by Mike Ratliff
28 Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white. 30 And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, 31 who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32 Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, but when they became fully awake they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. (Luke 9:28-32 ESV)
As we continue in our discussion and deeper look at the makeup of the dividing line between genuine Christianity, that which is God centered, and counterfeit Christianity, that which is man centered, let us look the vast difference in how each side understands the concepts of God’s glory and the praise that is His due. The word most often translated as praise in the New Testament is δόξα or doxa. It is also translated even more often as glory. However, in secular Greek, δόξα means opinion or conjecture, especially favorable human opinion, which then includes an evaluation placed by others, such as fame, repute, honor, or praise. Is this what is meant in God’s Word when δόξα is used in reference to God’s glory and the praise that His due? I submit that that definition exactly defines most professing Christians’ understanding of praise and worship, but is not in any way shape or form what is true δόξα.
While the secular usage of δόξα is as defined above, in the New Testament we see a totally different picture. Yes, we still honor the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and we guard our Lord’s reputation above all, the concept of personal opinion vanishes entirely. Of the 165 occurrences of δόξα in the New Testament, not one regresses into man’s personal opinion. Also, not one of the post-apostolic fathers use it that way either. In other words, the Biblical usage of δόξα has transformed it from the realm of the subjective, shifting, selfish opinion of man thereby showing us that man-centered Christianity is worthless. Man’s opinion about God and His honor and praise and glory matters not at all. Instead, true Christianity is God Centered in that all that matters is the eternal constant of God’s fame, repute, honor, and praise.
Carefully read the passage I placed at the top of this post which describes our Lord’s transfiguration. Forms of δόξα are used twice there. The first is used to describe the appearance of Moses and Elijah in v31, “οἳ ὀφθέντες ἐν δόξῃ ἔλεγον τὴν ἔξοδον αὐτοῦ ἣν ἤμελλε πληροῦν ἐν ᾿Ιερουσαλήμ.” A direct translation of this would be, “who having appeared in glory were speaking of His exodus, which He was about to fulfill in Jerusalem.” Here we have the dative, singular form of δόξα in the two words ἐν δόξη referring to Moses and Elijah being seen “in splendor” or “in glory.” This was splendor or glory in which they were seen, but it was not personally theirs, but was acting upon them. The glory was coming from elsewhere. The dative case refers to nouns that are indirectly affected by the action. This is important for us to grasp here my brethren. Let’s look at v32 for the second usage.
32 ὁ δὲ Πέτρος καὶ οἱ σὺν αὐτῷ ἦσαν βεβαρημένοι ὕπνῳ· διαγρηγορήσαντες δὲ εἶδον τὴν δόξαν αὐτοῦ καὶ τοὺς δύο ἄνδρας τοὺς συνεστῶτας αὐτῷ. (Luke 9:32 GNT)
Here is a word-for-word translation: “But Peter and the ones with him had been weighed down with sleep. And having awakened fully, they saw His glory and that of the two men standing with Him.” Here, the word translated as “glory” is the accusative, singular form of δόξα or δόξαν. The accusative is the opposite of the dative form in that the noun is the direct object of the verb. The glory here is our Lord’s. Peter and the Apostles awaken to that glory and see the transfigured Lord in His glory and see Moses and Elijah in that glory. Notice that the glory refers to radiance and brightness. The glory Peter, James and John witnessed here was divine and heavenly radiance , the loftiness and majesty of God, and even the being of God.
3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. (Hebrews 1:3-4 ESV)
Puritan Thomas Watson wrote: “When we praise God, we spread his fame and renown, we display the trophies of his excellency. In this manner the angles glorify him; they are the choristers of heaven, and do trumpet forth his praise. Praising God in one of the highest and purest acts of religion. In prayer we act like men; in praise we act like angels.”
Of course, those who praise this way are God Centered in their faith and their praise and worship and their approach to the Word of God, all things about Christianity. On the other hand, the man centered professing Christian thinks that all of this is just a big bore because it’s not about them.
Soli Deo Gloria!