Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Key Biblical Words for Worship

Today in our pastoral staff meeting we returned to the subject of authentic, God-pleasing worship. I think one thing that would go a long way in helping us understand this crucial topic (and practice) in the right way is if we think carefully about the three key biblical words translated 'worship'. Here's a quick outline:

The Key Biblical Words for Worship:

1. Worship as homage or grateful submission (proskynein)

  • kneeling, or prostrating oneself, bow down (cp. Gen. 24:26ff., “Then the man bowed down and worshiped [lit., fell on his face to] the Lord…..” Cp. Gen.42:6; Ex.4:31; 34:8; 1 Chron.29:20; 2 Chron.20:18; Ps.95:6; Isa.66:23; Matt.2:11; Phil.2:10
  • expression of awe and submission
  • falling on one’s face in reverence/prayer/petition/entreaty/supplication Cp. Num.20:6; Rev.7:11
  • offerings given to God (cp. Rom.12:1-2; Phil.2:1; 4:187; 2 Tim.4:6;)

2. Worship as service (latreuein) rendered to God

  • The service of a slave; cf. Deut.5:9; cp. Deut.10:12,20; Matt.4:8-10
  • Specifically, religious or priestly service (cp. Rom.12:1-2; Heb.12:28-29)
  • “The language of service implies that God is a great King, who requires faithfulness and obedience from those who belong to Him.” (D. Peterson, “Engaging with God” p.69), cp. 1 Cor.10:31

3. Worship as reverence or respect (sebomai)
· Cp. again Heb.12:28-29; Acts 9:31; 2 Cor.7:1; Phil.2:12-13



Anonymous said...

This must be a topic in many pastoral staff sessions! We covered a little bit of this ground as well today. Just curious, did you guys go over that outline - or was that something that came out of the meeting? The answer might aid in how we do meetings in the future. Thanks!

Douglas Phillips said...

Hi Mark,

This was some material I had prepared some time ago. It related to some of the key ideas in our meeting, so I sent it out to our pastoral team.

It's a crucial topic; I hope things go well with your own staff discussions.