Blinded by the light...

The Character of God:  Glory

New Testament, Greek doxa

Luke 2:8-14, 9:28-36
John 1:1-5, 9-14; Matthew 24:29-31
Acts 22:1-11; 2 Corinthians 4:3-6
Hebrews 1:1-4; Revelation 15:1-8
Revelation 21:9-27

Other Aspects of God's Character

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Luke 2:8-14, 9:28-36 (2/7/11)

It has often been said (although I’m sure not by any of you) that in the Old Testament (OT), God is wrathful and judgmental, and in the New Testament (NT), God is loving and merciful.  People who say this have apparently never read either the OT or the NT!  Whenever you hear this, you may say, politely, that the speaker mistaken.

In fact, not only the character of God but also the vocabulary describing God is nearly identical in the Old and New Testaments.  We’re going to test this idea by looking at most of the words we are studying in both places – one week in the OT, and one week in the NT.  Now, you are probably asking, “How are we going to do that, since the OT is in Hebrew, and the NT is in Greek?”  Excellent question!  By the third century B.C., many Jews, maybe even most, didn’t speak or read Hebrew – they spoke Greek.  Seventy rabbis got together and translated the scripture (our OT) into Greek.  (Septuagint [SEP-tua-jint] means “70”, and is abbreviated LXX.)  The Greek version of the Bible was the Bible for most first-century Jews, even in Palestine and Judea. 

So if a Hebrew word like cabod is translated into the same Greek word most of the time – which it is – and that Greek word is used in similar contexts in the NT, then we can be pretty confident that the writers of the New Testament had the same idea in mind as the OT writers.  The Greek word for cabod, glory, is doxaCabod is translated doxa in the LXX the great majority of the times it used.  We will see this week that, just like cabod, doxa is associated with light, sometimes so bright as to be blinding; clouds filling the area; and a goodly portion of awe and even fear. 

Which brings me to a truly glorious insight sent in by fellow-reader Gail B.: I added the bold italics at the end so that you would be sure to see her main point.  The primary reason we never noticed the restriction before is that only the more modern translations – which are based on more recently discovered and better manuscript support than the King James – have that wording.

What I never noticed until Gail pointed it out is that this better and more-restrictive translation is fear-inspiring.
John 1:1-5, 9-14; Matthew 24:29-31 (2/8/11)

So I know that I was just going to mark the words we are studying with bold italics, but today I’m marking three other words just for fun.  John wrote the gentlest of the Gospels – pretty surprising considering what a hot-tempered young man he was – because his attitude is that if people would just love each other, all problems would be solved.  He also wrote the Gospel with the most puns and word plays, I think.  We’ve seen before that katalambano can mean either understand or seize; “grasp” and “master” have this same double meaning in English.  What I never noticed before is that John uses two other words, paralambano and lambano, in this same opening passage.  You have to understand the Word; you have to associate with the Word; you have to welcome the Word into your life.

Anyway, on to glory.  The glory of the Son is the glory of the Father.  And the glory of the Son is to shine in the darkness.  Is it just me, or is the glory of the Son so dazzling that it appears to darken the sun, moon, and stars?  Also notice, as usual, the clouds and loud sounds, in this case the voice of the trumpet.
Acts 22:1-11; 2 Corinthians 4:3-6 (2/9/11)

Those of you who have children or grandchildren know that Today’s Modern Toy is held into the box with a minimum number of twist ties equal to twice the age of the child, each one about 6 inches long and twisted all the way to the end.  So on Christmas morning I was trying to figure out how to get my Lego™ man flashlight out of the box.  I did not realize that (1) the on button was in his tummy, (2) my thumb was about to land on his tummy, and (3) the LED lights in the foot are carefully aimed at the customer.  …  I saw spots for several minutes.

Saul didn’t just see spots when he was surrounded by the glory of God – he was blinded by a light much brighter than the noonday sun.  He heard an awe-inspiring voice.  In Acts 9:6, some of the manuscripts say that he was trembling and astonished, and even though scholars don’t think this was in the original manuscript of Acts, we can well believe that it was true.

So it is interesting to me that in 2 Corinthians Paul talks about the blindness of unbelievers, in contrast to the light of the knowledge of the doxa of God, which enlightens our hearts. 
Hebrews 1:1-4; Revelation 15:1-8 (2/10/11)

When we first started looking at the glory of God, what I mostly expected to find was praise and honor (which is what you find in the dictionary), with maybe some associated brightness and some awe (which is what you find when the angels are singing, “Glory to God”). 

But so far what we mostly have found is fire, smoke, clouds, thunderous voices, blinding light, awe, and fear.  So maybe we should be a little taken aback that the Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s nature.
Revelation 21:9-27 (2/11/11)

Our final reading on “glory” comes from the next-to-last chapter of the last book of the Bible, Revelation.  In the end, there is no fire, no smoke, no cloud, no thunder, no blindness, no awe, no fear.  All that remains is the indescribable beauty and brightness of the glory of God.
Other Aspects of God's Character
Glory, Old Testament, New Testament
Holiness, Old Testament, New Testament
Longsuffering, Old Testament, New Testament
Steadfast Love, Old Testament, which is Mercy in the New Testament
Graciousness, Old Testament, which is Grace in the New Testament
Jealousy, Old Testament
Intolerance of Sin, Old Testament, New Testament

Copyright 2011 by Regina L. Hunter. All rights reserved.

Opinions expressed on this page are solely those of the author, Regina Hunter, and may or may not be shared by the sponsors or the Bible-study participants.  Thanks to the Holy Spirit for any useful ideas presented here, and thanks to all the readers for their support and enthusiasm.  All errors are, of course, the sole responsibility of the author.

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