Stephen was one of the seven deacons chosen to serve at the tables (Acts 6:1-5). Stephen was a man full of faith and power, and performed great wonders and signs among the people (Acts 6:8). Stephen’s main virtue was his wisdom. In chapter seven of the book of Acts, it is very obvious that Stephen knew his people Israel very well. As his prestige grew, someone brought to him some men from what was called the Synagogue of the Freedman, including both Cyrenians and Alexandrians, and some from Cilicia and Asia, and argued with Stephen. They were unable to cope with the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking (Acts 6:8-10).
Stephen gave the following historic account: “Brothers and fathers, listen. The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran” (Acts 7:2). Comparing it with Genesis 12:1-4, we see that Jehovah called Abraham when he was in Haran, whereas in Stephen’s narrative the God of glory called Abraham when he still lived in Ur of the Chaldeans, before he went to live in Haran. These were two similar calls, though with different promises.
The question we ask is: WHO IS THE GOD OF GLORY? IS IT THE FATHER? Let us analyze the Bible. Speaking about partiality in the Church, James says in his epistle: “My brothers, don’t hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ of glory with partiality” (James 2:1). When the Bible refers to Jesus as Lord, it reveals that concerning glory, everything we can think about is under the authority of Christ. Christ is the Lord of glory in heaven and on earth, in time and outside of time, and for this reason Peter says: “If anyone speaks, let it be as it were the very words of God. If anyone serves, let it be as of the strength which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever” (1 Pet. 4:11). To Jesus Christ belongs the glory forevermore, because he is the Lord of glory. The Jews did not have eyes to identify the Lord of glory. The one who said it was Paul: “But we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the wisdom that has been hidden, which God foreordained before the worlds for our glory, which none of the rulers of this world has known. For had they known it, they wouldn’t have crucified the Lord of glory” (1 Cor. 2:7-8). The fantastic detail in this text is that the princes of this world are the priests of the old covenant, and the Bible reveals that none of them knew the wisdom of God, and therefore they crucified the Lord of glory, that is, they rejected him as a false Lord.
Paul gives us a second revelation about the God of glory: “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him” (Eph. 1:17). Jesus is the Father of glory. Who is the Father of glory? It is the one who begat the glory; It is the one who brought glory to light; therefore he is the Father of glory. Jesus is the Father of glory because prior to him there was no glory, and outside him there is no glory, and because without him there would not be any glory.
The glory of God would not exist without Jesus Christ. Paul is the one who makes this revelation: “Seeing it is God who said, ‘Light will shine out of darkness,’ who has shone in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6). It is terrific! The glory of God can be known only in the face of Jesus Christ. How can this be explained? The answer is so simple and logic. Paul, bringing us light, says, “Who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light; whom no man has seen, nor can see: to whom be honor and eternal power. Amen” (1 Tim. 6:16). This text reveals that God the Father was never seen by any man, and men will never be able to see him. God the Father is not within range of men, for he lives in the unapproachable light. Nevertheless, the apostle John declared: “No one has seen God at any time. The one and only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared him” (John 1:18). If God can be known only in Jesus Christ, Christ is the Father of glory, for without Jesus the glory of God the Father would never be known.
It is written in the epistle to the Hebrews: “God, having in the past spoken to the fathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, has at the end of these days spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom also he made the worlds. His Son is the radiance of his glory, the very image of his substance, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself made purification for our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Heb. 1:1-3). In verse three of this text we have four great truths:
- Jesus is the radiance of the glory of God, that is, without Jesus the glory of God would be extinguished. Radiance is to radiate with great brilliancy, to shine with great effulgence; it is to express oneself in an impressive way. While the non-Christian critics condemn the wrath and fury of the god of Israel in the Old Testament; they condemn the slaughters and bloody retaliations; they condemn the injustices of the tribal god that is a respecter of persons; the god who kills innocent children for the sin of their parents, when they look to Jesus Christ in the New Testament they are forced to acknowledge the goodness, love, and mercy of God the Father, for Christ is the radiance of the glory of God (Heb. 1:3).
- Jesus is the exact representation of the image of God. Jesus is meek and humble; therefore God is meek and humble. Jesus loved the lost so much that he gave his life on the cross to save them and deliver them from this world, according to the will of God (Gal. 1:4). God, who is love, did not spare his only begotten Son, but delivered him up for all of us, proving that he loved just as the Son loved, because Jesus is the radiance of his glory. God the Father clothed Jesus of glory and honor, when he spoke of the magnificent glory: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (2 Pet.1:17). And Jesus declared: “The glory which you have given me, I have given to them; that they may be one, even as we are one” (John 17:22). What is the glory that Jesus has given us? It is that we were called children of God: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared before that we would walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). What does Jesus want for us, Christians, is that God, the Father, pleased with our works, may be able to say to each of us: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (2 Pet. 1:17; John 17:22). And do you know why Jesus does this prodigy? Because he is the Father of glory; he is the radiance of the glory; he is the exact representation of God.
- Jesus upholds all things by the word of his power. His promises, therefore, do not change when men fails. And so Paul said: “If we are faithless, he remains faithful. He can’t deny himself” (2 Tim. 2:13). Jesus is the author and finisher of faith. Jesus saves the believers so that they can see the glory of God and may live in glory for eternity. And so Paul declared: “When Christ, our life, is revealed, then you will also be revealed with him in glory” (Col. 3:4). WHAT IS THE CONCLUSION TO WHICH THIS STUDY BRINGS US? THE GOD OF GLORY, WHO STEVEN SPEAKS OF IN ACTS 7:2 IS JESUS CHRIST, WHO APPEARED TO ABRAHAM IN HUR OF THE CHALDEANS, AND PREACHED TO HIM THE GOSPEL.
by Pastor Olavo Silveira Pereira