TRANSLATE, TRANSLATION — to remove a person or thing from one condition, place, or state to another. In the Bible, the word “translation” or the concept of translation is used in three senses: (1) the physical translation of Enoch (Gen. 5:24; Heb. 11:5) and Elijah (2 Kin. 2:11) to heaven without the intervening experience of death; (2) the spiritual translation of Christians in their present experience from “the power of darkness” into “the kingdom of the Son of His love” (Col. 1:13); and (3) the future, physical translation and transformation of Christians at the Second Coming of Christ (1 Cor. 15:51–57; Phil. 3:21; 1 Thess. 4:13–18).

Translation is a special act of God. It is permanent in its results; it occurs in response to faith; and it has heaven as its reward.


TRANSFIGURATION — a display of God’s glory in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ (Matt. 17:1–8; Mark 9:2–8; Luke 9:28–36). Peter cites the Transfiguration as historical proof of the true gospel of Christ (2 Pet. 1:16–18).

It is hard to imagine what Jesus looked like when He was transfigured, or changed in form. The gospel writers speak of His face becoming bright like the sun, and of His clothes being dazzling white. Peter explains that God gave Him honor and glory (2 Pet. 1:17).

Moses and Elijah appeared also. Both of these were Old Testament figures who did not have a normal death and burial. Luke indicates they discussed Jesus’ approaching death, which He was going to accomplish at Jerusalem (Luke 9:31). Throughout his gospel, Luke emphasizes that Jerusalem was the city of destiny for Jesus, who carefully accomplished all that the Old Testament prophesied and all that God wanted him to do. Jesus was destined for the cross.

Peter offered to make three tabernacles—one for Jesus, one for Moses, and one for Elijah. He may have been thinking that the Jews would have a final great celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles when the Messiah came. However, this was not the time for that, because Jesus still had to endure the cross.

A cloud overshadowed Jesus during His Transfiguration. This has symbolic as well as historical significance. It is a subtle reminder of the Exodus and the appearance of God to Moses on Mount Sinai (Exodus 24), when God also spoke from a cloud. The Transfiguration occurred about a week after Peter’s confession of Jesus as the Messiah at Caesarea Philippi; Moses had to wait on the Mount about that long. Both Moses and Jesus were accompanied by three companions on their respective experiences. The word “decease” (Luke 9:31; exodus, KJV; departure, NIV) occurs in the conversation of Moses and Elijah. Thus the Old Testament Exodus points forward to Christ and His redeeming work.

At the same time, symbols of the Second Coming of Christ are also present in the Transfiguration account. Jesus will come with clouds and be revealed as God’s chosen one. He will stand on a mountain, the Mount of Olives. The Feast of Tabernacles was associated in Jewish thinking with the return of the Messiah as well as with the journey in the wilderness after the Exodus. Moses gave the Law, yet also symbolized Jesus, the great prophet of the last days (Deut. 18:15). Elijah, too, was expected by the Jews to come in the last days (Mal. 4:5–6). The Transfiguration calls to mind both God’s redemption through the Exodus and the future return and glory of Christ, His Son.

The Transfiguration concludes with God’s voice speaking from the cloud, which marked God’s presence (Ex. 40:34–38). When the disciples heard that Jesus was God’s beloved Son, the chosen one with whom He was well pleased, they probably remembered Psalm 2:7, Isaiah 42:1, and possibly Genesis 22:2. All Scripture focuses on the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.

In the Transfiguration God showed clearly that Jesus is His one and only Son, superior even to the two great Old Testament figures, Moses and Elijah. His disciples are to listen to Him. At the conclusion of the Transfiguration, no one is seen but Jesus. He alone is worthy.

TRANSFORM — to change radically in inner character, condition, or nature. In Romans 12:2 the apostle Paul exhorted Christians, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Followers of Christ should not be conformed, either inwardly or in appearance, to the values, ideals, and behavior of a fallen world. Believers should continually renew their minds through prayer and the study of God’s Word, by the power of the Holy Spirit, and so be transformed and made like Christ (2 Cor. 3:18). When He returns, Christ will “transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body” (Phil. 3:21).

In 2 Corinthians 11:13–15 Paul warned his readers to beware of “false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ” (v. 13). One should not be surprised, said Paul, at such false apostles—people who are counterfeit and phony but who wear masks to deceive others—for “Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light” (v. 14). Satan’s workers, in imitation of their ruler, also disguise themselves as agents of good.




[1]Youngblood, Ronald F. ; Bruce, F. F. ; Harrison, R. K. ; Thomas Nelson Publishers: Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Nashville : T. Nelson, 1995

[2]Youngblood, Ronald F. ; Bruce, F. F. ; Harrison, R. K. ; Thomas Nelson Publishers: Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Nashville : T. Nelson, 1995