We begin today with our look at those Greek words that are translated into English as “worship”:
proskyneo to do reverence, or homage by kissing the hand; in NT to do reverence or homage by prostration; to pay divine homage, worship, adore, to bow one’s self in adoration*
From this word we have our English word “prostrate” as in ‘to prostrate oneself before the throne of God’. The word is used a total of 60 times in the New Testament, of which 9 are references to the Old Testament worship, 30 relate to an individual’s personal worship in one form or another, 21 are Apocalyptic references in Revelation to Old Testament worship forms. There are no direct uses relative to the New Testament worship assembly. An example of its use can be found in John 4:24:
God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth
sebō to stand in awe; to venerate, reverence, worship, adore; worshiping, devout, pious, a term applied to proselytes to Judaism*
This word is used 10 times in the New Testament, all of which refer to individuals. An example is found in Acts 16:10:
One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.
latreia service, servitude; religious service, worship*
This word is used 5 times in the New Testament, all referring to a religious service performed, 4 times in Old Testament contexts, one time in the New Testament context. As an example, Romans 12:1:
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship
(* Definitions from Mounce Interlinear New Testament)
If you look back at our foundation, we can see that our proper adoration, reverence and devotion to God is to offer ourselves as living sacrifices to Him in service. Yet here we are, right where we began: What form should our worship assembly take?
For most of us, we look to culture and tradition, and what we see is ceremonies and rituals of various types. Often, they are associated with rules, regulations and observances of one sort or another, but is that what God really wants from us? The ceremonies were big in the Old Testament worship, but in that case, they foreshadowed the coming of Christ. We no longer look forward to His coming; He has come already, and the ceremonies and rituals have been entirely fulfilled in Him− they are obsolete in our time. Paul gave us some guidance on human traditions:
Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.
Our true and perfect worship both in and out of the assembly, is to offer ourselves as living sacrifices:
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
As Christians it always comes back to this, whether we are looking at individual spiritual practices, corporate worship assemblies, or at how to deal with the challenges of everyday life.
With all of that said, I have two questions for the group:
- Why is it called, in Protestant circles anyway, a worship “service”?
- Is it possible for our group to come together to worship as one Body despite our different opinions, likes and dislikes?