“I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.” (John 17:4-5).
The Greek word doxa occurs three times in various forms in John 17:4-5. Translators render it as the words glorified, glorify and glory. We derive our word doxology, meaning praise, from this Greek word. Let’s take time to examine each way this one word is used.
First, the word glorified (ἐδόξασα; edoxasa) is an aorist active verb indicating that Jesus had accomplished the task of glorifying the greatness of God the Father with His entire being. Jesus did this not only in the work laid before Him, namely the crucifixion and resurrection, but also in His sinless life and ministry following His virgin birth incarnation. This was the work God the Father gave to the Son and the Son accomplished the work the Father had given Him.
Second, the word glorify (δόξασόν; doxason) is an aorist active imperative verb indicating that Jesus is asking, commanding if you will, God the Father to glorify the greatness of Jesus in the Father’s own presence or company. One commentator writes, “This is an interesting request, for glory is a divine attribute, and since the Son of God is fully God, He possesses an inherent divine glory that cannot be augmented or diminished (1:1–18). So, if Christ possesses glory at the time of His High Priestly Prayer, how can He pray for God to give Him glory?”
The answer is that Jesus had willingly and submissively veiled His inherent glory with His humble humanity at His incarnation. The Apostle Paul presented this truth in Philippians 2:5-11. Jesus revealed His inherent glory to Peter, James and John on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-7).
Professor Robert Rothwell explains that, “Jesus’ prayer for His glorification is also a prayer for His humanity to share fully in the divine glory. As the incarnate Mediator between God and humanity, He asks to be glorified in both His divine nature and in His human nature. Consider the basis of His request. Jesus prays for His glorification because of the authority given to Him to give eternal life to the elect and because He has accomplished the work given to Him (John 17:2–4). Christ refers to His work of securing righteousness for us and atoning for our sin, which the Son of God could accomplish only as the incarnate Mediator. Why? Because atonement requires the Son to possess a human nature, since it is impossible for the Son to suffer according to His divine nature. Humanity can suffer; God cannot. Without the incarnation, the Son does not have a human nature, and without a human nature there is no atonement.”
Finally, the word glory (δόξῃ; doxe) is a noun meaning splendor, brightness, amazing might, praise and honor. These are qualities Jesus said He possessed with God the Father prior to the creation of the world. Jesus indicated that He is eternal with God the Father (John 1:1-2).
John Calvin writes, “This is a remarkable passage which teaches us that Christ is not a God who has been newly contrived, or who has existed only for a time; for if His glory was eternal, Himself also has always been. Besides, a manifest distinction between the person of Christ and the person of the Father is here expressed; from which we infer that He is not only eternal God, but also that He is the eternal Word of God begotten by the Father before all ages.”
May truth and grace reside here.
Soli deo Gloria!