Matthew 17: The Mount of Transfiguration

New Testament: Student Study guide, (2003), 25–26


Matthew 16 tells that Jesus promised Peter the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 17 tells about the time when Peter, James, and John received them. These keys include the power to administer the ordinances of salvation in a manner acceptable to God and the power to administer the Church of Jesus Christ on the earth. An event similar to this one in Matthew occurred in our day when the Prophet Joseph Smith received the keys of the kingdom for this dispensation in the Kirtland Temple in 1836 (see D&C 110). Since then the keys have been given by ordination to every Church President.For more information about what happened in this chapter, look up “Transfiguration, Mount of,” in the Bible Dictionary (p. 786).

Other Accounts of What You Read in Matthew 17

Matthew 17:1–23Mark 9:2–32; Luke 9:28–45

Understanding the Scriptures

Matthew 17

Apart (v. 1)Away from everyone else 
Transfigured (v. 2)A condition in which a person’s body is temporarily changed so that he or she can be in the presence and glory of heavenly beings and not die 
Raiment (v. 2)Clothing 
Elias (v. 3)Elijah (the Greek form of the Hebrew name) 
Save (v. 8)Except 
Lunatick (v. 15)A person with a disease or illness thought to involve uncontrolled shaking and lacking full body control 
Sore vexed (v. 15)Very ill 
Perverse (v. 17)Corrupt 
Rebuked (v. 18)To demand that someone stop doing something; to correct 
Tribute (vv. 24–25)Taxes 
Mount of Transfiguration

Matthew 17:1—Why Were Only Peter, James, and John Invited to Have This Experience?

President Joseph Fielding Smith explained: “Peter, James, and John, acted as the First Presidency of the Church in their day” (Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [1954–56], 3:152). Consequently, they went up to the Mount of Transfiguration to receive the keys necessary to perform the work to which they were called.

Matthew 17:10—What Did the Disciples Learn about Elias?

When Peter, James, and John went with Jesus to the mount and saw Moses and Elias (Elijah), they were reminded of a prophecy that Elias would come before the Messiah (see Matthew 17:10). They were confused because what they just witnessed on the mount proved that Jesus was the Messiah, but He came before Elijah appeared on the mount, not after. Jesus’ answer, as recorded in the Joseph Smith Translation, explains that Elias is a title that refers to more than one person. John the Baptist was an Elias who had “come already” as a forerunner to “prepare the way” for the Savior’s first coming. Another Elias would come in the last days to “restore all things” (see JST, Matthew 17:10–14). President Joseph Fielding Smith taught: “Joseph Smith is an Elias because he was sent to prepare the way for the second coming of our Lord” (Answers to Gospel Questions, comp. Joseph Fielding Smith Jr., 5 vols. [1957–66], 4:194).

Studying the Scriptures

Do activity A and either B or C as you study Matthew 17.

Activity A iconWhat Did They Learn?

What did Peter, James, and John learn about Jesus on the mount? (see Matthew 17:1–9; Peter later testified of this event in 2 Peter 1:16–19).

Activity B iconWhat Makes the Difference?

Matthew 17:14–21 tells how Jesus healed a young man with an illness. The disciples wondered why they were not able to heal the man with the priesthood they had been given by Jesus.

  1. 1.

    List three things Jesus said could have helped the disciples heal the man. Explain how or why they are necessary.

  2. 2.

    Write about a time when practicing one of these three principles helped you do something that was difficult, or even seemingly impossible. If you have not had an experience like that, talk with someone you think might have. Ask that person about it and briefly write about what you learn.

Activity C iconWhat Is the Message?

Write at least two lessons you think we can learn from what Jesus said and did in Matthew 17:24–27, and tell why those lessons are important to you.