The transliteration of the Hebrew word for glory is “kabod.” From the most ancient sources the word literally means “weight.” In common usage it came to indicate heaviness, worthiness, honor, wealth or splendor. In modern English, we say, “His word carries a lot of weight.” Used in this sense, weight refers to insight and authority. In the 1960’s an English phrase became popular, “That’s heavy.” It meant that something said carried weight. It was insightful. Weight in this sense means that what a person said was profound. We should listen to and pay attention to what this person says. In Hebrew the weight of a person’s possessions, his standing in the community, his reputation, his sense of morality and the sum of his character make up his “kabod.”
In Zechariah 11:3, the judgment of God spoiled the shepherd’s glory. Daniel 11:20 refers to the glory of a kingdom. In Daniel 4, Nebuchadnezzar’s glory was wrapped up in his kingdom, his power and his honor. In Daniel 5 we learn that God gave glory to Nebuchadnezzar. 2 Kings 14:10 shows glory in victory.
With these examples in mind, we might say that the total sum of a person is their glory, or the lack thereof. Thus when we think in terms of the total sum of God, we bring glory to a whole new level. The Old Testament understanding is that He is the God of glory. He is all-powerful. He has all authority. He is perfect in every way. His way is always true and right. What He says goes. As creator, He owns everything. As for morality, He sets the standards. His word carries weight because He is sovereign. His splendor is overwhelming. His glory exists by nature of who He is and we are to give Him glory.
During the second century BC, men translated the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek, so that the word of God could be read in the language of the common people. This has been the stated goal of most modern translations from the KJV to date. This earlier translation came to be known as the Septuagint. The translators strived to find just the right word in Greek, to be synonymous with the Hebrew “kabod.” The transliteration of that Greek word they used is “doxa.”
This Greek word carries the meanings of reputation, fame, opinion, outward splendor and brightness. During the temptation of Jesus, the devil showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in their glory. In Luke 2, Jesus is the light for revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of Israel. In John 7:18 Jesus said, “He who speaks on his own does so to gain honor for himself, but he who works for the honor of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him. (NIV) The NIV translators here chose the English word honor for the Greek word “doxa.”
Jesus spoke of Solomon in all of his glory (Matthew 6:29, Luke 12:27). James and John asked Jesus if they could set on His left and His right when He entered His glory (Mark 10:37). In 2 Corinthians 3:7, Paul refers to Moses saying that the Israelites could not look at his face because of the glory (radiance) brought on by seeing God face to face. In Philippians 4:19, Paul speaks of the riches in glory. In 1 Corinthians 2:8, Jesus is the Lord of glory. In 2 Corinthians he writes of the gospel of the glory of Christ. In Hebrews 1:3, Jesus is the radiance of God’s glory. Peter writes of the Spirit of glory in 1 Peter 4:14. In 1Peter 5:14 there is a crown of glory for the faithful followers of Christ.
With this foundation of the meanings of the words, we can begin to try to comprehend the glory of God and our role in His glory.