Monday, June 22, 2009

This Eternal Weight of Glory

Eternal Weight of glory…

Ok, so I think that I see the significance of the “eternal weight of glory”. My great friend Tamara texted me last week and asked me what “Glory” means. On Sunday morning, I found myself tripping on the phrase in 2 Corinthians 4, “eternal weight of glory.” Why weight? This weight is actually the term “baros” which I assumed earlier this year to be the negative kind of burden, one that we place on ourselves, which is overwhelming and unmanageable. But this weight/burden, with the same Greek name, is a different sort of weight, because of what it is composed of. The Greek word for glory here is “doxa,” which is high esteem and honor, as seen through the eyes of someone else. But when I looked up one of the Hebrew words for glory, I found the word “kabod,” which actually means weight but in a good sense. It is splendor or copiousness. It is abundance.

This context of this passage is encouragement for the church at Corinth as it faces hardships, persecutions, falls, and troubles. This is all part of our situation as earthen vessels. These are heavy weights that threaten to crush us. But we are not crushed, because the power and fortitude is of the Lord and not of ourselves. Our frail, human vessels could not alone withstand this sort of trouble and hardship. Only the power of God in us can prevent us from being struck out or destroyed even though we are struck down and wounded; therefore, Paul is juxtaposing the weight of earthly trails with the “eternal weight of glory.” Each word in the phrase “eternal weight of glory” is vital.

1. Eternal: We are being prepared for this. It is future tense. It is also present tense. These trials are achieving and producing this weight in us currently. This thing which is not seen is deathless and everlasting. It is for the present life and the life to come.

2. Weight: This word is vital in our understanding of glory. It points back to the Hebrew word for Glory, which is “kabod.” This weight is positive. It is abundance. According the Amplified version of this verse, this weight is “beyond all measure, excessively surpassing all calculations, vast.” It is very different from the weight of the persecutions, trials and hardships. It is “baros” in its best sense: Vast, abundant, copious.

3. Glory: The word glory, as I stated earlier, is the Greek word, “doxa,” which is blessedness, honor, favor, and esteem. This glory is specifically in relation to Christ and His manifestations. What we know of Christ now is incomparable with the knowledge and esteem that we will progressively be able to give Him as we experience death’s active work in our temporal lives. For Paul, knowing Christ was his greatest goal in life, and I believe, knowing that the Bible is the inspired Word of the Most High God, that we need to model this value system. With this priority established, Paul could see that every adverse situation was opening up the door for new revelation and understanding of the Person and Character of Christ. I believe that this New Testament use of “glory” reflects on the Old Testament use of the word “glory” as “kabod.” The idea of weight was intrinsic in the Hebrew word for glory, and with Paul’s training in the Jewish tradition, he knew this.

I don’t know what the practical application of this insight is. I think it is simply an encouragement for the persecuted church in Corinth and also for the beaten down believer in the world today. Reading statuses on facebook and interacting with struggling believers, I see evidence of this discouragement and weariness. As we walk in obedience to the Lord, we can know that our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal weight of glory. The quantity of glory that arises from the trials is infinitely greater than the quantity of suffering that we are now experiencing, so let us not grow weary.

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