Appendix 6. "Glory" and "Glorify" in John's Gospel


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'Jesus in His Glory' (c. 1898), stained glass, San Francisco Columbarium, San Francisco, California.
'Jesus in His Glory' (c. 1898), stained glass, San Francisco Columbarium, San Francisco, California.
One of the major themes in John's Gospel is "glory" and "glorification." The Synoptic Gospels (especially Luke) feature the angel's glorious announcement of Jesus' birth, the glory of the transfiguration, and the Son of Man coming in glory. But John's Gospel develops themes of glory and glorification in much greater depth.

Throughout the Old Testament we read about the "glory of God," which was sometimes manifested in fire and brightness, what the Jews called the "Shekinah," the dwelling or settling of the divine presence. In Hebrew "glory" is ḇô, from ḇēd, "to be heavy," hence "wealth, honor, dignity, power," etc. In the New Testament, ḇô is translated by doxa, "reputation."

God's glory is seen through his actions.

"The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands." (Psalm 19:1)

Glory in the Exodus

The concept of glory is first developed in Exodus. God reveals his glory and enhances his reputation in his defeat of Pharaoh in Egypt (Exodus 14:4, 17-18) and in other marvelous deeds (Exodus 15:11). When the Israelites grumble about not having food, God not only provides food, but "they looked toward the desert, and there was the glory of the LORD appearing in the cloud" (Exodus 16:10). The glory appeared as both a cloud and fire:

"The glory of the LORD settled on Mount Sinai. For six days the cloud covered the mountain... To the Israelites the glory of the LORD looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain." (Exodus 24:16-17)

One day, Moses asked Yahweh,

"'Now show me your glory.'
Then the LORD said, "There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. 22  When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23  Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen." (Exodus 33:18, 21-23)

Moses himself was changed by communing with God.

"When Moses came down from Mount Sinai ... he was not aware that his face was radiant[377] because he had spoken with the LORD.  When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, his face was radiant, and they were afraid to come near him." (Exodus 34:29-30)

"And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit." (2 Corinthians 3:18, ESV)

To the people of Israel, Yahweh's glory sometimes manifested himself over the tabernacle in the wilderness by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (Exodus 13:21). Yahweh is the epitome of light itself..

"You are clothed with splendor and majesty.
He wraps himself in light as with a garment." (Psalm 104:1b-2a)

"His splendor was like the sunrise;
rays flashed from his hand,
where his power was hidden." (Habakkuk 3:4)

"He ... dwells in unapproachable light." (1 Timothy 6:16)[378]

shakan, "settle, inhabit, dwell," and is seen in the noun, mishkān, "dwelling place, tabernacle."[379] We see this idea of Shekinah reflected in the Gospel of John.

"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." (1:14)

John had seen that very Shekinah glory upon Jesus during the transfiguration, and, with Peter and James, "were eyewitnesses of his majesty" (2 Peter 1:16-18).

"After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light." (Matthew 17:1-2))

ḇô. The words are based on the Greek root doxa, from which we get our word, "doxology," a liturgical expression of praise to God.

Doxaa (noun), "the condition of being bright or shining, brightness, splendor, radiance" and the idea, "honor as enhancement or recognition of status or performance, fame, recognition, renown, honor, prestige."[380]

Doxazō (verb), "to influence one's opinion about another so as to enhance the latter's reputation, praise, honor, extol" and "to cause to have splendid greatness, clothe in splendor, glorify," of the glory that comes in the next life.[381]

Now that we've explored the concept of glory in the Old Testament and considered the Greek words in the New Testament, we're ready to consider glory in John's Gospel.[382]

Jesus' Glory as the One and Only Son

"In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood (or overcome) it." (1:4-5)

Later in the first chapter we learn that the Father's only Son displays the Father's glory here on earth.

"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." (1:14)

Jesus' Glory in His Signs

Jesus' glory is intended to spill out and be revealed by means of the miraculous signs that he performs. They are sign-posts that point to who he is -- the Son of God.

Of the changing of water into wine at Cana: "This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him." (2:11)

Upon hearing of Lazarus' illness: "When he heard this, Jesus said, 'This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it.'" (11:4)

At the tomb of Lazarus: "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?" (11:40)

The Father as the Source of the Son's Glory

Jesus plainly acknowledges that his glory comes directly from his Father, a fact that he does not hide from those who listen to his teachings.

To his opponents, the Jewish leaders: "I honor my Father and you dishonor me. I am not seeking glory for myself; but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge." (8:49-50)

"If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me." (8:54)

Nearing Holy Week as Jesus talks about his resurrection: "'Father, glorify your name!' Then a voice came from heaven, 'I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.' The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him." (12:28-29)

Of the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete: "He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you." (16:14)

The High Priestly Prayer in John 17: "After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: 'Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.'" (17:1)

"I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. 5  And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began." (17:4-5)

Glory is particularly associated with the Son of Man because of the passage in Daniel: "One like a son of man ... was given authority, glory and sovereign power" (Daniel 7:13-14). We see this theme especially in the Synoptic Gospels:

"For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels...." (Matthew 16:27)

"They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory." (Matthew 24:30b)

"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory." (Matthew 25:31)

This is probably what James and John were referring to when they asked: "Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory" (Mark 10:37).

But we also see the theme of the glory of the Son of Man in John's Gospel:

 "When [Judas] was gone, Jesus said, 'Now is the Son of Man glorified[383] and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.'" (13:31-32)

So it begins.

Jesus' Glory at the Cross

The cross especially -- along with his subsequent resurrection and ascension -- are seen as the means of his glorification. Probably Jesus knew this from a verse from the great Suffering Servant passage from Isaiah that combines his suffering with his glory. In the Greek Septuagint translation it uses the same Greek words that John is using to express the concept.

"See, my servant will act wisely; hypsoō) and highly[384] exalted (doxazō)."
(Isaiah 52:13)[385]

Jesus echoed these words in his three statements about being lifted up:

"Just as Moses lifted up (hypsoō) the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up (hypsoō),  that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life." (3:14-15)

"When you have lifted up (hypsoō) the Son of Man, then you will know that I am [the one I claim to be] and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me." (8:28)

"'But I, when I am lifted up (hypsoō) from the earth, will draw all men to myself.' He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die." (12:32-33)

John speaks of Jesus' glorification in a way that includes the crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension as a single event.

"Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified (doxazō)." (7:39b)

"Only after Jesus was glorified (doxazō) did they realize that these things had been written about him and that they had done these things to him." (12:16b)

"Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus' glorydoxa) and spoke about him." (12:41)

To the men on the road to Emmaus, Jesus explained the Scriptures and then said::

"Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?" (Luke 24:26)

Glory Is Brought to Jesus through His Followers

To the Father: "All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them." (17:10)

"I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one." (17:22)

"Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world." (17:24)

Jesus and His Disciples Bring Glory to the Father

John's Gospel: A Discipleship Journey with Jesus, by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
Entire study is available in paperback, Kindle, and PDF formats.

Jesus instructs his disciples that by his life he is bringing glory to the Father, and they are to do likewise.

"When [Judas] was gone, Jesus said, 'Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.'" (13:31-32)

"And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father." (14:13)

"This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples." (15:8)[386]

The High Priestly Prayer in John 17: "After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: 'Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.'" (17:1)

John's Gospel: A Discipleship Journey with Jesus, by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
Entire study is available in paperback, Kindle, and PDF formats.

"I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began." (17:4-5)

"Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God." (21:19)

Endnotes

[377] The radiant glory of God was upon Moses. "Radiant" (NIV), "shone" (NRSV, ESV, KJV) is qāran, "shine" (TWOT 816).

[378] Also Exodus 34:29; Revelation 22:5; 1 John 1:5; etc.

[379] Willem A. van Gemeren, "Shekinah," ISBE 4:466-468. R. K. Harrison, "Glory," ISBE 2:477-483.

[380] Doxa, BDAG 257-258, 1 and 3.

[381] Doxazō, BDAG 258, 1 and 2.

[382] Andreas J. Köstenberger provides a helpful outline of the ways in which John treats the subject of glory. "The Glory of God in John's Gospel and Revelation," in Christopher W. Morgan and Robert A. Peterson (editors), The Glory of God, Theology in Community, Vol. 2 (Wheaton: Crossway, 2010), pp. 107-126.

[383] Glory is particularly associated with the Son of Man because of the passage in Daniel: "One like a son of man ... was given authority, glory and sovereign power" (Daniel 7:13-14).

[384] Sphodra, "very much, exceedingly" (Liddell-Scott, Lexicon).

[385] Paul says something similar: "Therefore God exalted him to the highest place (hyperypsoō) and gave him the name that is above every name...." (Philippians 2:9). Hyperypsoō means,  "to raise to a high point of honor, raise, exalt" (BDAG 1034, 1).

[386] We see something similar in Matthew: "Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory (doxazō) to your Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 5:16).


Copyright © 1985-2017, Ralph F. Wilson. <pastor@joyfulheart.com> All rights reserved. A single copy of this article is free. Do not put this on a website. See legal, copyright, and reprint information.

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