The primary meaning of glory is derived from the Old Testament word kabod, as in Ichabod, the child so named after the glory of God departed with the ark (I Sam. 4:21). Its New Testament equivalent, doxa (as in doxology), originally meant opinion or view, but biblically has taken on the same meaning as the Old Testament kabod, which refers to a thing of heft or weight, i.e., massive, important, substantial, abundant, or considerable, thus honorable, splendid, magnificent, and awesome to see, experience, or contemplate. The opposite is something slight, trifling, vain, and lacking, thus lowly, dishonorable, contemptible, and shameful (Ps. 4:2; Is. 23:9; Prov. 3:35; I Cor. 15:43).
In Scripture, glory is attributed either to God or to something God makes glorious by His presence or as His handiwork. God is glorious in His being. He is the God of glory, which is the splendid, magnificent, and awesome weight of His substantial, considerable, even infinite and eternal, perfections (Ps. 29:3). He is glorious in power (I Thess. 1:9), greatness (Deut. 5:24), wisdom (Ps. 104:24), righteousness (Is. 62:2), holiness (Is. 63:15), love (John 17:24), and mercy and grace (Ex. 33:18-19). And wherever God dwells, in heaven, His temple, or with His people in the new creation, that glory radiates as holy, shining light (Rev. 21:23; Ex. 40:34; II Chr. 7:1).
God reveals this glory in all His works (Ps. 104:31). One such work is creation. The heavens declare the glory of God (Ps. 19:1). The God of glory thunders, is upon many waters, and above all the earth (Ps. 29:3, 148:13). As creatures of His wisdom and power, He gives glory to the flowers of the field (Matt. 6:29), to forests and fields (Is. 60:13), to bodies terrestrial and celestial (I Cor. 15:40), and to kings and kingdoms of this world (Matt. 4:8). But it remains His, that the whole earth be full of His glory (Is. 6:3). The wickedness of fallen man is that he robs God of His glory. Man, once crowned with glory, but having sinned and come short of the glory of God, shamefully changes that glory into an image of himself and attributes its substantial splendor to the mere chance of evolution (Ps. 8:5; Matt. 6:2; Rom. 1:23, 3:23).
The thievery does not end there. Man robs God of His glory in the redemption of fallen sinners and creation, by attributing some part of it to the will, worth, or work of the man. God will have none of it. His glory is great in salvation (Ps. 21:5). He creates the church, places salvation in Israel, and builds up Zion for His glory (Ps. 102:16; Is. 43:7, 46:13). To the glory of His grace He accepts those who are in Christ and gives to them His inheritance and the fruits of righteousness (Phil. 1:11; Eph. 1:6, 18). To make known the riches of His glory, He afore prepared them as vessels of mercy unto glory (Rom. 9:23). Astoundingly, the glory that man tries to steal, God shares with us (John 17:22). He calls us unto eternal glory; and afterwards receives us unto glory (I Pet. 5:10;Ps. 73:24). We are changed from glory to glory (II Cor. 3:18), will receive a crown of glory (I Pet. 5:4), and appear with Him in glory that is not worthy to be compared with our present sufferings (Col. 3:4; Rom. 8:18).
God most perfectly reveals His glory and glorifies us by His presence in the Spirit of Jesus Christ. As the express image of God, Jesus is the brightness of His glory and was glorified with Him before the world was (Heb. 1:3; John 17:5). Though He entered into our shame, we beheld His glory as of the only begotten of the Father and manifest in mighty miracles (John 1:14, 2:11). Not seeking His own glory, He was raised from death by the glory of the Father and received into heaven, the King of glory, who comes again with great glory (John 8:50; Rom. 6:4; Ps. 24:7-10).
Our calling is to give God the glory due unto His name (Ps. 29:2). We glorify God by worshiping Him reverently with the saints (Ps. 96:8); by declaring among the heathen His marvelous works, including creation (I Chr. 16:24); by attributing to Him alone the strength, wisdom, grace, love, and mercy of His work of salvation, including election (Rom. 9:23); by believing and confessing that Jesus alone is the Lord of glory (I Cor. 2:8; Phil. 2:11); and by patiently rejoicing in hope of the glory to be revealed in the perfected kingdom of Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:2). For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has shined in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of His glory in the face of Jesus Christ (II Cor. 4:6). To Him be glory forever.