By Charles H. Welch
Glory. This word, as applied to man in its higher meaning, speaks of honour, reputation and magnificence, but such is human nature, it is also used as a synonym for boasting. So in Romans 5:2 we read "and rejoice in hope of the glory of God" where the Greek word so translated is doxa, while in Romans 5:3 we read "we glory in tribulations also" where the Greek word is kauchaomai "to boast". In this reference the "boasting" is legitimate and right, but it is only too easy to glory in "appearance" or "after the flesh" or in "self" (2 Cor. 5:12, 11:18, Gal. 6:13, Eph. 2:9). In this article we restrict ourselves to the examination of glory in its highest meaning, and in the first place consider the derivation of the Greek word doxa.
Doxa, glory, is one of a group of words derived from dokeo which means "to seem". At first sight such a parenthood seems impossible for such an offspring. In what way can the glory of God be associated with the word "to seem"? First let us rid ourselves of a false inference; mere appearance, is not in view, but something far deeper and real. This will be made evident as we survey the other members of the verbal family. Let us take the word dokimos for a start. This word occurs seven times as follows:
Here it will be seen that the "seeming" has been tested, and proved to be no mere appearance, but a manifestation of reality within. So we have dokimion, the "trying" of faith, the "trial" of faith (Jas. 1:3, 1 Pet. 1:7). In the latter passage, the figure is that of trying or testing gold with fire "though it be tried (dokimazo) with fire". Hence we have "the fire shall try every man's work" (1 Cor. 3:13), and "let every man prove his own work" (Gal. 6:4). "Prove all things, hold fast that which is good" (1 Thess. 5:21) and "Try the spirits whether they are of God" (1 John 4:1). If glory is the result of testing such as this, it can be no mere seeming, it is the acknowledgment that the subject has been put to the test and approved. It may at first seem improper for anyone to think of putting God to the test, but such a passage as that in Romans three must be given a place.
When Paul says of man, that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23), he in reality says that man has failed under the test, he has come short of the Divine standard. The hope of the church of the Mystery is that when Christ our life shall appear or be manifested, then we shall be manifested with him IN (en) GLORY (Col. 3:4). The hope of the believer before Acts twenty-eight was to meet the Lord IN (eis) THE AIR (1 Thess. 4:17), while the hope of the people of Israel is that in that day His feet shall stand upon (epi) the Mount of Olives. These indicate the three spheres of blessing with their corresponding hope. Some have felt that the words "in glory" of Colossians 3:4, indicate simply the glorious character of the Lord's manifestation, and that it could be used of 1 Thessalonians four or any other phase of His coming. While such a sentiment is in itself true, we must not allow a specious interpretation to invalidate the high glory of our hope. The Colossians were directed to seek those things which are ABOVE, and lest we shall fall into the error of saying those things which are above are simply spiritual, without reference to place or sphere, the Apostle immediately follows with the explanatory clause "WHERE Christ sitteth at the right hand of God." Again in verse 2, "above" is placed over against "earth".
Under the heading HOPE we have endeavoured to show that hope is a realization of calling, and the calling of this church places its hopes and its blessings "IN heavenly places" and potentially they are spoken of as already "seated together" there. Colossians 3:4 is but the realization of what they have held by faith, and nothing less than "the right hand of God, where Christ sitteth" will fill that realization so that hope shall be unashamed. On the Mount of Transfiguration, the Saviour "appeared in glory" (Luke 9:31) and three of His disciples, together with Moses and the prophet, beheld His glory. The time had not then come for the believer himself to be manifested in that glory, but as Peter said, the vision in the holy mount made the word of prophecy "more sure". The many aspects of this subject that are related with the Lord Himself, and the great doctrines of Redemption, constitute a study in itself and would take us too far afield.
We must be content here with these few pointers, but we believe if they are followed out in all their connexions, the word "glory" will appear still more glorious by reason of the fact that it reveals the full unimpeachable justification of God Himself, of Christ the Redeemer, and of all the saved of all callings and spheres. The glory that awaits us will be a splendour beyond the present knowledge and experience of man, but its splendour will be something richer and fuller than brilliance even though that brilliance outshine the sun in its strength, it will be the glory, that will manifest how RIGHT God has been in all His ways, He will be justified as will every one of His redeemed people.
We may have speculated as to the essential difference that there may be between "the crown of glory" (1 Pet. 5:4) and "the crown of righteousness" (2 Tim. 4:8). It would appear from what we have seen to be the basic idea in the word doxa, that these two crowns represent but two aspects of the same thing.