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What is Biblical Worship?

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What is Biblical Worship?. Worship is. ‘ . . . all that we are, responding to all that God is’ (John Drane ) ‘ . . . the activity of glorifying God in his presence, with our voices and hearts.’ (Wayne Grudem ). 3 Things We Know.

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worship is
Worship is . . .

‘ . . . all that we are, responding to all that God is’ (John Drane)

  • ‘ . . . the activity of glorifying God in his presence, with our voices and hearts.’ (Wayne Grudem)
3 things we know
3 Things We Know
  • God deserves our worship: ‘To him belongs eternal praise’. Psalm 111
  • God demands our worship: ‘Fear the LORD your God, serve him only.’ Deut 6:13
  • God enables our worship: ‘Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!’ 2 Cor 5:17
6 eras of worship
6 Eras of Worship
  • Patriarchs
  • Exodus
  • Monarchy
  • Exile
  • Restoration
  • Early Church
  • Who: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph
  • Place: anywhere, sacred places
  • Style: very informal
  • Always in response to God’s iniative
  • Who: Moses and the Israelites in the desert
  • Place: the Tabernacle
  • Style: becoming more formal
  • In response to God’s acts
  • Who: Solomon, Jereboam, Baasha etc.
  • Place: the Temple
  • Style: very formal
  • Progression from tabernacle, with increasing rules and regulations. Obedience becomes key.
  • Who: Daniel and others exiled in Babylon and elsewhere.
  • Place: Synagogues
  • Style: mixed but still mostly formal
  • Rise in importance of the Torah
  • Who: Ezra, Nehemiah and returning exiles
  • Place: the Temple and synagogues
  • Style: very formal
  • Merging of Monarchy and Exile. Renewed legalism and rise of the Scribes.
early church
Early Church
  • Who: Disciples, early converts
  • Place: Believers’ houses
  • Style: informal
  • Royal Priesthood, giving of the Holy Spirit

Well, as a vicar in training, it is compulsory for me at some point to say (in a pompous and annoying voice) . . .

. . . “Of course, in the original Greek” . . .

  • Hawah

Most common word for worship in OT

‘to bow down’, ‘to pay homage’

Physical gesture of an inward attitude

  • Proskuneo

Most common word for worship in NT

‘to fall down’, ‘to prostrate oneself’, ‘to adore on one’s knees’

Physical gesture of an inward attitude

  • Ahad

‘to work’, ‘to do’, ‘to perform’, ‘to serve’

Not just used within worship gatherings

  • Latreuo and leiturgeo

‘to serve’, ‘to minister’

Primarily used in sacrificial system in Septuagint, but of secondary importance in NT

  • Yare

‘to fear’, to be afraid’

Not terror of dread, but heightened attitude of awe and respect

Joshua 22:25

  • Sebomai

‘to revere’, ‘to be devout’

Way of life: inner attitude of reverence

2 kings 17 35
2 Kings 17:35

‘The Lord made a covenant with them and commanded them, ‘You shall not fear (yare) other Gods, or bow yourselves (hawah) to them or serve (ahad) them or sacrifice to them.’


True Biblical Worship is about the heart, not the form.