Disciple Hour: The Glory of Christ: John Owen

The Glory of Christ: John Owen

John Owen was born in 1616 in Stadham, England, the second son of Henry Owen. He entered nearby Oxford University at age 12 and studied the classics, finishing in 1635 with a Master of Arts. It is said that during these years he studied for between 18 and 20 hours each day.

When he was 26 years old he began to write. He became a popular and prolific writer and in 41 years would complete over 80 works, many of them becoming Christian classics.

In 1644 Owen married Mary Rooke. She bore him 11 children, but, sadly, only a daughter survived into adulthood. In the same year he married Mary he also openly converted from Presbyterianism to Congregationalism.

Through his writing and preaching, Owen gained a wide reputation in England. After the execution of King Charles I and the appointment of Oliver Cromwell, a Puritan, as Lord Protector, many new opportunities for influence opened up to Owen. He accompanied Cromwell on trips to Ireland and Scotland to help reform religious institutions and to convince the people of the rightfulness of ending monarchy in England. Back in England, Owen was installed as vice-chancellor of Oxford University, while still serving as a consultant to Cromwell.

Owen lost favor with Cromwell in his last year as Lord Protector when Owen opposed him becoming king. And soon after, when Cromwell was replaced by his son Richard, the many prominent positions Owen had held began to be distributed to others. Even so, he continued to pastor, write and preach as he had opportunity, and his library of works continued to grow.

Owen died on August 24, 1683 and was buried in Bunhill Fields, London.
Unique Contribution

With such a diversity of gifts, and with such a large library of works, it is difficult to isolate one contribution by Owen that stands out above the rest. Some have dubbed him the “theologian’s theologian,” which is memorable and fitting. But the fuller legacy of Owen is perhaps best summarized by Beeke and Pederson in their wonderful introduction to the Puritans:

The wide range of subjects treated by Owen, the insightfulness of his writing, the exhaustive nature of his doctrinal studies, the profundity of his theology, and the warmth of his devotion explain the high regard he has among those acquainted with his works.
If You Read Just One

If you are going to read just one work by John Owen, make it Overcoming Sin and Temptation by Kelly Kapic and Justin Taylor. This edition, while protecting the original wording, has been slightly modernized in style to make it just a little bit easier to read. It is easily one of the most important and life-changing books I have ever read.
Most Important Works

You will find The Works of John Owen on the bookcases of many pastors, though I am pretty sure that few have done more than dabble in them. Of the 16 volumes in this massive set, the following are recommended as being particularly valuable:

The Glory of Christ (vol. 1)

Communion with God (vol. 2)

The Holy Spirit (vol. 3)

Faith and Its Evidences (vol. 5)

Temptation and Sin (vol. 6). (Alternatively, consider Overcoming Sin and Temptation by Kapic and Taylor.)

Sin and Grace (vol. 7)

The Death of Christ (vol. 10)

Continuing in the Faith (vol. 11)

The Church & The Bible (vol. 16)

by Tim Challies






































The Glory of Christ by John Owen

Chapter 1


Owen begins Chapter 1 by comparing the work of propitiation of the OT priest with the propitiatory work of our Lord, Jesus Christ. On the Day of Atonement the high priest would enter the Holy of Holies with the burning censor and place it on the altar then place the incense in the burning bowl and the smoke would rise up representing the fact that the sacrifice had been made on the mercy seat.

Leviticus 16:12–13 (ESV)

12 And he shall take a censer full of coals of fire from the altar before the Lord, and two handfuls of sweet incense beaten small, and he shall bring it inside the veil 13 and put the incense on the fire before the Lord, that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy seat that is over the testimony, so that he does not die.

The incense would be a sweet smell rising from the sacrifice representing atonement for the sin of the people.

This was the type or shadow of what Christ would actually do at His death. As our great High Priest, Jesus Himself would enter the Holy Place not made with human hands, God’s throne room presenting to God His sacrifice for the atonement of our sin, which would be His own body.

Just as the High priest would pray on the Day of Atonement that the sacrifice would cover the sins of Israel so too Jesus also prayed a High Priestly prayer in John 17…

Part of that prayer was that we, as His people would see His glory…

John 17:24 (ESV)

24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

This prayer has been and will be answered by the Father. All the great benefits the death of Christ has to offer will be applied to His church…His prayer will be answered.

John 17:4–5 (ESV)

I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

We must understand the truth that Christ’s high priestly prayer is specifically prayed for a certain group of people.

John 17:1–3 (ESV)

17 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

The soul that does not long to see Christ in all His glory and majesty is not a soul for which Christ prayed. Unbelievers see no glory in Christ, nor do they wait with anticipation for Him to one day be revealed.

The purpose for writing this book is that the author intends to show that beholding His glory is one of the greatest privileges that believers are capable of in this world, or even in the world to come.

It is when believers behold His glory that we are gradually transformed into His image and likeness. Then, the more we are conformed to His image the more we will love Him…and the cycle of holiness begins.

God has created us to be imitators of Him. We are made in His image.

Genesis 1:27 (ESV)

27    So God created man in his own image,

in the image of God he created him;

male and female he created them.

Something happened a little bit later in the Book of Genesis that has marred the image of God in mankind. Adam and Eve sinned and fell from their state of innocence and the image of God in them was marred. We should note that the image is still there but doesn’t reflect God like it should.

Mankind has been designed to imitate the Creator and because sin has now infiltrated every part of our being; because we are totally depraved we imitate other lesser things.

From the earliest days, we are natural imitators. What shapes us are the things we hold dear. These things can be good or evil; they can be parents, friends, famous people, houses, bank accounts etc. We are imitators of the things we love. Another way to understand this dynamic is to say we become like what we worship.

Psalm 115:1–9 (ESV)

115 Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory,

for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!

   Why should the nations say,

“Where is their God?”

   Our God is in the heavens;

he does all that he pleases.

   Their idols are silver and gold,

the work of human hands.

   They have mouths, but do not speak;

eyes, but do not see.

   They have ears, but do not hear;

noses, but do not smell.

   They have hands, but do not feel;

feet, but do not walk;

and they do not make a sound in their throat.

   Those who make them become like them;

so do all who trust in them.

   O Israel, trust in the Lord!

He is their help and their shield.

The ultimate imitation for our good is to be imitators of Jesus Christ. The Bible tells us very pointedly that all who belong to Christ will become more and more like Him.

1 John 3:2 (ESV)

Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.

To be like Christ is our ultimate end as well. Romans 8:30 we read that we will one day be glorified and our glorification, first and foremost in being like Jesus.

There is one phrase in the 1 John passage we must consider. We will be like Him, because we shall see him as he is.

Beloved, for the first time in our lives we will see Jesus as He really is. When this takes place we will then be like Him in every way.

Isaiah 33:17 (ESV)

17    Your eyes will behold the king in his beauty;

they will see a land that stretches afar.

Because we will see Him clearly, we’ll love Him completely, because there is nothing unlovely about our Lord and there will be nothing to hinder our view of Him.

Christ has prayed in the High Priestly prayer that we could behold His glory…
John 17:24 (ESV)

24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

The purpose for beholding His glory is we will see Him as He is and we will be like Him…we too will be glorified as we partake unhindered of Christ’s glory.

1 John 3:2 (ESV)

Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.

How do we see/partake of the glory of Christ?

John Owen writes that Scripture shows us that there are two ways believers behold the glory of Christ:

In this world we behold His glory by faith

In the world to come we behold His glory by sight

2 Corinthians 5:6–7 (ESV)

So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight.

1 Corinthians 13:12 (ESV)

12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

When in John 17, Christ prayed that His people would behold His glory, He ultimately had in mind the future world, but at the same time, He did not exclude seeing His glory by faith in this present world.

No man shall ever behold the glory of Christ by sight in heaven who does not, in some measure, behold it by faith in this world.

There is, I believe, an infinite difference between longing for Christ and seeing His glory and wanting to go to heaven. Many will say that they long to be with Christ and behold His glory. But when asked they can give no reason for the desire, except that it would be better than going to hell. When asked about Christ many can’t tell you a thing about Him but they would still like to go to heaven when they die.

We must begin to see His glory now in this life and in this world if we are ever going to see it in the world to come.

What glory can faith see?

As Jesus walked with His disciples they saw His glory…

John 1:14 (ESV)

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

They didn’t see the splendor of an earthly kingdom Jesus made Himself nothing…

Philippians 2:7 (ESV)

but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.

Matthew 8:20 (ESV)

20 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”

Jesus wasn’t known for His good looks and never saved anyone because He was handsome.

Speaking of the future death of Jesus, Isaiah wrote…

Isaiah 52:14 (ESV)

14    As many were astonished at you—

his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance,

and his form beyond that of the children of mankind—

Isaiah 53:2–3 (ESV)

   For he grew up before him like a young plant,

and like a root out of dry ground;

       he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,

and no beauty that we should desire him.

   He was despised and rejected by men,

a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;

       and as one from whom men hide their faces

he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

So how is Christ’s glory seen by faith?

we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

What’s amazingly relevant for us today is that even our Lord’s disciples had to see His glory by faith because He had no glory to look at. So, the glory faith can see is the grace and truth that Jesus brought to this world when He came.

Most cannot see this glory.

John 1:12 (ESV)

12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,

They saw glory as they beheld His grace and listened to His truth.


John 1:29 (ESV)

29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!


John 14:6 (ESV)

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Matthew 7:28–29 (ESV)

28 And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, 29 for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.

Just like the disciples we too can see Christ’s glory by faith as we partake of His grace and His truth. We receive grace in salvation and truth in the Bible.

As we see Christ’s glory by faith…

We will receive rest, satisfaction, and peace for our souls-

Our thoughts normally are running everywhere earthly. As we look to Christ by faith in His Word our thoughts become more and more fixed on Him and not on the things of this world.

Romans 8:6 (ESV)

For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.

Philippians 3:7–11 (ESV)

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

When we take our eyes off Christ our souls become parched and malnourished. Our lives begin to focus on trivial things and not on the most important eternal things.

Adoring Christ will make us hungry for Heaven-

We will have untold joy in heaven. What will be the source of that joy? Nothing but seeing the glory of our Lord Jesus! He is our promised treasure. He is our hope.

1 Thessalonians 4:17–18 (ESV)

17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

Philippians 1:23 (ESV)

23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.

Admiring Christ will make us like Him-

As we look to Christ in worship and praise we will see Him more and more as He is. We will see His glory as we worship Him for His works on our behalf. We will be like Him the more we see Him as He is. We will be like Him as we worship Him in spirit and in truth.

2 Corinthians 3:18 (ESV)

18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

The wonders of Christ lie before us in the pages of Scripture. As we read and see Him and His glory by faith we will be made into the image of the One we worship.

What do you love most about Christ?





**Resources Used-

The Glory of Christ by John Owen (Banner of Truth Puritan Paperbacks)

Through the Looking Glass by Kris Lungaard (P & R)

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