The Crown of Victory

What do you think of when you think “crown”?

Probably a gold circlet that rulers wear on top of their heads, possibly very elaborate and adored with gemstones. Or maybe you think of the crown, or top, of your head. You might think of it as a verb, too, in the sense of crowning someone when they ascend to a throne.

I’m guessing a victory laurel wasn’t the first thing you thought of. We don’t give winners in the Olympic games laurel crowns any more; we give them gold, silver, and bronze medals. Back in New Testament Bible times, though, when someone read the Greek word typically translated as “crown” they were just as likely to think of victory as authority.

That changes things a little, doesn’t it? When Paul talks about us earning a crown, he’s likely talking about victory rather than ruling power. When Jesus warns in Revelation, “Let no one take your crown,” He’s not talking about them stealing the crown jewels but robbing us of victory. When the soldiers put a crown of thorns on Jesus, it’s a mockery of the authority and victory that He claimed, which ironically turned into a symbol for both.

What actually is a crown?

The word translated “crown” throughout the New Testament “refers to a wreath … worn as a symbol of honor, victory, or as a badge of high office” (NET footnote on Rev. 3:11). This word stephanos (στέφανος) is both “a mark of royal or (in general) exalted rank” and “the wreath or garland which was given as a prize to victors in public games” (Thayer’s dictionary, G4735). While the royal imagery is included as part of the definition, in Classical Greek it was “not used of the kingly crown but of the crown of victory in games, of civic worth, military valor, nuptial joy, [and] festival gladness” (Zodhiates’s dictionary, G4735).

There were a few other words that Greek writers could have used for a similar idea. Stemma (στέμμα) comes from the same root as stephanos and means pretty much the same thing, but it only shows up once in the Bible (Acts 14:13, “garlands”). Diadema (διάδημα) is “a symbol of royal dignity,” but was more of a headband than a crown (Zodhiates, G1238). That word, diadema, appears in the Bible, but only in Revelation to refer to crowns worn by the dragon, the beast, and the triumphantly returning Jesus (Rev. 12:3; 13:1; 19:12). Korona (κορώνη) is where we get the modern word “crown,” but it doesn’t appear in the Bible. In contrast, stephanos appears 18 times in the New Testament, making it by far the most common word for “crown.” Here’s one of the passages where it’s used:

For he did not put the world to come, about which we are speaking, under the control of angels. Instead someone testified somewhere:

What is man that you think of him or the son of man that you care for him?
You made him lower than the angels for a little while.
You crowned him with glory and honor.
You put all things under his control.”

For when he put all things under his control, he left nothing outside of his control. At present we do not yet see all things under his control, but we see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by God’s grace he would experience death on behalf of everyone.

Hebrews 2:5-9, NET, bold italics a quotation from Psalm 8

Here, we see both the authority and victory meanings of stephanos. God granted to human beings a certain amount of authority at creation, but the one with all authority is Jesus Christ. He is also the one who gained victory by His suffering, earning a crown of glory and honor. And because He earned that crown, there’s an assurance that we can follow right along after Him and get a crown for ourselves.

Image of a leafy crown hanging from a fence post overlaid with text from Rev. 3:11-12, NET version:  “I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have so that no one can take away your crown. The one who conquers I will make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he will never depart from it.”
Featured image by Pexels from Pixabay

Competition and Reward

Because crowns were awarded to victors in athletic games, Paul uses the word “crown” when talking about our Christian life as a competition. We’re “competitors” who “strive in the games” like athletes (1 Cor. 9:25; 2 Tim. 2:5). It’s not a competition where there’s only one winner, though–it’s more like the sort of thing where all who reach the goal are counted winners. We’re not “in competition” with other people, especially not other believers. But we are striving toward a victory.

Do you not know that all the runners in a stadium compete, but only one receives the prize? So run to win. Each competitor must exercise self-control in everything. They do it to receive a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one.

So I do not run uncertainly or box like one who hits only air. Instead I subdue my body and make it my slave, so that after preaching to others I myself will not be disqualified.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27, NET

The word translated “competitor” here is agonizomai (ἀγωνίζομαι). It literally means “to contend for victory in the public games,” but it also took on a more figurative meaning: “straining every nerve to the uttermost towards the goal” (Zodhiates, G75). That’s the level of commitment we’re all supposed to have to following Jesus. And, as James points out, when we strive faithfully there is certainty of a reward at the end.

Happy is the one who endures testing, because when he has proven to be genuine, he will receive the crown of life that God promised to those who love him.

James 1:12, NET

This is a promise. If you compete well–in other words, strive faithfully to follow God–He will be faithful to give you the victor’s reward. Similarly, Peter tells leaders in the church that if they’re faithful and humble, “when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that never fades away” (1 Pet. 5:1-6, NET). In the letter to the church in Smyrna, Jesus promises, “Remain faithful even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown that is life itself” (Rev. 4:10, NET). By the end of his life even Paul, who wrote about exercising rigorous self-discipline lest he be “disqualified,” knew for certain that the Lord would give him (and others) a crown of victory.

Finally the crown of righteousness is reserved for me. The Lord, the righteous Judge, will award it to me in that day—and not to me only, but also to all who have set their affection on his appearing.

2 Timothy 4:8, NET

You Are Our Crown

There’s one more way that Paul uses the word “crown” in his New Testament writings.

So then, my brothers and sisters, dear friends whom I long to see, my joy and crown, stand in the Lord in this way, my dear friends!

Philippians 4:1, NET

For who is our hope or joy or crown to boast of before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not of course you? For you are our glory and joy!

1 Thessalonians 2:19-20, NET

If we still thought competing for the victory might imply some competition between believers, this should put that idea to rest. Paul calls his brothers and sisters in Christ his joy, crown, and glory! We’re not all Paul, of course, but I think we can relate to this statement as well (particularly since he says “our” in Thessalonians). This isn’t a statement only Paul can make; our fellow believers can (and should!) be a source of joy, victory, and glory to all of us.

I’ve thought about our Christian life as a battle before (I am, after all, working on final edits for my next study guide, The Armor of God). But I’d never thought about our relationships with other believers being connected with the crown of victory promised to those following Jesus Christ and God the Father. It’s a fascinating thought, and it ties us right back again to the post I wrote a couple weeks ago about the weight of glory and the connection C.S. Lewis drew between our glory and our neighbors. If we’re carrying each other’s burdens (Gal. 6:2) and shouldering the weight of our neighbors’ glory (Lewis), then it makes sense we’d celebrate them as part of the anticipated victory.

Our future in God’s kingdom will involve a certain amount of authority, under the Lordship of Jesus Christ and the ultimate authority of the Father. We will, after all, judge angels and serve as priests (1 Cor. 6:2-4; Rev. 1: 6). But the focus now and in the future isn’t on our authority; it’s on service (Matt. 20:25-28; 23:10-12). Even the crowns we’re promised are symbols of victory and gladness more than symbols pointing out we’re in charge. It’s a humbling thing to think about, and also a joyful one. I imagine Jesus and the Father eagerly awaiting a celebration, wanting to welcome us into the family and crown us as victors who followed in Jesus’s footsteps to overcome the world. And I pray we’ll all be there together in glory and joy. Keep striving for victory! Let no one take your crown.

Featured image by James Chan from Pixabay

The Glorious Weights We Carry

There’s a C.S. Lewis sermon that I think about on a near-weekly basis. It’s called “The Weight of Glory.” He originally preached it on June 8, 1941 in the Church of St Mary the Virgin, Oxford. It was then published in Theology for the first time in November, 1941, and has been in print ever since. You can also read it for free online. Usually when I quote this sermon, I reference Lewis’s discussion of how we ought to view others, knowing that every human being has the potential to become fully part of God’s own family. Today, though, I want to start by looking at the message as a whole.

Lewis opens by speaking of the rewards offered a Christian and pointing out that wanting these rewards while living a godly life is not “mercenary.” He spins out Paul’s analogy of the law as our schoolteacher (from Galatians) in more modern terms. He also speaks of our eternal reward and the longing for God in each human heart as a Romantic idea that proves there is something wonderful and heavenly in our future (much like being hungry for food proves that food must exist in some form or another).

The promises of Scripture may very roughly be reduced to five heads. It is promised, firstly, that we shall be with Christ; secondly, that we shall be like Him; thirdly, with an enormous wealth of imagery, that we shall have “glory”; fourthly, that we shall, in some sense, be fed or feasted or entertained; and, finally, that we shall have some sort of official position in the universe—ruling cities, judging angels, being pillars of God’s temple. The first question I ask about these promises is: “Why any of them except the first?”

C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory, p. 4

Even just one of God’s promises are overwhelmingly amazing, yet he offers us even more, including “glory.” Lewis links glory with “what may happen when the redeemed soul, beyond all hope and nearly beyond belief, learns at last that she has pleased Him whom she was created to please” (Lewis, p. 5). We might not describe ourselves as desiring glory, but that’s what we seek when we want “good report with God, acceptance by God, response, acknowledgment, and welcome into the heart of things” (Lewis, p. 6). Basically, glory is “being ‘noticed’ by God” or “known by God” (Lewis, p. 6; 1 Cor. 8:3). Plus, of course, there’s the other sense of glory as well–“glory as brightness, splendour, luminosity” (Lewis, p. 7). Then, we get to the part of this sermon that I think about and quote most frequently:

It may be possible for each to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible for him to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbour. The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbour’s glory should be laid daily on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken. It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations.

C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory, p. 8

It’s this idea of weightiness that I want to focus in on today. When we think of glory, I suspect we think of God Himself being glorious. We might think of shining like lights in the world now, and shining even more when we’re spirit beings in God’s family. But I don’t think we often think of glory as a “load, weight, or burden” that is “heavy” to carry.

Image of light shining on a Bible overlaid with text from 2 Corinthians 4:16-17, WEB version:  “Therefore we don’t faint, but though our outward person is decaying, yet our inward person is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is for the moment, works for us more and more exceedingly an eternal weight of glory”
Image by Lamppost Collective

Weight of Glory

For our momentary, light suffering is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison

2 Corinthians 4:17, NET

Lewis doesn’t reference 2 Corinthians 4:17 directly in his sermon, but it’s alluded to throughout and explicitly referenced in the title. The Greek word for “weight” is baros. It means “weight in reference to its pressure, burden, load” (G922 Zodhiates). You could also translate it “heaviness, burden, trouble” (Thayer). It’s the same word Jesus uses in His parable of the workers in the vineyard where the first workers complain, “These last have spent one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat!”’” (Matt. 20:12, WEB). It’s something that’s heavy, often burdensome, and it’s carried like a load.

This burdensome heaviness is contrasted with “light suffering.” Here, light is elaphros and it means “light in weight, quick, agile” (G1645 Thayer). It means something that’s “not heavy, easy to bear” (Zodhiates). It’s such an interesting word picture. Paul describes our suffering as light and easy to carry, and eternal glory as something heavy and burdensome. Why not the other way around? Suffering seems like a heavy thing to drag around and glory like something shining and light and wonderful. What’s going on here?

There aren’t a whole lot of other verses using baros that we can look at for more information on how it’s used in the Bible. One stands out, though. Paul uses this word in Galatians when he says, “Carry one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2, NET). That one seems fairly straightforward–we all have metaphorical burdens we carry, so we should help each other out with that–but thinking of “glory” as being included in our burdens adds an interesting additional layer to this verse. It brings us back to Lewis’s point about taking the burden of our neighbors’ glory seriously (and I’m sure he knew about the connection between these two verses since he could read Greek).

And what about “light suffering”? The only other time this word translated “light” appears in scripture is when Jesus says, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:29-30, WEB). The word for “burden” here isn’t baros but phortion; a word that’s also related to freight loads, but is metaphorically connected to “rites” and “obligations” (G5413 Thayer). The burdens that Jesus asks us to carry (including, though not limited to, suffering in this life) are not unreasonably heavy. He’s yoked to us, carrying the burdens alongside us.

Worthy and Weighty

Now we come to the verses that started me off on today’s whole study. I was sitting in church listening to a sermon and I don’t remember if the speaker read the definition for a Greek word used in these verses or if I looked it up myself, but I was intrigued by the idea of “worthily” and “weighty” being connected.

I, therefore, the prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live worthily of the calling with which you have been called

Ephesians 4:1, NET

so that you may live worthily of the Lord and please him in all respects—bearing fruit in every good deed, growing in the knowledge of God,

Colossians 1:10, NET

Worthily is from the adverb form of axios, which (not surprisingly) means “worthily, suitably, properly” (G516 Zodhiates). But if you start looking at the related words like the adjective axios, you learn that it has to do with weight. The root is ago (G71), which means “to weigh.” Axios describes something that has inherent, weighty value (G514 Zodhiates; Thayer). It may mean something of equal value like items in a market balancing a scale. It can also mean “worthy or deserving” and “suitable, congruent, corresponding to” (G514 Zodhiates).

Now, I read this and the first thing I thought of was the phrase “weight of glory,” though I now know Paul uses a different word for the “eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison” (2 Cor. 4:17, NET). Even so, both have to do with the idea of weight as something to carry (just like the English words weight, burden, and heavy are all related). It’s not too much of a stretch to connect the idea of “the weight of glory” to living a worthy or “weighty” life.

Sufferings and Glory

Image of light shining on a Bible with the blog's title text and the words "Understanding the weight of glory has a profound impact on how we live our lives now.  The worth of the glory God offers us far outweighs the inconvenience of suffering, which is light in comparison."
Image by Lamppost Collective

There’s something deeply valuable about the glory that God offers us. It’s weighty. It has meaning. It’s worth far outweighs the inconvenience of suffering, which is light in comparison. Understanding the weight of glory has a profound impact on how we live our lives now.

So then, brothers and sisters, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh (for if you live according to the flesh, you will die), but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery leading again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself bears witness to our spirit that we are God’s children. And if children, then heirs (namely, heirs of God and also fellow heirs with Christ)—if indeed we suffer with him so we may also be glorified with him. For I consider that our present sufferings cannot even be compared to the coming glory that will be revealed to us.

Romans 8:12-18, NET

Over and over in the New Testament, suffering is linked with glory. Jesus said He had to suffer before entering His glory (Luke 24:26). The writer of Hebrews goes so far as to say Jesus was “crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death” (Heb. 2:9, NET, emphasis added). Peter also talks about the connection between Christ’s suffering and His glory, then links it to our suffering and glory as well (1 Peter 1:8-11; 4:12-13; 5:1-3, 10).

Dear friends, do not be astonished that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice in the degree that you have shared in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice and be glad. …

And, after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory in Christ will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

1 Peter 4:12-13; 5:10 NET

It makes more sense, now, why glory is a weighty burden and our sufferings so light we may hardly notice carrying them. I’m sure we’ve all met someone who is always smiling, positive, and talking about how good Jesus is to them while they’re going through things that you’d expect would drive someone to despair, or at least dampen their spirits. One of the people who comes to mind for me is Tamie Haupricht, a woman who became my friend while we were dancing together at a Messianic congregation. She asked me to work with her as an editor when she published her story two years ago, and you can click here to get a copy of Always Smiling: A Journey From Abuse To A Life of Faith and Joy (I don’t make anything from sharing this book; I just started writing this paragraph and then felt I should share her story with you).

The more we learn about the gifts God shares with us, the more we ought to feel the weightiness of carrying His name, nature, and future plans for us. Incredibly, these gifts include and are not limited to glory so momentous that it outweighs sufferings by so much that they can seem light in comparison. We’re offered glory along with Jesus; a share in the glory He received after suffering in our place. And, as Lewis reminds us, we’re not the only ones offered this. “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” and as a result “whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life” (1 Tim. 1:15; John 3:16). Everyone we meet has the same glorious potential that God is giving us. I wonder how much it would change my life if I really, truly remembered this. I’m carrying the weight of the glory God offers me. God loves every person I interact with or even hear about enough to die for them and He’d be overjoyed if none of them perished (1 Tim. 3:4; 2 Peter 3:9). Those truths should impact my every choice and interaction.

Featured image by Lamppost Collective

Song Recommendation: “Glorious” by Ted Pearce

How Should We Honor The Days God Sets Apart For Him?

Practicing righteousness. Learning to love. Developing the mind of God. Following Christ. Those are all essentials of the Christian life, and there are many “tools” God has given us to help us succeed in these goals. These include prayer, Bible reading and study, the Holy Spirit inside us, and fasting.

God’s Sabbaths and holy days are also vital, and often overlooked, gifts given to help us align with God and His ways. Keeping these days as God commanded helps line us up with His will, reinforces His plan, and deepens our relationship with Him. Just as responding to an invitation to get together with your physical family lets you build relationships with them, so does responding to our heavenly Father’s invitations help us build relationships with Him, our Bridegroom, and the other children in His family.

For many Christians, keeping God’s holy days is a foreign concept because they’ve been (incorrectly) told “that’s just a Jewish/Old Testament thing. But when you start to recognize there’s lasting value in the days God calls holy to Him, you come up against the question, How do you keep the Sabbaths in a way that honors God?

Even if you have been keeping these days for a while, you know this isn’t always an easy questions to answer. There are certain rules and guidelines in scripture, but they don’t answer all our questions. Plus, knowing what to do, and what not to do, in keeping the holy days is about more than a list of rules. It’s about honoring God’s instructions on how to come before Him. So let’s take a look at what God says to do for these days and how we can obey those commands in the spirit and from our hearts. Read more

The Honor Of His Name

We talk quite often about how we ought to live our lives as Christians — the things we should and should not do, which laws we must keep, the characteristics of Jesus Christ that should show up in our lives. We also talk about what motivates this way of living. If our hearts aren’t right, the outward stuff doesn’t matter. God cares about why we do what we do as much (or more) as He cares about our actions.

The “why” is connected with how we view God. Are we obeying His rules because we see Him as an intimidating authority figure, or because we respect Him as Creator? Do we follow Jesus because of what we hope to get out of being Christian, or because we love Him and trust that He wants what’s best for us?

Those questions are concerned with how God relates to us. Beyond that is the question of how we view God as Himself. God is the self-existent One who inhabits eternity. We often think of Him in terms of how He relates to humanity, but there’s far more to Him than that. How should we view God simply because He is God?

click to read article, "The Honor Of His Name" |
photo credit: “Prayer #2” by Connor Tarter, CC BY-SA via Flickr

Inherent Glory

In Hebrew, the word translated glory and honor in the verses we’ll cover literally means “to be heavy.” It’s not an abstract or subjective concept. There’s substance behind the honor and glory discussed in the Bible. Kabod (H3519) and the related word kabad (H3513) are used figuratively of an honorable social position backed-up with a “weightiness of character.” This makes the recipient of glory worthy of that honor (TWOT entry 943). Read more

Best Way To Humility

What comes to mind when you think of humility before God? Do you think about abasing yourself? thinking of yourself less? or thinking less of yourself?

The problem with these approaches to humility is that they’re still focused on the self. To truly become humble, we have to shift our focus to God. Instead of wondering, “How can I think of myself less?” we should ask, “How can I think of God more?”

During the Feast of Tabernacles this year, a message given at our Feast site contained this gem of wisdom: “Elevating God is the best way to develop a spirit of humility and meekness.” Instead of focusing on abasing self, we focus on exalting God.

Best Way To Humility |
photo credit: Lightstock, Temi Coker

Joy In Exalting Him

The Psalms are a perfect place to begin studying God’s exaltation. David — the man after God’s own heart — penned many of the psalms. In his words of praise, we see an attitude of humility inspired by an awe of the Creator.

I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make its boast in the Lord; the humble shall hear of it and be glad. Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together. (Ps. 34:1-3)

Gladness probably isn’t the first word we’d associate with humility, and yet that’s what David does. Exalting God fills the humble with joy, and it also increases their humility.

But I am poor and sorrowful; let Your salvation, O God, set me up on high. I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify Him with thanksgiving. This also shall please the Lord better than an ox or bull, which has horns and hooves. The humble shall see this and be glad; and you who seek God, your hearts shall live. For the Lord hears the poor, and does not despise His prisoners. (Ps. 69:29-33)

This carries over in the the New Testament as well, which we can see in Jesus’ first recorded sermon. He says the “poor in spirit” have “the kingdom of heaven” and that the meek “shall inherit the earth” (Matt. 5:3, 5). Then near the end of the Beatitudes, He tells people to “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad” when they are “persecuted for righteousness’ sake” (Matt. 12, 10). I suspect that’s impossible without an attitude of compete submission to God and a desire to find your joy in and glorify Him.

Pointing To God

John the Baptist is an excellent example of humility that exalts God. He consistently identified himself simply as a tool, a messenger whose sole purpose was to point others to Messiah. Every time someone asked about John, he pointed them to Jesus instead.

John answered them, saying, “I baptize with water, but there stands One among you whom you do not know. It is He who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose.” (John 1:26-27)

Later, after Jesus’ ministry began, John had to deal with people who seemed worried that Jesus was undercutting John’s fame (John. 3:22-26). Once again, John handled this by stepping out of the way and finding joy in his Lord’s exaltation.

You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent before Him.’ He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease. (Jn. 3:28-30)

Jesus Himself did much the same thing while here on the earth. He “humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death” as an example to us (Phil 2:8). He consistently honored his Father, and did not glorfy Himself.

I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me. (John 5:30)

Jesus answered, “If I honor Myself, My honor is nothing. It is My Father who honors Me, of whom you say that He is your God. (John 8:54)

Jesus Christ — God in the flesh — was humble and meek (Matt. 11:29; 2 Cor. 10:1). We who are flawed, imperfect sinners have far more reason for humility. As those rescued from sin and brought from death into life, we have even more cause to exalt our Savior and God.

Best Way To Humility |
I took this photo at the Feast

A Share In Glory

Humility is an essential quality in the family of God. Our Messiah modeled it, the people of faith all had it, and we must develop it to receive a reward.

Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time,  casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. (1 Pet. 5:5-7)

Our humility and meekness will be rewarded. There’s an element of ironic humor in the fact that the people who refuse to humble themselves will lose the glory they seek in this life, while those who submit to God and don’t care about themselves will be exalted.

 But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. (Matt. 23:11-12)

This is the pattern Christ modeled for us — submit to God’s will, be humble, and He will exalt you (Phil 2:8-9). One of the most incredible things about Christ’s exaltation is His desire to share His glory with us. In His John 17 prayer, He talks about giving His disciples “the glory which You [Father] gave Me,” and prays that in the future His followers “may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory” (John 17:22, 24).

Glorifying Jesus and exalting our Father can only lead to our good. It’s the best path to humility, it gives a proper view of God, and it multiplies our joy.

Glory Shared With Us

One of the oft-repeated words in Christ’s prayer recorded in John 17 is “glorify” or “glory.” The very first words He says  are, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You” (John 17:1).  A few verses later, He adds,

I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was. (John 17:4-5)

The subject of glorification starts becoming more personal to us a bit later, when Jesus says of His people, “I am glorified in them” (John 17:10). If having Christ glorified in you sounds spectacular, just wait until we read verse 22:

And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one (John 17:22)

At this point, we’re starting to see something incredible, something glorious, is being discussed here in John 17. We see Jesus and the Father glorifying each other, and Jesus sharing His glory with us. That last part is the one which most intrigues me. What does it mean?


The word used for “glorify” is doxazo (G1392), which is derived from the word translated “glory.” That word is doxa (G1391). Zodhiates says it “can mean appearance, reputation, glory. It basically refers to the recognition belonging to a person, honor, renown.” It can also denote the “appearance, form, aspect” of someone, as in “God’s image and character. … It comprises all that God will appear to be in His final revelation to us.”

As Zodhates shifts his discussion to a Christian’s future glory, he says that doxa does not refer only to an outwardly glorious appearance, but to a glory within that makes the outside splendid. Doxa‘s derivative, doxazo, means “to glorify, recognize, honor, praise.” Most of Zodniates’ definition for this word in my study Bible is devoted to it’s use in John’s writings.

In the writings of John, the doxa of God is the revelation and manifestation of all that He has and is. It is His revelation in which He manifests all the goodness that He is (John 12:28). Since Christ made this manifest, He is said to glorify the Father (John 17:1, 4); or the Father is glorified in Him (John 13:31; 14:13). When Christ is said to be glorified, it means simply that His innate glory is brought to light, made manifest (John 7:39; 11:4; 12:16, 23; 13:31; 17:1, 5).

This definition explains several verses we quoted in John 17. Jesus glorified His Father by teaching people about the Father’s glory and revealing His character. God the Father glorified His Son by exalting Him and making His glory manifest in roles like High Priest, Good Shepherd, and Head of All Things to the Church. Their mutual glorification is about revealing Who and what They are to people.

Glory and God’s People

John 17:10, where Christ says, “all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them,” shows we are to play a role in manifesting Christ’s glory to the world. If Jesus is being glorified in us, then our lives will be testaments to the honor and praise that belong to Him.

And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. (Col. 3:17)

Glory Shared With Us | marissabaker.wordpress.comWe talked about this idea two weeks ago, in the context of “whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). Our inside character, which comes out in our words and actions, should be proclaiming God’s glory, and attracting honor to Him.

The most intriguing verse, however, (to me at least) is when Christ says He’s given us His glory in verse 22. Let’s read some of the verses leading up to that.

I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. (John 17:20-21)

Jesus makes it clear that He’s talking about future believers — including us — as well as His disciples then. He emphasizes unity among the believers, and between us and God.

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Eph. 4:1-3)

Paul connects unity with walking in way that properly fits with our calling from God, and Jesus connects it with showing the world that He was sent by the Father. Much the same way, having love shows that we’re Christ’s disciples (John 13:35). It’s starting to sound like the ideas of manifesting, recognizing and showing forth that are carried with the word “glorify” are connected to this idea as well. And now we come to verse 22:

And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. (John 17:22-24)

Christ’s Glory

Jesus Christ has given us His glory? It seems astonishing, but that’s what He says. based on the definition of glory, this tells us that Jesus is giving us His form and appearance, His honor, reputation and character. (Just to clarify, I mean “give” in the sense of “share” rather than passing it along).

This just boggles my mind. To quote King David, “What is man that You are mindful of him?” (Ps 8:4). We don’t deserve God’s attention, let along a share in His Son’s glory. Yet that is what He is doing in, for, and to us.

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus (Phil. 2:5)

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (1 Cor. 12:)

My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you (Gal. 4:19)

Christ’s mind in us … His strength in our weakness … His character formed in us … could these be other ways to express the same thing that’s going on when He says, “the glory which You gave Me I have given them”?

the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Col. 1:26-27)

Christ in us gives us present glory by association with His glory, and He is our hope of future glory where “we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2). I said earlier that glorification in John 17 is connected with revealing Who and what the Father and Jesus Christ are to the world. Their work to glorify us is connected with this same goal.

We are called “the light of the world,” and told “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:14-16). As we press on toward future glory, let’s also be mindful of the glory we’ve been given now as Christ’s own special people, to glorify Him and the Father by how we live.

Glory Shared With Us |