Summary: Understanding the word "glory" provides meaning to some of our favorite Christmas songs and to the meaning of Christ’s coming.

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John 1:14-18

Dr. Roger W. Thomas, Preaching Minister

First Christian Church, Vandalia, MO

Glory is one of those special words. Do you notice how much of a Christmas word it is? Many, if not most of our favorite Christmas carols use the word somewhere. Most often it is in reference to the angels’ song to the shepherds, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests” (Lk 2:14). Think of some of the carols we have been singing this month:

Who can forget, even if we don’t know what it means, the chorus from Angels We Have Heard on High, “Gloria in excelsius Deo.” That’s the word for glory. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing begins and ends with “Glory to the newborn king.” Vs. 2 and 3 of O Come All Ye Faithful sings, “Glory to God, all glory in the highest,” and then “Jesus, to thee be all glory given.” While Shepherds Watched speaks of the glory that shone around the angel choir and then it quotes their song. Silent Night speaks of “glories stream from heaven afar.” Joy to the World refers to the “glories of his righteousness.” Angels From the Realms of Glory includes it in the title.

We can’t help but sing about the glory of Christmas. But I wonder if we understand our songs. I want to define and explain that word today because it is so important for our text and our understanding of what we are celebrating in the Christmas season.

Let’s begin with some facts. The word in its various forms is used nearly 300 times in the Bible; 130 times in the New Testament. This makes it a pretty significant word. Generally the word is used in two different, but related ways. First, glory is used as an attribute or characteristic of something, specifically God in our context. For example, God’s glory filled the temple or his glory appeared to the Israelites in the cloud by day and fire by night. Exodus tells of the glory of the Lord settling on Mt. Sinai. This is the most basic sense of the term.

Listen to 2 Chr 7:1-3: "When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. {2} The priests could not enter the temple of the LORD because the glory of the LORD filled it. {3} When all the Israelites saw the fire coming down and the glory of the LORD above the temple, they knelt on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshipped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, "He is good; his love endures forever.""

The Old Testament frequently speaks of God’s glory in this way, but the same word can be used to describe a quality of a person or nation. For example, (Prov 20:29) "The glory of young men is their strength, gray hair the splendor of the old."

The original term in the Old Testament was related to a word for “heaviness” or “weight.” Something that was glorious or possessed glory was something of substance. It was a heavy weight, not a light weight. We might talk of an important business man or politician as a “heavy weight” without any reference to size. Glory was that which had such substance that it left an impression. We would speak of something that was “impressive.” Even after it was over, the memory or the reaction remained.

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Michael Thomas

commented on Dec 24, 2008

Where is this cathedral? What is the reference?

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