bedridden "eight years" led to the mass conversion of a host of people -- initiating, for them, the "newness of Life".
- 2. It is a small step from these facts to the probability that Luke was interested in tying the events that came "eight days" after the teaching on "reasonable discipleship" to what such discipleship was to mean in the fulfillment of the Kingdom promises. A reference to "six" days could never signal such a "significance". "Six" days implies, perhaps, the end of a "week of labor", but its focus is there, not upon the phenomenal newness of a radical beginning. It is one thing to have a focus upon the "end" of labor; it is altogether a different thing to have such a focus upon the "beginning" of the "New". Matthew and Mark both included specific statements from Jesus to the Three about His coming death and resurrection. This fits the idea that Jesus had come to the "end of His week", a period of labor which would be marked by His redemptive death. But Luke gives us to understand that the Three "were heavy with sleep" when Moses and Elijah spoke to Jesus about His coming "decease" so that they may not have even heard that conversation clearly and Luke completely omits the ideas of the coming death and resurrection in the post-transfiguration conversation. This "fits" a thesis of a focus upon a new beginning as the basis for a commitment to discipleship.