The concept of glory is found throughout the Bible, from the glory of God to humans reflecting His glory. But what exactly does glory mean? Simply put, glory refers to great beauty, splendor, majesty, and honor resulting from exalted dignity and character.
If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: In the Bible, glory most commonly refers to the splendor, majesty, and exalted dignity originating from God. It can also refer to the reflection of those divine attributes in humans.
In this comprehensive article, we will explore the multidimensional meaning of glory in Scripture, examining what the Bible says about the glory of God, Jesus Christ, and believers. We’ll look at various Hebrew and Greek words translated as “glory” and how they illuminate what glory truly means.
The Glory of God
God’s Glory as Intrinsic Divine Splendor
The glory of God refers to His intrinsic, divine magnificence and splendor. As the eternal, self-existent Creator and Sustainer of all things, God possesses unfathomable glory as part of His essential nature (Psalm 19:1).
Throughout Scripture, the glory of God is described as brilliant light, blazing fire, and rumbling thunder, conveying the awesome radiance emanating from His presence (Ezekiel 1:28). God does not seek glory from external sources, but rather glory inheres in Him as an essential aspect of His divine perfections.
Glory as Visible Manifestations of God
In addition to His intrinsic glory, God has displayed His radiant majesty through visible manifestations in Scripture. For example, God revealed His glory in the cloud that guided the Israelites in the wilderness (Exodus 16:10) and in the thick cloud that descended on Mount Sinai when He gave Moses the Ten Commandments (Exodus 24:16-17).
The sight of God’s glory inspired awe and fear in those who witnessed it (Exodus 33:18-20). These tangible displays of radiance point to God making known and sharing aspects of His intrinsic glory with people.
Glory of Jesus Christ
Jesus as the Visible Image of God’s Glory
The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ is the visible image and full revelation of the glory of God (John 1:14-18; Hebrews 1:3). As the second person of the Trinity, Jesus has always existed in the form of God and is Himself fully divine (Philippians 2:6).
However, through the Incarnation, Jesus took on human flesh and made God known to us in a new and perfect way.
Throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus radiated the glory and character of God through His words, works, and presence. His miracles demonstrated His divine authority over nature, sickness, and death. At the transfiguration, Jesus’ face shone like the sun and His clothes became radiantly white as the voice of God declared, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 17:1-8).
Even in His death on the cross, Christ’s glory was displayed as the temple veil was torn in two.
After His resurrection, Jesus was enthroned in heaven at the right hand of God in power and majesty (Acts 2:33-36). As the exalted King, He continues to reveal God’s glory to His people. One day Christ will return and the full extent of His splendor and lordship will be manifest for all to see.
Jesus’ Miracles Reveal Divine Glory
During His earthly ministry, Jesus performed many astonishing miracles that powerfully attested that He was from God and bore God’s authority and glory.
Jesus turned water into wine (John 2:1-11), walked on water (Matthew 14:22-33), calmed storms (Mark 4:35-41), healed the sick (Matthew 8:1-4), gave sight to the blind (John 9:1-7), cast out demons (Luke 8:26-39), fed thousands with a few loaves and fish (John 6:1-15), and even raised the dead (John 11:1-45).
These awe-inspiring signs demonstrated Jesus’ divinity and glory as the Son of God.
In particular, Jesus’ miracles over nature revealed His divine glory and identity as the Creator. By stilling the storm, turning water to wine, multiplying food, and walking on the sea, Jesus showed His absolute authority over the natural realm He Himself had made and sustained (Colossians 1:15-17).
These signs confirmed that Jesus shared the same creative power and glory as God the Father.
Moreover, Jesus’ miracles over sickness, demons, and death displayed His glory and compassion as the promised Savior who was reversing the effects of the Fall. By healing blindness, leprosy, paralysis, and raising the dead, Jesus exhibited His glory as the divine Son who came to conquer sin, Satan, and death itself.
Jesus’ miracles gave a glimpse of God’s power and kingdom breaking into the world. They served as signs pointing to Him as the long-awaited Messiah in whom the glory of God was perfectly revealed. Through His miracles, Jesus demonstrated that He truly was Immanuel, “God with us” (Matthew 1:23).
Believers Reflecting God’s Glory
As followers of Christ, believers are called to reflect God’s glory in the world. This is accomplished as believers are conformed to the image of Christ, transformed from glory to glory by the Spirit’s work, and await the eternal glory prepared for them.
Conformed to Christ’s Image
An incredible promise given to believers is that they will be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29). This process of sanctification involves becoming more like Christ in character, virtue, and holiness.
As believers grow in godly virtues, they increasingly reflect God’s moral excellence to the world around them.
An important aspect of being conformed to Christ’s image is developing the fruits of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
As believers walk in step with the Spirit, exhibiting these godly virtues, they reflect God’s glory. For example, when believers patiently endure insults and show gentle kindness to enemies, they reflect God’s merciful and compassionate glory.
Transformed from Glory to Glory
An astonishing promise given to believers is that they will be transformed from glory to glory through the Spirit’s sanctifying work (2 Corinthians 3:18). This means believers can continually grow and improve in godliness if they submit themselves to God.
This transformation process begins at conversion but continues throughout the believer’s life. Even the most saintly Christian has more maturing and changing to do. As 19th century preacher Octavius Winslow said, “The deeper the self-loathing the higher the ascent; where the heart is lowest then the glory is highest.
“In other words, as believers humbly recognize their sin and yield it to God, He purifies them further so they shine more brilliantly for Christ.
According to a 2017 Lifeway Research survey, about 35% of evangelical Christians say they are maturing greatly in their faith, while 47% say they are maturing somewhat. So the majority report positive growth, yet many believers still have room to further reflect God’s glory.
Eternal Glory Awaits Believers
Not only do believers grow in sanctification while on earth, but a magnificent eternal glory awaits them in heaven. After death, believers will share in the glory of Christ in their resurrected bodies (Philippians 3:20–21; Colossians 3:4). Imagine a brilliance surpassing the sun!
This will be a result of their closer union with Christ and final redemption from sin’s effects.
In fact, this glory will exceed any earthly sufferings for Christ. As Paul said, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).
Any scorn, mockery, deprivation, or persecution believers experience for the faith pales in comparison to the eternal weight of glory in their future.
What amazing promises and hope for believers! As they grow in reflecting God’s glory now, the full radiance awaits them in eternity through the redemption Christ secured.
Key Terms for Glory in Scripture
The main Hebrew word for “glory” in the Old Testament is kabod, which means heaviness or weightiness. This word is used to describe the the glory of God, which reveals His importance, honor, and majesty. Here are some key things to know about kabod:
- When used of God, kabod refers to the visible manifestation of His presence and majesty (Exodus 16:10). God’s glory filled the tabernacle and the temple in the Old Testament.
- God’s glory is described as a consuming fire and a brilliant light (Ezekiel 10:4). His glory both reveals and conceals who He is.
- The phrase “give glory to God” means to honor or praise Him for who He is (Joshua 7:19). We are called to give God glory in all things.
Another important Hebrew term is hadar, which refers to majesty, splendor, or honor. God is often described as being clothed in glorious majesty (Psalm 104:1). His glory shines forth for all to see.
In the New Testament, the main Greek word translated “glory” is doxa. This word means opinion, estimate, and reputation. When used of God, it refers to the honor and praise due His supreme position. Here are some key insights on doxa:
- The glory of God is the visible manifestation of His character and presence (Luke 2:9). God’s glory was revealed through Jesus.
- Jesus is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His nature (Hebrews 1:3). He displays God’s glory in human form.
- Followers of Christ are transformed into the same image and glory of God (2 Corinthians 3:18). We reflect God’s glory to others.
- There is an eternal weight of glory awaiting believers in heaven (2 Corinthians 4:17). We will share in God’s glory forever.
In closing, Scripture reveals glory in multidimensional ways ranging from the intrinsic magnificence of God’s nature to visible manifestations of His greatness to Christ gloriously displaying divine attributes.
As believers gaze on God’s glory and are transformed by the Spirit, they increasingly reflect His magnificent splendor and majesty, awaiting the ultimate glorification in eternity when we see Jesus face to face in fullness of joy.