A quarterly study Delivered by: Joseph Foray Snr. (Elder), Oforikrom Church of Christ (English Assembly) Kumasi, Ghana 2014
The topic for this quarter’s Bible study is The New Testament Worship. However, before we delve into the study of this very important subject matter, I would like for us to first of all look at Worship in general.
Worship is as old as creation. When God first created man and placed him in the Garden of Eden worship began right there in the form of offering. The Bible does not say exactly whether worship began with Adam or not, but it can be conjectured that it might have begun with him.
Nevertheless, we are told emphatically in Genesis 4 that Cain and Abel both offered sacrifices to God. According to the Bible Cain brought, “the fruit of the ground” as an offering to God; Abel, on the other hand, brought of “the firstlings of his flock and of the fat” (Genesis 4:3, 4).
The response of God to this matter was that He had respect unto Abel and to his offering; but unto Cain and to his offering He had no respect. The fact that God rejected Cain and his offering is evidence that:
• It is not all worships that God accepts.
• It is not everybody that God accepts.
For our worship therefore, to be acceptable to our Lord, the following elements are very necessary
• We must offer worship that He desires.
• And we must be the people that He accepts.
In the study of The New Testament Worship, we are going to learn; A Scriptural Concept of Worship; What Worship means; The object of our worship; The Pre-law worship; Worship under the law; and True Worship under the New Covenant.
WORSHIP IS A SERIOUS BUSINESS, AND IT MUST BE TREATED AS SUCH. IT IS NOT FOR ENTERTAINMENT.
LESSON 1: A SCRIPTURAL CONCEPT OF WORSHIP
A. A scriptural concept of worship.
1) The concept` presented to us in the scriptures is that God is set apart from all evil.
2) That He is a holy God by nature.
3) That He identifies with us in order to provide lovingly for our needs.
4) Therefore, we should worship God in recognition of His greatness and in response to Him as the Supreme giver of all good gifts (James 1:17).
B. Our worship not to be based on what we can do for God.
1) Our worship is not based on what we can do for God, but on what God can do for us.
2) As we realize God’s awesomeness and graciousness, we should seek to do what we can to show our adoration, admiration, devotion and appreciation in worship.
C. Worship must be the result of our realization of God’s majestic power and gracious acts.
1) We are to respond to this with gratitude expressed according to His will.
2) God is the focus and source of our worship.
D. God does not need our worship, but we need to worship Him because of His greatness, goodness and loving kindness.
1) What happens if we fail to worship Him?
2) It would mean we disregard Him and deny Him the respect He deserves though He so graciously acts on our behalf.
II. OUR PURPOSE IN WORSHIP
A. Our purpose in worship in addition to appealing to God for blessing is to make known to Him our innermost thoughts concerning Him, and our appreciation for His provisions.
1) Our greatest need (a need of our inner being) is to reach up to God and communicate to Him.
2) Personal benefits are secondary to that inner need to express to our Creator His worth in our lives.
III. BEWARE OF WHAT WORSHIP IS NOT
A. As we consider the various actions and attitudes involved in worship, we must first be aware as what worship is not:
1) Worship is not necessarily feelings and emotions expressed in extreme or frenzied physical activities.
2) It is not just an outstanding performance or a display of human abilities and effort.
3) It is not freedom of human expression.
4) It is not just a ritual.
5) It is not for entertainment.
6) What appeals to God is more than pomp of ceremony.
B. God wants us to gather together in His name (in worship), but just assembling with others is not what constitutes worship.
IV. THE THINGS THAT CONSTITUTE WORSHIP
A. Worship includes the following:
1. GLORIFYING GOD
Hebrews: pa’ ar – Isa. 60:216; 61:3b
Hebrew: Kabed – Psalm 22:23; 86:12
Greek: doxazo – Mtt. 5:16; 9:8
2. MAGNIFYING GOD
• Hebrew: gadal – Psalm 35:27; 40:16
• Greek: Megaluno – Acts 19:17
3. HONOURING GOD
Hebrew: Kabed – Isa. 29:13
Greek: Doxazo – Rms 1:21; 1 Tim. 6:16
Both of these words are also translated “glory”.
• Hebrew: Yare – Ps. 2:11; 5:7; 119:38
• Greek: eulabeia – Heb. 12:28
5. BLESSING HIM
• Hebrew: barak – Ps. 16:7, 26:12
• Greek: eulogeo – Lk. 2:28; Jam. 3:9
6. PRAISING HIM
• Hebrew: (a) halal – Psalm 104:35
(b) tehillah – Isa. 42:8, 10, 12
(c) Zamar – Psalm 30:4; 40:3
• Greek: aineo – Lk. 19:37; Acts 2:47
• Hebrew: Yadah – Psalm 7:17; 9:1
• Greek: eucharisteo – Lk. 17:16; Col. 3:17
8. EXALTING HIM
Hebrew: rum – Psalm 18:46; 21:13
Hebrew: (a) gil – Psalm 35:9§
(b) samach – Psalm 63:11
Greek: chairo – Phil. 4:4
10. EXPRESSING AWE
Hebrew: gur – Ps. 33:8
Greek: (a) phobeo – Mtt. 9:8, (b) deos – Hebs. 12:28
The basic meaning behind these words is fear, in the sense of respect.
LESSON 2: THE MEANING OF WORSHIP
In this lesson, we are going to look at the following:
A. The Etymology (or origin) of the word “worship”.
B. The English Dictionary definition of worship.
C. Words used in the Bible or Hebrew and Greek words used in the Bible to describe worship.
A. The English word “worship” comes from the combination of two old English words: Weorth, which means “worth” and scipe or ship, which means a “state”, “guilty”, or “condition”.
1. We can see the Old English word – ship in modern English like friendship and sportsmanship – which means the quality or state of being a friend, or the quality or state of being a sportsman.
2. So worth-ship is the quality of having worth or being worthy.
3. When we worship, we are saying that God has worth, that He is worthy.
4. Worship therefore means to declare one’s worth, to attribute worth to someone.
5. To put it in Biblical terms, we praise, we speak, or sing about how good and powerful God is
III. THE ENGLISH DICTIONARY DEFINITION
A. The Cambridge International Dictionary of English defines worship as:
• The strong feeling of respect and admiration for God or a god, which is often shown through praying or singing.
IV. WORDS USED IN THE BIBLE TO DESCRIBE WORSHIP.
A. The Old Testament was written in the Hebrew language, while the New Testament was written in the Greek language.
B. Neither the Hebrew of the Old Testament, nor the Greek of the New Testament has a word that is equivalent to the English word “Worship”.
C. However, both have words that define worship or worship activities.
D. Let us now look at how these words are used in the Bible to define worship:
1. Worship is Bowing Down Before God
• The Hebrew word that is used most often to define worship is Shahah.
• The root meaning of this word refers to bowing down.
• Let us now look at some examples in the context in which Shahah is used in the Bible.
– Genesis 24:48 (Abraham’s Servant)
– Genesis 24:52 (Abraham’s Servant)
– Exodus 34:8 (Moses)
– Psalm 95:6 (The Psalmist)
2. Worship Means “Kissing Toward” The Lord
• There are several Greek words used in the New Testament that describe the art of worship.
• The most common one is proskuneo.
• Proskuneo means “to kiss toward.”
• It is used 59 times in the New Testament and is always translated “worship”.
• Without the prefix “pro” the word simply means “to kiss.”