Faces to the Ground

In order to better understand the term “worship” in its biblical form, we must dive deeper and seek to understand the biblical concepts that have lead to its translation.  We must begin to build a biblical framework to look at the meaning behind several words that are used to describe physical postures and other acts of worship.  The first word we are going to look at is ‘Proskuneo’ and it is first seen in Matthew 2:2

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalemand asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” (Mat. 2:2, NIV Emphasis mine)

The last time that we see this word in the New Testament is in the final chapter of Revelation.

“I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things.And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me.But he said to me, “Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your fellow prophets and with all who keep the words of this scroll. Worship God!” (Rev. 22:8-9, NIV Emphasis mine)

In all, the Greek word Proskuneo is found fifty-four times in the twenty seven books of the New Testament.  As is seen above, It is translated into English as the word ‘Worship’.  There are words that come before and after such as: ‘have come’, ‘fell down’, and ‘at the feet’ that help to describe what is taking place.  However, these words only scratch the surface of the original meaning and intent of the author.  According to biblestudytools.com and the Strong’s Concordance, Proskuneo is defined as:

Proskuneo

The KJV New Testament Greek Lexicon

Strong’s Number: 4352

Defintion:

  1. to kiss the hand to (towards) one, in token of reverence
  2. among the Orientals, esp. the Persians, to fall upon the knees and touch the ground with the forehead as an expression of profound reverence
  3. in the NT by kneeling or prostration to do homage (to one) or make obeisance, whether in order to express respect or to make supplication
    1. used of homage shown to men and beings of superior rank
      1. to the Jewish high priests
      2. to God
      3. to Christ
      4. to heavenly beings
      5. to demon

We now begin to see the immensity behind this word, the complexity that it has historically played.  It is used in reference to kings, nations, Christ, God, and even demons.  In the New Testament, It is used as a way to describe a physical posture of submission and surrender.  When we bow down with our face to the ground, we let go of all self-centered ambition and give all that we have to the one whom we are before.  It is a pledge of service, an act of seeking mercy, a posture of recognition, and a way of hiding shame and acknowledging lordship.

“At the most basic level, suppliants come to him for life and health and even for a place of honour in his kingdom.  At the most profound level, he is to be acknowledged as the one who, in this earthly life, was truly ‘God with us’ and is now the resurrected Son of God.”(87)

– David Peterson “Engaging with God”

The next time you come into the presence of the Lord, will you only speak of Him, or will you fall down surrendering all you have before Him in recognition of who He truly is?

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Categories: Lifestyle, What is Worship?, Word Study | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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