What stood out to me about this week’s reading was the whole concept of God’s glory. I feel I have more questions than ever before. Because of all the different meanings of the words translated “glory” in English, it seems this is something that I could discuss the rest of my life and not fully grasp. For several years I have been familiar with the ideas of God’s inherent glory and ascribed glory; that is, the glory which worshippers give to Him. The whole concept of giving an inherently glorious God any glory seems to be contradictory. I do understand that He does not lack anything, but for some reason He wants us to recognize His glory. The idea of reflecting His glory is helpful to me, as Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 3:18, rendered in the ESV, “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.” Somehow God is glorified as we share in His glory. This is still a grand mystery to me!
One tool that I think will prove useful to me in understanding God’s glory is the Word/Concept Tool. Just because different passages in the Bible use the same word “glory” does not mean they are addressing the same concept or topic. One should seek to understand the meaning and author’s intention in each passage. In thinking about a hierarchy of central themes, God’s glory is perhaps at the top. He was in the beginning and He will be in the end. What Paul was referencing in 2 Corinthians 3 regarding God’s glory was comparing the Old Testament glory—shown on Moses' face after meeting with God, fading as it was—to the New Testament glory in which believers are actually transformed. By the power of this New Covenant glory, humanity can once again be made in God's image and likeness (Genesis 1:26). In Revelation, John saw God’s glory in its fullest and everything was rightfully worshipping Him in perfect joy and submission. That is what our current state of worship of God and transformation by the power of the Spirit is leading to.
The Holy Spirit, by means of willing human participants, is bringing glory to the name of Christ much like Jesus brought glory to His Father while on Earth. It seems that while all attributes of God are worth studying, meditating on, and seeking to emulate, they would all relate to God’s glory. As Kimble and Spellman note, glory is a divine quality—the “manifest reality of who God is” (pg 253). I appreciate the writing of Jonathan Edwards who seemed to have a deep understanding and conviction that everything is done for God's glory. In other words, God is doing everything to make Himself known. Our proper response is worship. Anything else is vain.
Kimble, Jeremy M. and Spellman, Ched. Invitation to Biblical Theology: Exploring the Shape, Storyline, and Themes of Scripture. Kregel Academic, 2020.