In a gospel presentation, we might use Romans 3:23: "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."

What have sinners fallen from, exactly, with regards to the glory of God?

The verse wasn't meant to be understood as fallen from a high moral state, or fallen short of a good reputation in the community, for example.

I'd like answers from the perspective of those who ascribe to the Apostle's Creed.

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    You could refer to my comments at christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/24813/… - so basically we are short of expressing God since we are created in His image.
    – pehkay
    Commented Jan 6, 2021 at 9:42
  • @pehkay I welcome you to please adapt your wonderful answer into addressing specifically how sinners have "fallen short" of this glory of God.
    – Steve
    Commented Jan 6, 2021 at 15:41
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    C. S. Lewis wrote a wonderful essay titled "The Weight of Glory". It is the best short piece I have ever read that goes into what is meant by God's glory. Commented Jan 6, 2021 at 16:35
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    As a dear Christian friend pointed out, the glory of God has to be experienced - it cannot be described. My inadequate explanation bears that out, but I was blessed by looking into the subject and discovering what the Bible had to say.
    – Lesley
    Commented Jan 7, 2021 at 17:42
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    @Lesley Truth be told, ALL of the Christian life is to be experienced It needs the illumination of the Spirit to take it in; none of it is intuitive.
    – Steve
    Commented Jan 8, 2021 at 4:16

4 Answers 4


Romans 3:23-26 (KJV): For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

Q – What is the Glory of God?

The Lord God Almighty is the King of Glory, according to Psalm 24:7-10. He is glory personified. His whole being is unimaginably glorious. Glory is part of his eternal being, power and majesty. Psalm 24 pictures the coming of the King of glory in a time of celebration. Given the Hebrew association of the cloud of glory with the Ark of the Covenant, it is quite possible that Psalm 24 was written to commemorate the entrance of the Ark into Jerusalem during David’s time (2 Samuel 6:12–17) or into the temple during Solomon’s time (2 Chronicles 5:7).

Jesus is called “the Lord of Glory” in 1 Corinthians 2:8. The gospel message is God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that was hidden from the rulers of this age. Had they understood it, they would not have crucified Christ Jesus, “the Lord of glory”.

Hebrews 9:5 speaks of the Cherubim of Glory. Between the two winged figures made of pure gold, of one piece, the glory of God’s presence appeared over the ark of the Testimony:

There, above the cover between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the Testimony, I will meet with you and give you all my commands for the Israelites. (Exodus 25:17-22)

When Moses entered the Tent of Meeting to speak with the LORD, he heard the voice speaking to him from between the two cherubim above the cover on the ark of the Testimony. And he spoke with him. (Numbers 78:89)

A – The Glory of God is His holy and sinless Presence

Q – What have sinners fallen from or come short of?

There is no sin in God because it is the very antithesis of His nature. God hates sin because He is holy and holiness is the most exalted of all His attributes (Isaiah 6:3; Revelation 4:8). His holiness totally saturates His being. His holiness epitomizes His moral perfection and His absolute freedom from blemish of any kind.

God hates sin because it separates us from Him: “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear” (Isaiah 59:2) It was sin that caused Adam and Eve to run away from God and hide “among the trees of the garden” (Genesis 3:8). Sin always brings separation, and the fact that God hates sin means that He hates being separated from us. His love demands restoration, which in turn demands holiness.

God hates sin for the same reason that light hates darkness and truth hates a lie. Sin blinds us to the truth. Sin lessens our love for God. Sin enslaves us and will destroy us: “Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?” (Romans 6:16) Sin grieves the Spirit of God: “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30).

A – Sinners fall short of God’s holiness, and it is because of our sinful condition that we have been separated from God and, without faith in the shed blood of Christ Jesus, are utterly unable to enter into the presence of God.

P.S. I can say "Amen" to the "Apostles Creed"


A respected preacher from the last century referred to God's glory as "the outshining of God's presence." That definition is a good one. Well, at least it is a good start for a subject so profoundly deep.

The expression "the outshining of God's presence" reminds me of one of the apostle John's descriptions of God:

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.

In what sense is God light, you may ask. Before I attempt an answer to the question, Saint Paul's words in his first letter to Timothy lay the foundation for an answer:

God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen (6:15b-16 NIV).

The Light that IS God is not light in the usual sense. The sense in which God's image-bearers use the term refers to the natural light, created by God (Genesis 1) and provided by the sun, moon, and stars. The outshining of God's presence is a different kind of light altogether. The Light that is God is inherent to God's perfections, particularly his holiness.

When Moses asked God to show him His glory, this is what God said to Moses:

“I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”

Then the Lord said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen” (Exodus 33).

When the apostle Paul tells us that we all fall short of the glory of God, he is saying every human being who ever lived or ever will live is separated from God by a great chasm which can never be bridged, unless God graciously bestows on them both the gift of forgiveness and the gift of eternal life. Clothed in the righteousness of Christ, sinners become new creations in him. Moreover, they have the privilege of being lights in the world. Their light is not inherent to them, but it is a reflected light that originates in the God who IS light.

In conclusion, at one time Moses' face reflected God's eternal and perfect light. We read in Exodus,

It came about when Moses was coming down from Mount Sinai (and the two tablets of the testimony were in Moses’ hand as he was coming down from the mountain), that Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because of his speaking with Him. So when Aaron and all the sons of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him (34:29-30 NASB).

We know that the outshining of God's presence as it was seen in a reflected form on Moses' face faded (see 2 Corinthians 3:7-17). That is because Moses, as with all of humankind, fell short of the glory of God. Today, however, because of the New Covenant in Jesus's blood, all Christians, as the apostle Paul observed, are

. . . with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, [and] are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.


In the original Greek, the word sin was an archery term, and literally means "to miss the mark" - to miss the bullseye or perfection.
However far a person hit outside the bullseye of perfection was referred to as one's "sin mark".

The word “sin”, as it appears in the Bible, comes from the Greek word Hamartia or the Hebrew word Hata, which both mean “to miss the mark” or “flawed”. The word was used in archery and spear throwing. When a person missed the center of the target, they erred, or “hamartia-ed”. So, as this applies to sin, we should ask, “What is the mark that we are missing? And the answer is: The holy righteous perfection of God. When it comes to missing that mark, we’re not just veering off a little and barely missing the bull’s-eye… on our way to the range, we took a wrong turn and drove off a cliff!


It's important to understand that this is totally different than a mistake or sin of ignorance. It's a willful choice to disobey God - an act of rebellion.
James said - "To him who knows to do right and does not do it - to him it is sin." https://www.gospelproject.com/sin-missing-mark-video/

"One aspect of sin is missing the mark of God’s standards set for humanity. At first blush, missing the mark sounds like it could be referring to a simple mistake or an unintentional error. But missing the mark actually refers to falling short of God’s glory through conscious choosing of sin. So, is it appropriate to refer to sin as a failure on our part to live according to God’s standards? Sure, but here’s the thing: we have to recognize that this failure is intentional. We miss the mark when we deliberately choose to cast aside God’s intention for us.

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    ὑστερέω, hustereó, Strong 5302 (see Thayer in the link) is more correctly translated 'become destitute' 'be left behind in a race' 'fall into penury' etc. The rather pathetic idea of a poor archer not quite managing to hit his target is really unsuitable. The concept is abject failure and a shameful consequence. The same goes for a/martus (contrary to testimony). Hamartia also, is a deliberate act against faithful witness, not a near miss by someone trying hard.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jan 6, 2021 at 4:32
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    Thanks, Nigel. Looks good. Why not submit this as an answer. As I mentioned- it's not a mistake or accident due to not knowing- but a willful act of treason and rebellion.
    – Tennman7
    Commented Jan 6, 2021 at 4:42

As the Bible says we are created in His image, In His Likeness, we can also say In His Glory.

Using the context above, we can say to fall short means we are no more at that sinless or holy state(God's glory) in which Adam was first created.

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