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Questions about Worship


Hope you are doing well. Please answer the following Bible questions: What is worship? Is all of life worship? What is the spiritual service of worship in Romans 12:1? (NASV) What is the difference between service and worship?

Keith Sharp

These are good, timely questions.

The principle Old Testament, Hebrew word for worship is "shahah" literally meaning "to bow down, to bow down before God, to worship, to pay adoration, even without prostration" (William Wilson, Old Testament Word Studies. 490). It is well exemplified in Psalm 95:6:

"Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker."

The primary New Testament, Greek term is "proskuneo," which is defined "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" (William D. Mounce, Mounce's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words. 1258). For example, the apostle Paul observes, "And thus the secrets of his heart are revealed; and so, falling down on his face, he will worship God and report that God is truly among you" (1 Corinthians 14:25).

Acceptable worship requires prostration of the heart, not of the body (Luke 18:9-14). In fact true worship might include various postures, such as standing (Luke 18:9-14), kneeling (Acts 20:36) or lifting up hands (1 Timothy 2:8).

Worship is composed of specific acts whereby we show our devotion, love, and reverence to God and is distinct from our daily service to Him in all relationships. Abraham served God continuously for many years, but he and Isaac went to the top of Mount Moriah to worship the Lord (Genesis 22:5). Israel was to worship the Lord "at His holy hill" (Psalm 99:9).

The term rendered "service" in Romans 12:1 in the King James Version, New King James Version, and American Standard Version, "service of worship" in the New American Standard Bible, and "worship" in the English Standard Version is a different Greek word, "latreia," meaning "service, servitude, religious worship" (Mounce. 1199). It is the term employed to describe priestly service before God (Hebrews 9:1,6). The apostle Paul is using the term figuratively in Romans 12:1-2 to describe the Christian offering his body as a living sacrifice to God by a life transformed into the moral image of God rather than conformed to the sinful world.

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