This event is recorded in three of the gospel accounts: Matthew 17:1-9; Mark 9:2-10; Luke 9:28-36. It is important to notice Christ’s instructions to His disciples as they descended the mountain after the event: “Tell the vision to no man” (Matt. 17:9). A vision is a supernatural experience, not a real-time event.
Both Moses and Elijah had been dead for centuries, remaining in this state until the First Resurrection. Peter, James and John saw a vision of them as they will be when they are glorified in that resurrection at Christ’s Second Coming (I Thes. 4:13-17; I Cor. 15:51-52).
The Matthew 17 account explains Jesus’ words in the previous chapter (16:28): “…There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in His kingdom.” The clear meaning of this statement is that, through a vision, those disciples would witness the magnificence of God’s kingdom. Peter, James, and John all died, “And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise” (Heb. 11:39). They will receive that promise at the same time as all other servants of God—past and present—who qualify for the First Resurrection (vs. 40).
To learn more, you may wish to read our booklet What Is the Kingdom of God?
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