The Greek Geek

Δόξα: Glory

By Kevin Stone

The word glory in English can refer to a wide variety of things: thanksgiving-filled worship, a source of honor, dazzling beauty, a state of joy, or heaven itself. Glory can also be used as a verb to mean "to rejoice proudly" and as an interjection expressing surprise. When we run across the word glory in the New Testament, we need to be more precise with what it means.

Take, for example, John 17:5, where Jesus prays, "Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began." What does He mean by having "glory"?

a) receiving worship
b) having a source of honor or fame
c) possessing resplendent beauty
d) living in a joyful state
e) existing in heaven
f) none of the above

The correct answer for John 17:5 is f) none of the above.

The Greek word translated "glory" in Jesus' prayer is doxa. The verb form, doxazó, is also used in the same sentence. Doxa is the root of our English word doxology, "a hymn of praise."

Doxa has to do with someone's estimation or assessment. The word is only used positively in the New Testament — so the estimation is always good and honorable. According to Thayer, doxa literally means "what evokes good opinion, i.e. that something has inherent, intrinsic worth."

When the Bible speaks of God's "glory," using doxa, it means that God has infinite, intrinsic worth. His character and essence are worthy of honor and highest esteem. God is "glorious" in that His very being is of infinite significance. All God says, does, and thinks is of supreme magnitude and superior consequence. There is nothing trivial about Him. To "glorify" God is to properly recognize His value by ascribing importance to Him. Our assessment is that God has "weight" — all else is insubstantial by comparison. God is greater in magnitude in wisdom, authority, power, grandeur, and desirability than all else. He has earned our good opinion of Him.

In John 17:5 Jesus speaks of having "glory" with the Father before the creation of the world. This is an outright claim to deity and eternality. If the Father "glorifies" the Son, then the Father's expressed opinion of Christ is that He is intrinsically worthy of honor and praise. The fact that the Lord Jesus had "glory" before the world began means that His inherent worth is eternal. Jesus, by nature, possesses the quality of infinite value.

Jesus' first miracle was the turning of water into wine at the wedding feast in Cana. It was this sign that Jesus used to show His true nature: "What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him" (John 2:11, emphasis added). For the first time on earth, Jesus displayed His eternal, supernatural significance. He did this through His powerful and gracious actions at the wedding. This unveiling evoked His disciples' "good opinion" of Him — and confirmed their faith.

When we truly know God, we will personally acknowledge Him and ascribe Him glory. Our estimation of Him will be grand. We will value Him for who He really is, and our song will be that of the multitudes in heaven: "Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!" (Revelation 5:12).

TagsBiblical-Truth  | Christian-Life  | God-Father

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Published 3-25-15