“The Weight of Glory” in the Letters of Peter

The word “glory” comes up 14 times in the Petrine Letters. Having recently read The Weight of Glory by C.S. Lewis, I thought I would try to draw some parallels between these two letters. 

Lewis says that “glory” is one of the five promises of Scripture. At first, Lewis thought “glory” had no appeal to him because it meant (1) fame (a wicked idea) or (2) luminosity (a ridiculous idea). But at he looked into the idea of “glory” more closely, he realized that (1) fame actually satisfies our deepest longing as children in relation to our father – fame with God & (2) luminosity satisfies our deepest longing to not merely see “glory”, but put it on!

1st: On “glory” as fame: 

The promise of glory is the promise, almost incredible and only possible by the work of Christ, that some of us, that any of us who really chooses, shall actually survive that examination, shall find approval, shall please God. To please God…to be a real ingredient in the divine happiness…to be loved by God, not merely pitied, but delighted in as an artist delights in his work or a father in a son—it seems impossible, a weight or burden of glory which our thoughts can hardly sustain. But so it is. ~ C.S. Lewis

Interestingly, Peter calls God the Father: “the Majestic Glory” when He expresses His delight in His Son during His baptism & transfiguration. Jesus, in a unique and perfect way, must have felt this “weight of glory”: crucifixion_of_peter

For he received honour and glory from God the Father when that voice was conveyed to him by the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, my Beloved, with whom I am well pleased” (2 Peter 1:17).

And here we see the promise of glory fulfilled at the time of Jesus’ Resurrection:

Through him you have come to trust in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are set on God (1 Peter 1:21).


2nd: On “glory” as luminosity: 

And this brings me to the other sense of glory—glory as brightness, splendour, luminosity. We are to shine as the sun, we are to be given the Morning Star. I think I begin to see what it means. In one way, of course, God has given us the Morning Star already: you can go and enjoy the gift on many fine mornings if you get up early enough. What more, you may ask, do we want? Ah, but we want so much more— something the books on aesthetics take little notice of. But the poets and the mythologies know all about it. We do not want merely to see beauty, though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words—to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it…  Some day, God willing, we shall get in. When human souls have become as perfect in voluntary obedience as the inanimate creation is in its lifeless obedience, then they will put on its glory, or rather that greater glory of which Nature is only the first sketch.

Lewis’ desire of wanting to “put on its glory” is something that Peter reveals is already a present reality:

If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory, which is the Spirit of God, is resting on you (1 Peter 4:14).

Furthermore, to “put on its glory” is expressed as an actual crown by Peter:

And when the chief shepherd appears, you will win the crown of glory that never fades away (1 Peter 5:4).


Interestingly, the Hebrew word for “glory,” kabod, means “weight”.  St. Peter, writing to the Christians scattered throughout the Roman empire, must have felt this “weight of glory” as his encouraging letters are packed with practical advice on how to deal with suffering and persecution. Indeed, Peter, as the chief shepherd and “one who shares in the glory to be revealed,” (1 Peter 5:1) was willing to bear the weight of glory for his flock.

Glory, as Christianity teaches me to hope for it, turns out to satisfy my original desire and indeed to reveal an element in that desire which I had not noticed… The sense that in this universe we are treated as strangers, the longing to be acknowledged, to meet with some response, to bridge some chasm that yawns between us and reality, is part of our inconsolable secret. And surely, from this point of view, the promise of glory, in the sense described, becomes highly relevant to our deep desire. For glory meant good report with God, acceptance by God, response, acknowledgment, and welcome into the heart of things. The door on which we have been knocking all our lives will open at last. ~ C.S. Lewis


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