As Christians, when we think of the word “glory” in the Bible we rightly think of God. As Christians we believe that the glory of God is paramount in all of life. The Westminster Shorter Catechism begins this way:
Q. 1. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.
Perhaps the most concise statements about the crux of God’s glory are written by Apostle Paul:
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
(Romans 11:36 ESV)
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
(1 Corinthians 10:31 ESV)
to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
(Ephesians 3:21 ESV)
But there is an aspect about this word “glory” in Scripture, which I think is frequently overlooked or ignored. It is this: the many Scriptures in which “glory” refers to humanity. In fact, of the 407 cases in which the words glory, glorify, glorified, or glorious appear in the English Standard Version of the Holy Bible, 139 refer to humanity.
You can inspect the Excel spreadsheet I created by clicking here.
Here are the results: Of the English words in the Bible translated as … glory, glorify, glorified, and glorious …
- 65% relate to God and his domain.
- 29% relate to humanity.
- 6% relate to “other”—neither God nor humanity.
For me, the surprise is that nearly one-third of the “glory verses” relate to humanity. Here’s a short selection:
Awake, my glory! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn!
(Psalm 57:8 ESV)
On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God.
(Psalm 62:7 ESV)
Behold, you shall call a nation that you do not know, and a nation that did not know you shall run to you, because of the Lord your God, and of the Holy One of Israel, for he has glorified you.
(Isaiah 55:5 ESV)
How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?
(John 5:44 ESV)
for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.
(John 12:43 ESV)
The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one,
(John 17:22 ESV)
to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life;
(Romans 2:7 ESV)
that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
(Romans 8:21 ESV)
But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory.
(1 Corinthians 2:7 ESV)
To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
(Colossians 1:27 ESV)
You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor
(Hebrews 2:7 ESV)
Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones.
(Jude 1:8 ESV)
What are we to make of all these references to the glory of humanity? The Psalmist David praying, “Awake , my glory” … about believers seeking “the glory that comes from the only God” … Jesus telling the Father about the glory, “I have given to them” … that creation will be set free and obtain the “glory of the children of God” … about Christ in us, “the hope of glory” … and believers being called the “glorious ones”?
All this biblical ‘glory and honor’ about humanity is first of all attributable to every person being made in the image of a good and glorious God. It is then significantly elevated by the believer’s faith and identity in Christ.
This answers humanity’s struggle with sin and shame—and longing for honor. It relates to what it means to follow Jesus. It speaks to God’s call to His people to extend His blessing through Christ to all the peoples of the earth—the majority of which are characterized by the pivotal cultural value of honor and shame.