Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 17, 1953
NUMBER 19, PAGE 1,5b

Glory In The Church

Robert C. Welch, Louisville, Kentucky

The argument is being made that the scriptures do not tell us that we are limited to glorifying God in the church. The passage under question is: "Unto him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus unto all generation for ever and ever, Amen." (Eph. 3:21) The argument seems to hinge on the King James version which says, "Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus." The following statement of the argument is to be found in a report by Kenneth W. Franklin of the Totty-Hines debate in Paden City, W. Va., in The Gospel Advocate, February 26, 1953: "Brother Hines argued from Eph. 3:21 that all benevolent work must be done by the church in order to give God the glory. Brother Totty explained that Paul had no such thing in mind but that the glory referred to in Eph. 3:21 was by Christ and that Christ glorified God by His suffering and dying for the church and that the glory would continue throughout all ages. He showed that Paul, writing concerning individuals in 1 Cor. 10:31, taught that we are to glorify God in everything we do."

If he has stated their positions correctly, both were in error. To say that a man must be in the church in order to give glory to God is far from saying that the church itself is the only instrument of glorification. On the other hand, can any man prove that God can be glorified by the individual who is not in the church? The person must glorify God in the church, which individual action may not be by the church as an entity. Also, relative to the subject they were discussing, can the individual, though a member of the church, glorify God by his support of an institution, not authorized by the Lord, which does the work which the Lord has taught the church to do? This last question was the actual point at issue between them; and, so far as the report goes neither of them touched the exact issue.

One Version Against Another

The above mentioned interpretation of the King James version is that, "By Christ Jesus," means that Christ glorifies God in the church by His suffering and death. This interpretation will not harmonize with other translations of the passage. According to this explanation the word by means prime instrumentality. The ASV uses the words, "and in Christ Jesus," where the word in denotes location rather than instrumentality. Such a contradiction is not supported by the words used in the two versions. The word by can also refer to position.

Notice this passage: "But my God shall supply all your need, according to his riches in glory, by Christ Jesus." (Phil. 4:19) In this instance Christ cannot be the prime instrumentality in supplying the need, for God is said to do that. Christ is the person in which the riches in glory are supplied by God to men. In the other instance Christ is also the person in which men in the church give glory to God. The American Standard version uses the preposition in, with Christ as the object, in both passages. The word person has been emphasized because this definition is used by Thayer of the Greek word (on) which is used in these passages. His lexicon says: "With dative of a Person, in the person, nature, soul, thought of any one ... in the person of Christ .... Col. 1:19."

When the Baptists say that for in Acts 2:38 means, "because of," they give the word a meaning which contradicts other versions which say unto. But they have done no greater violence to the scriptures than others do who say that by in Eph. 3:21 means, "Christ glorified God by his suffering and dying for the church," while other versions say that God is to be glorified "in the church and in Christ Jesus." It is illogical to array one version against another by a peculiar definition of the word used in one of the versions.

Voice Of Scholarship

Hear Philip Schaff on the proper construction of the passage in his commentary:

"In the church and in Christ Jesus. The rendering of the E. V. is altogether inadmissible, whatever be the correct reading. There is con- variation in the authorities, but the evidence of the Sinaitic manuscript is decisive in favor of the reading given above, from which, moreover, the others could readily be derived. Many authorities omit 'and,' a few others read 'in the church and Christ Jesus.' The sphere 'in' which the glory is given is defined in a two-fold manner: 'in the church,' since here the glory is ascribed; 'in Christ Jesus,' since only in fellowship with Him can it be offered .... The renderings, `by Christ Jesus,' 'with Christ Jesus,' are unwarranted."

Also notice what Marvin R. Vincent has to say in his Word Studies in the New Testament:

"By Christ Jesus (en). Rev., better, in. As the church is the outward domain in which God is to be praised, so Christ is the spiritual sphere of this praise."

Six or seven scholars were read in preparing this article and not one of them suggested that the passage meant that Christ was glorifying God by His death and suffering. All indicated that it taught that men are to give glory to God in the church and in Christ.

Agreement With Context

A study of the context shows that it does not refer to Christ's glorifying God. It shows that the people are to glorify God in Christ. The same Greek preposition (en) is used when referring to the church as when referring to Christ, in this passage. If it is translated by when used in connection with Christ, the other phrase could as well be translated "by the church." Otherwise, there is no reason for translating the word in one phrase, and by in the other phrase, when such a varied translation is unnecessary to make a sensible reading. Besides, the Greek word translated and is superfluous if it is to be translated, "and by Christ Jesus." A coordinate conjunction is not needed to connect the adverbial phrases if one be of place and the other of manner. But if both phrases are of place the conjunction is necessary.

A central theme of the book of Ephesians is the naming of the blessings and relationships which are in Christ. He begins by speaking of, "the faithful in Christ Jesus." (Eph. 1:1) He says that God, "hath blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ." (Eph. 1:3) He says that God is "to sum up all things in Christ." (Eph. 1:10) He says that the saved are "created in Christ Jesus for good works." (Eph. 2:10) He says that the Gentiles are, "fellow-partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel." (Eph. 3:6) He says that the manifold wisdom of God is made known through the church, "according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Eph. 3:11) He says, "Children, obey your parents in the Lord." (Eph. 6:1) He says, "Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of his might." (Eph. 6:10) In all these passages it can be seen that these things are in Christ, and not by (from) Him. So it is that in Eph. 3:21 he is not referring to the glory unto God proceeding from Christ. He is teaching that God is to be glorified by us in the church and in Christ Jesus.

May this help some who have held to the peculiar and unfounded theory that Eph. 3:21 does not tell us how we are to glorify God. It is teaching us where we are to give glory to Him: "in the church:'