A Biblical doxology is a short segment of Scripture praising God and extolling His glory. Doxology means ‘word of glory.’ This article will present several popular doxologies from the later books of the New Testament. They are frequently utilized in Christian worship services. We will examine their deeper meaning, and hopefully impart a minute portion of the glory, which He so richly deserves.
Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen (Hebrews 13: 20-21).
The above doxology concludes the epistle to the Hebrews. This letter is written to the Jews just prior to AD 70, when the Romans destroyed the Temple—the center of Jewish worship. Animal sacrifices and Levitical worship in the temple were practiced when this letter was written. The letter addresses concerns of Messianic Jews who believed Jesus was their Messiah. It also spoke to the hearts of Jews who were ‘sitting on the fence,’ uncertain whether to follow the Mosaic Covenant (with its practices of animal blood sacrifices and religious works to satisfy the requirements of the Mosaic Law) or embrace the New “eternal covenant” fulfilled in Christ Jesus. The Mosaic Covenant was temporary and could never be fulfilled by the Jews. Jesus terminated it at the cross. Paul explains in his letter to the Galatians:
But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor (Gal. 3: 23-25).
The ‘blood of the eternal covenant’ refers to the blood of our Savior, Jesus Christ, who laid down His life as a permanent atonement for the sins of mankind—Jews included. That once and for all sacrifice eliminated the need for animal sacrifices to cover the sins of God’s people. Jesus death was a satisfying atonement for Divine justice. Jesus resurrection signaled God’s acceptance of His Son’s sacrifice. God ‘brought up from the dead the great Shepherd.’
Jesus earlier prophesied the majestic temple would be totally destroyed. “And He said to them, ‘Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down’” (Matt. 24: 2). The Romans totally destroyed the Jewish temple a short time after this letter was written. The Romans abruptly terminated all animal sacrifices and temple worship. Hopefully, the recipients of this letter realized Jesus Christ was the fulfillment of all their hopes and dreams. God the Father sent Jesus (a Jew) to His chosen people as the Messiah of the world. The phrase, ‘the great Shepherd of the sheep’ penned in this doxology, refers to the Messiah. Many Old Testament Scriptures support this: (Psalm 23; Isa. 40:11; Ezek. 34: 11-16, 23, Jer. 31: 10; Zech. 13: 7, and others). New Testament Scriptures affirm Jesus Christ is the Messiah and the Great Shepherd (1 Pet. 2: 25; 5: 4). Jesus plainly and repeatedly claims the Messianic mantle of the Great Shepherd in John 10: 1-16, 27-31). The following is one such example: “I am the good Shepherd; the good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep” (John 10: 11).
God has established peace solely through the work of His Son, Who shed His blood to seal the ‘eternal covenant.’ Only those who faithfully trust in Jesus Christ as their Savior can traverse this narrow bridge to God. The sacrifice of Jesus makes peace with a holy God. God is at war with all who refuse to cross that bridge. He can never be at peace with them. God’s eternal peace infinitely exceeds any peace between men and nations of this world. God’s peace begins a living relationship with His children, which endures forever.
Jesus Christ is God. He is omnipotent and His power equips the believer ‘in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight.’ His followers are the Body of Christ in this world. His power achieves His will in the members of His Body. His will is to transmit the Gospel of Grace to the unsaved of this wicked world, and to minister God’s forgiveness through His sacrifice on the cross.
God’s will rules every good work. God provides His grace to perform good works, and more grace to continue in them. Grace is a work of God—not of man (Eph. 2: 8-10).
The writer of Hebrews attributes all glory to God the Son. He has made the ultimate sacrifice and built the bridge of peace between God and His children.
This doxology belongs to Jesus Christ, the great Shepherd of the sheep, through whom all grace and good things come. Jesus has a glory as God, and as Mediator of the New Covenant. The glory of salvation and redemption is given to Jesus Christ, who alone has obtained it.
…grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen (2 Peter 3:18).
This doxology completes the writings of the Apostle Peter. It compliments the doxology of Hebrews, previously discussed. These are the last words and the legacy of an old man. He knew his martyrdom was at hand. His life exemplified his teaching. Peter was brash, arrogant and impulsive in his early years as a follower of Christ. But he matured gradually in Christ through suffering and humility. Peter penned this doxology at the end of his life—a godly, mature Apostle of Jesus Christ. God changed Peter’s earlier faults into His strengths through ‘growth in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.’ Peter bids us to follow this same process. Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, is the source of all grace and knowledge for the believer. Jesus is the Giver and the Author of grace. He is also the Object of all knowledge. These are two forks of one great vine. An amazing Biblical truth is that all believers are branches of that same vine.
Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; He who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing (John 15: 4-5).
So how do we abide in Christ and bear fruit for Him? By growing in grace and knowledge. The growth process is called sanctification and it begins as a babe in Christ and progresses to a godly mature believer prepared to leave this life to meet his maker.
God brought His grace to the world through Jesus Christ. Remember the acronym, GRACE—God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. God reaches down to grasp His children by His grace. The work of grace is often gradual in a believer’s spiritual. A saved believer is like a baby kitten—bold, playful, and arrogant. It leaps across wide spaces and falls flat. It climbs a tree then fear paralyzes its descent. It makes many mistakes in its youthfulness. Arrogance and daring behavior diminishes as it grows. So is a life blessed with God’s grace. Early on, a believer is emboldened by excitement, but prone to mistakes. He often depends upon youthful energy, but lacks the humility of many years of falls and mistakes, as well as a maturity which only suffering can bring. Such was the case with Peter, and this is also the reality of most believers. God’s grace over time powers the process of sanctification in a believer’s life. Humility replaces arrogance, and brashness is tempered. One slowly learns that trusting God’s power in weakness honors Him more than relying on one’s own strength. The Apostle Paul gave testimony to that very fact.
…to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He said to me, “ My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness” (2 Cor. 12: 9).
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me (Phil. 4: 13).
God is omniscient. He ‘knows’ all things. There is nothing kept secret from Him. However, a believer must strive to acquire ‘knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.’ Knowledge does not fall magically from the sky for believers who dwell in a wicked world. One acquires knowledge of Him by studying God’s Word.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God (John 1: 1-2).
Jesus is the Word of God. He was in the beginning with God the Father. The Bible is God’s Word in print and available to all believers. It speaks of God’s Word, Who came in the flesh and dwelled among men—Jesus Christ. Most believers have at least several Bibles collecting dust on bookshelves. God has bestowed His Word through the suffering and martyrdom of many believers over the generations. They have sacrificed greatly to make available His Scriptures. God asks us to study it regularly and diligently. Nothing can provide greater security from error and false doctrine than a growing knowledge of God’s Word.
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3: 16-17).
Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth (2Tim. 2: 15).
A Christian’s progress in knowledge consists of bringing to light the deep meaning of Christ’s victories—His incarnation, His miracles, His teaching, and His exemplary life. This list continues, including His death on a cross and His wondrous sacrifice for the sins of mankind, His resurrection, His glorification, His divinity, and on and on.
One would never tell a kitten to grow, but Peter instructs Christians to grow. Why is that? Because they are not animals, but men with wills, which can either resist or submit. Men resist spiritual growth due to many obstacles in their path. Spiritual, moral, and worldly obstacles lay like a minefield before every believer. Satan uses these obstacles to destroy the godly testimony of many Christians.
The evangelical doctrine of salvation is a major obstacle for the growth of many believers. This teaches that if once a man is saved, it is sufficient for heavenly glorification. Many have bought into that doctrine, and their spiritual growth stopped abruptly—often in the earliest stages of sanctification. Conversion involves repentance, which requires remorse for sins combined with movement in the very opposite direction of one’s old nature. This movement builds the ‘new nature’ and it is onward and upward for one’s entire life.
Simple laziness hinders the spiritual growth of many Christians. There is no standing still on a mountain. If one does not climb upward, gravity will ultimately pull him downward. A believer must advance or decay. If the later, corruption will ultimately ensue. The sloth sits in his filth and does not move. Growth takes effort, and even requires pain and suffering at times. Effort requires setting one’s will to align with God’s will, and moving forward when He directs.
One cannot grow unless he is alive, and he is not spiritually alive unless Jesus Christ has filled his heart with His eternal presence. Once that has occurred, Peter asks each believer to grow in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. This is more than intellectual knowledge of historical facts. It is a plea to get intimate with Him, nearer to Him, and commune daily and often with Him. Reading God’s Word and spending time in prayer accomplishes this goal.
Are your desires turning to Him? Do your thoughts dwell upon Him? Do you commune with Him in your worldly relationships on a regular basis? If the answer to these questions is yes, you are climbing the mountain of sanctification. You are growing in grace and knowledge in Jesus Christ.
‘To Him (Christ) be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity.’ This last verse attributes glory to Jesus Christ now and forever. It attests to the Diety of Christ—the One who is and forever reigns. If He is eternal, He has no beginning or end. He is. John, Chapter 1 informs us that Jesus created all things and He was in the beginning with God the Father. He is not created and therefore He must be God. The Pharisees hated Jesus and looked continually to trip Him up. On one of those encounters Jesus proclaimed His eternal Divine nature.
“Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” So the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.” Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him…(John 8: 56-59).
The Pharisees considered Jesus’ claim blasphemy and they took up stones to kill Him. If His claim were not true, it would have been blasphemy. But praise God, for Jesus also said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14: 6). Jesus is God and He deserves all the glory for His great works. The day of eternity is the day of glorification for every believer. It is the day we will apprehend the fullness of God in all His glory. It is the day we will receive our own glorified bodies. It is the day that will never end!