Notes on “From Glory to Glory”

Transfiguration by Raphael

Transfiguration by Raphael

Allow me share some insights I garnered for a message on the glory of God, which you are free to use if you feel so led.

First, I consulted my favorite word study source, which to my knowledge is the best, The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, usually referred to by the name of its editor, Colin Brown.  I highly recommend it.  It is 4 volumes, the fourth of which is all indexes:  by English word, by Greek word, and by Scripture reference.

The Hebrew for “glory” is KABOD (or CHABOD) which “does not mean God in his essential nature, but the luminous manifestation of his person, his glorious revelation of himself,” often to be equated with the SHEKINAH of the actual presence of God.  When the Philistines captured the Ark (1 Sam 4), Eli’s daughter-in-law named her newborn child Ichabod, “where is the glory?”

The Septuagint (the Greek Old Testament) adopted the word DOXA (DOCK-sa) for KABOD to express glory as “a quality belonging to God.”  In secular Greek, DOXA did not carry this particular connotation, but a range of meanings from “opinion” and “conjecture” to “repute” and “praise.”  Its verb form, DOXAZO (dock-SODD-zo), can mean “think, imagine, suppose, magnify, praise, extol.”

I note that the ancient Greeks did have a concept of personal glory:  in Homer’s Iliad, in spite of repeated admonitions to stay in formation, warriors kept breaking off into individual combat in order to defeat and strip an enemy of his armor and weapons as trophies.

New Testament authors adopted the Septuagint concept but applied DOXA also to “men or earthly powers” (Mt 4:8, 6:29, Lk 4:6, 1 Pet 1:24); to “angels and other heavenly beings” (Lk 2:9, 9:31, Acts 22:11, Jude 8, 2 Pet 2:10, Rev 18:1); and to celestial bodies (1 Cor 15:40f.).

(Moving on to my own search of Scripture) the Apostle Paul relates glory to the Last Adam, Jesus Christ (1 Cor 15:45).  Christ was already glorified, but humbled himself in mere mortal flesh (Phil 2:6ff., Heb 2:9).  He is the LOGOS, the impetus for Creation (John 1:1ff.) and the express image of God, through whom the Church accesses the glory of God (2 Cor 4:4ff., Col 1:15f., Heb 1:3).  He revealed his glory briefly to his Disciples in his Transfiguration (Mt 17:2).  In the Resurrection, believers are destined to be glorified in his image and partake of God’s glory (1 Cor 15:40-50, Col 1:12-16, Phil 3:20).

In the meantime, believers are to reflect the glory of the true image of God, Jesus Christ.  I contemplate the illustration of the moon, which has no light of its own, but reflects the light of the sun.  When the moon is full, it shines brightly; but when the moon turns to the side, or hides itself in the shadow of the earth, or is covered by clouds, its light is diminished or even hidden like a “light under a bushel.”

How are we to receive and reflect that glory of the Son of God?  Through killing the “old man” and putting on the “new man” (Rom 6:6, 8:13; Col 3:5, 9f.; Eph 4:22ff.), through being transformed by the renewing of our minds (Rom 12:2), and through cultivating Fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22f., Col 1:9ff.).  In so doing, we are “changed into the same image from glory to glory” (2 Cor 3:18).  We must continue to seek the presence of God to partake of his glory, for even Moses found that God’s glory manifested on his face kept passing away until renewed (2 Cor 3:13).

Finally, some insights on the phrase, “from glory to glory”:

In NT Greek, there are at least 3 words translated “from” and at least 3 translated “to.”  My trusty online Bible program showed me that “from” in this instance is the preposition APO (uh-PAH) and “to” is another preposition, EIS (ays).  Bauer’s lexicon says that the “basic meaning” of APO is “separation from someone or something,” often translated “from” or “away from.”  The meaning of EIS is complex, but it is usually translated “into” or “unto,” expressing entry, transition, and sometimes (as in Eph 4:12f.,) result.

Next, I used my online Bible to search for parallel phrases, containing APO in close proximity to EIS.  Mt 2:1 tells us that “wise men came from (APO) the east to (EIS) Jerusalem,” and 19:1 that Jesus “departed from (APO) Galilee, and came into (EIS) the coasts of Judaea.”  Luke 1:26 says that “Gabriel was sent from (APO) God unto (EIS) a city of Galilee.”  Acts 11:27 records that “prophets came from (APO) Jerusalem unto (EIS) Antioch.”  So this phraseology can signify simple relocation from one place to another.

Similarly, “from (APO) city to (EIS) city” (Mt 23:34) may express simple relocation, but perhaps also change or progress; which is more evident in Rom 6:22, in which we are “made free from (APO) sin, and . . . have [our] fruit unto (EIS) holiness, and the end everlasting life.”  Paul adds in Rom 8:21 that “the creature itself also shall be delivered from (APO) the bondage of corruption into (EIS) the glorious liberty of the children of God.”  Moreover, the author of Hebrews (9:14) describes a radical change whereby Christ’s blood will “purge your conscience from (APO) dead works to (EPI) serve the living God.”

We may conclude that by the phrase “from glory to glory,” Paul expresses a transition, transformation, or progression from one glory to another.  A different preposition occurs in Rom 1:17, “from (EX) faith to [EIS] faith,” but nevertheless that phrase is probably a direct parallel.  In both cases, whether the change occurs in terms of level (quantity) or type (quality) of glory or faith remains unclear — but the idea of progressive change can hardly be disputed.

© 2010 Paul A. Hughes, M.Div

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