Natural Objects. When used in reference to natural objects "glory" may refer to the brightness of heavenly bodies ( Acts 22:11 ; 1 Col 15:41 ), the fruitfulness of a forest ( Isa 35:2 ; 60:13 ), the awesomeness of a horse's snorting ( Job 39:20 ), or the ornateness of expensive clothing ( Luke 7:25 ).
Human Beings. The glory of human beings is spoken of in reference to a number of external manifestations and conditions, aspects of internal character, and the inherent condition of human nature. As applied to external manifestations and conditions of human beings, glory may refer to position, possessions, strength, or length of life.
Joseph's glory ( Gen 45:13 ) is his position in Egypt, David's ( Psalm 21:5 ) and Jehoiakim's ( Jer 22:18 ) their royal position in Judah, and Joshua's ( Num 27:20 ) his position of authority over the people of God.
In the sense of possessions, Jacob's glory ( Gen 31:1 ) is his servants and animals ( Gen 30:43 ). Glory is the wealth of the wicked rich ( Psalm 49:17 ) as well as of the industrious, ideal wife ( Prov 31:24-25 ). And the wealth of the nations is the glory of restored Jerusalem ( Isa 66:11-12 ).
"The glory of young men is their strength" ( Prov 20:29 ), and glory as strength is illustrated in the righteous Job ( Job 29:20 ), the arrogant king of Assyria ( Isa 8:7 ), and the long life of the elderly ( Prov 16:31 ).
Further, Psalm 8:5 ("You crowned him with glory and honor") may point to an even more essential glory in humans, an inherent glory resulting from their being created in God's image (cf. 1 Col 11:7 ). While humans may not have entirely lost this God-given glory through their fall into sin, their pursuit of folly shows that they do not live up to their glorious calling ( Prov 26:1 ). Moreover, this human glory, which can often be viewed as a positive good or at least neutrally, can also get out of hand and become an expression of independence from God ( Isa 10:12 ) and pride ( Prov 25:27 ).
God. The most significant use of the ideas of glory and majesty is their application to God. In this regard, it is sometimes stated that God's glory is the external manifestation of his being. God's glory is something that appears ( Exod 16:10 ), is revealed ( Isa 40:5 ), or can be seen ( Num 14:22 ). There is also a more fundamental sense in which God has glory prior to any external manifestation of it. An important passage in this regard is Exodus 33:18-23, which shows that, while there are aspects of God's nature that are revealed to Moses (his name, "back"), there are other aspects that are not manifested (his glory, "face"). Thus, God's glory exists prior to and apart from any manifestation of it.
The same teaching is implied in John 17:5, when Christ refers to the glory that he had with the Father before the world was. And in Proverbs 25:2, the glory of God is in concealing, rather than in manifesting. Moreover, the titles of God as the Glorious One ( Psalm 3:3 ) and the Majesty on High ( Heb 1:3 ; 8:1 ) point to the same conclusion, that God's glory is fundamentally independent of external manifestation.
In keeping with this thought, glory is spoken of as attaching to God's kingly rule ( Psalm 145:11-12 ) and his presence ( Psalm 96:6 ), and as being his clothing ( Job 40:10 ; Psalm 93:1 ; 104:1 ) and above the heavens ( Psalm 8:1 ; 113:4 ; 148:13 ).
Yet it is true that God's glory is also manifest. It is in the thunderstorm ( Job 37:22 ; Psalm 29:4 ) and more commonly in the events and institutions surrounding the exodus from Egypt. Thus, God's glory is seen in the plagues and other miracles ( Num 14:22 ), in the cloudy pillar ( Exod 16:10 ), in the theophany at Mount Sinai ( Exod 24:17 ; Deut 5:24 ), in the tabernacle ( Exod 29:43 ; 40:34-35 ; Num 14:10 ; Numbers 16:19 Numbers 16:42 ; 20:6 ), in the fire initiating the sacrificial system ( Lev 9:23 ), and in the ark of the covenant ( 1 Sam 4:21-22 ) and the temple of Solomon ( 1 Kings 8:11 ; 2 Chron 7:1-3 ). Its presence is anticipated in the restored Zion ( Psalm 102:15-16 ; Isa 60:19 ; Zech 2:5 ), is actualized at the birth of Christ ( Luke 2:9 ), and will be further accomplished in the heavenly Jerusalem ( Revelation 21:11 Revelation 21:23 ).
In addition to referring to the actual glory of God, the words sometimes refer to the recognition of his glory. This is of course true whenever we read of giving glory to God or of glorifying him. We do not add to his glory; we merely recognize and acknowledge it. In a number of passages it is difficult to know whether God's glory refers to his actual glory or to human recognition of it. This is true, for example, when Scripture speaks of the earth being full of the glory of the Lord ( Isa 6:3 ).
David K. Huttar
See also God
Bibliography. S. Aalen, NIDNTT, 2:44-52; R. B. Dillard, BEB, 2:869-70; M. R. Gordon, ZPEB, 2:730-35; E. F. Harrison, EDT, pp. 443-44; idem, ISBE, 2:477-83; B. L. Ramm, BEB, 1:869-70.
Copyright © 1996 by Walter A. Elwell. Published by Baker Books, a division of
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[N] indicates this entry was also found in Nave's Topical Bible
[T] indicates this entry was also found in Torrey's Topical Textbook
[E] indicates this entry was also found in Easton's Bible Dictionary
Bibliography InformationElwell, Walter A. "Entry for 'Glory'". "Evangelical Dictionary of Theology".