03 December 2010

Question of the Week:
What is Glory?

by Anne Lang Bundy

Some of the [Christmas] words have been worn out. Can you put "glory," "joy," "Messiah / Christ," etc. in today’s vernacular?
~ Don Kimrey

A wonderful Q&A theme for the Advent season is to revisit biblical definitions of these words. We'll insert the quintessential Christmas word "peace" for "etc.," and spread the answers out over four posts:

December 3:
December 10: Joy / Rejoice
December 17: Peace
December 24: Messiah / Christ

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Photo courtesy of Sandra Heska King


The Bible uses no fewer than nine Hebrew and four Greek words which are translated "glory" in English. Both noun and verb forms of those words include familiar concepts such as splendor, majesty, grandeur, and especially dazzling light. But they also take in much more than the inherent beauty we commonly associate with glory.

The Bible's words for glory include praise, or boasting, as in the phrase "give glory." Some of the original language words' literal meanings include "ample" or "swell up"—because glory is always something huge. When we give glory, we are boasting in a showy way; we are magnifying God, or making Him bigger in the eyes of others.

Yet glory is even more than size. We think of it as abstract, but it has substance. The most common word for glory (Hebrew kâbôd) literally means "weight." However else we think of dazzling light and glory, we do not think of it as heavy. On the contrary, we attribute heaviness to the burden of suffering and affliction.

But the two usually go together. The greater the weight of affliction borne with faith, the greater the glory we give to God—and the greater the glory we lay up for ourselves. This is the concept described by Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:17:

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.

Jesus exemplified this principle on behalf of us all. Yet He sought glory for only His Father, rather than for Himself, trusting that the Father would one day share that glory with His Son. It is this weight of glory—bound up in the weight of suffering—which we shall one day share with God.

But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
~ Hebrews 2:9-10 (NKJV)

In the Old Testament, the presence of God was occasionally visible in His shekinah glory, or His visible glory. At Jesus birth, the glory of the Lord again became visible: God became man to manifest the dazzling light of His love; His shekinah glory shone around the angels who heralded His presence; and their message carried the weight of the cross and all its suffering, bound up in the name "Savior."

"For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord."
~ Luke 2:11 (NKJV)

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What questions do you have about Christianity or the Bible? You're invited to leave them in the comments below (anonymous questions welcome), or email buildingHisbody [plus] @ gmail.com

© 2010, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.


  1. Good topic. Looking forward for more...

  2. To have been present at that birth!

    I hope to invest more time praying about and acting on ways to give Him more glory and me less.
    ~ Wendy

  3. our life is just a moment...in eternity

  4. The weight of His dazzling glory, a glimpse seen sometimes in His creation, constricts my breath and presses me to my knees. Can you imagine what it will be like to see Him face to face?

  5. "It is this weight of glory—bound up in the weight of suffering—which we shall one day share with God."
    Must you inspire an entire novel in me? I LOVE that statement. Powerful.

  6. Natasa ~

    Thanks for the encouragement! :D

  7. Wendy ~

    Jesus does call us "light of the world." We're allowed to share the glory, as long as we make clear that our light—our glory—is only a reflection of the Son's greater Light, just as the glorious moon reflects the exceedingly greater glory of the sun.

    How that plays out in day to day life is something I'm still working on ...

  8. Bud ~

    The affliction is momentary. The glory will last forever.

  9. Snady ~

    ... constricts my breath and presses me to my knees...

    Yes. And no, I cannot truly imagine what face-to-face will be like. I only know the feeling in my heart when I think about it.

  10. T ~

    Too late. I already wrote that novel. Just kidding. I love your writing style. Be sure I see a copy? :D (and thanks!)