Defining the Glory of God
A study of key terms concerning the glory of God reveals many common threads which help us define the concept more precisely.
- First, the glory of God is similar to the power of a king. It marks His superiority, authority and legitimacy. Because of His glory, God enjoys a certain reputation, an unequaled importance, and honor and fame are due to Him. As king He is the possessor of everything good and lovely, which is manifested in His beautiful and exalted array. As the God-King, His glory denotes a power beyond understanding and measurement, yet available to His servants who live humbly before Him.
- Second, God’s glory is also associated with brilliance and light, which display His purity, otherness and independency. God is the source of radiance, and the manifestation of His presence is too great to be fathomed. He is awe-inspiring, wonderful, beautiful, elevated and worthy of praise. Its pursuit is the most honorable cause, and in it is found joy, fulfillment, and unequaled bliss.
- Third, seen in His manifestations, God’s glory is ultimately the reflection of His character and essence. It is who He is, and it cannot be taken from Him. In this regard, His glory is exclusive. Only the prideful and the arrogant dare to challenge God’s exalted status by refusing to attribute the honor due to His name, which results in their judgment and fall. As the reflection of God’s inner being, this glory is also personal. To enjoy it is to enjoy God, and to know Him personally. As seen in the Trinity, this glory is communal, relational, and self-giving.
- Fourth, God’s glory is God’s self-revelation. It is revealed in God’s appearances, through His works, His Word, and His felt-presence. When God displays His glory, it makes Himself known. In this sense, it is cognitive, purposeful and relational. While the popular usage of the term Shekinah has emphasized the revelation of God through His felt-presence, it is important to note that God’s glory is also associated with signs and with His revealed Word.
- Fifth, God’s glory demands a response. As the created realm enjoys the world made by God, which displays His glory through its beauty, order and continual upholding and providence, a rightful expectation of praise and righteous living is awaited from mankind.
- Sixth, God’s glory became greater at the revelation of Jesus Christ, who displayed uniquely the essence of God, performing the works of God and speaking the Word of God.
- Seventh, God’s glory begs for participation. God’s purpose in showing His glory was always to connect with mankind, to dwell with them and be known by them. God’s glory is to be enjoyed and reflected. Through unity in Christ, believers can grow in their participation in His glory as they increase in their likeness to Christ and are filled with His Holy Spirit to obey His Word and work deeds worthy of Him. Participation in God’s glory begins with salvation.
- Finally, God’s glory is eschatological. Although it is revealed to some degree in this world, it is veiled to some degree because of sin. The hope of believers stands in the knowledge that they will one day be able to perceive and reflect this glory more fully, after the return of Christ and the judgment of this world. . . .
Thus we conclude: God’s glory is
- the ever-increasing revelation of His essence and purposes,
- displayed through His Word, His works and His felt-presence,
- which calls for the receiver’s unity and reflection,
- and tells of His incomparable goodness, beauty, and praise-worthiness
- as perfect King, Savior, Judge and Creator,
- and of the unequaled reputation attached to His name.
The thesis is available for free as a PDF on the author’s website.