The “Glory” Motif In The Johannine Corpus -- By: W. Robert Cook

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 27:3 (Sep 1984)
Article: The “Glory” Motif In The Johannine Corpus
Author: W. Robert Cook

The “Glory” Motif In The Johannine Corpus

W. Robert Cook*

An oft-quoted statement from one of the most well-known catechisms of the Christian faith answers the question, “What is the chief end of man?” The answer: “The chief end of man is to glorify God …” Most would agree with this response, but the thoughtful person will raise yet another question that is not addressed by the catechism. What is meant by “glorify God”? And, even more basically, what is the glory of God? It is the purpose of this paper to examine John’s contribution to the doctrine of glory, but before this can be done these other prior questions must be faced.

I. Brief Review Of The Primary Terms

1. Its meaning in secular and Biblical usage. Our primary interest is with the word “glory” and more particularly with the Greek term doxa. In introducing the word-group with which doxa is cognate Kittel makes the following observation:

The historical problem in relation to this word-group is that in the biblical usage of the LXX and the New Testament the verb dokeō more or less fully maintains the general Greek sense with no development in content, whereas there is a significant change in the meaning of the noun [doxa], which both loses part of its secular sense in biblical Greek and also takes on an alien and specifically religious meaning shared by the verb doxazō rather than dokeō. It is because this substitute verb is present that dokeō can retain its original meaning. The process is helped by the fact that the formal relationship between doxa and dokeō is not too clear and also by the addition to the secular sense of doxa of a special biblical sense which is not so clear in the case of dokeō (doxa in the sense of “reputation” from dokeō “to count for something”).1

These comments give us the first significant clue to our understanding of doxa. It is a word in transition as it moves from secular to Biblical usage.

In light of its roots in dokeō, the classical usage of doxa took two primary directions.2 On the one hand it had the sense of expectation, referring to one’s own opinion, while on the other hand it meant ...

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