As we have listened to Paul speak of the surpassing power of God for us who believe, and of His lavishing of His riches upon us, we must ask what is His motivation in doing such things for those who are merely His creatures? In Ephesians 1:6, we read that this is all “to the praise of His glory and grace.” Today we are going to examine what the “glory” of God is.
The Apostle uses the Greek word for “glory” 7 times in his letter to the Ephesians. Six of those instances are in reference to God’s glory. They are in 1:6, 12, 14, 17, 18; 3:16, and 21. So what does “glory” (Gk. doxa) mean? The term itself means “splendor, brightness, excellence, honor, majesty, pre-eminence.” However, the definition alone does not seem sufficient to explain what Paul (and the Biblical writers in general) had in mind when they use it in reference to God. Here are a couple of fairly brief articles where the authors try to give a sense of the Biblical use of this term “glory of God.”
- “What is the Glory of God?” from www.gotquestions.org.
- “What is God’s glory?” – excerpts from a sermon by John Piper on www.desiringgod.org.
This concept of God’s glory and how Paul uses it in Ephesians and elsewhere is worthy of a great deal of our attention. As a result, both this article and our next will focus on it.
- Paul’s refers directly to God’s glory six times in his epistle to the Ephesians. Citizens of Asia and worshipers of Artemis everywhere were impressed by magnificence of the great temple to Artemis in Ephesus.
- Paul, I believe, is purposely comparing/contrasting the glory of Artemis with that of the True God. His confidence is the glory of God greatly overshadows any attributes of Artemis or her temple.
- I’ve tried to summarize what many different scholars and commentators have said about God’s glory. It goes like this: “Everything about God’s attributes – His character, characteristics, holiness, love, grace, mercy –are all elements of His great glory. We are incapable of completely comprehending His attributes, and so also unable to fully perceive and conceive of the greatness of His glory.”
- Moses on Sinai – Exodus 33:19-23; 34:29-30, 33
- Speaks of God’s goodness, mercy and sovereignty
- Moses did not see God’s “person”, but instead His glory
- See Paul’s comment on this in I Timothy 6:11-16
- God’s glory and light
- In the Old Testament it was called the shekinah – “the Brightness of His Presence”
- At the burning bush – Exodus 3:2-5
- In the pillar of cloud and fire – Exodus 13:21
- At Sinai – Exodus 19:16-20
- In the Tabernacle – Exodus 40:34
- At Solomon’s Temple
- In the announcement to Mary – Luke 2:9
- To Paul on the road outside Damascus – Acts 9:3
- In Heaven itself – Revelation 21:11-23
- Appropriate response to is fear and reverence:
- Israel at Sinai – so afraid they thought they would die
- Isaiah – Isaiah 6:4
- Ezekiel – Ezekiel 1:28
- Not to give God’s Glory to another
- Either when attributing that which is His to a false god – Isaiah 42:8; 48:11; Exodus 20:3-5; 34:14; Luke 4:5-8; Romans 1:21-25
- Or simply failing to give to Him His proper glory and worship
- Jesus IS God’s Glory
- Hebrews 1:13
- John 1:9, 14, 16-18 “light”
- John 17:1-5
- The Gospel and our redemption reflects God’s Glory
- Ephesians 1:6, 12, 14, 17, 18; 3:16, and 21
- Which brings us back to where we began this lesson!
Our image is from the www.nasa.gov website of public domain Hubble photographs. This image is of the NGC1569 galaxy. It reminds us that “the heavens declare the glory of God.!”