Limitations in Teaching About Worship

I’m going to outline one issue based on the definitions of “worship” we’ve gone through that I think severely limit our ability to teach about “worship”.

IMG_0295Necessity Of Working Within Existing Definitions

What we can’t change is how the word “worship” is used in the English translations of the Bible. Well, maybe we can, but not likely. Several writers (here’s one of them) have labelled the use of the English word “worship” in modern day translations as “unfortunate”. It really doesn’t convey the full meaning of the original Hebrew and Greek. I agree.

What this means is that since the Bible uses “worship” in those ways, we should take our cue from there. After all, isn’t it more important that we do not confuse people of what is in the Word of God?

We’ll have to bear in mind that “worship” describes “serving God”, and “bowing down” in the Bible and that when a preacher preaches “worship” from the Word of God, he’ll be preaching with those definitions in mind.

But “worship” also means “giving God worth”. So let’s see why that’s a conflict.

“Worshipping” God with Our Lives

Arguably the most important message that many of us have of “worship” today is that we must “worship” God beyond the church building. We draw this mainly from 2 verses:

John 4:21-14. The Greek word used here is proskuneo (or to bow down), or SUBMIT.

Similarly in Romans 12:1-2. The original Greek is latreuo (or service). So, properly translated, the verse reads: “this is your reasonable/spiritual act of SERVICE.

When Jesus says “worship” is for outside the temple, He means SUBMISSION. When Paul says “worship”, he means SERVICE. Subtle differences, but the devil is in the details.

Yet when we say “worship God with our whole lives”, we actually want to say, “give God glory with our whole lives” ala 1 Corinthians 10:31, yet the translators, perhaps curiously, chose not to substitute “give God glory” with “worship”.

The Biblical teaching of “worship” is more correctly to SUBMIT (proskuneo) in Spirit and in Truth, or to offer our bodies in SERVICE (latreuo). That means, when we say we should “worship God with our lives”, we should more correctly say “submitting” our lives to Him, OR by “serving” Him. This has deeper implications than simply “giving Him glory”.

It’s my main objection to being lackadaisical about the definition of worship – because it then becomes next to impossible to teach properly about any Biblical principle involving the word “worship” without having confusion as to what we’re really talking about.

And we haven’t even factored in other definitions of “worship”.

Yes I know, it’s confusing. Tell me about it.


~ by jonhyz on January 24, 2009.

3 Responses to “Limitations in Teaching About Worship”

  1. i see your struggle.. for me, i try not to use the word ‘worship’ when ever i’m trying to get a particular point across say, to the worship team or the band… i say ‘our singing’ or ‘songs of praise’.. haha but there are limits to that too, and wer’e just avoiding the issue… but then again, how would we ever have a single defintion that everybody understands/identifies with?

    oh yes! i see that ding has becoming turnyourear’s poster boy! “,

  2. hm i understand where u’re coming from, and it makes alot of sense.. perhaps a mistake i’ve made personally is having equated the command in 1 cor 10:31 to worship, and left it at that.
    jon your posts have not only made me think more, but also convicted me of the importance of teaching/guiding or at least getting my kids (and the youths in general) to think about worship biblically and not just stay in the place where everyone’s slightly uncomfortable when someone says ‘i enjoyed worship today.’ etc., but still close an eye to it just cos its how things are and we’re comfortable.

  3. oh happy lunar new year anyways. haha

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