What Is Glory?

by O. P. Martin


I am only including this because it received such a positive response when I sent it out as an e-mail.

Hi, gentlemen,

How are you?

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

The question has been raised, "What is glory? What does that mean?"

First, I did a word study in the Hebrew and Greek. Then, I checked with a Bible dictionary to see if what it said matched my results.

In the Hebrew, the primary word is "kabad", or weight. It means honor, weightiness; reputation, reverence. The Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh and the Egyptians in order to gain glory for Himself. We are to honor (same word) our father and mother (I have often wondered what this meant). God's glory appeared in a cloud to the Israelites, indicating radiance that looked to them like "consuming fire".

Two others words for glory are used a few times in such things as "O worship the Lord in the beauty (or splendor) of His holiness." The word for beauty is the image of adornment, such as garments or jewels. It can also refer to rank or boasting.

In the Greek, the word is "doxa", or opinion. In the NT it means good opinion resulting in praise. Images include the brightness of the sun, excellence, majesty. It can also refer to final blessed state of believers.

One verse that really seems to nicely apply to us is NIV Proverbs 25:2 "It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings."

The New Unger's Bible Dictionary defines glory as "the exercise and display of what constitutes the distinctive excellence of the subject to which it is spoken; thus, in respect to God, His glory is the manifestation of His divine attributes and perfections, or such a visible splendor as indicates the possession and presence of these. God's glory is the correlative of His holiness ... is that in which holiness comes to expression. Glory is the expression of holiness, as beauty is the expression of health. In respect to man, His glory is found in the things that reaveal His honorable state and character, such as wisdom, righteousness, superiority to passion, or that outward magnificence that is expressive of what, in the lower sphere, bespeaks the high position of its possessor."

I think glory is something basic that we innately recognize when we experience others saying what a fine chap we are.

Of course, goodness and excellence can only be defined in terms of God Himself - NIV Mark 10:18 "Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good-- except God alone." - which can be mind-boggling if you think about it. But, God has put in our hearts the ability, to some extent, to discern right and wrong, which helps us appreciate the sum total goodness of God. Goodness is equated with kindness and generosity. It is what makes God lovable.

People sometimes ask why God does all He does, allowing evil and so forth. NIV Ecclesiastes 3:14 "I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that men will revere him."

Now, we have gone astray. "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." - Romans 3:23-24.

But, we often try to usurp glory for ourselves, even though we know that NIV James 1:17 "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." Perhaps that is part of what it means when it says NIV James 4:3 "When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures." I feel I may be guilty of this personally; please pray for me. Thank you.

Finally, God shares His glory with us. NIV John 17:22 "I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one:" NIV Galatians 6:9-10 "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers."

May the Lord bless you,

© copyright 2005-2007, O. P. Martin