To God be the glory in the church!
[Text: Ephesians 3:1-21]

Ephesians 3 ends with a prayer of praise: “To Him be the glory in the church in Christ Jesus1 to all generations of an eternity of eternities! Amen!” (Ephesians 3:21 RD).

The church glorifies God in various ways.

The church reveals the wisdom of God.

In Ephesians, chapter 3, Paul states that God’s “eternal purpose”2 was that “the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places.”3

God’s wisdom shines forth in His work of redemption through Jesus Christ. “You are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God - and righteousness and sanctification and redemption - that, as it is written, ‘He who glories, let him glory in the Lord’” (1 Corinthians 1:30, 31).

The church makes God’s wisdom known, first, because of the marvelous beauty of God’s plan of redemption for man, and second, because in word and deed the church glorifies God.

The redeemed are the salt of the earth and the light of the world (Matthew 5:13, 14). “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

In the church, God will be glorified forever!

The church of Christ is the only institution on earth that will exist in all eternity. When Jesus promised to build His church, He said: “And the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). Hades is the realm of the dead. Thus, the church of Christ exists beyond the grave.

On earth, the church represents the kingdom of heaven. “Our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20). When the Lord adds the saved to the church4 they are registered in heaven. Their names “are in the book of life” (Philippians 4:3). “Only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of Life” may enter the heavenly Jerusalem (Revelation 21:27). They are the “church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven” (Hebrews 12:23).

God is glorified in the body of Christ, His church.

Those who are in the church are in Christ because the church is His body: “He is also head of the body, the church” (Colossians 1:18). There is “one body” (Ephesians 4:4). We are “one body in Christ” (Romans 12:5).5 “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17). God “put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body” (Ephesians 1:22, 23).

Christ has one body, one church. Often in Scripture the church of Christ is simply called “the church” because there is only one church.

Other religious institutions will be uprooted. “Then His disciples came and said to Him, ‘Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?’ But He answered and said, ‘Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch’” (Matthew 15:12-14). All denominations and religions of human origin will be uprooted.

Only the church of Christ will glorify God forever. “To Him be the glory in the church in Christ Jesus to all generations of an eternity of eternities!” (Ephesians 3:21 RD).

The church must be cleansed and sanctified to glorify God.

This cleansing is necessary because “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Christians are “justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24). “We have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:10). The church consists of “those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus” (1 Corinthians 1:2). “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

As a gift of God’s grace, this cleansing and sanctification occurs at baptism. “But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy, He saved us through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:4, 5). We are born again of water and the Spirit (John 3:3, 5). We are baptized into the body of Christ: “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body” (1 Corinthians 12:13).

By water Noah was saved from an evil world. Peter says: “There is also an antitype6 which now saves us - baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 3:21).

After Paul had fasted for three days, he was asked: “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16).

Christ cleanses and sanctifies the church to present her to Himself, a glorious church. Paul wrote: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:25-27).

The sanctified church glorifies God as the beautiful bride of Christ: “‘Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.’ And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints” (Revelation 19:7, 8).

The church glorifies God in its preaching and in its service.

“If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability 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. Amen” (1 Peter 4:11).

When we serve we must give God all the glory because He is the one who gives us the ability, strength and resources to serve.

When we speak we must give God all the glory by speaking as the oracles of God. Jesus said, “He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory” (John 7:18). God receives the glory only when our preaching conforms to His word.

Paul told Timothy: “Preach the word!” (2 Timothy 4:2). The church is the foundation of the truth: “I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15). The church glorifies God by preaching the truth in all the world.

The church glorifies God in its worship.

In Psalm 22 David predicts that the Messiah will be remembered in all the world. On the cross, Jesus quotes the first four words of this psalm: “‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?’” (Matthew 27:46). Psalm 22 gives details of the crucifixion. The Jewish leaders used words from Psalm 22:8 to mock Jesus as He hung on the cross: “He trusted in the Lord, let Him rescue Him; Let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!”7

“They pierced My hands and My feet” (Psalm 22:16). “They divide My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots” (Psalm 22:18).

After His plea for help, the Messiah says, “You have answered Me!” (Psalm 22:21). Then the psalm is victorious: “I will declare Your name to My brethren; in the midst of the assembly I will praise You” (Psalm 22:22). In Hebrews 2:12 this statement is ascribed to the Messiah in the Christian age. “My praise shall be of You in the great assembly” (Psalm 22:25). Since this is said after the crucifixion, the great assembly is the church of Christ.

In the closing portion of the psalm, David says the Messiah will be remembered in the whole world: “All the ends of the world shall remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations shall worship before You. For the kingdom is the LORD’s, and He rules over the nations. All the prosperous of the earth shall eat and worship” (Psalm 22:27-29). The worldwide observance of the Lord’s supper is a fulfilment of this prophecy!

To glorify God as the church of Christ let us sing praises to God, let us worship and eat the Lord’s supper on the first day of the week, let us proclaim the good news to all peoples so they can turn to the Lord.

What have we learned?

The church will glorify God forever. God’s wisdom is made known by the church. On earth, the church represents the kingdom of heaven. The saved are registered in heaven. God is glorified in Christ, in His one body, the church. The church must be cleansed and sanctified to glorify God. By grace, this occurs at baptism. The sanctified church is the bride of Christ. The church glorifies God in its preaching, in its service and in its worship.

Our goal, as a congregation and as individual Christians, must be to glorify God.

“To Him be the glory in the church in Christ Jesus to all generations of an eternity of eternities! Amen!”

Roy Davison

The Scripture quotations in this article are from The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982, Thomas Nelson Inc. Publishers, unless indicated otherwise. Permission for reference use has been granted.


1 The original has “ἐν τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ ἐν χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ” [“in the church in Christ Jesus”]. Many translators add “and” after church. Linguistically this is admissible if the church and Christ are viewed as two separate sources of glorification. Christians, however, are “one body in Christ” (Romans 12:5). Paul wrote “To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 1:1). Thus the church is “in Christ Jesus” and only as the body of Christ is the church qualified to glorify God! Thus in my translation I have not added “and”. John Darby’s translation has: “To him be glory in the assembly in Christ Jesus unto all generations of the age of ages.”

2 Ephesians 3:11.

3 Ephesians 3:10

4 See Acts 2:47.

5 See also 1 Corinthians 10:17; 12:13, 20; Ephesians 2:16; Colossians 3:15.

6 Greek: ἀντίτυπος. An “antitype” is something prefigured by a “type” or symbol. Many Old Testament happenings and institutions foreshadowed New Testament realities or fulfilments. Adam was “a type [τύπος] of Him who was to come” (Romans 5:14). Jewish holidays (“a festival or a new moon or sabbaths”) were “a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ” (Colossians 2:16, 17).

7 Compare with Matthew 27:43: “He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’”

Published in The Old Paths Archive