Sunday, April 18, 2021


What do we actually mean when we speak of the “glory of the Lord?” Take a moment and ask yourself how you would define the word “glory.” We use that word a lot in the church. Many songs that we sing in our churches are about God’s glory, or that we should “give God glory.” We talk about much of not only God’s glory, but even about when we die, we say that we “enter into glory.”

Exactly what do we mean when we say those things? If we had to specifically explain what we meant in each of those cases, what would we say? Exactly what is the “glory of God?” When we enter into glory, just what are we entering?

The reason that we use the word so much in the church because the Bible also uses it a lot, and no one uses the word more than Jesus Christ. In the gospel of John chapter seventeen, as Jesus and the disciples left the upper room where they had eaten their last meal together and were walking from to the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus stops.

Chapters fifteen and sixteen of John’s gospel contain many words of advice and counsel that Jesus had spoken to his disciples, but now in chapter seventeen, Jesus pauses and lifts his eyes to heaven.

He prays, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son may glorify You…I have glorified You on earth by accomplishing the work You gave Me to do. And now, Father, glorify Me in Your presence with the glory I had with You before the world existed” (John 17:1, 4-5 BSB).

Jesus knew that he was on his way to face his arrest and execution. His days on earth of teaching his disciples and the people were over. Except for the crucifixion and his resurrection from the dead, he had completed all that he came to earth to accomplish.

And now he prays, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son may glorify You.”

What did He mean?

This of course was not the first time that Jesus had spoken of glory.


Jesus Speaks of Glory

Quite early in his years of ministry, Jesus had said to some Jews who were accusing him of speaking as a demon, “I do not seek My own glory. There is One who seeks it, and He is the Judge… If I glorify Myself, My glory means nothing. The One who glorifies Me is My Father” (John 8:50, 54 BSB).

Throughout his time on earth, Jesus spoke much of glory. He uses it in several contexts and speaks of glory not only in relation to the Father, but also receiving it unto himself and promising it to those who believed in him. He uses it not only as a noun, or an adjective to describe something, but also as a verb, as some action we should bestow upon another.

Jesus is quoted as using the word glory, glorify, glorious, or some other form of the word dozens of times. What did he mean? Unless we are able to have a clear definition of what he is saying, we miss a clear understanding of much of his teaching.


Meanings and Nuances

The difficulty for us in defining this word however, is that it is used in many various ways and with many different shades of meaning. The word[1] cannot be defined by one simple explanation.

This makes it difficult, but there is also a value in it for us, since it gives the word glory color and a richness. If we think about this word a bit, and see how it is used in various ways in the Scripture, it will open up to us appreciation for not only what Jesus taught us, but also for what is a major theme of the Bible.

It was, for instance, the word that the multitude of angels used when they announced the birth of the Messiah to the shepherds in the fields: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and good will to men.”

When the first angel appeared to tell them about the birth of Jesus, “the glory of the Lord” shone all around the shepherds, so much so that they became afraid of what was happening to them. But after they had gone to find the baby and were again returning to the fields to tend to their sheep, they returned “glorifying God” (Luke 2:9, 14, 20).

What does all this mean?


Glory Means Light or Brightness

We often equate the word glory with brightness or some sort of light, as we imagine the shepherds experienced. It is as Peter described the appearance of Jesus on a special day when he and two other disciples were given the privilege to witness the transfiguration of their teacher.

As the gospel writer Matthew describes it, “The face of Jesus shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.”

Peter himself, and the two other disciples with him were surrounded by a “bright cloud” (Matthew 17:2, 6). One of the others with Peter was John, who later wrote, “We beheld his glory” (John 1:14).

Paul even uses the word glory is also used even to describe the sun, moon and stars. “There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.” (1 Corinthians 15:40 ESV)


Glory Means To Magnify or to Give Praise

Jesus once told a man who had long been paralyzed, “Get up, pick up your mat, and go home.” After Jesus said these words, the man suddenly rose to his feet and did just what he said. The people who saw this happen “were filled with awe, and glorified the God of Israel” (Matthew 9:8).

When thousands of people saw Jesus give the mute the ability to speak, the crippled restored, the lame walking and the blind seeing, they were amazed and glorified God (Matthew 15:29-31).

Even at the moment that Jesus died and cried out in a loud voice, “Father, into Your hands I commit My Spirit,” there was something about his manner of dying that caused a Roman centurion, who witnessed this death give glory to God. He exclaimed, “Surely this was a righteous man” (Luke 23:47).


Glory Means Wealth

Sometimes the word glory is used in the Bible to describe one’s wealth or the wealth of the nations. For instance, when Satan tempted Jesus, he told him if Jesus would worship him, he would give to him “authority over all the kingdoms and all their glory” (Luke 4:6).

In Revelation, when John is describing the heavenly city of the New Jerusalem, he writes that into the city will be brought “the glory and honor of the nations” (Revelation 21:26).


Glory Means To Bring to Completed State

The word glory is also used to describe the destiny of those who are believers in Christ. Even the destiny of the earth is tied to our own glorification. Paul writes that “the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Romans 8:21 ESV).

He also writes on the process of our growth and development in the Christian life, our glorification being the final stage of our growth. “Those He predestined, He also called; those He called, He also justified; those He justified, He also glorified” (Romans 8:30 BSB).

In some manner, this process also was applied even to Jesus Himself. In many ways this is unlike our own experience of course, but in other ways it is similar. John, referring to the time before Jesus had been resurrected, spoke of Jesus as “not yet glorified” (John 7:39).

When Jesus prayed, “Father, the hour has come, glorify Your Son,” he was speaking of the moment when his task on earth would be completed in its fullest sense.

This glorified Jesus was the One of whom the disciples spoke when later spreading the news of His resurrection. Peter referred to Jesus as one whom “the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified (Acts 3:13).

The writer of Hebrews makes a distinction between before the resurrection of Jesus and after it. While on earth, Jesus “did not take upon Himself the glory of becoming a high priest, but He was called by the One who said to Him: ‘You are My Son’… Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from what He suffered. And having been made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey Him and was designated by God as high priest (Hebrews 5:5, 8-10 BSB)


In Old Testament

The New Testament Greek word for glory or glorious corresponds to an Old Testament Hebrew word [2] that is translated in much the same way.

“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you” (Isaiah 60:1).

“It is the glory of God to conceal a matter and the glory of kings to search it out” (Proverbs 25.2 BSB).

“For when a man dies he will carry nothing away; his glory will not go down after him” (Psalm 49:17).

The Hebrew word for glory is used in all the same ways as the Greek word is in the New Testament. At the very root of its meaning, the Hebrew word means “to be heavy.” This meaning relates to our present understanding of the word glory, because in some ways, we can understand that the heaviness of an item can be seen as a function of its quality.


If it Ain’t Heavy, It Ain’t Glorious

In the days when food was bought in the market, the weight of the food often meant more than the volume. A low quality grain, for instance, will weigh less that the same volume of grain of a higher quality. We actually use the same criterion today.

As an example, a University of Nebraska publication states that “For U.S. No. 1 yellow corn, the official minimum test weight is 56 pounds per bushel. If test weights drop below this standard, the grain price is discounted.”[3]

We also often use weight in everyday life to test its quality of various goods. In these days of articles made of cheap plastic, if we lift an item and feel that it weighs more than its plastic counterpart, we immediately equate this having a higher-quality.

Interesting isn’t it that Paul says at the judgement, God will “test the quality of each man’s work.” It is not weight in this case that God will use as a standard, but whether or not it will endure the test of fire. Nevertheless, it is interesting that he likens those works that will endure as those that have weight: gold, silver and precious stones. Those that will not endure the test are those of lighter weight: wood, hay and straw.

Taking all of these uses for the word glory into consideration, perhaps the best definition that we can give the word, at least when it refers to people, is that it is describing their true and intrinsic value. When all externals and distractions are removed, the glory that is revealed displays the rightful significance and what is important. “Glory” has to do with the completed state of one whose life is founded in Christ and the quality and nature of the heavenly kingdom.


God’s Glory in Us

Glory is something that God has in mind for all those who believe his words and who have patterned their lives to live by them. As Paul says, it is God’s intention to “present Himself a glorious church, without stain or wrinkle or any such blemish, but holy and blameless” (Ephesians 5:27).

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no heart has imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9; Isaiah 64:4)

“Our citizenship is in heaven, and we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ. It is Jesus who, by the power that enables Him…will transform our lowly bodies to be like His glorious body” (Philippians 3:21-22).

It’s an amazing thought. John also writes of this in his letters:


Behold what manner of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God. And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him. Beloved, we are now children of God, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that when Christ appears, we will be like Him, for we will see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as Christ is pure. (1 John 3:1-3 BSB)


Present Consequences

Did you notice the final part of that quote from the Apostle John, “Everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as Christ is pure?”

Despite the fact that all of these promises from God to bring us into his glory are not based on our own actions, the Scriptures repeatedly teach us that our activities here on earth do have eternal consequences. I have also consistently taught that in this church. I do not know how it is possible for anyone who claims to be a Christian to think that they can live by the standards of the world and expect God to ignore this fact.

Peter rebuked the people of his day, telling them, “You have spent enough time living as the world.” [4]


Present Distractions

Then how is it that we are to begin to learn to live in glory? To again refer to the quote from John, the first step is to place our hope in Jesus. I am not speaking only of our hope for life after we die, but our hope for this very day! If your life now is to have any value, you must come to the realization that fulfillment will not come from the world—it cannot come from there. The joys of the world are mirages and illusions. The best that the world can offer are temporary distractions.

And that is just what Satan tries to do—he wants to distract us from what is truly important. He tries to get us to chase the dream that one more consumer item, just a little more travel, perhaps even a new marriage will give us fulfillment. It’s a lie. They are all lies.

The devil offered all the glory of the world to Jesus, and Jesus told him, “Be gone! Away from me!”

Jesus knew that the glories of this world were illusions. The sooner that we also come to realize this same fact, the sooner that we will come to see that we need to look beyond this world for answers.


Attaining Glory

But if we are to look beyond this world for fulfillment in living, how are we to do it? It may be fine to speak of working for the glories of heaven, but if we cannot yet access heaven, how are we to seek fulfillment there?

We cannot, but God can do it for us:


God’s divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. Through these He has given us His precious and magnificent promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, now that you have escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. (2 Peter 1:3-4 BSB)


Here is what Paul wrote to the Colossian church: “Therefore, since you have been raised with Christ, strive for the things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory” (Colossians 3:1-3 BSB).

I spoke on this a few weeks ago when I told you that it takes death to learn how to live. We do not need to wait for these bodies to die to begin to learn. We can die now—not that our present bodies need die, but we must consider ourselves dead to the things of the world.

Our citizenship is in heaven.


Suffering that Leads to Glory

We may not like to hear it, but even our present sufferings have a place in leading us into glory. Sufferings in this world come from many various sources and in many ways, but for the children of God, He intends our sufferings to build within us more of His own glory.

Peter encourages us, “After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore you, secure you, strengthen you, and establish you” (1 Peter 5:10 BSB)

Paul also encourages us:


Therefore we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, yet our inner self is being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary affliction is producing for us an eternal glory that is far beyond comparison.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 BSB)

I consider that our present sufferings are not comparable to the glory that will be revealed in us (Romans 8:18 BSB)

When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. (Colossians 3:4 BSB)


A phrase we commonly hear in these days is that “the world is coming apart!” People are worried. All that they thought was secure has failed them. Many are wringing their hands, hoping that things can soon get back to “normal.”

But what they do not realize, all of this upheaval is normal for this world. The world has not only begun to come apart. It has always been coming apart. The only reason it has managed to limp along all of these thousands of years is because God has allowed us to patch up problems, to delay a present crises for the next generation to face, or to put bandages here and splints there. God has allowed us to do this so that all who want to come to Jesus will have opportunity.

“The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise as some understand slowness,” Peter writes, “but is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

But we know that it is not only the world as a whole that is suffering, perhaps you are experiencing your own form of personal suffering. Perhaps you have difficulties and struggles happening in your private life that few know about. You are wondering why God is allowing these things to come to you.

The answers to our “why” questions will come later. For now it is best to concentrate on “what.” What does God want you to learn through this experience? What is God building in you?

For now it is best to concentrate on building our confidence that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, and for those who are called according to His purpose.

And God has a calling for you, a calling that will bring you into a full understanding of the glory of God, a glory which He intends to also bestow upon you.

[1] Strong’s Concordance 1391 dóksa (from dokeō, "exercising personal opinion which determines value") – glory. 1391 /dóksa ("glory") corresponds to the OT word, kabo (OT 3519, "to be heavy").

[2] kabowd: glorious


[4] For you have spent enough time in the past carrying out the same desires as the Gentiles: living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing, and detestable idolatry. 1 Peter 4:3

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