We turn today to the first verse of the second chapter of James, wherein the apostle refers to Jesus as "the Lord of glory." Even though this is an acceptable translation of the original Greek text, it is not necessarily the most accurate way to render the verse in English. As the note in the Reformation Study Bible indicates, it is also possible to translate “the Lord of glory” as simply “the glory.” In reality, it does not really matter which one we choose because the two translations are synonymous. However, to say Jesus is “the glory” is a good way to encapsulate a portion of the New Testament’s description of the majesty of Christ.
As someone from a Jewish background, James undoubtedly had the Hebrew term kabod in mind when he penned his epistle. “Glory,” or kabod in the original text, usually deals with weightiness or substance. When the Old Testament declares that God’s name is “glorious” (1 Chron. 29:13), it is ascribing weight or importance to His name. Basically, the meaning is that God possesses supreme gravitas; nothing is more important or greater than He, and no one deserves more honor.
Under the old covenant, the primary way in which our Creator manifested His glory was in a cloud. (Ex. 16:10; 1 Kings 8:10). We do not know exactly what this cloud looked like, but we get the impression that it glowed brightly with some kind of unique light because this same cloud had to direct Israel through the wilderness after they left Egypt (Neh. 9:12). In fact, most of us probably think of bright light whenever we hear the word glory, and this is due to the fact that light is often associated with glory in Scripture (Rev. 21:23).
Christ is the incarnation of God’s glory (John 1:14), and it is the vision of this glory in the new heavens and earth for which we all hope. When Jesus walked the earth, this glory was usually hidden from plain view and only visible for brief moments to a select few of His disciples (Luke 9:28–36). But all who love and serve the Messiah will one day get to see the beauty of His glory. In the new Jerusalem we will see Him face to face (Rev. 21).
It is hard for us to understand exactly what God’s glory may look like, but the various descriptions of it in Scripture seem to indicate that it will be the most beautiful sight we will ever experience. All of the goodness and beauty we see in the present will be nothing in comparison to the refulgent glory of God. As we think on the Lord’s glory, let us be concerned to reflect His beauty and goodness in all that we do and say.