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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Glory (2)

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GLORY.—There are few commoner words in the English Bible than ‘glory,’ and few more difficult of definition. The word appears on the surface to be used in a strange variety of meanings and applications, and with both good and bad connotation. Reputation, praise, honour (true and false), splendour, light, perfection, rewards (temporal and eternal)—all these varying conceptions seem covered by the same word.

Nevertheless the underlying thought is simpler than would appear. In the OT a large number of words are translated in English by ‘glory,’ but by far the most common is כָּבוֹר, of which the root idea is ‘heaviness,’ and so in a metaphorical sense, ‘weight,’ ‘worthiness.’ The LXX Septuagint frequently employs δόξα to translate this, as well as a great number of other Hebrew words; and δόξα (with its connected verb δοξάζω) is the usual NT word rendered ‘glory.’ This word is derived, of course, from the root of δοκέω, ‘to think or suppose,’ and the primary meaning of δόξα is, no doubt, ‘thought or opinion,’ especially, favourable human opinion, and thus in a secondary sense ‘reputation,’ ‘honour,’ etc.

But an important new shade of meaning comes into the word when it is used in religious language. The δόξα of man, human opinion, etc., is shifting, uncertain, often based on error, and its pursuit for its own sake is unworthy. But there is a δόξα of God which must be absolutely true and changeless. God’s ‘opinion’ marks the true value of things, as they appear to the eternal mind; and God’s ‘favourable opinion’ is true ‘glory.’ This contrast is well seen in John 5:44; John 12:43. Hence ‘glory,’ whether applied to God Himself or to His works as seen by Him, must imply the absolute truth which underlies all phenomena. This gives us the connecting link between ‘the glory that cometh from God’ and the ‘glory’ which man conceives of as belonging to God Himself. The ‘glory of God,’ therefore, must mean His essential and unchanging Godhead as revealed to man. And the familiar ascription ‘Glory to God’ would imply not only a right human praise, but the assigning to God of what He truly is, for nothing higher can be given Him. Similarly the true ‘glory’ of man or nature must be that ideal condition, that final perfection, which exists as a real fact in the Divine mind. The glory of God is what He is essentially; the glory of created things is what they are meant by God to be, though not yet perfectly attained (Hebrews 2:10, Romans 8:18-21).

Passing on to that which this article is specially concerned with,—What is meant by the ‘glory’ and the ‘glorifying’ of Jesus Christ? It must mean (a) the revelation of His essential Deity, that which He is in the mind of the Father, though veiled from man by the limitation of the Incarnation. See John 17:5, Hebrews 1:3, 1 Corinthians 2:8, James 2:1. (b) The revelation of the ideal and perfect condition of human nature, as elevated by its union with God in the Incarnation to that which God means it to be by the law of its creation, that which already in the mind of God it essentially is. Then the glory of Christ is the explanation and justification of Genesis 1:27 (cf. 2 Corinthians 3:18).

But besides this fundamental conception of ‘glory’ which springs out of the primary meaning of the Greek word, it is to be noticed that ‘glory’ in Scripture usually carries with it ideas of ‘light,’ ‘splendour,’ and ‘beauty.’ Thus pre-eminently ‘the glory of the Lord’ in the OT is the visible shining forth of light, by which the Divine Presence is recognized by man, the שִׁכִינָה of the later Jews. So the ‘glory’ appeared to Israel at Sinai (Exodus 24:16-17), at the door of the Tent (Leviticus 9:23, Numbers 14:10; Numbers 16:19), at the dedication of Solomon’s Temple (1 Kings 8:10-11), in the visions of Isaiah (Isaiah 6:1-3) and Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1:28; Ezekiel 3:23; Ezekiel 8:4). Similarly the Messianic hopes of Israel are expressed under the figure of ‘glory dwelling in the land’ (Psalms 85:9). See artt. ‘Glory (in OT)’ and ‘Shekinah’ in Hastings’ B [Note: Dictionary of the Bible.] . Passing to the NT, the same conception of ‘glory’ is seen in St. Luke’s account of the Nativity (Luke 2:9). And this is brought into direct connexion with the Person of Christ in the narratives of the Transfiguration, especially in St. Luke’s (Luke 9:28 ff.). There the ‘glory’ of Christ shines forth visibly in the dazzling brightness of His countenance. It encompasses the forms of Moses and Elijah (Luke 9:31); it even transfigures material objects like Christ’s clothing (Luke 9:29). With this passage should be compared the visions of Stephen in Acts 7:55; of Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9:3; Acts 22:6-11; Acts 26:13), and of St. John in Patmos (Revelation 1:13-16).

A more metaphysical conception of the ‘glory’ of Christ is seen in St. John’s Gospel. The Evangelist may indeed be alluding to the Transfiguration in John 1:14, and to the visible glory of Isaiah’s vision in John 12:41. But in John 2:11 and John 11:40 he is evidently describing some revelation to the inward eye of what Christ essentially is, some intuition of His Divine power (only suggested by a visible ‘sign’) borne in upon the soul of the believer. In Christ’s words and works His true nature, as the ‘effulgence’ of the Father’s glory, flashes upon and illuminates not the intellectual faculties merely, but the whole being of man, filling it with the sense of light and beauty and satisfaction.

Thus we seem to arrive at a conception of ‘glory’ which combines both the ideas of δόξα, as ‘splendour’ and as the manifestation of eternal truth as it is in the Divine mind.

In this sense Christ looks forward to and prays for the ‘glorifying’ of Himself by the Father (John 13:31-32; John 17:1; John 17:5; John 17:24). This glorifying is in a true sense accomplished in the Passion, as issuing in the Resurrection, whereby the true nature of Christ and His redemptive work were recognized and rejoiced in by the faithful. There is a ‘glory’ which is yet to come, but the present revelation to the Church of Christ’s glory is of the same order as the future one which will complete it (John 17:24). The Christian community, already ideally perfected by the separation of Judas (John 13:31), is henceforth to recognize permanently what individual intuition had already perceived and confessed at different points of the ministry. And this ‘glorifying’ of Christ is to be the ‘glorifying’ of the Father (John 17:1), for the completion of Christ’s work will reveal the Divine mind and purpose to the Church; and it is also the ‘glorifying’ of the believer and of the Church as a whole (John 17:22), for the Church will be the permanent witness of God to the world (John 17:23), and man in union with Christ is on the way to attain the Divine ideal (John 17:26).

The same profound conceptions of ‘glory’ appear in the writings of St. Paul and St. Peter. The object of the Christian calling is ‘the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (2 Thessalonians 2:14). The invisible ‘glory’ of the Christian Church through its union with Christ by the Spirit is greater than the visible ‘glory’ of the Old Covenant (2 Corinthians 3:7-11). The ‘glory’ of God recognized in Christ by the believer is a new creation of light (2 Corinthians 4:6). Present limitations and sufferings will be abundantly compensated in the full future revelation of ‘glory’ (2 Corinthians 4:17, cf. Romans 8:18 ff.). Indeed, the ‘glorifying’ of the believer is already ideally complete (Romans 8:30); it will be visibly completed in the Resurrection of the body (Philippians 3:21, cf. 1 Peter 5:1; 1 Peter 5:4).

In the Resurrection life, therefore, Christ will be seen and known by all the faculties, the whole being of man redeemed, as sharing fully and essentially in the ‘glory’ of the Godhead. His Divinity will be recognized in the ‘glory’ which was ever inseparable from it; His humanity will be seen filled full, illuminated by its union with His Divinity, ‘taken up into God’ (Quicunque vult), and so constituting the perfect expression and vehicle of His Divinity (1 John 3:2). Hence in the ideal and perfected Church, as described in the Apocalypse, both humanity and its material setting are illuminated with ‘the glory of the Lamb,’ whose glorified humanity is, as it were, the ‘Lamp’ (Revelation 21:23) in which shines the ‘glory’ of the Godhead.

It will be seen that this one word ‘glory’ is really a summary of the Divine purpose for creation as revealed in Scripture—

‘From Eden’s loss unto the end of years.’

The ‘glory of God’ is revealed in the ‘glory of Christ,’ and both nature and man are in Christ progressing towards ‘the liberty of the glory of the children of God’ (Romans 8:21).

Literature.—Grimm-Thayer, Bibl.-Theol. Lex. s.v. δόξα; R. St. J. Parry, Discussion of the Gen. [Note: Geneva NT 1557, Bible 1560.] Ep. of James (1903), 36; and the Commentaries on the NT passages above cited, especially Westcott’s St. John, 1890.

A. R. Whitham.


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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Glory (2)'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hdn/g/glory-2.html. 1906-1918.

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