The Meaning of Matthew 17:5 Explained

Matthew 17:5

KJV: While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.

YLT: While he is yet speaking, lo, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and lo, a voice out of the cloud, saying, 'This is My Son, -- the Beloved, in whom I did delight; hear him.'

Darby: While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and lo, a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I have found my delight: hear him.

ASV: While he was yet speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold, a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.

What does Matthew 17:5 Mean?

Verse Meaning

The cloud was bright, Matthew said. This was undoubtedly the shekinah glory of God. God had hidden Himself in a cloud through which He spoke to the Israelites on Mt. Sinai ( Exodus 19:16). He led the Israelites with it after the Exodus ( Exodus 13:21-22), and it manifested His glory to His people in the wilderness ( Exodus 16:10; Exodus 24:15-18; Exodus 40:34-38). The prophets predicted that Messiah would come to set up His kingdom with clouds and that clouds would overshadow the kingdom ( Psalm 97:2; Isaiah 4:5; Daniel 7:13). [1] If the three disciples remembered these passages, they would have seen another reason to believe that Jesus was the Messiah. The presence of the bright cloud should have reminded them of the closeness of God"s presence and linked Jesus with God in their thinking.
The cloud may have "overshadowed" (NASB) or "enveloped" (NIV) them. The Greek word epeskiasen permits either translation (cf. Exodus 40:35). However, Luke wrote that they entered into the cloud ( Luke 9:34). The voice from the cloud essentially repeated what the voice from heaven had said at Jesus" baptism ( Matthew 3:17). It confirmed Jesus" identity as both God"s Son and His Suffering Servant (cf. Psalm 2:7; Isaiah 42:1). Thus the voice from the cloud, God"s voice, identified Jesus as superior to Moses and Elijah. Previously the voice from heaven ( Matthew 3:16-17) was for Jesus" benefit, but now it was for the benefit of Peter, James , and John.
The words "Hear Him" or "Listen to Him" with Moses present indicated that Jesus was the prophet greater than Moses whom Moses predicted would come ( Deuteronomy 18:15-18; cf. Acts 3:22-23; Acts 7:37). God had said through Moses of that prophet, "You shall listen to Him" ( Deuteronomy 18:15). Jesus was the climax of biblical Revelation , and now people should listen to what He said (cf. Hebrews 1:1-2).
"The voice is that of God, and for the second time [2] God bursts into the world of Matthew"s story as "actor" and expresses his evaluative point of view concerning Jesus" identity." [3]
"The injunction to hear Jesus is an exhortation...that the disciples are to attend carefully to Jesus" words regarding the necessity both of his own going the way of suffering ( Matthew 16:21) and of their emulating him ( Matthew 16:24)." [4]

Context Summary

Matthew 17:1-8 - Jesus Shows Divine Glory
Moses' face shone after having absorbed the divine glory, as some diamonds burn with sunlight after being carried into a dark room. Stephen's face shone because for a moment he had seen the Son of man. But the face of our Lord shone, not from without but from within. The shekinah of His heart was for the most part hidden, but here it burst through the frail veil of flesh, John 1:14.
The Apostle uses the same word when he says, "Be ye transfigured," Romans 12:2. He does not mean that for a brief moment we should see and reflect our Lord's face. He wants us to enshrine Him in our hearts, and then to rid ourselves of all hindering veils, so that the light of the knowledge of the glory of God may make even the common garb of daily drudgery beautiful.
This was the great climax of our Lord's earthly life, when He definitely turned away from the glory that was set before Him, to endure the Cross for our redemption. [source]

Chapter Summary: Matthew 17

1  The transfiguration of Jesus
14  He heals the boy with a demon,
22  foretells his own passion,
24  and pays tribute

Greek Commentary for Matthew 17:5

Overshadowed [επεσκιασεν]
They were up in cloud-land that swept round and over them. See this verb used of Mary (Luke 1:35) and of Peter‘s shadow (Acts 5:15). [source]
This is [ουτος εστιν]
At the baptism (Matthew 3:17) these words were addressed to Jesus. Here the voice out of the bright cloud speaks to them about Jesus.Hear ye him (ακουετε αυτου — akouete autou). Even when he speaks about his death. A sharp rebuke to Peter for his consolation to Jesus about his death. [source]
Hear ye him [ακουετε αυτου]
Even when he speaks about his death. A sharp rebuke to Peter for his consolation to Jesus about his death. [source]

Reverse Greek Commentary Search for Matthew 17:5

Matthew 3:17 A voice out of the heavens [πωνη εκ των ουρανων]
This was the voice of the Father to the Son whom he identifies as His Son, “my beloved Son.” Thus each person of the Trinity is represented (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) at this formal entrance of Jesus upon his Messianic ministry. John heard the voice, of course, and saw the dove. It was a momentous occasion for John and for Jesus and for the whole world. The words are similar to Psalm 2:7 and the voice at the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:5). The good pleasure of the Father is expressed by the timeless aorist (ευδοκησα — eudokēsa). [source]
Mark 9:6 For he wist not what to answer [ou gar ēidei ti apokrithēi)]
Deliberative subjunctive retained in indirect question. But why did Peter say anything? Luke says that he spoke, “not knowing what he said,” as an excuse for the inappropriateness of his remarks. Perhaps Peter felt embarrassed at having been asleep (Luke 9:32) and the feast of tabernacles or booths (skēnai) was near. See note on Matthew 17:4. Peter and the others apparently had not heard the talk of Moses and Elijah with Jesus about his decease (exodon exodus, departure) and little knew the special comfort that Jesus had found in this understanding of the great approaching tragedy concerning which Peter had shown absolute stupidity (Mark 8:32.) so recently. See note on Matthew 17:5 about the overshadowing and the voice. [source]
Luke 1:35 Shall overshadow thee [επισκιασει]
A figure of a cloud coming upon her. Common in ancient Greek in the sense of obscuring and with accusative as of Peter‘s shadow in Acts 5:15. But we have seen it used of the shining bright cloud at the Transfiguration of Jesus (Matthew 17:5; Mark 9:7; Luke 9:34). Here it is like the Shekinah glory which suggests it (Exodus 40:38) where the cloud of glory represents the presence and power of God. [source]
Luke 9:34 Overshadowed them [επεσκιαζεν αυτους]
Imperfect active (aorist in Matthew 17:5) as present participle in Mark 9:7, inchoative, the shadow began to come upon them. On Hermon as on many high mountains a cloud will swiftly cover the cap. I have seen this very thing at Blue Ridge, North Carolina. This same verb is used of the Holy Spirit upon Mary (Luke 1:35). Nowhere else in the N.T., though an old verb (επι σκιαζω — epi σκια — skiazō from εν τωι εισελτειν αυτους εις την νεπελην — skia shadow). [source]
Luke 9:35 Out of the cloud [εκ της νεπελης]
This voice was the voice of the Father like that at the baptism of Jesus (Luke 3:22; Mark 1:11; Matthew 3:17) and like that near the end (John 12:28-30) when the people thought it was a clap of thunder or an angel.My son, my chosen (ο υιος μου ο εκλελεγμενος — Ho huios mou ho eklelegmenos). So the best documents (Aleph B L Syriac Sinaitic). The others make it “My Beloved” as in Mark 9:7; Matthew 17:5. These disciples are commanded to hear Jesus, God‘s Son, even when he predicts his death, a pointed rebuke to Simon Peter as to all. [source]
Luke 9:35 My son, my chosen [ο υιος μου ο εκλελεγμενος]
So the best documents (Aleph B L Syriac Sinaitic). The others make it “My Beloved” as in Mark 9:7; Matthew 17:5. These disciples are commanded to hear Jesus, God‘s Son, even when he predicts his death, a pointed rebuke to Simon Peter as to all. [source]
Ephesians 1:6 The beloved []
Christ. Beloved par excellence. Compare the Son of His love, Colossians 1:13; also Matthew 3:17; Matthew 17:5. [source]
2 Peter 1:17 From the excellent glory [υπο της μεγαλοπρεπους δοχης]
“By the majestic glory.” Μεγαλοπρεπης — Megaloprepēs old compound (μεγας — megas great, πρεπει — prepei it is becoming), here only in N.T., several times in O.T., Apocr. (2 Macc. 8:15), adverb in the inscriptions. Probably a reference to νεπελη πωτεινη — nephelē phōteinē (bright cloud, shekinah) in Matthew 17:5. The words given here from the “voice” agree exactly with Matthew 17:5 except the order and the use of εις ον — eis hon rather than εν ωι — en hōi Mark (Mark 9:7) and Luke (Luke 9:35) have ακουετε — akouete But Peter did not need any Gospel for his report here. [source]
Revelation 14:14 A white cloud [νεπελη λευκη]
Like the “bright cloud” of Matthew 17:5 (Transfiguration), a familiar object in the Mediterranean lands. See Daniel 7:13; Matthew 24:30; Matthew 26:64; Acts 1:9, Acts 1:11 for the picture of Christ‘s return. [source]

What do the individual words in Matthew 17:5 mean?

While yet he was speaking behold a cloud bright overshadowed them and a voice out of the cloud saying This is the Son of Me beloved in whom I am well pleased Listen to Him
Ἔτι αὐτοῦ λαλοῦντος ἰδοὺ νεφέλη φωτεινὴ ἐπεσκίασεν αὐτούς καὶ φωνὴ ἐκ τῆς νεφέλης λέγουσα Οὗτός ἐστιν Υἱός μου ἀγαπητός ἐν εὐδόκησα ἀκούετε αὐτοῦ

Ἔτι  While  yet 
Parse: Adverb
Root: ἔτι  
Sense: yet, still.
λαλοῦντος  was  speaking 
Parse: Verb, Present Participle Active, Genitive Masculine Singular
Root: ἀπολαλέω 
Sense: to utter a voice or emit a sound.
ἰδοὺ  behold 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Imperative Active, 2nd Person Singular
Root: ἰδού  
Sense: behold, see, lo.
νεφέλη  a  cloud 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Feminine Singular
Root: νεφέλη  
Sense: a cloud.
φωτεινὴ  bright 
Parse: Adjective, Nominative Feminine Singular
Root: φωτεινός  
Sense: light.
ἐπεσκίασεν  overshadowed 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Indicative Active, 3rd Person Singular
Root: ἐπισκιάζω  
Sense: to throw a shadow upon, to envelop in a shadow, to overshadow.
φωνὴ  a  voice 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Feminine Singular
Root: φωνή  
Sense: a sound, a tone.
ἐκ  out  of 
Parse: Preposition
Root: ἐκ 
Sense: out of, from, by, away from.
νεφέλης  cloud 
Parse: Noun, Genitive Feminine Singular
Root: νεφέλη  
Sense: a cloud.
λέγουσα  saying 
Parse: Verb, Present Participle Active, Nominative Feminine Singular
Root: λέγω 
Sense: to say, to speak.
Οὗτός  This 
Parse: Demonstrative Pronoun, Nominative Masculine Singular
Root: οὗτος  
Sense: this.
Υἱός  Son 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Masculine Singular
Root: υἱός  
Sense: a son.
μου  of  Me 
Parse: Personal / Possessive Pronoun, Genitive 1st Person Singular
Root: ἐγώ  
Sense: I, me, my.
ἀγαπητός  beloved 
Parse: Adjective, Nominative Masculine Singular
Root: ἀγαπητός  
Sense: beloved, esteemed, dear, favourite, worthy of love.
  whom 
Parse: Personal / Relative Pronoun, Dative Masculine Singular
Root: ὅς 
Sense: who, which, what, that.
εὐδόκησα  I  am  well  pleased 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Indicative Active, 1st Person Singular
Root: εὐδοκέω  
Sense: it seems good to one, is one’s good pleasure.
ἀκούετε  Listen 
Parse: Verb, Present Imperative Active, 2nd Person Plural
Root: ἀκουστός 
Sense: to be endowed with the faculty of hearing, not deaf.
αὐτοῦ  to  Him 
Parse: Personal / Possessive Pronoun, Genitive Masculine 3rd Person Singular
Root: αὐτός  
Sense: himself, herself, themselves, itself.