I was preparing a message on Mark 9:1-13 this week and decided to track down the Greek term rendered “transfigured” in 9:2. The term μεταμορφόω is used only 3 other times in the NT: the parallel account in Matthew 17:2, Romans 12:2, and 2 Corinthians 3:18. Interestingly, in all 4 NT uses it is in the passive, the term is not used in the LXX, and Luke’s account does not employ the term but describes the effect of the transfiguring, namely, “the appearance of his face became different” (9:29).
Having written my dissertation on the noun μορφή, I was curious how the uses of μεταμορφόω paralleled my conclusions from Philippians 2:6-7. While the two NT uses describing the transfiguration in the Matthew and Mark uses clearly point to change or transformation that is outwardly visible, Paul’s uses in Romans 12:2 and 2 Corinthians 3:18 do not. They speak of a transformation that is done inwardly, or as BDAG notes, “a transformation invisible to the physical eye.” I guess one could propose then, ironically, that when μεταμορφόω is applied to God, it is visible, and when used of man, invisible. I think I will take a harder look at this in the near future.