The Meaning of Luke 9:31 Explained

Luke 9:31

KJV: Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem.

YLT: who having appeared in glory, spake of his outgoing that he was about to fulfil in Jerusalem,

Darby: who, appearing in glory, spoke of his departure which he was about to accomplish in Jerusalem.

ASV: who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.

What does Luke 9:31 Mean?

Verse Meaning

Luke described Moses and Elijah as appearing "in glory" (NASB) or "glorious splendor" (NIV). They seemingly basked in the reflected glory of Jesus.
The disciples observed them speaking with Jesus about His upcoming departure (Gr. exodos). Luke alone mentioned the subject of their conversation. The use of exodos points to a larger significance of Jesus" death. It was more than just His departure from the earth. It would be unusual, as Moses and Elijah"s departures had been. However, it would accomplish redemption as the Exodus from Egypt had done, but on a cosmic scale. [1] Jesus" exodus would open up a whole new wilderness experience for the church to tread as Moses" Exodus did for the Israelites (cf. Acts 13:24).
Luke also recorded that this exodus would happen at Jerusalem. This is the first of his several references to that city. It was the place to which Jesus now began to look as His city of destiny (cf. Luke 9:51; Luke 9:53; Luke 13:33; Luke 17:11; Luke 18:31). "Accomplish" (NASB) is "fulfillment" (NIV, Gr. pleroo) suggesting the fulfillment of Jesus" destiny as the Suffering Servant that Scripture predicted.
"Much of Luke"s Gospel from here through chapter19 concerns preparation of the disciples for ministry in light of his departure." [2]

Context Summary

Luke 9:28-36 - A Glimpse Of Glory
From some aspects this was the highest point in our Savior's earthly career. He was the second Adam and had not sinned. There was no reason, therefore, that He should die. He might in a moment have been changed; that which was mortal might have been swallowed up of life. The door through which Moses and Elijah had come stood open, and by it our Lord might have returned. But He could never, under those circumstances, have been the Savior of mankind. He knew this, so He turned His back on the joy set before Him and set His face toward Calvary.
Moses came as representing the Law; and Elijah, the Prophets. Each of these great departments of divine revelation had anticipated His coming, Luke 24:27; Luke 24:44. As stars fade in the sunrise, so their mission was now merged in Him. They spoke of His decease, literally, His exodus, and it was from this that Peter caught the term which he applied to his own death, 2 Peter 1:15. The Apostles never forgot this manifestation of the glory of the Lord, 1 John 1:1-4; 2 Peter 1:17. When you hear that Christ is the Beloved of God, remember Ephesians 1:6. [source]

Chapter Summary: Luke 9

1  Jesus sends his apostles to work miracles, and to preach
7  Herod desires to see Jesus
10  The apostles return
12  Jesus feeds five thousand;
18  inquires what opinion the world had of him; foretells his passion;
23  proposes to all the pattern of his patience
28  The transfiguration
37  He heals the lunatic;
43  again forewarns his disciples of his passion;
46  commends humility;
51  bids them to show mildness toward all, without desire of revenge
57  Many would follow him, but upon conditions

Greek Commentary for Luke 9:31

There talked with him [συνελαλουν αυτωι]
Imperfect active, were talking with him. [source]
Who appeared in glory [οι οπτεντες εν δοχηι]
First aorist passive participle of οραω — horaō This item peculiar to Luke. Compare Luke 9:26.Spake of his decease (ελεγον την εχοδον — elegon tēn exodon). Imperfect active, were talking about his εχοδυς — exodus (departure from earth to heaven) very much like our English word “decease” (Latin decessus, a going away). The glorious light graphically revealed Moses and Elijah talking with Jesus about the very subject concerning which Peter had dared to rebuke Jesus for mentioning (Mark 8:32; Matthew 16:22). This very word εχοδυς — exodus (way out) in the sense of death occurs in 2 Peter 1:15 and is followed by a brief description of the Transfiguration glory. Other words for death (τανατος — thanatos) in the N.T. are εκβασις — ekbasis going out as departure (Hebrews 13:7), απιχις — aphixis departing (Acts 20:29), αναλυσις — analusis loosening anchor (2 Timothy 4:6) and αναλυσαι — analusai (Philemon 1:23).To accomplish To fulfil. Moses had led the Exodus from Egypt. Jesus will accomplish the exodus of God‘s people into the Promised Land on high. See notes on Mark and note on Matthew for discussion of significance of the appearance of Moses and Elijah as representatives of law and prophecy and with a peculiar death. The purpose of the Transfiguration was to strengthen the heart of Jesus as he was praying long about his approaching death and to give these chosen three disciples a glimpse of his glory for the hour of darkness coming. No one on earth understood the heart of Jesus and so Moses and Elijah came. The poor disciples utterly failed to grasp the significance of it all. [source]
Spake of his decease [ελεγον την εχοδον]
Imperfect active, were talking about his εχοδυς — exodus (departure from earth to heaven) very much like our English word “decease” (Latin decessus, a going away). The glorious light graphically revealed Moses and Elijah talking with Jesus about the very subject concerning which Peter had dared to rebuke Jesus for mentioning (Mark 8:32; Matthew 16:22). This very word εχοδυς — exodus (way out) in the sense of death occurs in 2 Peter 1:15 and is followed by a brief description of the Transfiguration glory. Other words for death (τανατος — thanatos) in the N.T. are εκβασις — ekbasis going out as departure (Hebrews 13:7), απιχις — aphixis departing (Acts 20:29), αναλυσις — analusis loosening anchor (2 Timothy 4:6) and αναλυσαι — analusai (Philemon 1:23). [source]
To accomplish [πληρουν]
To fulfil. Moses had led the Exodus from Egypt. Jesus will accomplish the exodus of God‘s people into the Promised Land on high. See notes on Mark and note on Matthew for discussion of significance of the appearance of Moses and Elijah as representatives of law and prophecy and with a peculiar death. The purpose of the Transfiguration was to strengthen the heart of Jesus as he was praying long about his approaching death and to give these chosen three disciples a glimpse of his glory for the hour of darkness coming. No one on earth understood the heart of Jesus and so Moses and Elijah came. The poor disciples utterly failed to grasp the significance of it all. [source]
Spake [ἔλεγον]
Imperfect, were speaking. [source]
Decease [ἔξοδον]
The Rev. retains the word of the A. V., though it has, to modern ears, a somewhat formal sound. No word, however, could more accurately represent the original, which is compounded of ἐξ , out of, and ὁδός , a journeying; and thus corresponds to the Latin decessus, a going away, whence the word decease. The Greek word is familiar to us as exodus, applied principally to the migration of the Hebrews from Egypt, and thus used at Hebrews 11:22, departing. In the mouth of Christ it covers the ideas both of death and ascension. Peter uses it of his own death (2 Peter 1:15, where see note). [source]
He should accomplish [ἔμελλεν πληροῦν]
Better, as Rev., was about to accomplish. “Accomplish,” or “fulfilis very significant with reference to Christ's death. Moses and Joshua had begun an exodus from Egypt, but had not accomplished the going out of God's people from this present world. See Hebrews 3:18; Hebrews 4:8. [source]

Reverse Greek Commentary Search for Luke 9:31

Matthew 17:3 There appeared [ωπτη]
Singular aorist passive verb with Moses (to be understood also with Elijah), but the participle συνλαλουντες — sunlalountes is plural agreeing with both. “Sufficient objectivity is guaranteed by the vision being enjoyed by all three” (Bruce). The Jewish apocalypses reveal popular expectations that Moses and Elijah would reappear. Both had mystery connected with their deaths. One represented law, the other prophecy, while Jesus represented the gospel (grace). They spoke of his decease (Luke 9:31), the cross, the theme uppermost in the mind of Christ and which the disciples did not comprehend. Jesus needed comfort and he gets it from fellowship with Moses and Elijah. [source]
Luke 9:51 When the days were well-nigh come [εν τωι συμπληρουσται τας ημερας]
Luke‘s common idiom εν — en with the articular infinitive, “in the being fulfilled as to the days.” This common compound occurs in the N.T. only here and Luke 8:23; Acts 2:1. The language here makes it plain that Jesus was fully conscious of the time of his death as near as already stated (Luke 9:22, Luke 9:27, Luke 9:31). [source]
Luke 9:51 That he should be received up [της αναλημπσεως αυτου]
Literally, “of his taking up.” It is an old word (from Hippocrates on), but here alone in the N.T. It is derived from αναλαμβανω — analambanō (the verb used of the Ascension, Acts 1:2, Acts 1:11, Acts 1:22; 1 Timothy 3:16) and refers here to the Ascension of Jesus after His Resurrection. Not only in John‘s Gospel (John 17:5) does Jesus reveal a yearning for a return to the Father, but it is in the mind of Christ here as evidently at the Transfiguration (Luke 9:31) and later in Luke 12:49.He steadfastly set his face (αυτος το προσωπον εστηρισεν — autos to prosōpon estērisen). Note emphatic αυτος — autos he himself, with fixedness of purpose in the face of difficulty and danger. This look on Christ‘s face as he went to his doom is noted later in Mark 10:32. It is a Hebraistic idiom (nine times in Ezekiel), this use of face here, but the verb (effective aorist active) is an old one from στηριζω — stērizō (from στηριγχ — stērigx a support), to set fast, to fix.To go to Jerusalem Genitive infinitive of purpose. Luke three times mentions Christ making his way to Jerusalem (Luke 9:51; Luke 13:22; Luke 17:11) and John mentions three journeys to Jerusalem during the later ministry (John 7:10; John 11:17; John 12:1). It is natural to take these journeys to be the same in each of these Gospels. Luke does not make definite location of each incident and John merely supplements here and there. But in a broad general way they seem to correspond. [source]
John 1:14 Glory [δόξαν]
Not the absolute glory of the Eternal Word, which could belong only to His pre-existent state, and to the conditions subsequent to his exaltation; but His glory revealed under human limitations both in Himself and in those who beheld Him. The reference is again to the Old Testament manifestations of the divine glory, in the wilderness (Exodus 16:10; Exodus 24:16, etc.); in the temple (1 Kings 8:11); to the prophets (Isaiah 6:3; Ezekiel 1:28). The divine glory flashed out in Christ from time to time, in His transfiguration (Luke 9:31; compare 2 Peter 1:16, 2 Peter 1:17) and His miracles (John 2:11; John 11:4, John 11:40), but appeared also in His perfect life and character, in His fulfillment of the absolute idea of manhood. [source]
1 Timothy 3:16 Was received up into glory [ἀνελήμφθη ἐν δόξῃ]
Better, received or taken up in glory. Ἁναλαμβάνειν is the formal term to describe the ascension of Christ (see Acts 1:2, Acts 1:22), and the reference is most probably to that event. Comp. lxx, 2 Kings 2:11, of Elijah, and Matthew href="/desk/?q=mt+16:27&sr=1">Matthew 16:27; Matthew 25:31; Mark 8:38; Luke 9:31; Luke 12:27; 1 Corinthians 15:43; 2 Corinthians 3:7, 2 Corinthians 3:8, 2 Corinthians 3:11.Additional Note on 1 Timothy 3:16Christ's existence before his incarnation was purely spiritual ( ἐν πνεύματι ). He was in the form of God (Philemon 2:6): He was the effulgence of God's glory and the express image of his substance (Hebrews 1:3), and God is spirit (John 4:24). From this condition he came into manifestation in the flesh ( ἐν σαρκί ). He became man and entered into human conditions (Philemon 2:7, Philemon 2:8). Under these human conditions the attributes of his essential spiritual personality were veiled. He did not appear to men what he really was. He was not recognised by them as he who “was in the beginning with God” (John 1:1, John 1:2); as “the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15); as one with God (John 10:30; John 14:9); as he who had all power in heaven and earth (Matthew 28:18); who was “before all things and by whom all things consist” (Colossians 1:17); who was “the king of the ages” (1 Timothy 1:17). On the contrary, he was regarded as an impostor, a usurper, and a blasphemer. He was hated, persecuted, and finally murdered. He was poor, tempted, and tried, a man of sorrows. -DIVIDER-
-DIVIDER-
The justification or vindication of what he really was did not therefore come out of the fleshly sphere. He was not justified in the flesh. It came out of the sphere of his spiritual being. Glimpses of this pneumatic life ( ἐν πνεύματι ) flashed out during his life in the flesh. By his exalted and spotless character, by his works of love and power, by his words of authority, in his baptism and transfiguration, he was vindicated as being what he essentially was and what he openly claimed to be. These justifications were revelations, expressions, and witnesses of his original, essential spiritual and divine quality; of the native glory which he had with the Father before the world was. It was the Spirit that publicly indorsed him (John 1:32, John 1:33): the words which he spake were spirit and life (John 6:63): he cast out demons in the Spirit of God (Matthew 12:28): his whole earthly manifestation was in demonstration of the Spirit. These various demonstrations decisively justified his claims in the eyes of many. His disciples confessed him as the Christ of God (Luke 9:20) some of the people said “this is the Christ” (John 7:41): others suspected that he was such (John 4:29). Whether or not men acknowledged his claims, they felt the power of his unique personality. They were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority (Matthew 7:28, Matthew 7:29). -DIVIDER-
-DIVIDER-
Then followed the more decisive vindication in his resurrection from the dead. Here the work of the Spirit is distinctly recognised by Paul, Romans 1:4. See also Romans 8:11. In the period between his resurrection and ascension his pneumatic life came into clearer manifestation, and added to the vindication furnished in his life and resurrection. He seemed to live on the border-line between the natural and the spiritual world, and the powers of the spiritual world were continually crossing the line and revealing themselves in him. -DIVIDER-
-DIVIDER-
In the apostolic preaching, the appeal to the vindication of Christ by the Spirit is clear and unequivocal. The spiritual nourishment of believers is “the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ” (Philemon 1:19): the Holy Spirit is called “the Spirit of Christ” (Romans 8:9; Galatians 4:6): Paul identifies Christ personally with the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:17); and in Romans 8:9, Romans 8:10, “Spirit of God,” “Spirit of Christ,” and “Christ” are used as convertible terms. The indwelling of the Spirit of Christ is the test and vindication of belonging to Christ (Romans 8:9). Thus, though put to death in the flesh, in the Spirit Christ is vindicated as the Son of God, the Christ of God, the manifestation of God. -DIVIDER-
-DIVIDER-
[source]

Hebrews 11:22 The departing of the children of Israel [τῆς ἐξόδου τῶν υἱῶν Ισραὴλ]
Ἔξοδος only here, Luke 9:31(note) and 2 Peter 1:15(note). Ὁι υἱοὶ Ἰσραὴλ is one of several phrases in N.T. denoting the chosen people. There are also house ( οἶκος ) and people ( λαὸς ) of Israel, and Israel of God, and Israel according to the flesh. [source]
Hebrews 11:22 When his end was nigh [τελευτων]
Present active participle of τελευταω — teleutaō to finish or close (Matthew 2:19), “finishing his life.” Of the departure Late compound for way out, exit as here, metaphorically of death as here (Luke 9:31; 2 Peter 1:15). Concerning his bones Uncontracted form as in Matthew 23:27. [source]
2 Peter 1:15 After my decease [μετα την εμην εχοδον]
For εχοδος — exodos meaning death see Luke 9:31, and for departure from Egypt (way out, εχ οδος — exεχειν υμας — hodos) see Hebrews 11:22, the only other N.T. examples. Here again Peter was present on the Transfiguration mount when the talk was about the “exodus” of Jesus from earth. [source]
2 Peter 1:15 At every time [εκαστοτε]
As need arises, old adverb, here alone in N.T.After my decease (μετα την εμην εχοδον — meta tēn emēn exodon). For εχοδος — exodos meaning death see Luke 9:31, and for departure from Egypt (way out, εχ οδος — exεχειν υμας — hodos) see Hebrews 11:22, the only other N.T. examples. Here again Peter was present on the Transfiguration mount when the talk was about the “exodus” of Jesus from earth.That ye may be able Literally, “that ye may have it,” the same idiom with σπουδασω — echō and the infinitive in Mark 14:8; Matthew 18:25. It is the object-infinitive after την τουτων μνημην ποιεισται — spoudasō (I will give diligence, for which see 2 Peter 1:10).To call these things to remembrance (ποιεω — tēn toutōn mnēmēn poieisthai). Present middle infinitive of Μνημη — poieō (as in 2 Peter 1:10). μναομαι — Mnēmē is an old word (from μνειαν ποιουμαι — mnaomai), here alone in N.T. This idiom, like the Latin mentionem facere, is common in the old writers (papyri also both for “mention” and “remembrance”), here only in N.T., but in Romans 1:20 we have mneian poioumai (I make mention). Either sense suits here. It is possible, as Irenaeus (iii. I. I) thought, that Peter had in mind Mark‘s Gospel, which would help them after Peter was gone. Mark‘s Gospel was probably already written at Peter‘s suggestion, but Peter may have that fact in mind here. [source]

What do the individual words in Luke 9:31 mean?

Those having appeared in glory were speaking of the going out of Him which He was about to accomplish Jerusalem
οἳ ὀφθέντες ἐν δόξῃ ἔλεγον τὴν ἔξοδον αὐτοῦ ἣν ἤμελλεν πληροῦν Ἰερουσαλήμ

οἳ  Those 
Parse: Personal / Relative Pronoun, Nominative Masculine Plural
Root: ὅς 
Sense: who, which, what, that.
ὀφθέντες  having  appeared 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Participle Passive, Nominative Masculine Plural
Root: εἶδον 
Sense: to see with the eyes.
δόξῃ  glory 
Parse: Noun, Dative Feminine Singular
Root: δόξα  
Sense: opinion, judgment, view.
ἔλεγον  were  speaking  of 
Parse: Verb, Imperfect Indicative Active, 3rd Person Plural
Root: λέγω  
Sense: to speak, say.
ἔξοδον  going  out 
Parse: Noun, Accusative Feminine Singular
Root: ἔξοδος  
Sense: exit i.
αὐτοῦ  of  Him 
Parse: Personal / Possessive Pronoun, Genitive Masculine 3rd Person Singular
Root: αὐτός  
Sense: himself, herself, themselves, itself.
ἤμελλεν  He  was  about 
Parse: Verb, Imperfect Indicative Active, 3rd Person Singular
Root: μέλλω  
Sense: to be about.
πληροῦν  to  accomplish 
Parse: Verb, Present Infinitive Active
Root: πληρόω  
Sense: to make full, to fill up, i.e. to fill to the full.
Ἰερουσαλήμ  Jerusalem 
Parse: Noun, Dative Feminine Singular
Root: Ἰερουσαλήμ  
Sense: denotes either the city itself or the inhabitants.