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“Glory to THEOS in the highest,

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and on earth,

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among men who have been recipients of His kind intentions.”

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“May there be glory in the highest heavens to THE CREATOR AND OWNER OF ALL THINGS

and let there be peace on the whole earth among men who have been recipients of His kind intentions.”


1: “in the highest”

The Jewish reader would most likely have sensed that the word “heavens” should be inserted here, making the phrase read “in the highest heavens.” If heaven is unreachable and unattainable to us in our own efforts, the highest portions of the heavens are even more unreachable to us. This is saying that God deserves glory in ways that are far, far beyond our understanding.

2: “on earth”

Note the contrast and comparison here between the heavens and the earth. It’s as if the angels were saying, “Here is what is going on in the highest reaches of heaven—God is being given the glory He deserves. But what about the earth? What is happening there? Good things are happening there too.” The contrast needed no explanation, for everyone knows that there is no evil, no violence, no death in heaven. But the main emphasis of the announcement, with its loud confirmation, was that a bit of heaven was coming down to earth. Some of that glory, some of that wonder, some of that purity which characterizes heaven, was now residing on earth. Likewise, there is a contrast between God and men. So we have heaven and earth, God and men, and Jesus is the one who can bring the two extremes together. He was born to provide reconciliation for the broken relationship between God and man, to offer the opportunity to unite heaven and earth.

Although it does not say “in all the earth,” that may be the intended meaning. Often this type of phrase using “the earth,” whether the world “all” is used or not, implies the whole earth, or all mankind. This was an announcement that the Prince of Peace had come to offer peace to the whole world. All of mankind are the recipients of God’s good and kindly intentions, but not all have appropriated them into their lives.


When you see the word “peace” in Scripture, remember that it meant much more than the absence of violence. It meant wholeness and wellbeing of a physical, emotional, relational, societal, and especially spiritual kind. This announcement showed that a new level of wholeness and wellbeing had just arrived on earth. True peace was available in a way that it never was before. All people are the objects of God’s kind purpose, yet not all men appropriate it to their lives.

4: “God’s kind intentions”

The key word at the end of that sentence can mean “pleasure, good purpose, favor, good will, kind intentions, something that produced happiness, satisfaction or delight.” Its focus is on a purpose or intent that is pleasing to the recipient and the giver alike.


What Was This Proclamation Intended to Communicate?

This verse presents a few dilemmas we must address:

First of all, the last word of the verse (“kind intentions, good pleasure, good will, something pleasing,” etc.) is found in some manuscripts in a nominative form, and in other manuscripts in a genitive form. The nominative is the subject of a verb, while the genitive reveals things like possession. If the nominative form is the correct one, the sentence would say, “peace be on earth and good will be toward men” (the assumed verb of being makes it nominative). If the genitive form is correct, the sentence would say, literally, “let there be peace on earth among men of pleasing purpose.” From a textual criticism perspective, I agree with those who say the genitive form is preferred, meaning “men of good will, or men of pleasing purpose.”

What does men of pleasing purpose mean? Does this refer only to those who have been pleasing to God? Or does it refer to all men because all have been the recipients of God’s pleasure and kind intentions? Grammatically it can go either way. We cannot be sure and the context of the immediate passage does not give us a definitive answer. We must decide this one from our knowledge of the rest of scripture.

My opinion is shaped by the fact that this is an angelic announcement about the arrival of the savior of the world who is also the Prince of Peace.

The multitude of angels were proclaiming and celebrating the arrival of a new level of peace on this earth, a peace that was being given to men who already had been shown His kind intentions. The level of peace was new, the kind intentions God showed to men was not, they had been constant throughout history; God has always been pleased to show mercy and grace toward mankind.

All people are the objects of God’s kind purpose, yet not all men appropriate it to their lives. Down through history, those who have fostered a good relationship with God have been spared from His wrath and have received more blessings because of their actions. But once again, this is the announcement of the savior for the whole world so what He came to offer is available to all. I believe this verse is referring to God’s offer of peace to all men based on the fact that He has always had kind intentions toward everyone. The fact that some obey and are rewarded while others rebel and are punished was not part of this announcement.

Furthermore, the key verb of this sentence is missing and must be assumed: What verb should be inserted?

The possibilities are:

1) It was an announcement of what is coming—”There will be glory to God and peace on earth…”

2) It was a wish, or strong desire—”May there be glory to God in the highest and may there be peace on earth,” (“Let there be” is similar to “may there be” and sometimes it was expressed simply as “be,” such as “glory be to God”),

3) It was an announcement of what is current reality—”There is glory to God in the highest and there is now peace on earth,”

4) It was a command—“Give God glory in the highest and make peace on earth,”

5) It was an announcement of what has taken place—“Glory has been given to God in the highest and peace has come to earth.”

Most of the time in Greek, statements like this one that have a verb left out in this way, are intended to communicate the idea of “may there be, or let there be.” And yet these statements in Scripture are much more than a wish; they are a statement of reality with the hint of a command. In our minds a wish is not a strong statement, but in the Bible the expression of a wish was a powerful thing. Also, when someone in ancient times wished something upon someone, it was based on something else; it had a foundation; it had history. In this case we are told what that foundation was—God’s kind intentions toward men. While we need to strive to please God, the coming of Jesus and what He offered was not based on man’s actions but on God’s grace.

There is a possibility that the verb was left out in order to allow for all of the possibilities mentioned above.


The long version of what was being communicated could be expressed as follows: “God deserves and will indeed receive praise of the highest kind because of what He has done, and He is receiving that praise in heaven right now. There will be peace on earth, and it is starting right now. All men are recipients of God’s offer of peace based on God’s favor toward them throughout history. The granting of that peace will become more and more evident because of what is already here (a special baby), and what will soon be coming (His saving acts of crucifixion and resurrection). What’s more, you are expected to participate and help in whatever way you can by giving glory to God where you are and by striving for peace in every relationship.”

Wow! All those ideas were packed into one short announcement! It is a great deal to say through a verb that is not even present!