Once again, the word of the day is “glorified.” In our reading of 2 Thessalonians 1:10-2:2, St. Paul writes that he prays constantly for his congregation as they face trials that he does not name. His concern is not on what the Thessalonians should do to prevail in their troubles. His focus is on God’s work in them. Thus, he prays “that the name of Christ may be glorified in you and you in Him according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ” (vs. 12).
Paul has just promised that when Christ returns in glory, he will be “glorified in his saints” (vs. 10). But now he applies that thought to all those who believe in Christ. He teaches that the Lord may also be glorified in them. In both Greek and the English translation, the word “glorified” is in the passive tense. God is glorified when His exceeding splendor is “exhibited.” For example, the Psalmist sings, “The heavens are telling the glory of God, and the firmament proclaims his handiwork (Oxford Annotated Ps.19:1). That is to say that God “is glorified” in the majesty of the heavens. As the Septuagint puts it, “The heavens describe the glory of God and the firmament announces the making of His hands” (Wendland. Septuagint, Ps. 19:1).
Glorified in Us
It is not difficult to understand that the holy lives of the saints show forth the glory of God. But what of the rest of us, the ordinary believers? We learn from our reading that the name of the Lord can also be glorified in us. The name signifies all that Christ is, especially his authority, power, status, and excellence (Strong’s #3686, 179). In summary, the name is the character and identity of the Lord.
On the Day of Pentecost, St. Peter exhorts the multitude, “Repent and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ…” (Acts 2:38). By baptism, they were to be identified with Christ in whose name they were to be christened. So also, when we call ourselves “Christians,” we claim our identity with Christ. It follows that what “Christians” say and do reflect on the one whose name they bear and whose identity they share.
A Life Fully Devoted to Christ
Therefore, we learn from Paul that our faith and life can glorify Christ. St. John Chrysostom says that we are glorified in Christ because we put Him above all else. Above all, a life that is fully devoted to Christ is a life that glorifies Him (NfPf1: 13, 385). Conversely, faithlessness, does the opposite. In Hebrews, the Apostle warns that those who fall away “… put Him [Christ] to an open shame” (Hebrews 6:6).
Yet Paul also prays that “in Him [Christ],” “you” may be glorified. Chrysostom says that this glorification happens “because we have received power from Him, so that we do not at all yield to the evils that are brought upon us” (NfPf1: 13, 385). The great preacher explains, “Tribulation for the sake of Christ is glory.” “And,” he states, “by how much we suffer anything dishonorable, so much more illustrious we become” (NfPf1: 13, 385).
But Chrysostom teaches that what is true of trial is true of temptation. When we resist temptation, others see how God has “nerved us,” that is given us strength to withstand the enticement. And they admire us because we have shown ourselves to be worthy of God’s kingdom. But this is not to our own credit. Note that God glorifies Himself in us. By His grace, we endure suffering and overcome temptation (NfPf1: 13, 385).
A common objection to what we learn today is that people say, “I am not a saint.” Is that a statement of humility or an excuse? We learn from our reading that God is “glorified in His saints.” Likewise, Paul prays that Christ may be “glorified in us and we in Him” (vs12).
So what is the difference between saints and ourselves? St. Paul writes to the Romans that they are “called to be saints” (Romans 1:7). and the Apostle in 1 Peter says, “But as God who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct” (1 Peter 1:16). But note that for both the words “saints” and “holy,” a form of the Greek word (‘agios), that is, “set apart for the sacred,” is used. The common meaning of the two terms is that those who are called to be saints and those called to be holy are both consecrated for sacred service to God (Strong’s 40, 3). Therefore, there is no fundamental difference between the saints and other believers. God works in all the baptized so that they grow in saintliness and holiness. The result is that “God is glorified” in all.
St. Porphyrios, St. 2005. Wounded by Love: the Life and the Wisdom of Saint Porphyrios. Translated by John Raffan. Limni, Evia, Greece: Denise Harvey, Publisher.