Lesson Four – Attaining Honor

Attaining Glory

Lesson Aim:  To show how people must achieve and be socially accepted in a seat of honor before they will attain the glory they need to satisfy their inherent need for glory.

Scripture:  Luke 14:7-11.

Historical analysis for reading the parable.

Place:  In or near Jerusalem, Luke 13:22.

Occasion:  Jesus was eating bread in the house of one of the leaders of the Pharisees on a Sabbath, Luke 14:1.  He witnessed the invited guests choosing the chief seats.  This occasioned His parable.

Time:  Probably during the last half of Jesus’ ministry.

Audience:  Wealthy Pharisees and lawyers, Luke 14:3.

Aim:  Jesus recognized mankind’s need for glory is inherent; therefore, He showed us how to attain glory in a manner that will satisfy our natural need.

Hook:  Please note the difference in the atmosphere in this Pharisee’s house and in Simon’s house in our previous study.  At the dinner in Simon’s house the Pharisees were stalking Jesus.  However, in this case Jesus took the initiative from the start.  These Pharisees already knew the issues to avoid from previous encounters with Jesus.  The Gospel of John was organized around encounters Jesus had with these and other notable Jewish leaders in Jerusalem.  Since Jesus always got the better of them, this leader and his friends gave Him the silent treatment.  Jesus was probably an uninvited guest.  See verses two through six.

Finally, Jesus caught the invited guests grabbing the chief seats.  Some of them may have already been ask to vacate their places because of the late arrival of someone “more distinguished.”  Since by this time all the good seats would have been filled, the “chief seat grabber” might have been seen moving toward the back bench.

Some guests had been caught and disgraced while breaking a law of life that everyone would argue, others should keep.  “For everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, and he who humbles himself shall be exalted.”

Definitions:  The Greek word, protoklisia, has been translated “place of honor” in the NASB and the NIV.  It has been translated “chief rooms” in the KJV.  The Greek word is from a combination of two words: proto – the first reclining place at a meal, the chief place at a table.  Klisia – A company reclining at a meal, to recline.  These definitions are from Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words.

The Greek word most often translated “honor” is time.  It is not used in our text.  Primarily time means a valuing, objectively, a price paid; therefore, to honor someone means we are thinking of their worth to humanity and ourselves in particular.  See the use of the Greek word, time, in Matt. 27:9 where it is translated “price.”  In John 8:49 it is translated honor where it is said, Jesus honors the Father.

In John 8:50 Jesus said, “I do not seek My glory.”  The Greek word “doxa” is the word translated glory.  (It originated from the word dokeo, to seem).  It primarily signifies an opinion, estimate, and hence, the honor resulting from a good opinion.  See John 17:5, where doxa is translated glory to denote the glory Jesus Christ had before He came to this world.  In Romans 2:7 and 10, both Greek words, doxa and time, have been translated glory and honor, respectively.  The Apostle Paul is speaking about the goals of Christians now (v 7) and the rewards we will receive at Judgment (10).  Please note verse ten is a description of a faithful Christian’s eternal life.

Doxa is translated “have honor” in verse ten of Jesus’ parable in the NASB, “be honored” in the NIV and “have worship” in the KJV.  In this text it literally means this person would be viewed in an exalted position by the others present when they were moved up to a chief seat.  One meaning of the word glory is “to have a good view of.”  It is the way we try to fix ourselves up when we get our photo snapped.


Parents are delighted with the first trick their baby does to attract attention.  The baby is even more delighted with the attention he or she gets from the parents.  A parent would be concerned about their child’s health if it did not seek attention and the glory that follows.  The child happily enjoys his or her seat of honor up to a certain age in their home and in the public.  They are rewarded in the things they do to get attention with applause and hugs and kisses.  Then, to their dismay, at a certain point they begin to hear their parents telling them not to be “show offs.”  All at once, the things that were getting them so much gratifying glory are classified as anywhere from “naughty” to downright evil.  Children do, indeed, have a hard time helping adults with parenting.

If parents understood the child’s inherent need for glory we might be more cooperative and patient.  The need for glory does not go away just because the parents become tired of entertaining themselves by giving glory to the child.  In fact, the parents have the same need.  Their happiness can be measured in direct relation to how well they have found satisfaction for this need and others the Lord created in all people.

In the parable in our text Jesus worked out a solution for our need to attain glory.  Before we enter into this study let us consider whether the need for glory is a need God created in humanity, an inherent need that must be satisfied, or is it something else.  In other words, do children desire and seek glory because God designed them with this innate need, or is it because their parents taught them to desire glory.  We speak of the nature/nurture question.  We are considering the relationship between God’s purpose for creating mankind and His design of us.  The following is an excerpt from the opening paragraph of the Introduction in Lesson One, Part One of this study of the Parables of Jesus:

“Mankind was created to be God’s sons and daughters while in this world and join Him in eternity as His children.  Please read Isa. 43:6, 7; Ezek. 16:20, 21; John 1:12; Rom. 8:28-30; Gal. 4:4, 5; Eph. 1:3-6; Heb. 2:10, 11 and Revelation 21:7.  We are to develop the nature of Jesus and give glory to God as our Father (Col. 1:27).  This is the fruit God wants from, and for, His people while we live in this world (Rom. 8:18-21).  God has patiently worked with mankind in various ways since the beginning of time in order to fulfill His purposes (Heb. 6:13-20; I Tim. 1:16).  His fruit will also satisfy our higher needs for eternal glory (Rom. 2:7, 10; I Cor. 2:7; II Tim. 2:10).”  End of excerpt.

God preplanned, or predestined, our glory.  He predestined our adoption and the forgiveness of our sins before He created this world.  See I Cor. 2:6-10; Eph. 1:3-6; I Pet. 1:20.  It does seem reasonable to believe God put within each person a need for glory, as well as other needs we all recognize.  It is generally accepted if a trait is timeless, universal and self evident, this trait is inherent within the species.  Children the world over want the chief seat and they want to be applauded in it.  They want glory.  Adults also want glory but many have “given up.”  They have lost their zeal for life.  The good news (gospel) of the kingdom of God is that we can have satisfaction for our inherent need for glory.


And He began speaking a parable to the invited guests when He noticed how they had been picking out the places of honor at the table; saying to them, ‘When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you may have been invited by him, and he who invited you both shall come and say to you, ‘Give place to this man,’ and then in disgrace you proceed to occupy the last place.  But when you are invited, go and recline at the last place, so that when the one who has invited you comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher;’ then you will have honor in the sight of all who are at the table with you.’  Luke 14:7-10

Jesus found a group of adults trying to satisfy the same need babies are seeking satisfaction for when they do their first tricks.  Take special note; Jesus did not condemn them for trying to get the chief seats.  He did say they were using the wrong approach to achieve the position.  He showed them how to satisfy their desire to have glory by achieving the seat with social acceptance.

The question is, should Christians desire and pursue a goal which will give us a chief seat; that is, a position of honor?  Or to put the question more bluntly, is it evil to seek honor for ourselves?  The answer is no, it is not.  If it were, Jesus would have condemned the Pharisees rather than show them how to fulfill their desire for glory.  When God designed mankind, He made us in such a way as to desire honor and glory.  Glory is translated from the Greek word “doxa” and it means to be viewed in a good way.  Honor is generally translated from “time” and it means to be valued.  God made mankind to share in His glory eternally as His sons.  He put us together in such a way that we desire glory.  If we are faithful sons of God we will have full satisfaction for this inherited drive.  The people who are not God’s children still have the need for glory.  They will try to find glory in some form.  They will be disappointed more often than satisfied but they will keep trying.  The people who give up generally become miserable wretches.

It is usually accepted that people are born with the inherited drives for social acceptance and achievement.  We can witness these needs in a young person as they function as motivators in his or her learning exercises.  The people in our parable were trying to satisfy the achievement drive without giving due consideration to the social acceptance drive.  Jesus said it cannot be done.  Getting the position without social acceptance of our fellowman will not satisfy our quest for glory.  When we achieve a chief seat, or position of honor, the people we serve must value and accept us in it; otherwise, there will be no honor (time) for us.  When honor is missing from our position our need for glory (doxa) will not be satisfied.  This is the principle taught by Jesus:

For everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, and he who humbles himself shall be exalted.  Luke 14:11

The positive side is “he who humbles himself shall be exalted.”  The way to get satisfaction for our desire for honor is to serve others in such a way that they will want us to have more power so we can serve them more.  Positions of honor have power over others.  When we have the interest of others at heart they will want to give us power to do more for them.

A person may have interest in the position only.  They may not do the service for others the position is supposed to supply.  If we are able to get promoted, or appointed by other means than service, we will find it to be a cold victory.  We may attain the position by might or wit but to be satisfying, we must have humbled ourselves to render service to others.  When those whom we have served accept us as worthy of the position, then we will enjoy the kind of honor that satisfies.

It is possible people may not accept us in the position, even though we serve them.  This problem is in the character of the people who benefited by our service.  A son of God will not be dampened by the ungrateful attitudes of others.  We know we will have our glory in eternity.  It can be most disconcerting for the people who depend upon only the people of this world to satisfy their desire for glory.

Thanks be to God who has given us a program to satisfy each drive He created within us!  It would have been most cruel if it were not so.  God has offered the exalted position to each person on earth to be His son or daughter now in time (II Cor. 6:18).  We can gain this exalted position by humbling ourselves as slaves to God’s righteousness (Rom. 6:19).  We will serve others as we live our lives on earth in this manner.  They may recognize that service and offer us a position that will let us serve them more.  This will be satisfying for our desire for achievement.  We love anything and anybody that satisfies our desires; therefore, we will love those who give us the seat of honor and serve them more.  God has given us the following assurance for our hope of glory.

The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow-heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him.   Rom. 8:16, 17

Questions for Discussion

  1. What was the problem Jesus was working to solve in the parable in our text?
  2. How are parents sometimes inconsistent with their children?
  3. How does a young person compare with the people in Jesus’ parable?
  4. How do we know it is not wrong to desire glory?
  5. What is the dilemma of the person who does not find sonship with God?
  6. List two commonly accepted inherited drives involved in our attaining honor and glory that satisfies.
  7. List two things that must be present to have glory that satisfies.
  8. How will people humble those who disregard Jesus’ teaching on attaining honor?
  9. What were the people in the parable doing wrong?
  10. Why will a son of God never be disappointed in his service to others?
  11. Why will people of the world often be disappointed in their pursuit of glory?
  12. Why would it have been cruel if God had not offered mankind a way to attain honor?

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