What Is Worship According to the Scriptures?





Sunday morning church services


offering our lives as living sacrifices to God?





Romans 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-- this is your spiritual act of worship.  (NIV)






What is worship?  This is a question that needs to be answered in the Christian community.  Webster’s Dictionary defines worship as follows:


Worship: from the Old English weorthscipe; from weorth meaning worthy + scipe meaning ship

(NOTE: hence, a worthy ship, something or someone of worth or importance:

1.      chiefly British: a person of importance-used as a title for various officials (as magistrates and some mayors) <sent a petition to his Worship>

2.      reverence offered a divine being or supernatural power; also an act of offering such reverence

3.      a form of religious practice with its creed and ritual

4.      extravagant respect or admiration for or devotion to an object of esteem <of a dollar>)


The British culture with its aristocracy is more apt to relate to the ancient Hebrew and Greek concept of what we call “worship”.  A British magistrate is someone of great rank and distinction with a title of honor and esteem in that society.  Magistrates are not held to be deities in Britain, and when referred to as “his Worship” they are not regarded as God.


Thus the origin of the English word worship has at its roots the connotation of a man of great importance, and one to whom people would give due reverence.  Keeping this in mind, it must also be noted that the King James translators were English, and culturally would have made application of the meaning of “worship” to refer predominantly to nobles, kings, princes and the like.


While the secondary definition of worship is reverence offered to a divine being or supernatural power, it also includes actions involved with offering such reverence.  Unless ones ‘worship’ was closely tied to manmade traditions, creeds and orthodoxy, the most relevant expression of worship to God the Father as the One and only supreme deity would be the manifesting of His love to others.  This kind of love is demonstrated when we obey His commandments.



Our faith in God must be accompanied by actions (works).  Our entire life is meant to be an expression of worship.  Our worship is not a time of devotion or a Sunday morning church service, but offering ourselves as a living sacrifice. Jesus Christ is the greatest of all men in the kingdom of God.  Jesus is God’s only begotten son and he is the only mediator between God and man.



God the Father exalted Jesus and gave him a name that would be above every other name (except the Father’s name of course!).  Jesus had obeyed God even to the point of death.  His life was given in love and obedience as a ransom for mankind.  Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, men could be reconciled back to God.  Therefore God appointed His only begotten son as the man who would judge the world in righteousness, and he would be the magistrate who judges both the living and the dead.




Because Jesus acts as a magistrate appointed by God, the British concept of honoring him as such applies.  We do not worship Jesus as God; instead, as the magi did at his birth, we recognize him as our king, and as the Prince of Peace.  As we will later see, the Hebrew and Greek words that have been translated as “worship” mean “to lay prostrate.”  To lay prostrate before a ruler is an act of reverence and recognition of their position and the place of honor and esteem they hold.


We honor Jesus as one who is worthy of honor.  He is worthy because he shed his precious blood for our sins.  He is honored because God the Father appointed him as the one man who would judge the world in righteousness.  God gave Jesus his authority and made all things subject to him.  It is in this light that we revere our Lord Jesus.


Only God the Father can be given the reverence offered a divine being or supernatural power.  He alone is the Creator and He will not share His glory with another.  Even Jesus recognized that it was the Father who men should worship as God.



Many Christians are confused about what worship is.  Most think that worship is something we do at Sunday church services when we sing praise songs.  While it is possible to express worship in praise, true worship is by no means limited to such.  This study will define what worship is from New Testament passages and definitions that deal with the topic.


The reason for this study is to re-examine our modernized and westernized concepts of what worship is.  The Christian church has taught for centuries that a special, weekly “worship service” is needed to truly pay homage to the Creator.  In fact, if you read the weekly church program bulletin, the “Worship Service” is listed as one of the prominent rituals.  This is the time when choirs, musicians, and music ministries lead a congregation in whatever form of musical preference they enjoy. 


Some churches have exuberant and jubilant songs services, with loud instrumentation, clapping of hands, and shouts of spontaneous praise to God.  Other more conservative churches sing from hymnals the less jubilant, but meaningful words of adoration to the God of heaven.


The intent of this study is not to disavow the sincerity of what a believer expresses to his or her Lord when singing songs of praise.  Rather, let us openly, and without bias, examine what the scripture teaches regarding the individual’s worship.  A person can sing songs of praise to God, and in their heart they are truly paying reverential homage to God.  Another person can sing the same songs, with a sincerity of heart, but lacking the attitude of worship.


We will find that worship is much more than Sunday morning song service.  In fact, according to scripture, true worship has very little to do with singing of songs.  It is an attitude of heart and mind expressed by one’s lifestyle.  True scriptural worship is actually one’s service to God.


For the most part we will quote from the New American Standard Bible, since it is one of the better English translations.  First we will define the Hebrew and Greek words for worship.


Defining Worship


In defining worship, our study will be primarily limited to the term as it is applied to the one and only true God.  There are certainly other references where worship is used of pagan idols, and pseudo piety (i.e. self-righteous and prideful devotion to a system of religion).  Our concern is to identify what the meaning of worship is, and later to find practical applications of the various definitions.


Hebrew:  The Hebrew word translated as “worship” by the NASB translators is often translated in the King James Version as “serve.”  The definition of the word is as follows from Strong’s Electronic Dictionary (bold highlighting added; this assists in isolating the literal meanings of the Hebrew and Greek words for worship):



Greek:  The Greek word for “worship” is defined as follows:



Itemizing the Definitions


A summary definition of the various Hebrew and Greek words used for worship is stated here. For those who are interested, a more complete definition is given in the appendix at the end of this study. I have used the definitions from Strong’s and Vine’s Dictionaries; bold highlighting has been added to assist in isolating the literal meanings of the Hebrew and Greek words for worship.




1. WORSHIP/SERVICE 5647  `abad (aw-bad'); a primitive root; to work (in any sense); by implication, to serve, cultivate, enslave. 


2. WORSHIP/SERVICE `abodah ^5656^, "work; labors; service."  The more general meaning of `abodah is close to our English word for "work."   "Labor" in the field, daily "work" from morning till evening, and "work" in the linen industry, indicate a use with which we are familiar. To this, it must be added that `abodah may also be "hard labor," such as that of a slave.  The more limited meaning of the word is "service." Thus anything, people and objects, associated with the temple were considered to be in the "service" of the Lord. Our understanding of "worship," with all its components, comes close to the Hebrew meaning of `abodah as "service."


3. WORSHIP - Shachah ^7812^, "to worship, prostrate oneself, bow down." This word is found in Modern Hebrew in the sense of "to bow or stoop," but not in the general sense of "to worship." The fact that it is found more than 170 times in the Hebrew Bible shows something of its cultural significance.  The act of bowing down in homage is generally done before a superior or a ruler.  Shachah is used as the common term for coming before God in worship. Sometimes it is in conjunction with another Hebrew verb for bowing down physically, followed by "worship."




1.  WORSHIP - 4352 proskuneo (meaning to kiss, like a dog licking his master's hand); to fawn or crouch to, i.e. (literally or figuratively) prostrate oneself in homage (do reverence to, adore); "to make obeisance, do reverence to" (from pros, "towards," and kuneo, "to kiss"), is the most frequent word rendered "to worship." It is used of an act of homage or reverence (a) to God & (b) to Christ.


2. WORSHIP - sebomai ^4576^, "to revere," stressing the feeling of awe or devotion, is used of "worship" to God.


3.  WORSHIP - latreuo ^3000^, "to serve, to render religious service or homage," is translated "to worship."



(1)   The worship of God is nowhere defined in Scripture. A consideration of the above verbs shows that it is not confined to praise; broadly it may be regarded as the direct acknowledgement to God, of His nature, attributes, ways and claims, whether by the outgoing of the heart in praise and thanksgiving or by deed done in such acknowledgment.

(2)   In <Acts 17:25> therapeuo, "to serve, do service to" (so RV), is rendered "is worshiped."


4.  WORSHIP - sebasma ^4574^ denotes "an object of worship" (akin to A, No. 3); every object of "worship," whether the true God or pagan idols


Summary Definition of Worship


The Hebrew definitions indicate two basic meanings for worship.  The most frequently used word that has been translated as “worship” in the NASB is abad 5647 (aw-bad'); a primitive root word meaning to work (in any sense); by implication, to serve, cultivate, enslave.  The second most frequently used word in the Hebrew Scriptures is 5656  `abodah (ab-o-daw').  This word originates from abad, and it means work of any kind. 


The more general meaning of `abodah is close to our English word for "work," (i.e. "Labor" in the field, daily "work" from morning till evening).  Whenever God's people were not fully dependent on Him, they had to choose to serve (abodah) the Lord God or human kings with their requirements of forced "labor" and tribute.  Thus, when a person does not labor in service to God, they become a “slave” to a humanistic system.


The other frequently used Hebrew word which is translated as worship is shachah ^7812^, "to worship, prostrate oneself, bow down." This word is found in Modern Hebrew in the sense of "to bow or stoop," but not in the general sense of "to worship."  Shachah is used as the common term for coming before God in worship. Sometimes it is in conjunction with another Hebrew verb for bowing down physically, followed by "worship."  Thus this word means to prostrate oneself in a bowed position, as one would do to a ruler, (e.g. a powerful king).


The Greek words translated as worship convey a very similar idea as the Hebrew counterparts (God’s word is always consistent).  The most frequently and commonly used word is 4352 proskuneo meaning to prostrate oneself in homage (do reverence to, adore) or to make obeisance, do reverence to.


Another Greek word translated as “worship” is used 10 times in the New Testament.  It is sebomai ^4576^, meaning,  "to revere," stressing the feeling of awe or devotion, is used of "worship" to God.  This word implies a different meaning than proskuneo.  While proskuneo may present the picture of a person prostrate (face down) before God, sebomai stresses more of the feelings and emotions of awe towards God.


The Greek counterpart to the Hebrew meaning of worship as “service” is latreuo ^3000^, “to serve, to render religious service or homage,” Latreuo is used 21 times in the New Testament, and 17 times it is rendered as “service” (or the equivalent) by the NASB translators. 


There is another word that is used many times in the New Testament, but is only translated with regards to worship once.  That word is  therapeuo ^2323^ (ther-ap-yoo'-o); we get our English word ‘therapeutic’ from a root origin of this Greek word.  Therapuo means to wait upon menially, i.e. (figuratively) to adore (God), or (specially) to relieve (of disease).  In most cases therapeuo is translated as healed, healing, etc.  Therapuo is derived from a root word  therapon ^2324^ (ther-ap'-ohn) meaning, a menial attendant (as if cherishing).  Thus these words give the idea of God’s people as menial attendants, sent to bring healing, or in our vernacular, healing and/or therapy.


Lastly, we quote again the NOTES from Vine’s Expository Dictionary on ‘worship’(see Appendix for more complete information):


The worship of God is nowhere defined in Scripture. A consideration of the above verbs shows that it is not confined to praise; broadly it may be regarded as the direct acknowledgement to God, of His nature, attributes, ways and claims, whether by the outgoing of the heart in praise and thanksgiving or by deed done in such acknowledgment.


We conclude that worship is primarily defined as a life of service to God, as a menial attendant, or even as a slave (servant, or love slave J).  This is the functional aspect of worship.  It has no definition that relates to praise or to music.  Thus, there is nothing scriptural regarding church song services as being “worship” (although this type of service is not excluded, singing to God is not the definition of worship).


Worship is also the acknowledgement, the reverential awe one experiences when in the presence of the Ruler of the universe.  It can cause one to lie prostrate before Him (literally or figuratively).


We will now give some examples from each of the word categories in the Hebrew and Greek definitions to demonstrate how the words apply to our everyday lives (through the examples of others as seen in scripture):


Hebrew Scripture Examples Of Worship


1.  WORSHIP/SERVICE 5647  `abad (aw-bad'); a verb and a primitive root; to work (in any sense); by implication, to serve, cultivate, enslave; meaning "to worship" as in the NASB and the NIV.



God told Adam to cultivate the garden as an expression of his life before the LORD.  From the very beginning, true worship is a command from God to be in active labor, tending that which God has created in the physical realm, as well as the spiritual.



Jacob loved Rachel so much, that he serves her father Laban, even though Laban had treated him in a deceptive and unfriendly way.  Thus we see an example of worship as being willing to do what God wants with all of our strength, driven by our love for others.  It is a labor of love for the Father, and for the Lamb, and for the body of Christ. (READ Mark 12:28-31 with 1 Pet. 4:10-11; also read Matthew 25:31-46)



When Israel was in bondage to Egypt, they were “compelled” to “labor rigorously.”  When we are enslaved to the devil, and to the things of the world, Satan drives us like a taskmaster.  Our heart to worship God through a service of love becomes turned to slavery and rigorous labor.  We lose our peace with God and fail to enter into His rest. (READ Romans 6:5-7, 13-18)



Pharaoh had to let God’s people Israel go at the command of Yahweh.  God has given us the power to command the demons to release us from their torment and bondage.  Jesus came to defeat the works of the devil, in order that our service of worship to God might be in liberty (READ 2 Cor. 3:17-18 and 1 John 3:2-11)



True worship is something we must “desire” to do; it must come from our heart.  It must flow out from our relationship with God who gave His son Jesus as the ultimate example of a servant.  We must not merely do the externals, or mechanically serve our Lord.  He wants our heart, our spirit, so that He can lead us to the needs of His heart. (READ Ps. 37:3-7; 21:1-2; 73:25-28)



True worship involves single-minded devotion of service to Yahweh alone.  We cannot be worshipping Him when we have made idols for ourselves…careers, television, gluttony, pornography, dysfunctional relationships, alcohol/drugs, gossip, jealousy towards others, fornication (sex before and outside of marriage), greed, etc.  These and so many other things can become idols and dissuade our single-minded worship to God. 


God says He is “jealous” for all of us.  We must not think we can truly serve Him in worship when idolatry is a part of our lives.  Worship/service means you love Him and keep His commandments…it’s that simple.  Let Him speak His commands to you…respond in obedient service, and then you are TRULY worshipping the LORD. (READ John 14:15; 1 Cor. 10:12-14; Col. 3:3-5)



Worship and service does not include integrating with foreign gods.  The Israelites were commanded not to do “according to their deeds.”  As New Testament believers, we cannot serve the “gods” of the world…sitcom programs on TV filled with sarcasm, sexual innuendos, mocking of family values, etc. (READ 2 Cor. 4:1-4) The New Testament says that idolatry can be anything we serve other than our Creator.  Here is one example:



As Israel was commanded to break down the pagan alters, we must eliminate those things in our lives that align with this ungodly world.  Even the Christian “religion” can be an “altar” of self-righteousness.  Many so-called Christians “play church” every Sunday, and their meetings become more of a social club than a time to show the genuine care and love of Jesus for each individual member of the body of Christ. (READ Phil. 3:8-20)



The seventh day was referred to as the Sabbath; it was to be a day of rest, when all work would cease.  Do we then cease to worship God on the Sabbath?  In the New Testament, the Sabbath is representative of a rest we find in Jesus, ceasing from our own works (works of the flesh), and enter into the rest that comes from believing in the finished work of Jesus on the cross. 


Thus, to truly worship God through service involves the simplicity of faith in Him, and not in our own works of self-righteousness.  (READ Heb. 3:18 – 4:12)  The six days represent the past 6000 years of man’s history; a day is to the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years is as a day. (READ 2 Pet. 3:8)  Man was created on the sixth day.  We were created new in Christ Jesus, that we might be rich in good works, which he has appointed for us to do.  Thus the six days can represent all the days of a man’s life being devoted to the service of worship unto the Almighty. (READ Eph. 2:8-10)


2. WORSHIP/SERVICE `abodah ^5656^, "work; labors; service."



When the LORD delivered Israel from the Egyptian bondage, He did so using the death angel to kill the first-born of anyone in Egypt who did not have the doorposts of their home sprinkled with the blood of the sacrificial lamb.  He called the event “Passover” because the death angel “passed over” the homes where he saw the blood.  The Israelites were commanded to observe through their work, labor and service (abodah) the rite of the Passover, which they did by having a meal together once a year.


In the New Testament, Jesus became the Lamb of God, sacrificed for the sins of the world (READ John 1:29 and Rev. 5:8-12).  Those who believe in the Lamb of God (Jesus), and receive his atoning sacrifice for the guilt of their sin, are “passed over” by the judgment of God the Father.  The blood of Jesus was the essence and reality of the blood that the ancient Israelites sprinkled upon their houses. God’s judgment is the wages of sin…death (separation from God for eternity; READ 2 Thes. 1:6-9).  God passes over the guilt of believers in Jesus and they are spared the judgment of eternal death (a.k.a. as the second death; READ Rev. 2:11; 20:6, 16; 21:8).


Thus, in the New Testament, Jesus IS our “Passover sacrifice,” saving our home from death (i.e. our spirit and soul, which are our eternal dwelling; READ 2 Cor. 5:1).  This death in the New Testament is defined as the second death, the lake of fire; READ Rev. 20:12-15).  Another aspect of Jesus working as the Passover in our midst, is to purge the church of sexual immorality, malice, greed and wickedness, in order that we worship God in sincerity and truth:



Righteous judgment within and among the believers is a vital part of our Passover service to Christ.  This is what the Hebrew concept of ‘abad’ refers to.  True ‘worship’ includes removing malice and wickedness from the midst of the church, and serving the Lord and his body in sincerity and truth.  There is very little judgment being done in the church today (righteous judgment that is). When Jesus spoke of partaking of his body and blood, doing this in remembrance of him, the Passover was celebrated.


The service of the Passover is not eating the sacraments of bread and wine during special ‘Communion’ services within the church.  This ritual (i.e. the symbolic eating of pieces of unleavened bread and drinking small cups of wine or grape juice) originates from paganism and was passed on to the Christian church through Catholicism. To celebrate the true Passover is to honor Jesus’ life by emanating His example of selfless giving; it is the exact opposite of selfishness


Thus, true service of worship in communion is a sharing of our lives and means with others in need.  This sharing is true worship and is to be exemplified amongst believers first and foremost.  If we do not care for our brothers and sisters in Jesus, how can we ever hope to reflect the spirit of service to a lost and hurting world?  It is the lack of love and concern expressed in the Christian church that has caused so many to reject the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.


Paul rebuked the Corinthian church because they had made a mockery of the table of the Lord Jesus, turning it into a table of demons through greed and selfishness.  Just like many Christian churches today, the Corinthians had mingled their idolatry with the meals they shared together in the Eastern custom.  The bread they shared at these meals is said to represent the body of Christ as a whole.



From the passage above, we learn that the true “worship” of God in the Passover is sharing the same attitude Jesus had amongst the brethren.  God’s primary concern is not that we worship Him in praise services but that our whole lives are lived in service to others that reflects an attitude of selflessness: “Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor.”



The Corinthian church is no different than most churches in America and the free world.  They would have meals together for the purpose of sharing with those in need.  But they defiled true worship (service) to God by hoarding the food and drink brought for the purpose of sharing with everyone.  This shows that they were selfish and greedy and were bringing judgment from God upon themselves.  The Lord Jesus desires us to serve him and offer true “worship” to God through the attitude and actions that cause us to wait upon one another, rather than look out for old number one first: “So then, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another.”



All of the “utensils” which God had commanded Israel to set apart for service in the service of the tabernacle were to be used.  The New Testament counterpart to this is that ALL the members of the body of Christ are to be used in service of worship to God.  Too often it is just the minister, or pastor who is used by God, but God wants that to change, and every human utensil of God should worship Him by being “used” in their specific function (READ Rom 12:4-11)


Each one has something unique and very essential to contribute to the effectual building up of the body of Christ and for the equipping of it for the work of service. (READ 1 Cor. 12:4-7, 11-26 with Eph. 4:11-16)  God considers every member of Christ’s body a utensil fit for service, IF they have kept their hearts and lives cleansed and ready for that service for which they are best suited.


Notice that all the utensils used for service of worship were “bronze.”  Bronze is a non-ferrous metal that does not rust.  Therefore, bronze symbolizes eternal things that cannot be eroded or stolen by the wickedness of this life.  As utensils of the living God, we are to lay up our treasures in heaven where rust cannot destroy the heat-tested bronze of our character. (READ Matt. 6:19-21)



Worship is not a formal church song service on Sunday morning; it is not a tribute, nor a devotional time.  Certainly we can sense and feel God’s presence when praising Him and spending time in quietness with him.  Those in Israel whose hearts “stirred” them and those whose “spirit moved him” made their service of worship by contributing to the work of the tent of meeting. 


Are you stirred, and is your spirit alive in Jesus, so that you can be moved to give to others out of love and compassion for them and their needs?  If so, you are giving God true worship/service.  A man cannot claim to love and serve a God whom he has not seen if he fails to love and serve his brother whom he can see.


What does this mean to us?  We need our hearts “stirred” (literally the Hebrew word ‘nasa’ meaning, “to lift”) by the Spirit of God.  God can lift up our hearts through encouragement from one another.  The Hebrew word “nasa” is where the famous space launch center gets its name.  As the rockets launch, they exert tremendous force to “lift” off, sending the missile skyward and into outer space.  Likewise, our hearts must be stirred from the inside.  It takes the power of the Spirit of God working in our willing hearts to lift us to a place where we are serving one another in love, compassion, and forgiveness.



The heart speaks of what our desire is…to do God’s will.  The Lover of our soul lifts our heart so our desire is for Him.  The human spirit is then “moved” to respond to God’s Spirit.  This stirring helps us in our contribution to the work of God, and the building up of the body of Christ (the “tent” by way of analogy speaks of the human body. READ 2 Cor. 5:1-7)


The human body that God has given us was intended for one purpose…service to Him in “holy garments.”  This holiness comes from the inside; it comes from the heart.  As we lift up Jesus as our Redeemer, he delivers us from the bondage of sin.  We are then stirred by the grace God extends through Jesus and follow His example in our lifestyle.  Then the lost are drawn to God through us. (READ John 3:13-16) As our hearts desire is to delight in the Lord, he moves our spirit into a place of Divine anointing and we are stirred to action. 


Most often, it is as we initiate action FIRST, trusting that God will honor our faith with “works” that allows Him opportunity to anoint us.  God cannot anoint an inactive vessel.  Jesus was “lifted up” that He might be able to give gifts to us for the work of service (READ John 12:32 with Eph. 4:8-12).


You do not have to wait for God to “stir” or “move” you.  He will do this as you walk in obedience to the commandment of Jesus.  If you love Jesus, you will obey his commands (John 14:15).  He gave us a new commandment:




Jesus understood the concept of acting on his faith.  The first clear example we see of this is when he stood in the synagogue at the beginning of his public ministry.



True ‘worship’ is to love one another, using the example of Jesus as our role model and pattern.  It is a sacrificial love, which will cost us our time, energy, sleep, money, etc. to extend his love to our brethren.  As Jesus did, true service of worship is to, “…preach the gospel to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are downtrodden, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.”


Can you see how worship is not the singing of songs on Sunday morning, but a life dedicated to proclaiming the good news of the gospel by releasing the captives, healing their wounded hearts and minds, and loving them in deed and truth?  This does not mean that singing praises to God is wrong or unnecessary.  Rather, these times of praise should be a catalyst to action.  The time spent refreshing our spirit in corporate praise should be one of the things we do that stirs our spirits to active service.  Unfortunately, most of our praise times are wasted and squandered as we pass through each week thinking little of others and selfishly doing our own thing.


It is important not to confuse being “stirred” to active service with an emotional experience.  True service of worship is not just an emotion or a feeling we wait for to motivate us to act.  Many Christians sit and wait for the Holy Spirit to “move” them to do his will…they are still waiting years later.  Rather, it is our spirit bearing witness with Jesus, the Son of God, who acts as our Advocate, the one called to our aid, to counsel and guide us.  Jesus will only speak to the ears and hearts of those disciples who are willing to respond to the needs around them.


Many who have suffered intense and disabling physical affliction are actually the ones who are best qualified to offer true worship to their Creator.  Suffering is a much better teacher than singing songs on Sunday morning.  Suffering helps you identify with the needs of the hurting, the lonely, the afflicted and so on.


Ask someone who has suffered for years with chronic pain if they “feel” like helping others.  You will quickly discover that feelings have little to do with motivating these faithful believers into action.  Instead, like Jesus, they are touched with the feelings of other’s infirmities, having experienced the same sufferings.



The reason that Jesus could help so many people is because he had a life that was filled with suffering.  Just like a person who gets a nasty case of the flu bug can empathize with others who get the flu, so Jesus had a life of ‘flu-like’ suffering.  This prepared him for service (i.e. worship), and he became the ultimate example to us.



We respond in obedience, regardless of our feelings or lack thereof.  Individually, as we act in obedience to God’s command, He lifts us up in our spirit, providing the anointing of His Spirit to serve others in Jesus’ name.



Notice that the worship service is done from what a person already has. God does not expect us to use what we do not possess.  Jesus spoke about using our money for the work of service. Our finances are something we already possess that God can use to help the helpless. 


Most church going Christians routinely stick their ‘tithe’ in the offering plate each Sunday, sincerely believing that they are “giving to God.”  Many ministers today pump their congregations for the Old Testament tithe (10%), and also ask for an additional “offering” to boot!  , Yet too often the people’s money is going to the maintenance of the church building.  It is expensive to maintain a commercial building and an organization with paid staff.


God is not the least bit concerned with keeping the lights on in our modern day edifice.  In the New Testament, the individual believers are the “temple of the Holy Spirit.”  God does not dwell in buildings built by men’s hands.  Rather, each member of the body of Christ is a “living stone” built together collectively as the house of God.  That is why we should use our resources primarily to meet the needs of our brethren. It is greed and wickedness to have as a higher priority the maintenance of “our edifice” rather than meeting the needs of people.




The early church in the Book of Acts gave whatever they had to help their brothers and sisters in need.  Many sold tracts of land and other possessions in order that their needy brethren would be cared for.  This is TRUE worship!




Can you imagine what it would be like to see the Sunday morning ‘tithes and offerings’ redistributed amongst those who were needy in the congregation and around the world?  Consider how this would change our so-called church ‘services’! 


But some would argue saying, “If all we did was help the needy, how would the church building be maintained?”  Well my dear friend, perhaps the church building would vanquish, but the relationships built by a congregation that devoted themselves to caring for one another would last for eternity!


If the church in America will return to the scriptural model seen in the book of Acts and other New Testament books, they will meet in homes.  People are not pressured to give money and contributions that they don’t possess.  Each one can then use his or her time, money, talents, skills, etc. that they have in their possession to contribute to the building up of the body of Christ. (READ 1 Cor. 16:2; 2 Cor. 9:6-14)


3.  WORSHIP - shachah ^7812^, "to worship, prostrate oneself, bow down."


The Hebrew word “shachah” is the most common and frequently used word in the Old Testament that has been translated as “worship” in most English Bible translations.  Our format will vary slightly at this point, to paint a picture of how the word is used in a variety of contexts.  This will help identify its application in worship to God.


To prostrate oneself means to lay face down in submission.  We must see that this act had particular significance in the culture of the people in the Old Testament.  It is an act that acknowledges you are in the presence of someone great, whether it is a human or God.



Shachah is first used in Gen. 18:2 when three men at the oaks of Mamre visited Abraham.  Yahweh was appearing to Abraham, and Abraham knew that these were heavenly messengers sent to him by the Almighty.  Thus, as was the custom, he bowed down before them in humility, recognizing they were sent from the Almighty Himself.


Abraham then immediately offered them the ancient eastern hospitality of washing their feet, and feeding them a meal.  True submission is an acknowledgment that one is in the presence of God and/or His servant.  This acknowledgment results in action being taken.  Merely bowing low would not be sufficient.  Our worship must have works following:



The prostrate bow was Abraham’s response to being visited by Yahweh through his messengers (most likely angels in the form of men).  Abraham was not groveling; he was expressing his appreciation, and by the eastern custom, acknowledging what an honor it was to have Yahweh send His messengers.  Thus, we see that shachah has associated with it a cultural response when being honored by someone of great status (in this case the Almighty Himself through His messengers).


Bowing down in a prostrate position was part of the Hebrew culture.  Even today, this custom is practiced in the Middle East.  In other countries such as the United Kingdom, dignitaries will formally bow on one knee and kiss the hand of the Queen of England.  In the British culture this is appropriate because of the Queen’s position as a ruler.


The important thing is to acknowledge that there should be an appropriate response when we are in the presence of God.  Bowing or lying flat upon the ground is not a part of Western culture (although when in the manifest presence of God it would certainly be appropriate).   Sometimes the presence of God comes to us in such power, that we respond without hesitation by bowing before Him in reverence.


An important note is the fact that Yahweh’s appearance to Abraham was manifested through human vessels (angels who manifested themselves in human form).  This prefigures how God would reveal Himself thousands of years later in His only begotten son Jesus.  God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself.  Thus, people would bow before Jesus at times, recognizing him as the messenger of God, and the one by whom Yahweh’s presence was made evident (to those who believed).


As stated before, the demonstration of honor did not stop with Abraham’s bow.  That was only the initial greeting.  His next response was a show of grateful hospitality. That is, Abraham took on the position of a servant (even though Abraham himself was recognized as a great man).  In reverence and love for his Creator, Abraham washed the feet of his heavenly guests.  Again, true ‘worship’ always involves an appropriate response of action and service.  Jesus said:



Our response, being in God’s presence, should be to serve Him by loving others in practical ways.  In this manner, we are “worshipping” Him.  Many so-called great men of God in the Christian community are known for their anointed preaching and teaching, but rarely are they seen humbly serving by meeting the mundane needs of others.  Thus, they are not demonstrating true worship.  They have their reward in full…their ego being gratified.



To be a true man or woman of God doesn’t require a pulpit or a ministry, but a willingness to love Jesus by taking care of the needs of his brethren as lowly foot washers, doing even the most menial of tasks to demonstrate the love of their Savior.  Just as Abraham washed the feet of these heavenly messengers, Jesus also washed the feet of his disciples, who would become messengers of the gospel.



READ Genesis 24:1-27.  This is another example where shachah is used of a man bowing prostrate to acknowledge Yahweh. Abraham had sent his servant to find a bride for his son Isaac. This servant asked the LORD to give him a clear indicator when he had found the right woman, for he had sworn an oath to Abraham.  The sign he asked for was that when he met the chosen bride-to-be, she would not offer water to only him, but also offer to water his camels as well.  This would be an unusual gesture for a woman in the east to offer to do this for a stranger, particularly a man.  Usually women were vulnerable to men who often drove the women away so they could water their own animals.


When Abraham’s servant found Rebekah, she offered to give him water to drink, and also to water his camels.  God had given the servant what he was seeking; a woman who had a servant’s heart, and who would do her future husband good, not evil, all the days of her life (READ Pro. 31:10-12).  To find such a woman is to find a wife whose value is far above riches, and thus Abraham’s servant bowed and worshipped Yahweh for leading him to this servant-bride. 



The primary reason that Abraham’s servant bowed low to worship Yahweh was due to the fact that God had fulfilled His promise to Abraham (the promise that through his seed would come the Messiah).  How does this servant’s experience translate to something we, as New Testament believers, can identify with? 


Like Abraham’s servant, we have been sent by God to find a bride for Jesus.  By “bride” we mean someone who, like Rebekah, has the heart of a servant, someone who, by their lifestyle of kindness and hospitality, will lead others to her Father God’s house.



There are many whom God wants us to seek out as a bride for His son Jesus.  That is, there are many in need of a love relationship with their heavenly groom (2 Cor. 11:2).  Their hearts are longing to be espoused to one whom they can serve in sincerity and truth. 


Isaac typifies Jesus in this Old Testament story.  Abraham (meaning ‘father of a multitude’) symbolizes God the Father.  God is sending us as his trusted servants out into this world, seeking to find a bride for His beloved son Jesus.  We are given the command to find those who will hear and respond to the wedding invitation.  Again, true worship is being sent out to those who have ears to hear:



How will we know we have found a bride for the Son of God?  When we find someone who is humble; someone who is not selfish or self-centered.  You will know them by their fruits.  It is someone who demonstrates his or her love for God and man with gracious hospitality.  It is someone who loves the truth of God’s word above their own desires, traditions, feelings, etc.


When we find a bride for Jesus (as Abraham’s servant found a bride for Isaac) we too must offer them something we possess.  We must offer them the gifts, talents and abilities that God has given to us.  Like Abraham’s servant, we must come bearing the gifts of the Spirit.  The gifts of the Spirit are the God-given abilities He has bestowed on us to bless others.  The gifts of the Spirit are meant to reveal God’s love and to reconcile man to God.  We are to love others in word and deed.



Lastly, like Abraham’s servant, we rejoice in the fact that our heavenly Father’s heart has been pleased by the diligent efforts.  We feel His presence, and His anointing in our heart and spirit, and we proclaim, “Blessed be Yahweh, our God the Father, who has not forsaken His lovingkindness and His truth toward our master Jesus.”  We delight in His presence because we know His heart is pleased that we accomplished His will.  Doing the Father’s will is our acceptable service of worship.



This causes us to exult in Him, for He alone leads us in the way we should go.  As a part of the body of Jesus Christ, seeking to be one with Him and each other, we say as Abraham’s servant said, “the LORD has guided me in the way to the house of my master's brothers.” 



In Exodus chapter four, God had commanded Moses to demand that Pharaoh let His people go.  Israel had been in great affliction and slave labor to the Egyptians for many years.  Their situation looked hopeless.  How could they ever escape the most powerful government force in the ancient world?  They were farmers and shepherds, not warriors with battle skills or implements of war to defeat the Egyptians. 


God uses Moses, and performs signs through Aaron as assurance that He would be their Deliverer and rescue them.  Without this demonstration of God’s power, the people would most likely continue to doubt there was any hope.  Sometimes we need to see God’s miraculous power to believe, even though God would prefer that we believe in Him having seen no sign at all.  Like Israel, He knows our weak frame, and mercifully performs the miraculous now and again, reassuring us that He is still with us and that He will watch over His word to perform it.


The children of Israel bowed low and worshiped Him.  A New Testament equivalent example would be one of those times that God sent someone into your life in the midst of extreme adversity, anointing their words of compassion, mercy, love and hope.  God’s anointing is not something we yank down from heaven.  Rather, God’s anointing is His presence revealed through vessels of mercy who bring a message of hope to those in need.


What would your response be to such a manifestation of love?  In your heart you would bow low before your Lord Jesus, weeping tears of humility and gladness that God has not forgotten your affliction.  This would urge you thank Him from the deepest part of your being.  This is true worship.



The wages of sin is death (Ro. 6: 23).  Death and Hades are cast into the lake of fire; this is the second death (Rev. 2: 11; 20:6, 14; 21:8).  Jesus was the Lamb of God, sacrificed for our sins (John 1:29).  It was the blood of Jesus, which has been sprinkled upon the doorposts of the hearts of them who believe (Heb. 10: 19-22; 12:24; 1 Pet. 1: 2-5).


Jesus is the basis for God’s passing over our sins; thus Jesus IS our Passover (1 Cor. 5:7)

Israel bowed low and in humility, awe, and thankfulness acknowledged their Creator.  Can you imagine hearing the screams and wailing as Egyptian mothers saw their first-born children dying, and feeling helpless to do anything?  Surely the Israelite mothers heard this horrific and terrorized community and wondered if the blood sprinkled on the doorposts of their homes would be enough to save their own children. 


Often we wonder if the blood of Jesus is really enough to ward off God’s judgment for our sins and transgressions.  At those times when we realize the blood of Jesus is the ONLY reason God does not execute judgment on us, we are prostrate before Him in our hearts.  It is an expression of gratitude to Him and moves our hearts to sacrificially love others, just as Christ sacrificed himself for us.


Those who have not been cleansed from the filthiness and sin in this life will experience weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth far beyond those horrific cries in ancient Egypt when the death angel executed judgment on the firstborn of each family.  Can you see why it is so important that we understand that true worship is laboring to rescue those imprisoned by sin?  We must give them the opportunity to be clothed in the robes of righteousness found only in the blood of our dear Lord Jesus.



Those believers who take their talents and hide them, being fearful and unbelieving, will undoubtedly be bound and cast into the same place as the wicked.  True worship is using what God has given you to make disciples for His kingdom.  Those who fail to heed His command will regret it eternally.



When God gave Moses the Ten Commandments, they included a command that Israel should not bow down before, or serve, any other gods.



Notice the distinction between “worship” and “serve.”  One can lay prostrate in submission to an idol, or he can go a step further and “serve” the idol (or should we say the demon that is behind the idol!).  Some Christians think it is enough to have a prostrate-type of worship for God.  They go to church and sing songs at the “worship service,” but they don’t spend their life in “serving” God.


Many Christians (so-called) lie prostrate before their television set.  It has become a “god” to them; they spend more time in front of the boob tube than they do reaching out to help others and studying the scriptures.  Others “serve” their idol of choice: their job, their home & yard, their hobbies & sports, and so on.  Still others have a more perverse type of idolatry.  Their so-called gods include pornography, music and movies that proliferate violence and sexual immorality (Christians love to justify their entertainment gods by saying that they can screen the “bad parts”).  Oh foolish Christian, you fool only yourself.



Israel’s leaders were commanded to prostrate themselves at a distance.  They still had a part of Egypt in their hearts, as was evidenced by their worship of the golden calf (READ Ex. 32:7-9).  Because of their idolatry, they could only worship Yahweh at a distance, unlike Moses, who spoke with God face-to-face.


Christian leaders today have their golden calves as well.  They have their fancy churches and big-name ministries (which they often name after themselves!).  These leaders in the church worship God at a distance.  They have beautifully orchestrated praise services, but the presence of the Lord does not dwell where the idolatry of money and greed exist:




Only Moses (meaning ‘drawn out’) was allowed to come near Yahweh.  Moses was drawn out of the waters of the Nile River, which was symbolic of numerous pagan Egyptian deities.  His character was that of a meek spirit.  This is what God desired in him. 


You can go to church and “worship at a distance,’ or you can seek to be a lowly servant of others, and be drawn out of the darkness of the Nile waters, and brought near to the presence of the Almighty.  This is TRUE worship.




Moses spoke to Yahweh face to face in a tent that was outside the Hebrew camp.  This can point to our day, when true worshippers must get out of Babylon’s confusion in the church to know what true worship is.  Jesus spoke about a time that was to come when the TRUE worshippers would worship THE FATHER in spirit and in truth.



God the Father is the one that true worshipers seek to worship.  There is much confusion in the Christian church today as to who we should be worshipping.  Most Christians in America think that believers should worship the Father AND Jesus equally and in the same manner.  Although this would be in direct contradiction to the words of Jesus, it is what the average Christian believes.


While the intent of this study is not to define the nature and doctrine of the man Christ Jesus, nor to define theology, it is important to mention that worship must be done in spirit and IN TRUTH.  Therefore the truth about who a person worships must come from the scripture.


New Testament Concepts of Worship


There are no contradictions between the concepts of worship mentioned in the Old Testament and the New Testament. A brief review will show the similarities:




  1. Abad (aw-bad'); a primitive root; to work (in any sense); by implication, to serve
  2. Abodah ^5656^, "work; labors; service
  3. Shachah ^7812^, "to worship, prostrate oneself, bow down."




  1. Proskuneo ^4352^ (pros-koo-neh'-o); from 4314 and a probable derivative of 2965 (meaning to kiss, like a dog licking his master's hand); to fawn or crouch to, i.e. (literally or figuratively) prostrate oneself in homage (do reverence to, adore).
  2. Sebomai ^4576^, "to revere," stressing the feeling of awe or devotion
  3. Sebazomai ^4573^, akin to No. 2, "to honor religiously,"
  4. Latreuo ^3000^, "to serve, to render religious service or homage,"
  5. Eusebeo ^2151^, "to act piously towards,"
  6. Sebasma ^4574^ denotes "an object of worship"
  7. Ethelothreskeia (or- ia) ^1479^, "will-worship" (ethelo, "to will," threskeia, "worship"), occurs in <Col. 2:23>, voluntarily adopted "worship," whether unbidden or forbidden, not that which is imposed by others, but which one affects.


By combining the Old Testament and the New Testament concepts regarding worship a summary definition can be given.  The Hebrew and Greek languages both convey the idea of working and laboring in one’s service to God.  In that labor, or work of service, a true believer keeps an attitude that the ancients would practice as they bowed in reverence and honor before a superior (e.g. a king).  In the case of a Christian, we bow our hearts in humility, reverence, fear and awe before God the Father.  We serve Him with gladness of heart and with thanksgiving and with love for His provision in giving Jesus as our Redeemer and Advocate.


God the Father is the object of our worship:







We are to worship in the spirit of our God, and we are to worship God as our Father. While we recognize God as our heavenly Father, we still pay homage to Him as our Superior.  And because Jesus has been granted a position of highest rank in the kingdom of heaven, we may find ourselves lying prostrate in the presence of God’s son at times.


Nevertheless, it is clear from the predominance of scripture that our object of worship is God Himself, and that we pay reverential homage to Jesus as the Prince of Peace who has been granted authority by God to judge the world.


One example of men who came to lay prostrate before Jesus, recognizing him not as God, but as the KING OF THE JEWS uses the Greek term ‘proskuneuo.’



These men did not come to worship God. They were sages and astrologers who observed the stars and coordinated the position of the stars with prophetic events. Thus they were looking for the king of the Jews who was to be born.  They had followed a particular star to find Jesus. This star may have even been an angelic host sent by the Almighty to begin planting a seed for salvation to the Gentiles beginning with the birth of His son Jesus.  Perhaps there was a time in the future when these magi would know Jesus not only as the King of the Jews, but also as the son of the Almighty God.


Even King Herod recognized that he would need to send spies disguised as those paying homage to the newborn king of the Jews. This was Herod’s design and plan when he attempted to kill Jesus. The word that Herod uses when he attempts to deceive the magi into leading him to Jesus is the Greek ‘proskuneuo.”



Webster’s dictionary helps bring the eastern culture’s conception of prostrating oneself before another, or before an object of worship (such as an idol), into a more contemporary application.



The words “helplessness, submission, humility, adoration, physical weakness or exhaustion, and laying face down in the ground as a token of humility” are attitudes of the heart and actions that paint a picture of someone in need of a Savior.


God the Father is the One who has saved us, using the death of His only begotten son Jesus as payment for our sins.  God showed His mercy to us in providing not only our redemption, but also the means by which we can be justified.  Had God not raised Jesus from the dead, we would still be dead in our trespasses and sins.  And when we are physically weak, we call upon God to heal and restore us based upon the redemption of Jesus paid for by his blood.  God will honor the price paid by His son Jesus the Christ.


Most us of were, and continue to be helpless without God.  It takes humility to recognize and acknowledge one’s need for God, and it takes even more humility to submit before the Creator and call on the name of His son Jesus for salvation into the eternal kingdom.






New Testament worship is a service to God that is dependent upon Him.  He must be our strength, giving us the grace and power to do His will.  His son Jesus is our Counselor and an Advocate when we sin.  Jesus is our brother and our friend.  He teaches us how to worship his Father in spirit and in truth.  He provides us an example of how we can love one another, even as he loved us.


Part of our worship involves humility, which involves laying down our pride and asking, even pleading to God for help.  This involves resisting the devil and his wiles and cunning devices that keep us from the love of the Father, which He offers to us through His beloved son Jesus and through those members of Christ’s body who have the heart and ears to hear and obey God’s voice.


Jesus was the first woerthscipe (worthy ship) in the kingdom of God.  Why?  Because he who never knew sin personally became sin for us when he offered himself as a propitiation for our trespasses.  Jesus reconciled us to God and provided the door by which we can enter into the Father’s presence.



Jesus was intent on doing the Father’s will.  This is the manner in which he worshipped the Father in spirit and in truth.  Even when faced with separation from his Father, he obeyed.  God did not count our trespasses against us because Jesus made reconciliation for our sins through his death.


Jesus’ entire life was devoted to reconciling men to God and reconciling human relationships that had been destroyed through selfishness and sin.  Now he has granted us the ministry of reconciliation.  Therefore we conclude that worshipping the Father in spirit and in truth is following Jesus’ call to be ambassadors for God.  Our service of worship should be to do the Father’s will, seeking and saving those who are lost.


Consider all that Jesus said and did.  He healed the sick, defended the defenseless, exposed lies and hypocrisy, fed those who were hungry, and those who hungered for the words of life.  All that Jesus said and did was an expression of worship to his Father in heaven.  Jesus is our example and we must heed his voice as he directs us how to worship his Father in spirit and in truth.


Isn’t it interesting that Jesus never attended a Sunday worship service?  Selah.





More expansive definitions of the Greek and Hebrew words for worship:


Vine’s Expository Dictionary on the word “worship” (bold highlighting added; this assists in isolating the literal meanings of the Hebrew and Greek words for worship):



            `Abad ^5647^, "to serve, cultivate, enslave, work." This root is used widely in Semitic and Canaanite languages. This verb appears about 290 times in all parts of the Old Testament.

            The verb is first used in <Gen. 2:5>: "...and there was not a man to till the ground." God gave to man the task "to dress [the ground]" <Gen. 2:15; 3:23>; cf. <1:28>, NASB. In <Gen. 14:4> "they served Chedorlaomer..." means that they were his vassals. God told Abraham that his descendants would "serve" the people of a strange land 400 years <Gen. 15:13>, meaning, as in the NIV, "to be enslaved by."

            `Abad is often used toward God: "...ye shall serve God upon this mountain" <Exod. 3:12>, meaning "to worship" as in the NASB and the NIV. The word is frequently used with another verb: "Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God, and serve him..." <Deut. 6:13>, or "...hearken diligently unto my commandments which I command you this day, to love the Lord your God, and to serve him..." <Deut. 11:13>. All nations are commanded: "Serve the Lord with gladness..." <Ps. 100:2>. In the reign of Messiah, "all nations shall serve him" <Ps. 72:11>. The verb and the noun may be used together as in <Num. 8:11> "And Aaron shall offer the Levites before the Lord... that they may execute the service of the Lord."


B. Nouns.

            `Abodah ^5656^, "work; labors; service." This noun appears 145 times in the Hebrew Old Testament, and the occurrences are concentrated in Numbers and Chronicles. `Abodah is first used in <Gen. 29:27>: "...we will give thee this also for the service which thou shalt serve with me...."

            The more general meaning of `abodah is close to our English word for "work." "labor" in the field <1 Chr. 27:26>, daily "work" from morning till evening <Ps. 104:23>, and "work" in the linen industry <1 Chr. 4:21> indicate a use with which we are familiar. To this, it must be added that `abodah may also be "hard labor," such as that of a slave <Lev. 25:39> or of Israel while in Egypt: "Go ye, get you straw where ye can find it: yet not aught of your work shall be diminished" <Exod. 5:11>.

The more limited meaning of the word is "service." Israel was in the "service" of the Lord: "But that it may be a witness between us, and you, and our generations after us, that we might do the service of the Lord before him with our burnt offerings, and with our sacrifices, and with our peace offerings; that your children may not say to our children in time to come, Ye have no part in the Lord" <Josh. 22:27>. Whenever God's people were not fully dependent on Him, they had to choose to serve the Lord God or human kings with their requirements of forced "labor" and tribute: "Nevertheless they shall be his servants; that they may know my service, and the service of the kingdoms of the countries" <2 Chr. 12:8>.

            Further specialization of the usage is in association with the tabernacle and the temple. The priests were chosen for the "service" of the Lord: "And they shall keep his charge, and the charge of the whole congregation before the tabernacle of the congregation, to do the service of the tabernacle" <Num. 3:7>. The Levites also had many important functions in and around the temple; they sang, played musical instruments, and were secretaries, scribes, and doorkeepers <2 Chr. 34:13>; cf. <8:14>. Thus anything, people and objects <1 Chr. 28:13>, associated with the temple was considered to be in the "service" of the Lord. Our understanding of "worship," with all its components, comes close to the Hebrew meaning of `abodah as "service"; cf. "So all the service of the Lord was prepared the same day, to keep the Passover, and to offer burnt offerings upon the altar of the Lord, according to the commandment of King Josiah" <2 Chr. 35:16>.

(From Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words)

(Copyright (C) 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers)




            Shachah ^7812^, "to worship, prostrate oneself, bow down." This word is found in Modern Hebrew in the sense of "to bow or stoop," but not in the general sense of "to worship." The fact that it is found more than 170 times in the Hebrew Bible shows something of its cultural significance. It is found for the first time in <Gen. 18:2>, where Abraham "bowed himself toward the ground" before the 3 messengers who announced that Sarah would have a son.

            The act of bowing down in homage is generally done before a superior or a ruler. Thus, David "bowed" himself before Saul <1 Sam. 24:8>. Sometimes it is a social or economic superior to whom one bows, as when Ruth "bowed" to the ground before Boaz <Ruth 2:10>. In a dream, Joseph saw the sheaves of his brothers "bowing down" before his sheaf <Gen. 37:5,9-10>. Shachah is used as the common term for coming before God in worship, as in <1 Sam. 15:25> and <Jer. 7:2>. Sometimes it is in conjunction with another Hebrew verb for bowing down physically, followed by "worship," as in <Exod. 34:8>: "And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshiped." Other gods and idols are also the object of such worship by one's prostrating oneself before them <Isa. 2:20; 44:15,17>.

(From Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words)

(Copyright (C) 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers)




      A. Verbs.

            1. Proskuneo ^4352^, "to make obeisance, do reverence to" (from pros, "towards," and kuneo, "to kiss"), is the most frequent word rendered "to worship." It is used of an act of homage or reverence (a) to God, e. g., <Matt. 4:10; John 4:21-24; 1 Cor. 14:25; Rev. 4:10; 5:14; 7:11; 11:16; 19:10> (2nd part) and <22:9>; (b) to Christ, e. g., <Matt. 2:2,8, 11; 8:2; 9:18; 14:33; 15:25; 20:20; 28:9,17; John 9:38; Heb. 1:6>, in a quotation from the Sept. of <Deut. 32:43>, referring to Christ's second advent; (c) to a man, <Matt. 18:26>; (d) to the Dragon, by men, <Rev. 13:4>; (e) to the Beast, his human instrument, <Rev. 13:4,8, 12; 14:9,11>; (f) the image of the Beast, <13:15; 14:11; 16:2>; (g) to demons, <Rev. 9:20>; (h) to idols, <Acts 7:43>.

            2. Sebomai ^4576^, "to revere," stressing the feeling of awe or devotion, is used of "worship" (a) to God, <Matt. 15:9; Mark 7:7; Acts 16:14; 18:7,13>; (b) to a goddess, <Acts 19:27>. See DEVOUT, No. 3.

            3. Sebazomai ^4573^, akin to No. 2, "to honor religiously," is used in <Rom. 1:25>. #

            4. Latreuo ^3000^, "to serve, to render religious service or homage," is translated "to worship" in <Phil. 3:3>, "(who) worship (by the Spirit of God)," RV, KJV, "(which) worship (God in the spirit)"; the RV renders it "to serve" (for KJV, "to worship") in <Acts 7:42; 24:14>; KJV and RV, "(the) worshipers" in <Heb. 10:2>, present participle, lit., "(the ones) worshiping." See SERVE.

            5. Eusebeo ^2151^, "to act piously towards," is translated "ye worship" in <Acts 17:23>. See PIETY (to show).

            Notes: (1) The worship of God is nowhere defined in Scripture. A consideration of the above verbs shows that it is not confined to praise; broadly it may be regarded as the direct acknowledgement to God, of His nature, attributes, ways and claims, whether by the outgoing of the heart in praise and thanksgiving or by deed done in such acknowledgment. (2) In <Acts 17:25> therapeuo, "to serve, do service to" (so RV), is rendered "is worshiped." See CURE, HEAL.


B. Nouns.

            1. Sebasma ^4574^ denotes "an object of worship" (akin to A, No. 3); <Acts 17:23> (see DEVOTION); in <2 Thes. 2:4>, "that is worshiped"; every object of "worship," whether the true God or pagan idols, will come under the ban of the Man of Sin.#

            2. Ethelothreskeia (or- ia) ^1479^, "will-worship" (ethelo, "to will," threskeia, "worship"), occurs in <Col. 2:23>, voluntarily adopted "worship," whether unbidden or forbidden, not that which is imposed by others, but which one affects.#

            3. Threskeia ^2356^, for which see RELIGION, is translated "worshiping" in <Col. 2:18>.

            Note: In <Luke 14:10>, KJV, doxa, "glory" (RV), is translated "worship."

(From Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words) (Copyright (C) 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers)



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