Glory to Glory
But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3:18 NASB
We understand that the work of the cross is finished. We are fully righteous, sanctified, and justified. If this is true, what does it mean to go from glory to glory? Is Paul teaching that we are incomplete and become more complete as time goes on? Of course not, and once again we see the importance of basing doctrine on the many passages of scripture which are clear, and letting that guide our understanding of less clear passages rather than the other way around. For example, Col 2:9-10 clearly teaches that we are complete in Christ.
For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; Colossians 2:9-10 NASB
The ESV uses the word “filled” rather than the word “complete” and the greek word actually means both. It means that we are filled completely to the fullest. Paul is saying that Jesus is filled with the fullness of God and that fullness now dwells in us.
What then does Paul mean by saying that we go from glory to glory? Well to answer this question we need to understand what glory is. The word “glory” means the manifestation of something so that it’s magnificence is clearly seen. In the old testament God’s glory frequently appeared as a cloud. To go from one degree of glory to another means that the manifestation of some reality continues to increase as time goes on. It’s the manifestation that is increasing.
We see this in the life of Jesus. While Jesus walked the earth He was always fully God, but His glory or the manifestation of His divine nature (which we are also partakers of 2 Pe 1:4) changed over time. He began as a baby in a manger. At the age of 12 he was impressing the Pharisees with His wisdom. Then He performed His first of many miracles by turning water into wine. On the mount of transfiguration He expressed even greater glory (remember this, it will be important later). Finally, He died and resurrected with a new body. Soon He will reign as King of kings from His throne in Jerusalem.
We are partakers of His divine nature and that nature naturally shines out of us and it is glorious, as it is written in Psalm 37.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. Psalms 37:6 ESV
Paul used the phrase “fruit of righteousness” to describe the way our complete righteousness that we have been given in Christ produces fruit. We don’t produce fruit to be righteous or sanctified. We produce fruit because we ARE righteous and sanctified. That is what truly glorifies God.
filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1:11 ESV
Lastly, let’s consider the word “transformed” in 2 Cor 3:18. That word is the greek word “metamorphoo” and it’s translated as “transfigured” in Matt 17:2. Once again we see the idea of our glory being manifested and shining out just like Jesus’ did on the Mount of Transfiguration. When Jesus was transfigured we wouldn’t say that He was more holy than before. We would say that His holiness, which was already there, was being manifested. As we behold in a mirror and see the glory that He has given us, which is the same glory He has, we are transfigured. That which is inside of us begins to break out. Our glory begins to radiate out into the world. As we renew our minds in the knowledge of Jesus and who we are in Him, we are able to walk in all that He has given us.
The Church is so busy trying to acquire what they have already been given in Christ that they are unable to walk in their inheritance. A person could be given a billion dollars but still be living in poverty and striving to make money if they do not know what they have been given. However, as we begin to SEE what we have been given we begin to WALK in the reality of it. This is precisely the logic of 2 Cor 3:18. Our beholding of what is true increases our ability to walk in it. Rather than being obsessed with getting sin out of our lives, we should realize that we have the fullness of righteousness within us that is ready to flow out of us. As we renew our minds in the truth we are transformed according to what is inside of us. As a result we not only overcome sin, but we bear real fruit to God - fruit that is from a good tree, a tree rooted in love. We produce fruit that is directly from Jesus and all that He has accomplished in us, therefore, we see that living in the gospel is the only thing that really glorifies Jesus.
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