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In the fifth chapter of John's gospel, Jesus is recorded as telling the Pharisees: "I do not accept glory from human beings". He elaborates on this a few verses later to say "How can you believe since you accept glory from one another but do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?"

Do any Christians believe that the imitation of Christ demands that his followers also reject glory from human beings? Have there been any more explanations as to the hazard in accepting glory from humans?

  • I think we all believe arrogance is a hindrance to salvation. However, you might be taking that verse a bit out of context. Reading the entire paragraph (John 5:39-47) you discover that Christ is stating that His glory/authority comes from the Father, not from mortal man (and in that we should do the same). If v41 is valid independently from all other verses, there's a problem with Jesus allowing Mary to bathe His feet and wipe them with her hair. – JBH Sep 6 at 18:21
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    It is impossible for sons of Adam, to follow Christ by 'imitating' his deeds and words. The genuine following of Christ is by repentance and by faith that is the gift of God by regeneration, that is to say, a gift of the Holy Spirit consequent upon justification by faith. Then Christ is not 'imitated' for he dwells within, in Spirit, and the justified no longer live, in and unto themselves, but Christ liveth in them. – Nigel J Sep 6 at 21:31
  • Understanding Glory as something more like substantiation rather than praise or accolade helps make sense of passages like this. Jesus is not substantiated by human beings but by God. It is hard for folks who derive their substantiation from other folks to believe. – Mike Borden Sep 7 at 12:12
  • @MikeBorden I think that is how one begins. One sees Christ in others. And one follows what one sees. (By your own wording, he is 'susbstantiated' in others.) But with maturity, one follows Christ himself, by one's own faith, and yet still in the company of those same others. As one Body. – Nigel J Sep 8 at 7:13
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Having just answered a question on why Jesus seems at times to downplay his Deity and Messiahship when people wanted to know who he was, this question dovetails quite nicely with that question and my answer to it.

Jesus was not in the least confused about who he was and what he was about. He knew God as his Father, the same Father who sent him into the world to save the world by being "lifted up" (see John 3:14-17). Jesus neither expected nor needed other human beings to confirm his identity by praising him. That is why he told his unbelieving critics, "I do not accept glory from human beings . . .."

Interestingly, what did Jesus say next? He said, "I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts" (my emphasis). With that statement and the statements that followed, Jesus effectively turned the tables on his critics. They accused Jesus of not knowing who he was, and so they refused to believe in him. Jesus, on the other hand, not only knew who he was and what his life's purpose was, but he also knew his critics. He knew they had no love for God in their hearts.

Fallible human beings often expect and need confirmation and praise from others to shore up their confidence and strengthen their belief they are doing God's will and doing it well. Not so Jesus. His identity came from the eternal relationship he had with his Father. That relationship was characterized by love, obedience, and it ultimately led to the sacrifice of his life.

. . . [I]t pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand (Isaiah 53:10) KJV).

You ask if believers, in imitating Christ, are to be just as unconcerned about their press releases as Jesus was unconcerned about his. Good question. My answer is both yes and no.

Yes, in that the praise of Christians should come primarily from the God they serve, since they are but lowly servants--bondslaves, really, who in serving God are merely performing their duty. No more and no less. Their motivation should be to hear from their Master's lips one day, "Well done, good and faithful servant!" (Matthew 25:21-23).

So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, "We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do" (Luke 17:10 KJV).

If Jesus's modus operandi stemmed from his great humility, despite his being the Son of God (Philippians 2:5-8), how much more should Christians' modus operandi stem from their humility in recognizing their unworthiness before a holy God?

But no, in that there is nothing inherently wrong with being praised by others who tell us how much they appreciate our ministry, whatever that may be. If the ministry is preaching and/or teaching the Word, for example, being told "That was a good word, brother," or "I really appreciated your insights, sister" can prove to be encouraging words indeed. A truly spiritual brother or sister will not allow such comments to "go to their heads." Sometimes one word of encouragement will pay spiritual dividends for a lifetime! After all, are not Christians exhorted to encourage one another

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness (Hebrews 3:13 NIV; see also 2 Corinthians 13:11; 1 Thessalonians 4:18 and 5:11).

A balance is found in Scripture in the words of the apostle Paul:

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you (Romans 12:3 NIV).

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  • "Sometimes one word of encouragement will pay spiritual dividends for a lifetime!" Indeed, providing we point not to ourselves but to Christ Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. – Lesley Sep 7 at 10:30
  • @Lesley: True that. Don – rhetorician Sep 7 at 18:07
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From a philological perspective, it's not a command, since the verb is not imperative:

Δόξαν παρὰ ἀνθρώπων οὐ λαμβάνω

λαμβάνω is 1st person singular Present Indicative Active.

In the Present Active Indicative, the kind of action is linear, the relationship of the subject to the verb is active, i.e. the subject is performing the action rather than being acted upon, and the degree of contingency is zero.

If it were a command, the verb form would have been λαμβάνε

EDIT: as requested, here is a short description of verbs in OT Greek:

In Greek, tense indicates not only time of action, but more especially kind of action. The German word "Aktionsart," meaning "kind of action," is often used with reference to what is indicated by the tense of a verb. There are three basic kinds of action:

  • linear. It is also called durative, continuous, or progressive. It can be represented graphically by a line. In this case, the speaker conceives of the action as happening. The Present tense indicates this kind of action.
  • punctiliar and can be represented by a point. In this case, the speaker conceives of the action without any notion of its continuance. This kind of action is associated with the Future tense. Note carefully that the future tense does not imply the action takes place instantaneously. Rather we should say the speaker conceives of the fact of the action without indicating continuity.
  • ongoing result of previous action, and can be represented graphically by a line proceeding from a point. In this case the speaker conceives of the action as being the ongoing result of a previous event.

Then there is mood. Think of different moods (also called "modes" in some grammars) as different degrees of contingency. Indicative Mood which contemplates the action with no contingency at all. The action is indicated. It is real, or at least the speaker presents it to be considered as real. Even if the statement is false, it is at least presented as if it is a fact.

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  • Could you explain what you mean by 'the degree of contingency is zero' please. Contingency Tables And, also, what do you mean by a 'linear' action ? – Nigel J Sep 7 at 0:15
  • See NT Greek Lesson 2 – Codosaur Sep 7 at 6:33
  • I was hoping that you would be able to convey the concept behind the terminology. Otherwise it is just jargon – Nigel J Sep 8 at 7:07

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