“To Him Be Glory Forever”

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed in the Grammatical Relationships section of the Bible Word Study report for εὐχαριστέω an interesting pattern regarding the objects of εὐχαριστέω. I wrote this in a blog post at the Logos Bible Software blog:

Of the 23 complements or objects of the verb (i.e., who is being thanked), they are nearly all God. The only human objects are Prisca and Aquila (Rom 16:3). The rest of the references are God—and arguably, God the Father. (Jesus is the object one time [Lk 17:16].) I realize that God can refer to the Triune God, but the contexts and general pattern suggest that the Father is in view.

Here are the data:

Thanks is given to

  • the Father (Col 1:11–12; cf. Jn 11:41)
  • God the Father through Jesus (Rom 1:8; Col 3:17)
  • God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (Col 1:3–5)
  • God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (Eph 5:20)
  • God [who is distinguished in the context from Christ] (Rom 14:6; 1 Cor 1:4, 14; Phil 1:3-6; 1 Thes 2:13; 2 Thes 1:3; 2:13; Phm 4-5; Rev 11:17?; cf. Lk 18:11)
  • God [who is later identified as the Father] (1 Thes 1:2–4)
  • God [undefined in the immediate context] (Acts 27:35; 28:15; 1 Cor 14:18)

This pattern reminded me of a similar pattern that I gave some thought to a couple of months ago.

“For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” —Romans 11:36

The final clause or something similar appears in the NT numerous times. Who does the Him refer to? The Triune God? The Father? The Son? The Spirit?

It seems that the general NT pattern is to ascribe glory to the Father through the Son. This pattern is not without exception, though (e.g., 2 Tim 4:17–18; 2 Peter 3:18; Rev 5:13). This issue is of particular interest to me because it has bearing on the proper understanding of God in 1 Corinthians 15:28. Is God the Father or the Triune God?

Here are some of the relevant data:

The Father

Galatians 1:3–5 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Ephesians 3:20–21 20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Philippians 2:9–11 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 4:19–20 19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. 20 To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Hebrews 13:20–21 20 Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, 21 equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Jude 24–25 24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

Revelation 7:11–12 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”

The Father and the Son

Revelation 5:13 And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” (It’s worth noting that even here the Father appears first.)

The Son

2 Timothy 4:17–18 17 But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. 18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

2 Peter 3:18 But 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.

Ambiguous

The Father or the Son?

1 Timothy 1:17 To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God,1 be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

1 Peter 4:10–11 10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (This one seems most likely to be referring to the Father, because “that . . . God may be glorified” sheds light on “to him belong glory and dominion.”)

Revelation 1:5–6 5 To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood 6 and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (This one seems more likely to be referring to the Son, since he is the subject of discussion.)

The Father or the Triune God?

Romans 11:36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

1 Corinthians 15:28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all. (The preceding context seems to favor a reference to the Father, since God in verse 24 and verse 27 is clearly the Father.)

If we follow Calvin—or at least what I think Calvin might be saying—we should be inclined to understand God as a reference to the Truine God if there is no indication in the context that the Father is in view.

Let those, then, who love soberness, and are contented with the measure of faith, briefly receive what is useful to be known. It is as follows:—When we profess to believe in one God, by the name God is understood the one simple essence, comprehending three persons or hypostases; and, accordingly, whenever the name of God is used indefinitely, the Son and Spirit, not less than the Father, is meant. But when the Son is joined with the Father, relation comes into view, and so we distinguish between the Persons. But as the Personal subsistence carry an order with them, the principle and origin being in the Father, whenever mention is made of the Father and Son, or of the Father and Spirit together, the name of God is specially given to the Father. In this way the unity of essence is retained, and respect is had to the order, which, however derogates in no respect from the divinity of the Son and Spirit.2

Perhaps this is not Calvin’s intent. I’m not quite sure. However, while it seems like a good rule of thumb, I’m more inclined, based on the general pattern above, to see the Father in view unless there is indication otherwise. Although, I admit that I need to study this a good bit more before I’m ready to draw any firm conclusions.

Footnotes

  1. Cf. Jn 1:18; 5:44; 17:3; Jude 25
  2. Institutes of the Christian Religion, I, xiii, 20.

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