Glory be to God
To the only God our Saviour, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and power, before all time, and now, and for evermore. Amen (Jude 1:25).
It is one of those phrases over which the eye may pass over quickly; we often do not give it much thought. Yet it is present often throughout the New Testament (e.g. Romans 16:27, Galatians 1:5, Hebrews 13:21, 2 Peter 3:18): a doxology declaring that all glory be to God the Father through His Son Jesus Christ. Even though we find such declarations frequently, especially at the end of letters of the New Testament, precious little is said about them. This relative quiet is especially tragic considering how important such declarations are in displaying the way that the early Christians viewed themselves and their work.
The New Testament describes the work of the early Christians, especially the Apostles, as they labored to promote the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the ancient Mediterranean world. The book of Acts and the testimonies of the many New Testament letters record the fruit of these efforts– many thousands of believers, Jews and Greeks, slave and free, men and women, throughout the known world.
Yet the early Christians did not pride themselves in their own efforts. Instead, they gave all glory to God. They understood that their task was to promote the Gospel; the job of conversion and the honor that went along with conversion and growth belonged to God (Romans 1:16, 1 Corinthians 3:5-9, Hebrews 4:12). None of them deserved to be saved or were saved on the basis of their own efforts (Romans 3:9-23, Ephesians 2:1-18, Titus 3:3-8); all received reconciliation with God on account of their trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior and their willingness to serve Him (Romans 5:6-11, 6:3-23). Therefore, there really was no basis upon which to boast or be proud, because God is the One who paved the way of salvation, and it was God’s powerful work through the early Christians that led to such spectacular growth and development (Romans 8:28-29, Philippians 2:12-13)!
The early Christians understood that they did indeed have their role to play, but it was by the direction of their Head, the Lord Jesus (Ephesians 5:22-32). Christians understood that they were part of the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-27), and just as various body parts may be able to accomplish many wonderful tasks, yet remain part of the body, humble, and dependent on the head, so it is with Christians. Individual Christians may be able to accomplish great things, but the honor and glory goes to the God who empowered them and made it all possible (Ephesians 3:20-21). They understand that they are always connected to their fellow Christians and completely dependent on the instruction and direction of the Lord through His Word (Ephesians 4:11-16, 5:22-32, 2 Timothy 3:16-17).
We must never forget that we are nothing without God. He has provided us with the creation, life, and the opportunity for salvation and every spiritual blessing through Jesus Christ (cf. Ephesians 1:3). Great things for the Lord have never been accomplished merely by human power; our power alone is always insufficient. Instead, we must depend on the Lord for strength, and when He strengthens us and we see increase and development, He ought to receive all the glory (cf. Philippians 4:13). Let us join with the Apostles and the early Christians and declare that all glory, honor, majesty, and dominion be to God our Father though the Lord Jesus Christ for all eternity!
Ethan R. Longhenry