An Alphabetical Analysis
Volume 7 - Doctrinal Truth - Page 286 of 297
theme that is so near the centre of all truth should, therefore, receive from
all who love the Lord the most earnest and prayerful attention, for if we are
right here, we have a corrective against all the other evils, doctrinal,
dispensational and practical.  On the other hand, if we are wrong here, we
are exposed to all the assaults of the wicked one.
In every argument or study it is a necessity that terms
be defined.  We must arrive at a clear, Scriptural understanding of what the
word 'worship' means and all that the term connotes.  The inspired Scriptures
were not given in our mother tongue, but in Hebrew, Chaldee and Greek, yet,
upon examination, the English word 'worship' will yield its quota.
The meaning of the word 'worship'.  Readers will not need a long
explanation concerning the qualifying suffix, 'ship', which is used in such
words as 'fellowship', 'discipleship', or in the less familiar form as in
'landscape'.  The word worship comes from the Anglo-Saxon weorthscipe,
'worth', or 'worthy', with the added suffix, and primarily means
acknowledgment of 'worth', wherever found.  Formerly the word 'worship' was
not so restricted as it is now, e.g. Wycliffe gives a startling rendering of
John 12:26, 'If any man serve Me, My Father shall worship him'! a usage of
the word that would not now be tolerated.  In our A.V., however, we still
read, 'Thou shalt have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with
thee' (Luke 14:10).  The Church of England marriage service contains the
words, to be uttered by the husband, 'With my body I thee worship', yet, not
idolatry, but recognition of the high place of honour, in which the husband
holds the woman who has given herself so wholly into his keeping, is
intended.  We still speak of a magistrate as 'your Worship', and of certain
Guilds as 'worshipful' companies, without transgressing either Bible teaching
or good taste.  In all these usages, the primary meaning, 'worthy-ship', is
retained.  In every act of worship there is either expressed or implied the
sentiment, 'Thou art worthy', and, commensurately with the advancing ranks in
the scale of being and holiness of those to whom this recognition is
addressed, will the worship offered grow richer, fuller and more exclusive.
All this
however but skims the surface of meaning.  The only words that
can unfold the
mind of God in this, and all other matters of truth, are the
inspired words
of Holy Writ.  As we have commenced with the English, let us
go back to the
Hebrew by way of the Greek of the New Testament.
Proskuneo.  There is a superficial resemblance in this word to
the Greek kuon, 'a dog', and some have given the primary meaning of the word
as 'to crouch, crawl, or fawn, like a dog at his master's feet'.  But there
is a sense of degradation about this figure, and it is entirely contrary to
any Scriptural conception of 'worship' that the Father seeks those who will
crouch, crawl, or fawn to Him like a dog.  There is another word, unused in
the Scriptures but used in classical Greek, namely kuneo, 'to kiss', and it
is from this root that Cremer, Thayer, H.J. Rose in his footnote in the later
edition of Parkhurst, and other lexicographers derive this word for
'worship'.  Proskuneo means properly, 'to kiss the hand (towards) one, in
token of reverence', 'to make a salaam' (Thayer).  Liddell and Scott give
instances where kuneo, 'to kiss', is used in the sense of proskuneo, 'to
worship'.  The root kus has come through into many languages beside the
Greek.  The Anglo-Saxon coss, the Danish kys, the German kuss and the English
kiss, being instances that come readily to the mind.
The Scriptures, moreover, associate kissing with worship.  'And Moses
went out to meet his father-in-law, and did obeisance, and kissed him' (Exod.