Saturday, June 18, 2016

Putting the "Doxa" in Doxology

Doxa is a "state of being bright, radiant, or magnificent." It can also mean "honor" or "majesty."

In the Holy Bible, doxa often describes manifestations of supernatural splendor or divine glory. In the Greek translation of the OT (LXX), doxa is the usual translation for the Hebrew word kabod, whose primary meaning relates to weight (being heavy, weighty, or impressive). God’s presence was manifested by a visible, luminous phenomenon referred to as His doxa, which rested in particular in the tabernacle or temple (Exod 40:34–35; 1 Kgs 8:11; Hag 2:7 LXX). Here is how doxa is often translated in our English translations of the Bible:

In the NT, doxa can also refer to the visible splendor or brightness of God’s presence (e.g. Rev 15:8; 21:11). Writing to the Romans, Paul uses doxa to describe the direct presence of God and the communion with Him that was forfeited by humanity at the fall (Rom 3:23).

Jesus is also described as manifesting doxa (John 1:14), and consequently, He can be ascribed as doxa (Heb 13:21). Doxa can also refer to an evil supernatural being (2 Pet 2:10), describe the visible manifestation of a benevolent angel (Rev 18:1), or refer to the wonder and greatness of heaven (1 Tim 3:16). God can display His doxa through amazing acts of power such as raising Christ from the dead (Rom 6:4).

To give God doxa means to acknowledge His status and give proper reverence and worship to Him, recognizing that He is worthy of honor and majesty (Luke 2:13–14). God’s displeasure and wrath could be revealed when His status was not properly acknowledged. For example, in Acts 12:20–23, an angel of the Lord struck King Herod Agrippa, killing him because he did not give doxa to God when the crowds hailed him as a god.

Paul informs us that as Christians, a veil has been lifted so we, unlike unbelievers, are able to gaze upon or contemplate the doxa of the Lord (2 Cor 3:15–16). Our focus on the doxa of the Lord—His image or divine splendor—aids our transformation into that same glorious image (2 Cor 3:18). Paul also recounts that a Christian’s resurrected body is transformed into a body of doxa; this body is in contrast to the former body of weakness, which is susceptible to disease, sinfulness, and death (Phil 3:21).

On the Lord's day worship, many of us sing the Doxology, a hymn which is literally a "glory saying." The words are likely very familiar:

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise him, all creatures here below;
Praise him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.

These words were originally written in 1674 by Thomas Ken as the final verse of two hymns, "Awake, my soul, and with the sun" and "Glory to thee, my God, this night," intended for morning and evening worship at Winchester College. 

A doxology is essentially a form of words that offers praise to God, especially for his work of creation and redemption. Scripture records a number of these forms of praise which were used in both public and private worship.

Doxologies used in the formal worship of Israel
1 Chronicles 29:10-13; Psalm 41:13; Psalm 72:18-19; Psalm 106:48; Psalm 150:1-6

Doxologies used in the spontaneous praise of God’s people
Romans 11:33-36; Psalm 57:5,11; Matthew 21:9; Mark 11:9-10; Luke 19:38; Galatians 1:5; Ephesians 3:21; Philippians 4:20; 1 Timothy 1:17

Doxologies used as a benediction
Jude 24-25; Ephesians 3:20-21; Romans 16:25-27; Hebrews 13:20-21; 2 Peter 3:18

Doxologies used in heavenly worship 
Revelation 5:12-13; Isaiah 6:3; Luke 2:13-14; Revelation 4:8,11; Revelation 5:9-14; Revelation 7:12; Revelation 19:1

So, whatever you do this day, take a cue from the Bible and ascribe to God the doxa that is due Him. He is infinitely worthy, majestic, and deserving of all our praise!