Concerning God, Glory is the exhibition of His Divine attributes and perfections (Ps. 19:1) or the radiance of His presence (Luke 2:9). Concerning man, glory is the manifestation of his commendable qualities, such as wisdom, righteousness, self-control, ability, etc. Glory is the destiny of believers (Phil. 3:21; Rom. 8:21; 1Cor. 15:43).
The principal word in the Hebrew for this concept is kabod, and in the Greek doxa, which is derived from dokeo, "to think" or "to seem." These two meanings account for the two main lines of significance in classical Greek, where doxa means opinion (what one thinks for himself) and reputation (what others think about him), which may shade into fame or honor or praise.
Since kabod derives from kabed, "to be heavy," it lends itself to the idea that the one possessing glory is laden with riches (Gen. 31:1), power (Isa. 8:7), position (Gen. 45:13), etc. To the translators of the LXX it seemed that doxa was the most suitable word for rendering kabod, since it carried the notion of reputation or honor which was present in the use of kabod. But kabod also denoted the manifestation of light by which God revealed himself, whether in the lightning flash or in the blinding splendor which often accompanied theophanies. Of the same nature was the disclosure of the divine presence in the cloud which led Israel through the wilderness and became localized in the tabernacle. So doxa, as a translation of kabod, gained a nuance of meaning which it did not possess before. At times kabod had a deeper penetration, denoting the person or self. When Moses made the request of God, "Show me thy glory" (Exod. 33:18), he was not speaking of the light-cloud, which he had already seen, but he was seeking a special manifestation of God which would leave nothing to be desired (cf. John 14:8). Moses had a craving to come to grips with God as he was in himself. In reply, God emphasized his goodness (Exod. 33:19). The word might be rendered in this instance "moral beauty." Apart from this the eternity of God as a subject of human contemplation might be depressing. This incident involving Moses is the seed plot for the idea that God's glory is not confined to some outward sign which appeals to the senses, but is that which expresses his inherent majesty, which may or may not have some visible token. Isaiah's vision of him (6:1ff.) included both the perception of sensible features and the nature of God, particularly his holiness (cf. John 12:41). The intrinsic worth of God, his ineffable majesty, constitutes the basis of warnings not to glory in riches, wisdom, or might (Jer. 9:23) but in the God who has given all these and is greater than his gifts. In the prophets the word "glory" is often used to set forth the excellence of the messianic kingdom in contrast to the limitations of the present order (Isa. 60:1-3).
In general doxa follows rather closely the pattern established in the LXX. It is used of honor in the sense of recognition or acclaim (Luke 14:10), and of the vocalized reverence of the creature for the Creator and Judge (Rev. 14:7). With reference to God, it denotes his majesty (Rom. 1:23) and his perfection, especially in relation to righteousness (Rom. 3:23). He is called the Father of glory (Eph. 1:17). The manifestation of his presence in terms of light is an occasional phenomenon, as in the OT (Luke 2:9), but in the main this feature is transferred to the Son. The transfiguration is the sole instance during the earthly ministry, but later manifestations include the revelation to Saul at the time of his conversion (Acts 9:3ff.) and to John on the Isle of Patmos (Rev. 1:12ff.). The fact that Paul is able to speak of God's glory in terms of riches (Eph. 1:18; 3:16) and might (Col. 1:11) suggests the influence of the OT upon his thinking. The display of God's power in raising his Son from the dead is labeled glory (Rom. 6:4).
Christ is the effulgence of the divine glory (Heb. 1:3). By means of him the perfection of the nature of God is made known to men. When James speaks of him as the Lord of glory (2:1), his thought seems to move along the lines of the revelation of God in the tabernacle. There the divine presence was a gracious condescension but also an ever-present reminder of God's readiness to mark the sins of his people and to visit them with judgment. So the readers of James's epistle are admonished to beware of partiality. The Lord is in the midst of his people as of yore.
The glory of Christ as the image of God, the Son of the Father, was veiled from sinful eyes during the days of his flesh but was apparent to the men of faith who gathered around him (John 1:14).
Even as the preincarnate Son had dwelt with the Father in a state of glory (with no sin to mar the perfection of the divine mode of life and intercourse), according to his own consciousness (John 17:5), so his return to the Father can properly be called an entrance into glory (Luke 24:26). But more seems to be involved here than a sharing with the Father of what he had enjoyed in ages past. God now gives him glory (I Pet. 1:21), in some sense as a reward for the faithful, full completion of the Father's will in relation to the work of salvation (Phil. 2:9-11; Acts 3:13). So it is that both the taking up of Christ from the earth (I Tim. 3:16) and his return (Col. 3:4; Titus 2:13). So it is the representations of his presence and activity as the future judge and king (Matt. 25:31) are also associated with a majesty and radiance which are largely lacking in the portrayals of Jesus in the days of his humiliation.
While the contrast is valid, therefore, between the sufferings of Christ and the glory (literally, the glories) to follow (I Pet. 1:11), John's Gospel reveals a further development, namely, that the sufferings themselves can be viewed as a glorification. Jesus was aware of this and expressed himself accordingly. "The hour is come that the Son of man should be glorified" (John 12:23). This word "hour" in the Fourth Gospel points regularly to the death of Christ. Jesus was not seeking to invest the cross with an aura of splendor which it did not have, in order to conjure up a psychological antidote to its pain and shame. Rather, glory properly belongs to the finishing of the work which the Father had given him to do, since that work represented the perfect will of God.
Eschatological glory is the hope of the Christian (Rom. 5:2). In this future state he will have a new body patterned after Christ's glorified body (Phil. 3:21), an instrument superior to that with which he is presently endowed (I Cor. 15:43). Christ within the believer is the hope of glory (Col. 1:27). He is also the chief ornament of heaven (Rev. 21:23).
The word "glory" is found in the plural to denote dignitaries (Jude 8). It is not easy to determine whether the reference is to angels or men of honor and repute in the Christian community.
A somewhat specialized use of the word is that which is has in the doxologies, which are ascriptions of praise to God for his worth and works (e.g., Rom. 11:36).
On several occasions glory is used as a verb (kauchaomai) where the meaning is to boast, as in Gal. 6:14.
(Elwell Evangelical Dictionary)
I. Abrahams, The Glory of God; A. von Gall, Die Herrlichkeit Gottes; G.B. Gray and J. Massie in HDB; E. C. E. Owen, "Doxa and Cognate Word," JTS 33:132-50, 265-79; A.M. Ramsey, The Glory of God and the Transfiguration of Christ; G. von Rad and G. Kittel, TDNT, II, 232ff.; S. Aalen, NIDNTT, II, 44ff.
This refers especially to the time when, at the parousia, those who died in Christ and the living believers will be given the resurrection of the body, a final and full "redemption of our body" (Rom. 8:23), preparatory for and suited to the final state of the Christian believer. As a theological term it is a synonym of immortality, when immortality is thought of as the glorification which believers will receive, and not, as erroneously thought of, as simply the continued existence of both the believers and the finally impenitent.
Glorification, therefore, is only for believers, and it consists of the redemption of the body. At that time "this perishable" will "put on the imperishable," and "this mortal," the body, will "put on immortality" (I Cor. 15:53). Then death, the Christian's last enemy (I Cor. 15:26), will be swallowed up in victory (I Cor. 15:54).
The finally impenitent will be resurrected, but this is a second resurrection, to damnation, the "second death" (Rev. 2:11). Scripture does not refer to this second resurrection as either immortality or glorification.
Our special glory seems to consist, in part, in the hope we hold to: that we will be glorified. Paul also seems to teach that after the believers are glorified, the whole created world will undergo a fundamental renewal: "For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility,... in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its corruption into the freedom of the glory of [or glorification of] the children of God" (Rom. 8:19-21 NASB).
(Elwell Evangelical Dictionary)
(1.) To make glorious, or cause so to appear (John 12:28; 13:31, 32; 17: 4,5). (2.) Spoken of God to "shew forth his praise" (1 Cor. 6:20; 10:31).
(Easton Illustrated Dictionary)
Glory, (Heb. kabhod; Gr. doxa). (1.) Abundance, wealth, treasure, and hence honour (Ps. 49:12); glory (Gen. 31:1; Matt. 4:8; Rev. 21:24, 26). (2.) Honour, dignity (1 Kings 3:13; Heb. 2:7 1 Pet. 1:24); of God (Ps. 19: 1; 29:1); of the mind or heart (Gen. 49: 6; Ps. 7:5; Acts 2:46). (3.) Splendour, brightness, majesty (Gen. 45:13; Isa. 4:5; Acts 22:11; 2 Cor.3:7); of Jehovah (Isa. 59:19; 60:1; 2 Thess. 1:9). (4.) The glorious moral attributes, the infinite perfections of God (Isa. 40:5; Acts 7:2; Rom. 1:23; 9:23; Eph. 1:12). Jesus is the "brightness of the Father's glory" (Heb. 1:3; John 1:14; 2:11). (5.) The bliss of heaven (Rom. 2:7, 10; 5:2; 8:18; Heb. 2:10; 1 Pet. 5:1, 10). (6.) The phrase "Give glory to God" (Josh. 7:19; Jer. 13:16) is a Hebrew idiom meaning, "Confess your sins." The words of the Jews to the blind man, "Give God the praise" (John 9:24), are an adjuration to confess. They are equivalent to, "Confess that you are an impostor," "Give God the glory by speaking the truth;" for they denied that a miracle had been wrought.
(Easton Illustrated Dictionary)
This word has many shades of meaning which lexicographers are somewhat puzzled to differentiate sharply. As our interest in it here centres around its ethical and religious significance, we shall treat it only with reference to the ideas attached to it in Holy Scripture and theology.
In the English version of the Bible the word Glory, one of the commonest in the Scripture, is used to translate several Hebrew terms in the Old Testament, and the Greek doxa in the New Testament. Sometimes the Catholic versions employ brightness, where others use glory. When this occurs, the original signifies, as it frequently does elsewhere, a physical, visible phenomenon. This meaning is found for instance in Ex., xxiv, 16: "And the glory of the Lord dwelt upon Sinai"; in Luke, ii, 9, and in the account of the Transfiguration on Mount Thabor. In very many places the term is employed to signify the witness which the created universe bears to the nature of its Creator, as an effect reveals the character of its cause. Frequently in the New Testament it signifies a manifestation of the Divine Majesty, truth, goodness or some other attribute through His incarnate Son, as, for instance, in John, I, 14: "(and we saw his glory, the glory as it were of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth"; Luke, ii, 32, "A light to the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel"; and throughout the prayer of Christ for his disciples, John 17. Here too, as elsewhere, we find the idea that the perception of this manifested truth works towards a union of man with God. In other passages glory is equivalent to praise rendered to God in acknowledgment of His majesty and perfections manifested objectively in the world, or through supernatural revelation: "Thou art worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory, and honour, and power: because thou hast created all things", Apoc., iv, 11: "Give glory to the Lord, and call upon his name", Ps. Civ, 1 (cf. Ps. Cv, I). The term is used also to mean judgment on personal worth, in which sense the Greek doxa reflects the signification of the cognate verb dokeo: "How can you believe, who receive glory one from another: and the glory which is from God alone, you do not seek?" John, v, 44; and xii, 43: "For they loved the glory of men more than the glory of God". Lastly, glory is the name given to the blessedness of the future life in which the soul is united to God: "For I reckon that the sufferings of this time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come", Rom., viii, 18. "Because the creature also itself shall be delivered from the servitude of corruption, into the liberty of the glory of the children of God", ib., 21. The texts cited above are representative of multitudes similar in tenor, scattered throughout the sacred writings.
The radical concept present under various modifications in all the above expressions is rendered by St. Augustine as clara notitia cum laude, "brilliant celebrity with praise". The philosopher and theologian have accepted this definition as the centre around which they correlate their doctrine regarding glory, divine and human.
1. Divine Glory
The Eternal God has by an act of His will created, that is, has brought into being from nothingness, all things that are. Infinite Intelligence, He could not act aimlessly; He had an objective for His action: He created with a purpose; He destined His creatures to some end. That end was, could be, no other than Himself; for nothing existed but Himself, nothing but Himself could be an end worthy of His action. "I am Alpha and Omegain Scripture), the beginning and the end, saith the Lord God" (Revelation 1:8); "The Lord hath made all things for himself" (Proverbs 16:4). Did He, then, create in order that from His creatures He might derive some benefit? That, for example, as some present-day theories pretend, through the evolution of things toward a higher perfection the sum of His Being might be enlarged or perfected? Or that man by co-operating with Him might aid Him in the elimination of evil which He by Himself is unable to cast out? No; such conceits are incompatible with the true concept of God. Infinite, He possesses the plenitude of Being and Perfection; He needs nothing, and can receive no complementary increment or superfluous accession of excellence from without. Omnipotent, He stands in need of no assistance to carry His will into execution.
But from His infinity He can and does give; and from His fullness have we all received. All things are, only because they have received of Him; and the measure of His giving constitutes the limitations of their being. Contemplating the boundless ocean of His reality, He perceives it as imitable ad extra, as an inexhaustible fund of exemplar ideas which may, if He so wills, be reproduced in an order of finite existence distinct from, yet dependent on His own, deriving their dower of actuality from His infinite fullness which in imparting sustains no diminution. He spoke and they were made. Everything which His fiat has called into existence is a copy - finite indeed and very imperfect, yet true as far as it goes - of some aspect of His infinite perfection. Each reflects in fixed limitation something of His nature and attributes. The heavens show forth His power; earth's oceans are
. . . the glorious mirror where the Almighty's form Glasses itself in tempests. . .
The summer flower, though only to itself it live and die, is a silent witness before Him of His power, goodness, truth, and unity; and the harmonious order which binds all the innumerable parts of creation into one cosmic whole is another reflection of His oneness and His wisdom. Yet, as each part of creation is finite, so too is the totality; and therefore its capacity to reflect the Divine Prototype must result in an infinitely inadequate representation of the Great Exemplar. Nevertheless, the unimaginable variety of existing things conveys a vague hint of that Infinite which must ever defy any complete expression external to Itself. Now this objective revelation of the Creator in terms of the existences of things is the glory of God. This doctrine is authoritatively formulated by the Council of the Vatican: "If any one shall say that the world was not created for the glory of God, let him be anathema" (Sess. III, C. I, can. 5).
This objective manifestation of the Divine nature constitutes the Universe - the book, one might say, in which God has recorded His greatness and majesty. As the mirror of the telescope presents an image of the star that shines and wheels in the immeasurably remote depths of space, so does this world reflect in its own fashion the nature of its Cause between Whom and it lies the gulf that separates the finite from the Infinite. The telescope, however, knows not of the image which its surface bears; the eye and mind of the astronomer must intervene in order that the significance of the shadow and its relation to the substance may be grasped. To praise, in the exact sense of the term, demands not alone that worth be manifest, but also that there be a mind to acknowledge. The unconscious testimony of the universe to its Creator is rather potential than actual glory. Hence, this glory which it renders to Him is called in theological phrase gloria materialis, to distinguish it from the formal glory rendered to God by His intelligent creatures. They can read the writing in the book of creation, understand its story, accept its lessons, and reverently praise the Majesty which it reveals. This praise involves not merely intellectual perception, but also the practical acknowledgment by heart and will which issues in obedience and loving service. The endowment of intelligence with all that it implies - spirituality and free-will - renders man a higher and nobler image of the Creator than is any other being of this visible world. The gift of intellect also imposes on man the duty of returning to God that formal glory of which we have just spoken. The more perfectly he discharges this obligation, the more does he develop and perfect that initial resemblance to God which exists in his soul, and by the fulfilment of this duty serves the end for which he, like all else, has been created.
The natural revelation which God has vouchsafed of Himself through the world interpreted by reason has been supplemented by a higher supernatural manifestation which has culminated in the Incarnation of the Godhead in Jesus Christ: "and we saw his glory, the glory as it were of the Father, full of grace and truth". Similarly the natural resemblance to God and the relation of our being to His, as established by creation, are supplemented and carried into a higher order by His communication of sanctifying grace. To know God through the medium of this supernaturally revealed truth, to serve Him in love springing from this grace is to be "Filled with the fruit of justice, through Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God" (Phil., I, 11). In manifesting the glory of God by the development of their proper powers and capacities, inanimate creatures reach that perfection or fulness of existence which God has prescribed for them. Likewise man achieves his perfection or subjective end by giving glory to God in the comprehensive sense above indicated. He attains the consummation of his perfection not in this life, but in the life to come. That perfection shall consist in a direct, immediate, intuitive perception of God; "We see now through a glass in a dark manner; but then face to face. Now I know in part; but then I shall know even as I am known" (1 Corinthians 13:12). In this transcendent knowledge the soul shall become, in a higher measure than that which obtains by virtue of creation alone, a participant and therefore an image of the Divine nature; so "we shall be like to him: because we shall see him as he is" (1 John 3:2). So that objectively and actively the life in heaven shall be an unending ineffable manifestation and acknowledgment of the Divine majesty and perfections. Thus we understand the Scriptural language in which the future life of the blessed is described as a state in which "we all beholding the glory of the Lord with open face, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord" (2 Corinthians 3:18). The Catholic doctrine on this subject is defined by the Council of Florence (see Denzinger, 588). (See CREATION; GOOD.)
2. Human Glory
To enjoy glory before men is to be known and honoured on account of one's character, qualities, possessions, position, or achievements, real or imaginary. The moral question arises, is the desire and pursuit of this glory lawful? The doctrine on the subject is succinctly stated by St. Thomas (II-II, Q. cxxxii). Posing the question whether the desire of glory is sinful, he proceeds to answer it in the following sense: Glory imports the manifestation of something which is estimated honourable, whether it be a spiritual or a corporal good. Glory does not necessarily require that a large number of persons shall acknowledge the excellence; the esteem of a few, or even of oneself, may suffice, as, for example, when one judges some good of his own to be worthy of praise. That any person esteem his own good or excellence to be worthy of praise is not in itself sinful; nor, in like manner, is it sinful that we should desire to see our good works approved of men. "Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works" (Matthew 5:16). Hence the desire of glory is not essentially vicious. But a vain, or perverse desire for renown, which is called vainglory, is wrong; desire of glory becomes perverse,
when one seeks renown because of something not really worthy;
when one seeks the esteem of those whose judgment is undiscriminating;
when one desires glory before men without subordinating it to righteousness.
Vainglory may become a deadly sin, if one seek the esteem of men for something that is incompatible with the reverence due to God; or when the thing for which one desires to be esteemed is preferred in one's affections before God; or again, when the judgment of men is sought in preference to the judgment of God, as was the case with the Pharisees, who "loved the glory of men more than the glory of God" (John 12:43). The term "vainglory" denotes not alone the sinful act, but also the vicious habit or tendency engendered by a repetition of such acts. This habit is ranked among the capital sins, or, more properly vices, because it is prolific of other sins, viz., disobedience, boastfulness, hypocrisy, contentiousness, discord, and a presumptuous love of pernicious novelties in moral and religious doctrine.