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Bible Dictionaries

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary

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One of the common words that develops its own special meaning in the Bible is ‘glory’. When used of people or things in relation to everyday life, it may indicate nothing more than honour, fame, power, wealth or splendour (Genesis 45:13; 2 Kings 14:10; Isaiah 8:7; Isaiah 17:4; Daniel 2:37; Matthew 4:8; Matthew 6:29; John 5:44; John 7:18). But because it is used more frequently of the majestic all-powerful God, it develops a significance that makes it a characteristic word of both Old and New Testaments.

The glory of the unseen God

Revelations of God’s majesty and power, such as through clouds, fire and lightning, were revelations of his glory (Exodus 16:10; Exodus 24:16-17; Leviticus 9:23-24; Psalms 29:3-4; Psalms 29:7-9; Habakkuk 3:3-4). Glory therefore became associated with brightness or shining. When God’s glory, symbolizing his presence, filled the tabernacle and later the temple, its brightness was so intense that no human being could look upon it (Exodus 40:34-35; 1 Kings 8:11; see SHEKINAH). Even when God allowed people a vision of his glory, it was usually so dazzling that it overpowered them (Exodus 33:18-19; Exodus 34:8; Exodus 34:29-30; Isaiah 6:1-5; Ezekiel 1:28; Luke 2:9; Revelation 1:13-17).

Such visions were more than exhibitions of overpowering brightness; they were revelations of the nature of God. God’s glory is an expression of his character – his goodness, love, justice, power and holiness (Exodus 33:18-19; Exodus 34:6-7; Psalms 29:3; Isaiah 6:3; John 12:41; Romans 3:23). Therefore, the Bible speaks of the revelation of God through nature and through history as the revelation of his glory (Psalms 19:1; Psalms 96:3; see REVELATION).

The glory of Christ and his people

Jesus Christ is the greatest revelation of God’s glory. The presence of God once dwelt in the world in the glory that filled the tabernacle or temple, but now that glory dwelt in the world in the form of a human being (John 1:14; James 2:1). The God whom no person could see, except in visions, now revealed himself in Jesus Christ (John 1:18; 2 Corinthians 4:6; Hebrews 1:3).

Yet, while believers saw in Jesus the glory of God, unbelievers did not (John 1:14; John 2:11; 1 Corinthians 2:8). This was partly because Christ’s glory during his earthly life was not a visible majestic splendour, such as he had as God before the world began. In being born into this world he laid that glory aside; though the event known as the transfiguration was a foretaste of a greater glory that would yet be his (Matthew 17:1-6; John 17:5; see TRANSFIGURATION). After the triumph of his life, death and resurrection, God exalted him to heaven’s highest place and gave him heaven’s highest glory (Philippians 2:6-11; Hebrews 2:9; 1 Peter 1:11; 1 Peter 1:21).

One promise given to believers in Jesus Christ is that, as they share in Christ’s sufferings in this life, so they will share in his glory in the life to come (Romans 8:17-18; 2 Corinthians 4:17; Philippians 3:21; 2 Thessalonians 2:14; Hebrews 2:10; 1 Peter 5:1; 1 Peter 5:10). In a sense they share in Christ’s glory now and increasingly become like Christ through their devotion to him (John 17:22; 2 Corinthians 3:18; 1 Peter 4:14). The great revelation of God’s glory at the end of the age will bring salvation to believers and terror to the wicked (Isaiah 60:1-3; Isaiah 66:18-19; Matthew 16:27; Matthew 24:30; Matthew 25:31; Colossians 3:4; Titus 2:11-14).

Mere human beings cannot add to God’s glory (in the sense of his majesty and power) but they can give him glory (in the sense of honour and praise). They are to glorify him by their words and by their actions (1 Samuel 6:5; Psalms 96:8; Jeremiah 13:16; Matthew 5:16; Acts 12:23; Romans 4:20; Romans 11:36; 1 Corinthians 10:31; 2 Corinthians 8:19; Ephesians 3:21; Revelation 5:13; Revelation 14:7).

Bibliography Information
Fleming, Don. Entry for 'Glory'. Bridgeway Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​bbd/​g/glory.html. 2004.
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