John 17 – The Glory of God

We have spent a few weeks on our introduction to John 17.
·  Today, we finally begin to dive deeper into the text.
·  Specifically, we are going to start with the glory and glorification of God.
·  What is the glory of God as Jesus uses it in His prayer?
·  We constantly run in to this concept in Scripture and really don’t have a clue what it means.
·  Given that it is what Jesus leads with in His prayer, we can assume it was very dear to His heart.
·  So it behooves us to see what He was talking about.
Here is the problem we face:
·  “…few words in the distinct biblical vocabulary are less understood than the word ‘glory’” – James Boice.
·  Among other reasons, this is partly due to the history and etymology of the word – TDNT.
o   In its early usage, the word merely meant an “opinion” – TDNT.
o   Obviously that is not what we are dealing with in Jesus’ prayer.
·  And even with respect to Jesus’ prayer, we find a number of different nuances.
·  It can be easy to confuse them with each other.
·  This means we have to be careful to pay attention to how Jesus used the word and its variations – doxa and doxazo.
Jesus speaks of glory in each of the three sections of His prayer.
·  Himself (vv. 1-5)
·  His disciples (vv. 6-19)
·  All believers (vv. 20-26)
Let’s take a look at these sections and start to hash out what Jesus is saying about glory.
1) GLORY IN JESUS’ PRAYER
The Jesus Prays for Himself Section:
John 17:1–5 (ESV) — 1When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4 I glorified you on earth,having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in yourown presencewith the glory that I had with you before the world existed.
In this first section of Jesus’ prayer, He makes petitions on His behalf, and describes the work He accomplished on the Father’s behalf.
·  And in just these first five verses we see right away that the word has different meanings.
What we see:
·  Glory as something moving from the Father to the Son – “Father…glorify your Son” (vs. 1).
·  Glory as something moving from the Son to the Father – “Son may glorify you” (vs. 1).
·  Glory as something that occurs with Jesus’ works – “I glorified you on earththe work” (vs. 4).
·  Glory as something experienced in the presence of the Father – “glorify me in your…presence” (vs. 5).
·  Glory as something that was lost at the incarnation – “…glory that I had” (vs. 5).
If you look through these 5 nuances of “doxa”, the following questions emerge.
·  What is glory that the Father, who is full of glory (as God), can be glorified?
·  What is glory that the Son, who is full of glory (as God), can be glorified?
o   Isn’t this like trying to make a wet sponge wet?
·  What is glory that it can originate from Jesus’ work on earth and “move” to the Father?
·  What is glory if Christ can glorify and yet suggest that He is also lacking glory?
o   Does He have glory or not?
·  Or as James Boice puts it, “How can the Lord have possessed God’s glory, have renounced it, and yet have possessed it even in the period of the renunciation?” – James Boice.
·  We will answer these questions soon.
Jesus Prays for the Disciples Section:
John 17:9–10 (ESV) — 9I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them.
Here Jesus moves to describing the works and petitions He did and made on the disciples’ behalf.
·  And He points out that the world is not the object of this prayer.
What we see:
·  Glory as something that Jesus receives from the disciples – “I am glorified in them” (vs. 10).
·  What is glory that we can glorify Jesus?
·  We will soon answer this question also.
Jesus Prays for the Believers Section:
John 17:22–25 (ESV) — 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me.
Here Jesus moves to describing the works and petitions He made and did on behalf of all believers.
·  And we see the converse of what we saw in verse 22.
What we see:
·  Glory as something that believers receive from Jesus – “glory…I have given to them” (vs. 22).
·  And as we saw earlier, glory as something given to the Son from the Father – “glory that you have given me” (vs. 24).
·  What is glory that humans can receive it or participate in it?
·  We will answer this question shortly.
It seems that all these references are speaking of glory in at least three general ways.
·  (1) Glory as something having to do with who God is.
o   In other words, by His very nature as God, glory is intrinsic to Him; something that is part of who He is.
o   And as such He can both “give off” glory and give glory.
·  (2) Glory as something to receive or participate in.
·  (3) Glory as something to do, as in glorifying God, in the context of receiving or participating.
We will get at an understanding of glory and find the answers to our questions by pursuing these three.
·  And in doing so, we will try and let Scripture define the word for us.
2) GLORY AS INTRINSIC TO GOD
We mentioned two things about God’s intrinsic glory.
·  1) It is a glory that is part of who He is – His intrinsic glory.
o   Isaiah 42:8 (ESV) — 8 I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other…
·  2) And as such, it is a glory that He can He can “give off” or choose to give – His radiant glory.
What does Scripture say about each of these?
1) Intrinsic Glory
·  Psalm 24:7–10 (ESV) — 7Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. 8 Who is this King of glory?The Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord, mighty in battle! 9 Lift up your heads, O gates! And lift them up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. 10 Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory! Selah
·  Psalm 97:6 (ESV) — 6The heavens proclaim his righteousness, and all the peoples see his glory.
This glory of God is a glory that is directly linked to who He is.
·  He was called the King of Glory, for example, because “he was perfect in all his attributes—love, truth, holiness, grace, power, knowledge, immutability, and so forth—and was therefore truly glorious” – James Boice.
·  There is none greater than God.
·  He is King and Creator.
·  Thus He is glory – no God no glory.
BTW – Just knowing this helps us grasp some important things – Glory as Gospel.
·  For example, when Paul tells us “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23), what is he telling us?
·  He is saying more than we fall short of obeying his law.
·  He is saying that we are not God; we are not autonomous.
·  We do not exhibit what we would need to exhibit to be saved by the law – perfect “love, truth, holiness, grace, power, knowledge, immutability, and so forth” – Boice.
·  We have sinned AND fall short of God’s glory.
·  It is almost as if we could follow God’s law perfectly we would still have a problem – we don’t have God’s glory.
And this intrinsic glory “gives off” something – it has a manifestation.
2) Radiant Glory
·  Exodus 33:18–20 (ESV) — 18 Moses said, “Please show me your glory.” 19 And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. 20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.”
·  1 Kings 8:10–11 (ESV) — 10 And when the priests came out of the Holy Place, a cloud filled the house of the Lord, 11 so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord.
·  Psalm 104:1–2 (ESV) — 1Bless the Lord, O my soul! O Lord my God, you are very great! You are clothed with splendor and majesty, 2 covering yourself with light as with a garment, stretching out the heavens like a tent.
God’s radiant glory was often referred to as a cloud or “a display of light, radiance, or glory so brilliant that no man could approach it” – James Boice.
·  This radiant glory was so powerful that Moses, having seen the backside of God on Mt. Sinai, had the following problem:
·  Exodus 34:29–30 (ESV) — 29 When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. 30 Aaron and all the people of Israel saw Moses, and behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him.
Some Answers:
Knowing this much helps us answer a few of the questions we posed earlier.
·  What is glory if Christ can glorify and yet suggest that He is also lacking glory?
·  Does He have glory or not?
When Jesus asks the Father for glory:
·  John 17:5 (ESV) — 5And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.
·  Jesus is not saying He has no glory.
·  Christ as God is not lacking glory at all; He is full of the intrinsic glory of God.
o   “…we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father…” (John 1:14)
·  What He is asking for is that through the cross and exaltation He would return to the place where His radiant glory will not be suppressed – the presence of the Father.
And in His prayer, He petitions that believers will see His glory!
·  John 17:24 (ESV) — 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
·  What glory is He talking about?
o   His radiant glory.
We know these things about Jesus’ radiant glory for a number of reasons, but one clear reason comes from the author of Hebrews.
Speaking about the Incarnation of Jesus:
·  Hebrews 2:9–10 (ESV) — 9But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. 10 For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.
·  Jesus temporarily gave up His radiant glory – “was made lower than the angels”.
·  He was God so He never “lost” His intrinsic glory– this would be impossible; it is His (Isa. 42:8).
Speaking about the Exaltation of Jesus:
·  Hebrews 1:3 (ESV) — 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
·  At His exaltation, Jesus radiant glory was restored.
·  And as we just said, He prays that we get to see this – AWESOME.
James Boice explains all this as follows:
·  “Before his incarnation Jesus had possessed the glory of God in both these senses. He possessed the fullness of God’s attributes and character in the inward sense; he also possessed the fullness of God’s outward, visible glory. In the Incarnation Jesus laid the second of these aside; for, if he had not, we would not have been able to approach him. Nevertheless, he retained God’s glory in the first sense and indeed disclosed it to his disciples, who received it by faith. Now at the end of his earthly ministry, on the verge of his crucifixion and subsequent resurrection, he prays that he might again enter into this visible glory” – James Boice.
Let’s move on to the second kind of glory.
3) GLORY AS SOMETHING TO RECEIVE OR PARTICIPATE IN
We mentioned that John 17 also speaks of a glory as something to receive or participate in.
·  John 17:22 (ESV) — 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one,
What does Scripture say about this kind of glory?
·  2 Corinthians 4:6 (ESV) — 6For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
·  1 Peter 4:14–16 (ESV) — 14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.
·  2 Corinthians 3:17–18 (1901 ASV) — 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord the Spirit.
This kind of glory is only available to “the given”, to those in whom God “has shone” and therefore know God through the “face of Jesus Christ”.
·  If we know Christ, we know the glory of God
·  We participate in this glory by the activity of the Spirit in the believer.
·  And the Spirit transforms us with, by and through the glory of the Lord until we are fully glorified in the presence of God.
·  In other words, “The Spirit is the pledge of the new thing that brings [the believer] glory” – TDNT.
So, we can say two things about our participation in God’s glory.
(1) “Participation in dóxa is by participation in Christ” – TDNT.
·  In other words, to be in Christ – to believe– is in some way to also share in His glory.
·  We have glory because as believers “…we share in it [His glory] now, for, to the degree that we embody Christ’s character, we possess his glory…” – James Boice.
(2) And to participate in the glory of the Lord, requires that we also participate in His death & humiliation – R.C. Sproul.
·  As we just saw, “If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you” or “if anyone suffers as a Christian” (1 Pet. 4:14, 16).
o   Christ served and suffered that He might be glorified and glorify the Father.
o   We are called to serve and suffer as Christ did to glorify Jesus and the Father.
Important implication of participating in Christ’s humiliation:
·  I can think of no better way to participate in Jesus’ humiliation than speaking the Gospel.
·  And it is a privilege to do so.
·  We must look at opportunities to speak the Gospel as ways to share in Christ’s humiliation and thus His glory!
Scriptural illustration of this receiving and participating:
The receiving and participation is illustrated so clearly in baptism.
·  It is in baptism that our “receiving” and “participating” is symbolized.
·  Romans 6:4 (ESV) — 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
And Jesus Himself symbolizes this participation in John 6.
·  John 6:53–56 (ESV) — 53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.
Some Answers:
Knowing this much helps us answer a few of the questions we posed earlier.
·  What is glory that humans can receive it or participate in it?
To receive and participate in the glory of God is:
·  To be born again and indwelled with the Spirit of God.
o   To acknowledge that we do fall short of God’s glory.
·  To then repent and trust in the glorifying work of Christ on the cross and His exaltation.
·  In other words, to be saved is to participate and receive the glory of God.
So back to Romans 3:23 where we are told we fall short of the glory of God.
·  We know that the only thing that doesn’t fall short of the glory of God is the glory of God.
·  And the only way to “have” the glory of God is to “have” Christ and the Spirit of Christ.
o   To eat His flesh and drink His blood
It is for this reason that Jesus warns about seeking the glory of man.
·  John 5:44 (ESV) — 44 How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?
·  John 12:43 (ESV) — 43 for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.
Unbelievers mistakenly seek out a “high opinion” (glory) from man and it serves to do nothing to solve our Romans 3:23 problem.
·  At the Fall men lost the glory of God, and only by participating in Christ can we get it back.
Let’s move on to the third kind of glory.
4) GLORY AS SOMETHING TO DO
We mentioned earlier glory as something to be done, as in to glorify (doxazo).
·  John 17:4 (ESV) — 4I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.
What does Scripture say about this glory?
·  John 2:11 (ESV) — 11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.
·  We know that Christ glorified the Father through his works done in obedience to the will of the Father.
·  Beginning with the water into wine and culminating in the Passion events this is fleshed out.
But Scripture also makes plain, and Jesus implies in John 17, that we are to also glorify God.
·  1 Corinthians 6:20 (ESV) — 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
·  1 Corinthians 10:31 (ESV) — 31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
·  Matthew 5:16 (ESV) — 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
·  1 Peter 2:12 (ESV) — 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify Godon the day of visitation.
How do we do this?
·  I understand that Christ can glorify Himself or the Father, but how do we glorify them?
James Boice puts it like this:
·  “We must seek to glorify Christ while we live by showing forth his character. But this will not happen in some mystical way. It will happen only as, by the grace of God, we walk in his will (as he directs), as we carry out whatever responsibility he has entrusted to us, as we point to Jesus as the only way of salvation, as we finish our work, and as we seek the glory of God in its fullness, rather than our own” – James Boice.
In a word, we glorify God through obedience.
·  Just as Christ glorified the Father in obedience by pointing to the glory of God, we must do the same.
o   He “revealed the essential characteristics of the Father” – James Boice.
·  And in this same way we glorify God.
·  This is an awesome position to have and privilege to participate in!
BTW – We are not doing or providing something that God “needs” from us.
·  “To give him glory is not to impart something he does not have but to acknowledge the honor that is his due (Is. 42)” – TDNT.
·  We are merely “acknowledging (Acts 12:23) or extolling (Lk. 2:14) what is already a reality” about God – TDNT.
Some Answers:
Knowing this much helps us once again to answer a few of the questions we posed earlier.
·  What is glory that the Father, who is full of glory (as God), can be glorified?
·  What is glory that the Son, who is full of glory (as God), can be glorified?
o   Isn’t this like trying to make a wet sponge wet?
·  What is glory that it can originate from Jesus’ work (or our work) on earth and “move” to the Father?
·  What is glory that we can glorify Jesus?
Glory is action that honors and acknowledges God as Ruler and Creator and all that that entails – His attributes, e.g.
·  Humans can glorify God because we are set apart by the Spirit and the work of Christ to do so in our obedience.
o   By dying to self as God commands, for example, we acknowledge both who we are and who God is and thus glorify Him.
o   By trusting in Christ, we glorify Him – acknowledging the work He did for the Father.
o   It is only right that the creature points to the imminence and character of our Creator and Savior.
·  Christ can glorify the Father the same way.
o   In His obedience He acknowledges the position and character of the Father.
In fact, as we have discussed many times.
·  It is the chief end of man to glorify God.
·  We are to glorify who and what He is with our obedient actions.
·  We are to point to the character of God in our actions.
·  This is why in His prayer in John 17 Jesus speaks so often of being one.
BTW – There is an important observation about the Trinity to make here.
·  We are not necessary for God to be glorified.
·  The three persons of the Godhead, in their relationship with one another, glorify each other and love each other.
·  It was not necessary for God to create us to bring Him glory!
·  We are contingent – how humbling is that?
Summary:
·  I think when we now encounter one of the 166+ uses of “doxa” in the NT we will be better equipped to understand the meaning.
·  And anytime we better understand Scripture, we better understand God’s interpretation of the facts.
·  And this leads to the right thinking we have talked so much about.