Worship Vs. Service and the Object of Worship – Lester Kamp

Lester Kamp

The first reference Jesus made to worship is found in the course of the temptations in the wilderness immediately after His baptism by John. Our attention is focused on the third of these temptations. Satan took Jesus to “an exceeding high mountain” and showed Him “all the kingdoms of the world” (Mat. 4:8). Jesus was then told that He could have all of these kingdoms if He would simply fall down and worship Satan. The subject of the proper object of worship is involved in this temptation. There are certainly other things which are also involved. For example, the possibility of Jesus’ obtaining the kingdoms of the world without going to the cross is part of the “snare” of this temptation. Now, carefully notice the response of Jesus. He said, “for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve” (4:10).

First, it is worthy of notice that there is an obvious difference between worship and service in this Scriptural response (a reference to Deu. 6:13). There are some brethren today who make the mistake of equating these terms and conclude that all of life is worship. All of life is to be given in service to God, but all of life is not worship. Service is a broader term than worship.

Some confuse worship and service. Worship is service to God, and it is right to say that we go to worship services, but all service is not worship: plowing, guitar playing, eating hamburgers, etc. Some apparently have been misled by some new translations that have removed the word service from Romans 12:1, and have inserted the word worship (RSV, NASV, NIV). It is true that in certain contexts the Greek word in Romans 12:1 (latreuo) is properly rendered as worship (as in 9:4). But in itself, the word only means serve, whether the service is toward God or men (cf. Latris, a hired servant; latron, hire, pay). Sometimes the word refers to a lifetime of service to God (Acts 24:14; Heb. 12:28), and the context of Romans 12:1 shows one’s offering his body as a living sacrifice is a lifetime of service, not of meditation (which is what worship is).

All worship is, therefore, service; but not all service is worship. We should notice here that worship does not occur accidentally without the realization of the participant and that worship is not continuous.

Abraham climbed a mountain to worship on its summit, and then, after worship, returned to his base camp at the foot of the mountain (Gen. 22:1-5). When David learned that his baby had died, he bathed, changed clothes, and went into the house of Jehovah, “and worshiped” (2 Sam. 12:20). When he had worshiped, he returned home and ate a meal. Worship is not all that one does. It is punctuated by stop and go. The Ethiopian had been to Jerusalem to worship (Acts 8); worship was not then nor is it now all of life.

Second, Jesus tells us clearly in this statement of Matthew 4:10 that the only one worthy of worship is God (the Godhead). Worship is to be offered to no other. Worship should not be offered to the pope, to Mary (the Lord’s earthly mother), to special people who are highly regarded, etc. Worship is to be directed to the God of the universe, the Creator of man and of all the good things that are in the world in which we live.

   Send article as PDF   

Author: Editor

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *