What is Worship?

The Bible uses the term “worship” about 250 times.  The transliteration of this word from the Hebrew language in the Old Testament is most often “shachah,” and from the Greek language in the New Testament, it’s “latreia.”  In both cases, the following ideas seem to best define “worship:” 

1) service; divine service; service rendered for hire; the service of God; to serve; to perform sacred services; or, ministry

2) to render religious homage; prostrate in homage to God; bow down; fall down; stoop; humbly beseech; or, to do reverence (from Webster’s dictionary:  respect or reverence offered to a divine being)

Of the 250 occurrences of the word “worship” in the Bible, over 50 of them have to do with the idea of bowing down, or falling down in worship.  Most of the other occurrences are free-standing; i.e., they are not used in a context which helps us to understand the definition of worship. 

Most of us tend to identify worship with a particular section of a Sunday morning church service; usually the period of time between the announcements and the sermon.  This time is usually filled with singing, but it may also include some drama, prayer, and testimonies.  Although this may be a valid description of worship, it seems to only scratch the surface of the true Biblical meaning of worship. 

I get excited in those rare moments when the Bible actually defines a term for us, such as “grace” in 2 Corinthians 8 – 9, or “love” in 1 Corinthians 13.  Fortunately, this is also the case with the word “worship,” in Romans 12:1-2, “…to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.  Do not conform any longer 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.  ” 

So, the true definition of worship is: 

– Offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God

– Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world

– Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. 

– Be able to test and approve what God’s will is 

Worship isn’t just singing, although we can certainly worship through song.  Worship is a way of life–of service, where we daily surrender our bodies (prostrate ourselves) to God for his service; we ignore the pattern of this world; and, we renew our minds through His Word.  Once we are in this state of temporal fellowship with God (with all sins confessed–1 John 1:9), then we will even be able to successfully determine what God’s will is for every move we make.

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3 Responses to What is Worship?

  1. James Orji says:

    When God creates new heaven and new earth,who will be the occupants of new heaven since believers will be in new earth.Do you think that we will do any manner of work in new earth as you said rather than worshipping God.I will be happy if you support your answer with bible refrence.Was Melchisedec Jesus,having no father and mother?You are a wonderful Christian.YOUR TEACHING AND UNDERSTANDING OF THE BIBLE IS IN THE SUPPERLATIVE.Ihave been searching for a well rounded christian . I am glad that I have found one. God bless you.

  2. James Orji says:

    I think also that believers have been judged already at the cross by the death of Jesus so judgment belongs to unbelievers after death.

  3. admin says:

    The Bible doesn’t explain much about the eternal state, following Christ’s 1000-year reign on earth, so we cannot be too emphatic about it. It could well be that believers of the Church age will spend eternity in the new heaven while believers of other ages (such as the Jewish age) will spend eternity on the New Earth.

    The same goes for your question about working in eternity. I cannot reference any Scriptures that describe this, but my feeling is that we may each have jobs much like we do today.

    I’m not sure that I understand your question about Melchizedec. He was a man like any other, but the relationship between Jesus and him is one of type/anti-type between the Old Testament and the New Testament. The significance of the Scriptures about Melchizedec is that Christ’s sacrifice on the cross covers all believers of all ages because Melchizedec pre-dated the Age of the Jews.

    Re. judgment: Please see my article on this at http://www.christiandataresources.com/judgment.htm

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