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What does Worship mean?

January 25, 2016

People who are otherwise the same everyday of the week and do the same kind of things do not go to the same Church because they do not agree on how to worship God. Can you imagine how many denominations would just disappear if they could all agree on this one topic? What makes it difficult to come to an agreement is that we often have allot of emotional attachment to our worship.

But what is worship? Can you find a verse in the Bible that defines what this is? Can you find instructions on, say, singing or praying or preaching that would say these things are worship? Do you have a Bible with “worship” in in 178 times (WEB)? Or 1016 times (CEV)? You probably think I’m crazy. Go ahead, I’ll let you check.

I’ll bet you’ll only find statements like “Worship the Lord your God only.”, or “in vain do they worship me.”

If you checked, and couldn’t find those things, then let me tell you what part of the problem is: there are many words and phrases that get translated as worship, and they do not all mean the same thing. For example, the KJV translates up to 7 different words (or roots) as worship. Often, these words do not get translated as “worship” in other contexts, but things like “serve” and “to be devoted”.

Most of the time, the word that you see in English as “worship” is a very specific act of “bowing down”, and we do not see any instructions to do this under the new covenant. If you have a NASV, you can look up Mat 8:2, and John 9:38. In Matthew is a phrase “bow down before” and John has a verb “worship”, yet this is the same word in Greek. This is in fact, this same word that gets used over and over when Jesus talks to the Samaritan woman at the well, and Jesus make the statement that should say “the time is coming when the true ones bowing down will bow down in spirit and truth”. Which is to say that God is no longer looking for outward “religious acts” but is now only looking for people who are truly religious inwardly.

The best look we get into a Christian Assembly is in 1 Cor 14:26-40. If you read closely, you will find that there are no specific activities which are commanded. You will also not see the word worship. Instead we get some commands like: “all things should be done decently and in order.

We normally think of “worship” as “what we do at Church on Sunday”, but I think you’ll find it hard to use the Bible to get a definition of worship for Christians today to be anything other that “Do what God wants all the time.”

I encourage you to investigate this important topic further on your own.

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