The Transfiguration is a Model of the Parousia: 2 Peter 1:16-18 implies that the Transfiguration is a Model of the Parousia.
2 Peter 1:16-18 is widely believed by Biblical scholars to imply that the transfiguration was a typological model of the second coming:
For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming [parousia] of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, ‘This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased’— and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.
In 2 Peter 1:16, Peter labels the entirety of Christ’s earthly ministry in Israel with the Greek word parousia, translated coming in v. 16 above. Parousia is a word used to denote the arrival of a conquering general, emperor or high-ranking official into a city. The word connotes a coming into with an extended presence of an official in a city. Though when Peter used the word coming or parousia he likely intended to refer to the whole of Jesus’ corporal ministry, this word, parousia, can be and is also often understood in these verses to refer to the transfiguration alone. I believe that this ambiguity may be intentional.
Whenever the second coming is mentioned the word that is often used to identify this event is the Greek word parousia. Though it is unlikely that Peter intended to use the word coming or parousia in v. 16 to refer to the transfiguration alone, I believe that Peter speaking with divine inspiration may have worded these verses in just this way so as to also ambiguously apply coming or parousia to the transfiguration itself. Given the ambiguous way in which these verses are phrased the fact that coming or parousia could be understood to apply to the transfiguration alone does not appear to be coincidental. As will be explained in the essay below, the transfiguration was a microcosmic motif and typological model of all the various manifestations of the parousia throughout the course of the Jewish War. Thus, as stated above, the transfiguration appears to be a visionary foreshadowing of the parousia itself. For a brief glance at all the various manifestations of Christ around the time of the Jewish War see Historical Evidence that Jesus was LITERALLY SEEN in the Clouds in the First Century.
The transfiguration is mentioned in Matthew 17, Mark 9 and Luke 9. Luke 9:28-36 reads:
Some eight days after these sayings, He took along Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And while He was praying, the appearance of His face became different, and His clothing became white and gleaming. And behold, two men were talking with Him; and they were Moses and Elijah, who, appearing in glory, were speaking of His departure which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and his companions had been overcome with sleep; but when they were fully awake, they saw His glory and the two men standing with Him. And as these were leaving Him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three tabernacles: one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah”—not realizing what he was saying. While he was saying this, a cloud formed and began to overshadow them; and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. Then a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him!” And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent, and reported to no one in those days any of the things which they had seen.
Luke 9:29 says that Jesus’ face looked different. Matthew 17:2 clarifies how Jesus’ face changed: “His face shone like the sun[.]” This glorified, luminescent appearance of Christ on the Mt. of Transfiguration mirrors the initial, radiant manifestation of Christ during the parousia or second coming at the start of the Jewish War in A.D. 66.
The Transfiguration is a Model of the Parousia: Yosippon describes what appears to be the Coming of Christ on the Clouds in a Radiant Form similar to the Description of Christ during the Transfiguration.
The initial appearance of Christ during the second coming is described in detail in Revelation 19:11-14. Here, Jesus rides a white horse leading an army of angels on horseback on the clouds.
An eerily similar event is recorded to have occurred in Iyyar of A.D. 66 at the start of the worst war in Israel’s history, Israel’s war with Rome:
[O]n the twenty-first day of the month of Artemisius [Jyar], a certain prodigious and incredible phenomenon appeared; I suppose the account of it would seem to be a fable, were it not related by those that saw it, and were not the events that followed it of so considerable a nature as to deserve such signals; for, before sunsetting, chariots and troops of soldiers in their armor were seen running about among the clouds, and surrounding of cities.[i]
The first century Jewish historian Josephus describes a heavenly army in the clouds much like the army Jesus leads in Revelation 19:11-14. The medieval Jewish historian Sepher Yosippon expounds upon this angelic army in the sky of A.D. 66 by saying, “Moreover, in those days were seen chariots of fire and horsemen, a great force flying across the sky near to the ground coming against Jerusalem and all the land of Judah, all of them horses of fire and riders of fire.”[ii] The parallels between these three accounts and Revelation 19 are striking. However, in Yosippon’s account one can see how 2 Thessalonians 1:7 was explicitly and LITERALLY fulfilled in A.D. 66: “This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels.”Why does 2 Thessalonians 1:7 imply that Jesus was to take on a form like that of blazing fire during his second coming? Though Jesus’ resurrection body closely resembled his physical body immediately after his resurrection, Jesus’ body was further glorified after his ascension according to Acts 9:3-6 and Revelation 1:13-16. After having ascended into heaven, Jesus’ body took on a form like that which Peter, James and John saw on the Mt. of Transfiguration. The radiant likeness of Jesus while in the presence of Moses and Elijah during the transfiguration mirrors the coming of Christ in A.D. 66 when Jesus again appeared in the company of the beings of heaven in brilliant, fiery radiance. For an exhaustive account of the literal and visible appearance of Christ on the clouds of heaven in A.D. 66 see Jesus, the Son of Man, was Seen in the Clouds in A.D. 66. For a detailed explanation of how Jesus’ luminescent body at the time of the parousia and transfiguration mirrors that of the similarly radiant quality of the beings of heaven as they are described in the Bible and near-death experiences see How the Resurrection Bodies of the Saints Perfectly Mirror Jesus’ Resurrection Body after His Ascension Into Heaven Fulfilling Philippians 3:20-21 and ALL Other Bible Verses on the Resurrection!!!.
The Transfiguration is a Model of the Parousia: The Appearance of God in the Glory Cloud during the Transfiguration Mirrors the Coming of Christ in the Glory Cloud in A.D. 68 and A.D. 70.
The appearance of God in the Glory Cloud during the transfiguration is the second way in which this event was a model of the second coming. According to 2 Samuel 22:8-15, Isaiah 66:15-16, Psalm 18:6-16, Psalm 50:3, Psalm 97:1-5, Psalm 144:5, Exodus 40:34-38 and Leviticus 16:2, the presence of God is often marked by dark clouds and fire. According to Psalm 18:9-11 these dark clouds of the Glory Cloud mask the brightness of God’s image thereby rendering him invisible to human onlookers. This dark cloud which accompanies and marks the spiritual presence of God is also mentioned in Biblical accounts of the transfiguration. Matthew 17:5 reads, “While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, ‘This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!’” This bright cloud is the Glory Cloud, the quintessential sign of the presence of God. For historical evidence of the presence of Christ on the dark clouds of the Glory Cloud in A.D. 68 and A.D. 70 see The Appearance of Christ in A.D. 68? and The Coming of Christ in A.D. 70–Like You’ve Never Heard it Before!.
According to 1 Thessalonians 4:17 the saints are to meet the Lord in the Glory Cloud at the time of the resurrection: “After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.” See 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18: Preterism, the Rapture and the Resurrection. As an interesting side note the resurrection is also implied during the transfiguration when Peter, James and John are said to be engulfed in the dark clouds of the Glory Cloud in Luke 9:34-36: “While he was saying this, a cloud formed and began to overshadow them; and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. Then a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him!’ And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone.” The fact that these three disciples were swallowed up in the Glory Cloud illustrates the fulfillment of 1 Thessalonians 4:17 thereby hinting at the resurrection of the dead at the coming of Christ in the Glory Cloud in A.D. 70 at the fall of Jerusalem at the seventh and last trumpet.
The Transfiguration is a Model of the Parousia: The Final Climactic Appearance of Christ at the Death of the Beast mirrors the Likeness and Sequence of the Transfiguration.
Luke 9:28 indicates that the transfiguration took place on a mountain. Remember that as stated above, Jesus appeared to the disciples in a glorified form in the presence of two heavenly figures at this time. After seeing this vision of these heavenly beings Peter, James and John then saw the Father in the Glory Cloud. Matthew 17:5 says that the Glory Cloud as it settled on the Mt. of Transfiguration was “a bright cloud.” The bright cloud of the Glory Cloud then swept over the mountain and engulfed everyone on it like the thick smoke and fire capping an erupting volcano (Luke 9:34). The physical, glorified presence of Christ amidst his heavenly companions at the top of a mountain followed by the appearance of the Glory Cloud during the transfiguration is strikingly similar in appearance and sequence to the second coming at the death of the beast. Around the time of the death of Vespasian Cassius Dio records the appearance of supernatural-looking beings that appeared atop Mt. Vesuvius before and during its subsequent eruption. And just as the Glory Cloud swallowed up Peter, James and John as they stood on the mountain, a vision of human-like beings was reportedly witnessed in the surge cloud of the erupting volcano at that time.[iii] The eruption of Vesuvius was marked by thunder, lightning, earthquake and fire–all signs of the presence of God in the Glory Cloud according to 2 Samuel 22:8-15, Isaiah 66:15-16, Psalm 18:6-16, Psalm 50:3, Psalm 97:1-5, Psalm 144:5, Exodus 40:34-38 and Leviticus 16:2. In fact, Cassius Dio even described the fire and smoke that spewed out of Vesuvius in the exact same language as the presence of God in the Glory Cloud as it was described in Exodus 13:21: “[T]he crater [of Vesuvius] is given over to the fire and sends up smoke by day and fire by night.”[iv] The fact that the appearance of Christ at the death of the beast bears such a striking resemblance to the likeness and sequence of the transfiguration seems appropriate for the final climactic appearance of Christ in the first century. For a comprehensive discussion of the Biblical and historical evidence of the appearance of Christ around the time of the death of Vespasian see The Historical Appearance of Christ at the Death of the Beast Fulfills 2 Thessalonians 2:8 and Revelation 19:19-20.
The Transfiguration is a Model of the Parousia: Moses, Elijah and the Two Witnesses Connection . . .
I believe the third and final way in which the transfiguration models the parousia is hinted at in Luke 9:30 and 36. In Luke 9:30 the disciples see Jesus standing beside Moses and Elijah who appear to be “speaking of His [Christ’s] departure which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.” This verse implies that Moses and Elijah actively participated behind the scenes in Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry. If this is true, then could it be said that Christ came in the spirit and power of Moses and Elijah during his earthly ministry? If so then this is yet another reason to believe that Jesus may have come in the flesh for three and a half years as the sole embodiment of two witnesses of Revelation 11. According to Revelation 11:5-6 the two witnesses display the power of Moses and Elijah. They do this by harming their enemies with fire, shutting up the sky so that it would not rain, turning water into blood and afflicting Israel with the plagues of Exodus throughout the seven trumpets and bowls of Revelation. See the commentaries on Revelation 8, Revelation 9 and Revelation 16. I believe the way in which this vision ends with Moses and Elijah disappearing and Jesus standing alone in the flesh may hint at that aspect of the parousia in which Jesus comes in human form with the power of Moses and Elijah as the sole embodiment of the two witnesses of Revelation 11. Recall that the Bible describes the second coming with the Greek word parousia. This word implies a coming with an extended stay. Did Jesus Christ come to Jerusalem in glorified form at the head of the angelic army in the clouds of A.D. 66 and then enter the city in the flesh to warn of the coming disaster for three and a half years? Throughout Revelation 10 and 11 there are several clues that hint at the fact that the two witnesses appear to be just one man. Included in this evidence is the fact that in Revelation 11:9 when referring to the bodies of the two witnesses in the original languages bodies is singular, not plural. For a detailed explanation of the Biblical and historical evidence that Jesus Christ may have literally ministered in Jerusalem in human, bodily form for three and a half years during the Jewish War as the sole embodiment of the two witnesses see the commentary on Revelation 11.
[i] Josephus The Wars of the Jews 6.5.3.
[ii] Sepher Yosippon A Mediaeval History of Ancient Israel translated from the Hebrew by Steven B. Bowman. Excerpts from Chapter 87 “Burning of the Temple” cited in http://fulfilledtheology.ning.com/forum/topics/historical-records-with-some (9/16/2014)
[iii] Cassius Dio Roman History 66.22-23.
[iv] Ibid., 66.21.