Project Worship: What does the New Testament really say?

Posted by Amy on January 18, 2018
Categories: 6pm blog


We’re halfway through the 6pm series ‘Revolutionary Worship’. In this series William Taylor has made a pretty big claim about the word ‘worship’ in the New Testament. You may have picked it up in last week’s blog post. The idea is that the word ‘worship’ in the New Testament is “not predominantly used of what we do when we meet together in church.” Rather, worship is about the whole of life lived in response to God’s grace to us in Jesus.

When I hear someone make a claim like that my ears prick up; I want to check it out for myself.

A great thing to do when you’re taught anything at church, particularly if it’s something different or new to you, is to get a bit Berean about the whole thing. We meet the Bereans in Acts 17:10-12 – they heard Paul preach and loved what he was teaching them, but they also ‘examined the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.’ They went back to the Bible to see if it really says what their teacher was saying it says. It’s a great attitude to copy.

So how can we investigate the ‘worship’ word? Here’s a suggestion for how to tackle this project. Its not a 5 minute exercise – it needs a bit of thought – so make some coffee, settle down at the kitchen table and enjoy:

Step 1 – Look up the passages from the sermon series and find the ‘worship’ word. In the series we’re looking at John 4:1-26, Romans 12:1-2, Hebrews 12:25-13:19 and 1 Peter 1:22-2:10. The one that will catch you out is the 1 Peter passage; it doesn’t have a worship word, but it does have temple language (priesthood). You could look up the ‘proclaim’ word instead.

Step 2 – Here’s where it gets a bit more technical. Each of the three ‘worship’ words are different in the original language of the New Testament. To further complicate matters, we want to find every use of each word in the New Testament, even though it’s not always translated as ‘worship’. Thankfully there are tools to help us! I used a website called STEP Bible. Look up each passage on this website and find the ‘worship’ word. Click on the word you want to search for; you’ll get a list of all the references where the same Greek word is used in the New Testament. A quick copy and paste, and you’ve got them all in one place.

Step 3 – Get your highlighter out and start reading. Look up the context of the sentence where the word is used. Make a note of the more tricky verses. The simple question we’re asking in this project is ‘How is the ‘worship’ word used and how does that help me understand what Christian worship is?’

Step 4 – Yes – 1 Peter is different. You could think about these questions: In what way is the idea of a temple and priesthood fulfilled? What is the goal of this new priesthood? (1 Peter 2:9-10 are the key verses). Does that fit with the idea of worship in the other references you’ve looked up, and if so, how?

Step 5 – Draw some conclusions and write down any questions you have. We’ll have two question times for this series, on January 21 and February 4, so there will be lots of opportunities to ask the hard questions. William says he’s looking forward to being quizzed, so its over to you…

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