The Glory of the Lord - A Theological Overview
The Hebrew word for "Glory" used in the Old Testament is kabod and it signifies "glory, honour, glorious, abundance, riches honour, splendour, glory, dignity, reputation, reverence". The New Testament Greek word is doxa and signifies "splendour, brightness, magnificence, excellence, preeminence, dignity, grace, majesty".
The Bible talks about the glory of the sun, the moon, and the stars.
"There are also celestial bodies and terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory." (1Co 15:40-41 NKJ)
It mentions a woman's hair as being her glory (1Cor.11:15) and says that the "glory of young men is their strength, and the splendor of old men is their gray head." (Pro 20:29 NKJ)
However, all glory of creation is momentary and fleeting. But, God's glory is eternal, immutable, and absolute.
God's glory is revealed in His:
1. General Revelation (Psalm 19:1; Rom.1:20ff). His creation declares His glory.
2. Special Revelation. God's Propositional Word (The Inscribed Word) reveals His Glory. God's Personal Word (The Incarnated Word, Jesus Christ) is the final revelation of God's Glory.
In the Bible, we find at least two aspects of the Glory of God:
1. The Essential and Intrinsic Glory of God. This is God's Glory as He is in Himself. Generally, we know it as part of the Mystery of God and the Glory that is hidden; but, revealed in the last days in the person of God's Son Jesus Christ who is the brightness of God's glory (Heb.1:3).
2. The Manifested Glory of God. This is recurrently found in the Bible in the form of the various Theophanies in which God's glory appears as cloud, pillar of fire, and smoke.
With regard to Christ's glory Himself, we know of at least:
1. Christ's glory with the Father during His preexistence, before the Incarnation (John 17:5)
2. Christ's glory revealed in the Incarnation as the glory of God's only begotten Son (John 1:14).
3. Glories that were to follow after His passion (1Peter 1:11)
4. Christ's ascension into glory (1Tim.3:16)
5. God's glory in the Church through Christ Jesus (Eph.3:21)
6. Christ return in the glory of the Father (Matt. 16:27).
7. Christ's glory in the New Jerusalem (Rev.21:23).
We also know the Mission of Christ to be at least two-fold:
1. To glorify the Father by completing the work He gave Him to do (John 17:4)
2. To bring many sons to glory (Heb.2:10; Rom.8:18-21)
The Old and the New
We also see that the glory of God revealed in Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of God within us surpasses the glory revealed in the Old Covenant (2Cor.3). This doesn't mean that the glory underwent progression; but, we only saw the true glory in the face of Jesus Christ now shining in our hearts through the Spirit of God (2Cor.3:18; 4:6). Thus, it is important for one to turn to the Lord so that the veil will be removed. It is also important to seek the Lord so that our eyes be opened to know the hope of our calling and the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. (Eph 1:18,19) The Old was only a shadow that pointed to the New.
1. In the OT, the glory of God had to be seen; in the NT, it has been seen, revealed already in Jesus Christ.
2. In the OT, the glory was external; in the NT, it is internal - Christ in us, the hope of glory.
3. In the OT, the glory was geographical, it filled the temple, a place; in the NT, the glory is spiritual - we worship Him in Spirit and in Truth and the glory is manifest inside of us.
4. In the OT, the glory was distant - they saw it afar off and feared to draw near; in the NT, it is closer than our breath.
5. In the OT, it was out there; in the NT, it is in here.
6. In the OT, the glory of God was a stranger - it evoked fear; in the NT, the glory of God is our friend - grounded in love.
The Manifestational Glory of God is often seen as manifested in Volume (filling the temple, and likewise) and/or Motion (moving in/out, standing), and Power (Rev.15:8; 2Thess 1;7).
We can find at least 12 distinctives of the Glory of God in the Church of the New Testament (2Corinthians 3,4):
1. Surpassing Glory (3:10)
2. Unfading Glory(3:11)
3. Open, Uncovered, Unveiled Glory (3:18; 4:3)
4. Transforming Glory (3:18)
5. Englightening Glory (4:6)
6. Humble Glory (4:7) - dwelling in earthen vessels
7. Precious Glory (4:7) - treasure
8. Invisible Glory (4:8-12) - cannot be crushed.
9. Adorable (4:15)
10. Magnificent - far outweighing (4:17)
11. Eternal (4:17)
12. Invisible (4:18)
Now, this glory is in relation to the Christian; which means that it also involves the subjective response of the Christian towards the Absolute Glory of God.
We find three aspects of God's Glory operating in the life of the believer:
1. Glory that cannot be worked for - it is a gift (John 17:22)
2. Glory that works upon us, to transform us (2Cor.3:18)
3. Glory that is worked out of us (2Cor.4:17). When we are crushed (in suffering), His glory is squeezed out.
We can classify it into the three aspects of the Salvation table:
1. Positional Glory (Gift)
2. Progressive Glory (Changed from Glory to Glory)
3. Perfect Glory (Glorification of the Saints and Manifestation of the Sons of God)