The honor of praying to “the Father of glory”

That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:
Ephesians 1:17 ESV

Here are some considerations about the fact that Paul’s prayer is to “the Father of glory” …

In verse 17 is this phrase: “the Father of glory.” One meaning of this phrase is simply that God is glorious.

Glory is perhaps the most honor-laden word in Scripture. It speaks of renown and fame, weightiness and density, beauty and extreme value. The Hebrew word for glory is kabod, and includes the meaning of weight. Paul is praying to “the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory…”

Paul is saying that God is glorious; this is His most prominent feature. Could it be that by using the word, glory, Paul is saying that all of the attributes of God … holiness, love, righteousness, justice, omnipotence, omniscience, mercy, and so on … are all wrapped up under the banner of “glory?”

Here is a second possible meaning: Could it also be that Paul is saying that since God is the “Father of glory” that he begets glory in those who are created in his image? Since God is the “Father of glory,” and as the second Person of the Godhead, his Son Jesus Christ is equally glorious, therefore all who are part of his family, who are part of the body of Jesus Christ—are also made with the potential for glory. The “Father of glory and honor” begets glory and honor to his children.

The “Father of glory” is a great Patron and benefactor, revealing his immense honor. According to scholar Jerome Neyrey, in the ancient world, there existed a “code of patronage” [1] as part of the social system of honor and shame. In the “code of patronage,” the patron is honored by giving to his clients, while at the same time, the client’s honor is elevated.”

According to the code of patronage, it belongs to the patron to show exceptional favoritism to select individuals. “This is expressed clearly in the stories of both Old and New Testament persons, including Abraham, David, and Jesus.

God chooses to bless Abraham through land, protection, and descendants (Genesis 12:1–3); near the end of his life, David sings the praises of his Patron in 2 Samuel 22; and in Matthew 3:17, God speaks to Jesus saying, “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.” In all of these cases, God is the wealthy, honorable Patron who is demonstrating his honor and wealth by choosing to bless the “client.”

Neyrey writes, “The terms patron and client do not appear, but only a person unfamiliar with the culture would fail to recognize the singular favoritism David enjoys with God. Thus, when it says that God is “well pleased with him,” this declares for all to hear that God has elected Jesus, shown him special favor, and entered into a unique patron-client relationship with him.”

1. For a discussion about the patron-client relationship that pervaded the honor-shame culture of the New Testament, see Jerome Neyrey: Honor and Shame in the Gospel of Matthew (Louisville: Westminster Press, 1998), p. 37–39.

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