What Happened on the Mount of Transfiguration?

Matthew 17:1–9

1 And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart,
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.
4 Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three 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.
6 And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid.
7 And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid.
8 And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only.
9 And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote:

“(1) Jesus singled out Peter, James, and John from the rest of the Twelve; took them upon an unnamed mountain; there He was transfigured before them, and they beheld His glory. . . . [Peter] said they ‘were eyewitnesses of his majesty’ (2 Pet. 1:16).

“(2) Peter, James, and John, were themselves ‘transfigured before Him’ [Teachings: Joseph Smith, 105], . . . thus enabling them to entertain angels, see visions and comprehend the things of God. . . .

“(3) Moses and Elijah—two ancient prophets who were translated and taken to heaven without tasting death, so they could return with tangible bodies on this very occasion, an occasion preceding the day of resurrection—appeared on the mountain; and they and Jesus gave the keys of the kingdom to Peter, James, and John [see Teachings: Joseph Smith, 105].

“(4) John the Baptist, previously beheaded by Herod, apparently was also present. . . .

“(5) Peter, James, and John saw in vision the transfiguration of the earth, that is, they saw it renewed and returned to its paradisiacal state—an event that is to take place at the Second Coming when the millennial era is ushered in (D&C 63:20–21 . . .).

“(6) It appears that Peter, James, and John received their own endowments while on the mountain [see Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 2:165]. . . . It also appears that it was while on the mount that they received the more sure word of prophecy, it then being revealed to them that they were sealed up unto eternal life (2 Pet. 1:16–19; D&C 131:5).

“(7) Apparently Jesus Himself was strengthened and encouraged by Moses and Elijah so as to be prepared for the infinite sufferings and agony ahead of Him in connection with working out the infinite and eternal Atonement [see James E. Talmage, Jesus the Christ, 3rd ed. (1916), 373]. . . .

“(8) Certainly the three chosen Apostles were taught in plainness ‘of his death, and also his resurrection’ [Joseph Smith Translation, Luke 9:31 (in Luke 9:31, footnote a)]. . . .

“(9) It should also have been apparent to them that the old dispensations of the past had faded away, that the law (of which Moses was the symbol) and the prophets (of whom Elijah was the typifying representative) were subject to Him whom they were now commanded to hear.

“(10) Apparently God the Father, overshadowed and hidden by a cloud, was present on the mountain.”

(Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1965–73], 1:399–401.)