Let me attempt to expound these words with fear and trembling. Who am I to speak on such words? As we approach them it is good for us to remember the words spoken to Moses at the burning bush: ‘Take off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground’ (Exodus 3:5). ‘The Father of glory!’ There can be no doubt but that this means, partly, that God is the source and embodiment in and of Himself of all glory. There are many such phrases in Scripture. We read of God in the twelfth chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews as ‘the Father of spirits’ (v. 9). We read of Him in the Epistle of James as ‘the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning (1:17). In the Book of the prophet Isaiah God is described as ‘The eternal Father’ or ‘Father of eternity’ (9:6). So ‘the Father of glory’ means the source, the fount of all glory. As to ‘glory’ what can we say? Words fail us utterly. Glory is God. Glory is the summation of all the excellences and perfections and attributes of the Lord God Almighty Himself. That is why He is referred to at times in the Scriptures as ‘the glory’. The ultimate characteristic of God is glory. He is that in and of Himself. His essence is glorious. It is unutterable, absolute perfection. So we can but stand in amazement before this expression, ‘the Father of glory’.
When Stephen was on trial and addressing the Sanhedrin, we are told in the report of his speech, in the seventh chapter of Acts, that he reminded them of the history of the children of Israel, and said, ‘The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham’ (v. 2). ‘The God of glory! The glorious God! He was reminding them that God’s glory is ineffable and indescribable. He ‘dwelleth in the light which is unapproachable’, ‘Whom no man hath seen, nor can see’. And this is the One whom you and I approach in prayer.
Moreover, everything God does is a manifestation of His glory. We recall how Paul ended his description of the plan of salvation in the words ‘unto the praise of his glory’, in verse 14. Everything God does is a manifestation of His glory. Paul says in the Epistle to the Romans that Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father’ (6:4). His every act is a manifestation of His glory. ‘The heavens declare the glory of God’ (Psalm 19:1). Do you see the glory of God in the sun and moon and the stars, in the firmament, in flowers, in the whole of creation? They all declare the glory of God. Everything He does is glorious, perfect in its beauty and in every other respect. I speak with reverence when I say that the greatest thing the Lord Jesus Christ did was to manifest the glory of God. In His high priestly prayer as recorded in the seventeenth chapter of John’s Gospel. He says so Himself in various ways. And when He describes His second coming the words He uses are, ‘For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels’ (Matthew 16:27). Everything He did was designed to glorify His Father. God, and the glory of God, are the end, the terminus of salvation.
But Paul’s expression can also be read legitimately as ‘the glorious Father’. It is a Hebraism, a form of expression frequently found in the Hebrew language. Take as an example of this Paul’s statement that he has been given the privilege of preaching the ‘glorious gospel of the blessed God’ (1 Timothy 1:11). I am quoting the phrase as it appears in the Authorized Version. But a better translation would be, ‘The gospel of the glory of the blessed God’—not ‘the glorious gospel’, but ‘the gospel of the glory’. So in the case of ‘the Father of glory’ we can read, ‘the glorious Father’. In that case it means that God the Father is not only glorious, and the source of all glory, and the summation of all glory in Himself, He is also prepared to manifest and to impart that glory. He is a Father, and as a Father He gives, He generates, He passes on glory. God does not keep His glory to Himself if I may so express it; He manifests it, He imparts it. He did so with the Son, and so we find our Lord saying in the seventeenth chapter of John’s Gospel: Father, I pray that thou wouldest give me the glory I had with thee before the foundation of the world (17:5). He had laid aside that glory for the purpose of the Incarnation, and now He asks that He may have it again. And the Father gave it to Him. There is also His prayer recorded in the twelfth chapter of John’s Gospel, ‘Father, glorify thy Name’ (John 12:28).
The Apostle Peter writes, ‘Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead gave him glory, that your faith and hope might be in God’ (1 Peter 1:21). The Father glorified the Son while He was here on earth. He gave Him power to perform miracles, He gave Him words to speak, He enabled Him to raise the dead; He glorified Him in His death, He glorified Him in the resurrection. He is the glorious Father, the Father who gives His glory to the Son. This is a thought which staggers us because of its immensity, but it is true to say that, because He gives His glory to the Son, He is ready to give it also to us. We are in the Son because He is our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Head, as Paul says at the end of our chapter, and we are members of His body, So the glory that is in Him becomes ours; and we go to the Father who is giving us this glory. We wait upon Him, we desire to know more of His glory. Paul is about to pray that these Ephesians may have ‘the spirit of wisdom and of revelation’ in the knowledge of this glory, So that, the eyes of their understanding being opened, they may see this glory and receive it fully. God is our Father, and He will manifest His glory to us.
I end by quoting again from what our Lord is reported as saying in the seventeenth chapter of John’s Gospel: ‘Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, may be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory’ (v. 24). When we go in prayer into the presence of God we should do so expecting some revelation of this glory. ‘We all with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord are changed into the same image, from glory to glory’ (2 Corinthians 3:18). The process of our glorification has already started; it will eventually be perfected, and we shall be glorified even in our bodies as well as in our spirits. We shall stand in the presence of the Father of glory and see Him.
Let us never again attempt prayer without reminding ourselves that we are going to speak to ‘the Father of glory’. We need not be terrified; we must go with reverence and godly fear because of His glorious character; but at the same time we can go with confidence and assurance, because He is the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, and in Him and through Him our Father. So we pray, ‘Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name’. And if we start in the way we cannot go wrong.*
*Lloyd-Jones, D. M. (1978). God’s Ultimate Purpose : An Exposition of Ephesians 1, 1 to 23 (334–337). Edinburgh; Carlisle, Pa.: Banner of Truth Trust.