It is closely related to glory. He is great, splendid, triumphant, dignified, and awesome.
This attribute is considered a “summary” perfection or attribute because it complements and is even comprehensive of all the other attributes. It is the capstone.
It is communicable or “shareable” or “transferrable” to us because we are made in God’s image and he has graced us with the capacity to shine with it.
What do theologians say?
The Old Testament was written Hebrew, and the nouns for majesty are as follows:
Ga’awa (18 times), which means glory, splendor, triumph.
A second noun is godel (13 times): “greatness, strength, beauty.”
Another noun is hadar (30 times): splendor, nobility, often means the beauty of an object or instills awe; dignity, honor.
Finally, hōd (24 times) is a synonym with the other nouns.
(Howard W. Goodrick and John R. Kohlenberger, The Strongest: NIV Exhaustive Concordance [Zondervan, 1990, 1999; Mounce, pp. 506-07]).
The New Testament was written in Greek, and two words are usually translated as “majestic”: megaleiotēs and megalosunē, whose synonyms are splendor, magnificence, greatness, and glory (Geisler, p. 524).
Philosopher and theologian Norman Geisler defines it as follows: “God’s majesty consists of unsurpassed greatness, highest eminence, unparalleled exaltation, and unmatched glory” (p. 524).
Quick definition: I can’t improve on Geisler’s very good definition.
What do the Scriptures say?
If you would like to see the following verses in many translations and in their contexts, please go to biblegateway.com.
This great verse come early in the Bible and connects majesty with holiness, awesomeness, and glory:
Who among the gods
is like you, Lord?
Who is like you—
majestic in holiness,
awesome in glory,
working wonders? (Ex. 15:11)
Here God is anthropomorphized (using a human figure of speech about God), as if he rides across of cloud of majesty. Sometimes clouds stand in for his angelic hosts and saints. But God certainly is exalted and great:
There is no one like the God of Jeshurun [the upright one or Israel],
who rides across the heavens to help you
and on the clouds in his majesty. (Deut. 33:26)
In the next verse, once again, glory and majesty are linked. The name speaks of God’s essence and character. It stands in for God himself:
Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory
in the heavens. (Ps. 8:1; cf. v. 9)
Splendor and majesty are synonyms:
Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy are in his dwelling place. (1 Chron. 16:27)
Notice all the wonderful attributes in this verse, indicating God’s majesty:
Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power
and the glory and the majesty and the splendor,
for everything in heaven and earth is yours. (1 Chron. 29:11)
Let’s move on to the New Testament.
In the next verse Peter is referring to the time when he, James, and John went up a mountain with Jesus and heard the voice of God. “Majestic glory” means heaven and God himself—it’s a stand-in, again.
He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (2 Pet. 1:17; cf. Matt. 17:5; Mark 9:7; Luke 9:35)
These two verses in the Epistle to the Hebrews say that the Son radiates glory, and when he completed his work on earth, he sat next to God himself. Once again, Majesty stands in for God.
The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. (Heb. 1:3)
Now the main point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven (Heb. 8:1)
Verses revealing his greatness: Pss. 47:2; 48:1; 99:2; 104:1; 145:3; Dan. 9:4.
How can I get to know God better?
Historians tell us that King Louis XIV (14th) was the greatest king of France and even of Europe. No one was greater before or after him. He carried himself with great dignity and greatness and honor. People bowed their heads and often their knees to him. He bestowed material things on his favorites—those closest to him. He owned many mansions, particularly the palace of Versailles (pronounced vare-SIGH).
Now imagine that you saunter into the king’s presence. You shuffle your feet, wipe your nose, sit down on a nearby chair, put your feet up, pick your teeth with your finger, and belch. The king’s guard would escort you out and throw you in a dungeon—before you did those things. You committed the crime of lese-majesty, that is, treating the king’s majesty casually. You violated the king’s dignity.
That is a human vision of majesty, but all Louis’s earthly glory does not come close to God’s majesty.
God dwells in unapproachable light—unapproachable by our present earthly bodies, certainly not displayed in all its absolute splendor. (We would die if we saw all of it.) His throne is white and luminous. His angels are powerful and glorious. He is so powerful that he spoke the universe into existence. He is so morally beautiful that he shines it on his creation, particularly humans, who reflect his beauty and glory. He is so great that he reigns over nature and sustains the universe.
We must come into the King’s presence respectfully and reverently. No, you do not have to wear a suit and tie in church. You can come into his presence with casual clothes; people can sing praise songs and pray even in the shower. No problem. It is the attitude that counts, coming into his presence with a surrendered and compliant and submissive heart—no arrogance or presumption.
He is God. He is in charge. We are humans. We are not in charge.
God is majestic.
Written by James Malcolm
ARTICLES IN “DO I REALLY KNOW GOD?” SERIES