The glory of God – What is it?
The dictionary definition of "glory" often describes it as great praise, splendor, or honor. The glory of God is the splendor that comes from Him. Psalm 19:1 states, "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork." Here the word glory is used in parallel with "handiwork" or His power or greatness.
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Psalm 106:20 speaks of the "glory of God" in this way as well, saying, "They exchanged the glory of God for the image of an ox that eats grass." Here, the glory of God is the greatness of who He is. Proverbs 25:2 adds, "It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out." Again, this glory is God's greatness or splendor.
In the New Testament, Jesus speaks of the glory of God, sharing, "This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it" (John 11:4; also verse 40). In this context, Jesus spoke of resurrecting Lazarus from death. This act would bring glory to God and glorify Jesus.
In Acts 7:55, Stephen looked into heaven just before his death and saw the glory of God. In this context, it referred to the greatness of God in heaven.
In Romans, the phrase "glory of God" is used three times. Romans 3:23 says all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 5:2 speaks of the glory of God in the sense of His greatness. Romans 15:7 shares, "Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God." In this passage, the glory of God is used in the sense of honoring God.
The glory of God is emphasized in several places throughout Paul's other writings. In particular, he notes in 1 Corinthians 10:31, "So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." Here again, the glory of God refers to honoring God with one's life.
Hebrews 1:3 uses the phrase in another way, sharing, "He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power." The author notes Jesus as the radiance of God's glory.
Revelation expresses God's glory in three clear passages. First, Revelation 15:8 speaks of the sanctuary being filled with the glory of God. Revelation 21:11 notes the glory of God coming from the New Jerusalem. Revelation 21:23 adds that the glory of God serves as the light for the city.
Overall, the glory of God is used in a variety of ways in Scripture. It can refer to God's greatness, His honor, His beauty, His power, and His light. In every case, the glory of God acknowledges the Lord's supreme strength and our need to both acknowledge and serve Him.
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