1 And after 6 days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart,
The disciples were told (Matt. 16:28) "that some of them should not taste death till they had seen the Son of Man coming in his kingdom;" and we are informed that, six days afterwards, the transfiguration (which was in miniature the establishment of the kingdom of God) took place in the presence of Peter, James, and John.
May not the six days be typical of the six thousand years between the creation and the establishment of the kingdom of God on the earth, in the presence of the saints?
2 And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.
3 And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him.
Moses had died and was buried (Deut. 34:5, 6.) and Elijah was translated that he should not see death.-(2 Kings 2:11.) They now appeared in glory.-(Luke 9:31.) May we not see in this a type of the "glory to be revealed in us?" The transfiguration, then, was, doubtless, a vision.-(Matt. 17:9; 2 Pet. 1:16.)
In the kingdom of God, which was represented in the transfiguration as in a vision (Matt. 17:9; 2 Pet. 1:16), Christ will be supreme, and the faithful dead (represented by Moses), and the faithful living (represented by Elijah) will be with them in glory, as the apostle declares (Rom. 8:17):
4 Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here 3 tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.
5 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.
By God manifest we mean that a manifestation took place in the Son born of Mary, previous to his official anointing, as well as after.
...A mere human being, ever so highly endowed by Holy Spirit, would not be in the same relation to God as His own Word made flesh. Such a man would be a mere medium; not the 'Holy thing,' 'Thy salvation,' 'The Saviour,' 'A light,' and other titles by which the Lord Jesus is described. The foregoing sets forth the true position of the Ogle ecclesia on this important subject."
The Christadelphian, Mar 1873
6 And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid.
The mortals present at the transfiguration were sore afraid at the glory and the voice of God. So in the kingdom the mortal nations (though courageous as Peter) shall be afraid and tremble, when the great power and glory of God shall be manifested through His faithful in the earth. - W. Blount.
The Christadelphian, Oct 1871
24 And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute?
This was especially humiliating on the part of anyone possessed of any title to authority. A king paying taxes! Such was the fact in Christ's case -- incongruous and humiliating fact.
He did not submit to it without a distinct assertion of its incongruous character. This he put forth in his own beautiful way. He did not wait for Peter to break the subject. Peter had come into the house for that purpose.
Liability and Duty
A brother asks: In the case of brethren who are, according to the law, liable to pay income tax (or any other tax), is it their duty to pay it, even if not called upon so to do? And, if it is their duty, ought they to pay up any arrears that might legally be due?
Answer.-The command is:
"Render to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute; custom to whom custom," &c.-(Rom. 13:7.) The question is, When? The obvious answer (sustained by common sense and the only example recorded in the word) is, when required. Jesus waited till the tax-gatherer applied to Peter with the question, "Doth not your master pay tribute?" (Matt. 17:24.)
He did not call at the tax gatherer's house to know how much there was to pay. The governments have no right to put the children of God under tribute. The children pay for the sake of peace and present probation merely. Jesus enunciates this doctrine in his anticipatory question to Peter:
"Of whom do the kings of the earth take tribute; of their own children, or of strangers?" Peter answered, Of strangers. Jesus said, "Then are the children free" (that is, from tribute). As much as to say: "We, the children or citizens of the true empire, which is destined to supersede all the kingdoms of the world, ought not to be called upon to pay tribute." "Nevertheless," said Jesus, "lest we offend them, go thou," &c.
The authorities must, therefore, be left to be the interpreters and collectors of their own claims. It is not incumbent on a brother of Christ to go out of his way to find out what the government may want of him. He will do well, and all that the law of Christ requires, if he pay when called upon. But, of course, he will not withhold any information upon which the amount may depend. He will be thoroughly honest as a saint ought to be. He will disclose his liabilities. To conceal them would be as bad as refusing to pay.
Virtually, it would be the same thing, and, therefore, disobedience to the extent of the liability concealed, which, morally considered, would be as much an offence against the law of Christ as if the whole were refused, since to offend at all is to offend as really as in much.
A just man-an upright man-an honest man-an honourable man-all of which a saint who is to be accepted is-is a man just, upright, honest, and honourable, in a thorough manner. We had better have thoroughness in the matter, or trouble ourselves not at all. A partly-honest man is a dishonest one. There are no degrees in uprightness.
As to "arrears," it all depends upon the cause of their accumulation, as to whether there is any liability to hand them over to the government. If they are unpaid claims, the obligation to pay could not be a matter of question. If they exist by reason of concealment of liability, previous to assessment, the obligation would be similarly free from doubt; but if they arise from miscalculation or since-discovered estate, the best course is, probably, to "let bygones be bygones."
No tax is "legally due" till assessed; and if the lack of assessment is due to causes over which the person has no control, and for which he is not responsible, there does not appear to be any reason why he may not accept his exemption thankfully. Nevertheless, if conscience be burdened in the matter, there is an easy remedy which the Chancellor of the Exchequer will always be glad to help tax-owers to apply.
The Christadelphian, Jan 1873
25 He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers?
This was a reference to the well-known fact that the Romans, who were the masters of the world at that time, did not tax their own citizens, but only the inhabitants of the subject provinces. Peter was aware of this, and answered, "Of strangers."
26 Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free.
'..as much as to say, "They ought not to apply to us for taxes, for we are the true children -- not strangers; the others are the strangers."
This is truth, and no sentiment. Most people regard it as a mere poetical suggestion. An understanding of the law and the testimony will show us that it is the assertion of an ultimate political fact. The Roman institution was on sand. They had got their power and standing in the earth "by their own sword." Their right was the right of might. It did not rest on a valid title. The only valid title is by bequest or transfer from the original possessor.
God is the original proprietor of the earth. He made it for His own purpose, which is certain to be realised. In the working out of this purpose He has given the earth to Christ and his brethren, whose full inheritance of it is only a question of time. They are, therefore, "the children."
The Romans, and all other merely human incumbents of the soil, are but successful adventurers and interlopers, tolerated for the time-being for a purpose. Their success is divinely permitted, and is being used to promote certain preliminary and subordinate parts of the purpose as a whole; but still it is only the success of the powerful stranger.
The right of the soil rests in Christ and his brethren, and their taxation is an outrage. Should they then resist and refuse? Far from it. Submission is enjoined on them till the time arrives for the enforcement of their rights with great power and effect. "For this cause, therefore," says Paul, "pay ye tribute also: they are God's ministers, attending continually on this very thing" (Rom. xiii. 6).
27 Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.
The tax-gatherers have a place in the scheme of his work, and it is our business to submit so long as they are divinely permitted to fill that place.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 39