Revelation 3:9 KJB Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee

Matthew 28:9 KJB And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.

What does the word worship mean in these verses!?

Does the word here mean sacred service or obeisance?

  • Still persistent - this has been answered on several occasions previously - still hoping the answer will change? This site is for hermeneutics and not for peddling your theology.
    – Dottard
    Apr 25 at 22:11
  • 1
    Perhaps due to some simplistic answers that peddle a certain theology, he continues to seek a better, more biblical answer.
    – steveowen
    Apr 25 at 23:06
  • @ Dottard what previous questions and theology is this comment of yours refering to? I am struggling to understand the relevance of the O.P's question, so the previous dialogue re his philosophy would be of value in me trying to make sense of his point here.
    – Adam
    Apr 25 at 23:14

Before very recent times, the word "worship" meant merely and simply and only "to honor." The word worship is exactly equivalent to the modern English "honor [outwardly]" because "honor" comes from the Latin honor, whereas "worth" is the Old English equivalent meaning the same thing.

The Old English word weorþscipe (worthship) is related to the word "worshipful" in the same way that "to honor [someone]" is related to "honorable [person x]." -bilis (able/ible) comes from Latin, and -ship or -shipful from Old English. But the meaning is the same. Just as "ghost" comes from "geist" from its Germanic root, but "spiritus" is the origin of "spirit." Both refer to the same thing. Everyone has heard of the "spirit of the times" (the time-ghost, the zeitgeist). Two words, meaning the same thing, from two different languages. Well, the same is true of "honorable" (think of modern courtrooms) and "worshipful" (meaning the same thing) in archaic yet still used religious rites. "Adorable" originally meant "worthy of worship [adoration]" and so on. Different etymologies but the same meaning.

Naturally, then, honor can be given to God, but also men (such as kings), both by outward signs - even the same ones, since the difference between honoring God is in the heart, not in the kind of action, unless the action is in and of itself something which only God is worthy of.

Going into Greek and Hebrew doesn't change anything, since the usage is the same as in English. The English word comes from "weorþscipe" (worthship) which means to show someone honor (which is where we get the word worth, something worth or worthy or honor-able enough to fight for). From this, a derived term "worshipful" is used in some religious contexts in a similar way to how certain courtrooms call people "honorable" (which is what worshipful meant).

But one example is:

1 Chronicles 29:20 And David commanded all the assembly: Bless ye the Lord our God. And all the assembly blessed the Lord the God of their fathers: and they bowed themselves and worshipped God and the king.

In other words, one only knows from the context whether the honor given to a man or God is given as to God or as to man, by its condemnation or approval, not by the act itself of 'worshipping.'

It's in the simple sense that the Magi presumably 'honored' or bowed to "He that is born king," not because they somehow knew the mystery of the God-man, but because He was royalty, and one 'worships' - honors - royalty by such outward signs of respect.

Where this does change in Hebrew and Greek and Latin, at least in Biblical usage, is when a different underlying word translated worship (there are several, all of which fall under "honor") specifically refers to te worship of a divine being in a liturgical, sacrificial way. This is usually the case when one sees the word "serve," actually, rather than the word "worship." Here, it's the word for "worship" or "honor."


The operative verb here is προσκυνέω which has a sweep of meaning. It can be deduced from the following:

  • Acts 10:25, 26 - As Peter was about to enter, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet to worship him. But Peter helped him up. “Stand up,” he said, “I am only a man myself.”
  • Rev 19:10 - So I fell at his feet to worship him. But he told me, “Do not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who rely on the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”
  • Rev 20:8, 9 - And I am John, 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 shown me these things. But he said to me, “Do not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God!”

Thus, three times in the NT we are told NOT to worship anything other than God - we are told not to worship angels and not to worship men. Further, several people are condemned for worshiping things/people other than God such as:

  • those who worship the beast, Rev 20:4, 19:4, 16:2, 14:11, 13:4, 8, 12, 15
  • Those who worship demons, Rev 9:20, Matt 4:9, etc.

Over and over again, we are told to worship only God, Matt 4:10Luke 4:8, John 4:21, etc.

Therefore, whatever is going on in Rev 3:19 is not about attributing attributes of deity to Jesus disciples!! It is simply an acknowledgement (in this single, sole case in the NT) that Jesus disciples served God and God's representatives.

  • #Dottard. You missed answering what word worship mean in Matthew 28:9 Apr 25 at 23:14
  • προσκυνέω - in Matt 28:9 is the same as that in v17-20 - to worship as per Rev 20:8, 9, etc.
    – Dottard
    Apr 25 at 23:22
  • What is the meaning of the word worship in Revelation 3:9 and Matthew 28:9? Is it sacred service or obeisance? Apr 26 at 0:03

What does "worship" mean in Revelation 3:9 and Matthew 28:9?

Revelation 3:9 is referring to those who reject the Gospel of Christ and are essentially Satan's messengers (angels) -- members of "Satan's synagogue." These are the ones who have persecuted the fledgling Church whom Christ will subjugate or has subjugated:

1 Peter 3:19: "He also went and preached to the spirits [now] in prison [at the time Peter wrote this letter] who disobeyed long ago [and have been languishing in Hades ever since] when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built."

It is noteworthy that, in 1 Corinthians 6:

1 Corinthians 6:3: "Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world?"

This is the same idea (nearly the same language) used in reference to Noah in Hebrews 11:

Hebrews 11:7b: "By [Noah's] faith he condemned the world."

Here, my point is that we, just as Noah, judge the world by our godly behavior and faithfulness. I would suggest that Matthew 28:9 is really no different from John 9 or John 20:

Jn. 9:38: "And [the man cured of blindness] said, 'Lord, I believe.' And he worshiped Him."
John 20:28: "Thomas answered and said to Him, 'My Lord and my God!'" [worship]

It should be clear that the idea of "worship" has probably existed since Adam and Eve. Abel, their first righteous son, offered sacrifices to God as a symbol of worship. This has continued until the present day, where worship is, and has always been, reverence and faithful obedience to God (note that this is never the same behavior we express toward angels or humans as commanded in Exodus and Revelation:

Exodus 20:3-5b: "You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath, or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them nor serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God..."

Revelation 19:10: "Then I fell at [the angel's] feet to worship him. But he said to me, 'Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus; worship God. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.'”

  • @ Xeno Abel offering sacrifices to God was not an act of worship! It is part of the process of making atonement for sins. God started the sacrificial system immediately after the Garden of Eden was closed to Adam and Eve...it wasnt just started 2000 odd years later with Moses and the Israelites! Worship and sacrifices are completely different things!
    – Adam
    Apr 25 at 23:19
  • @Xeno. What is the meaning of the word worship in Revelation 3:9 and Matthew 28:9? Is it sacred service or obeisance? Apr 25 at 23:44
  • @Adam I did not expect this to be controversial. Worship in the contexts that I read it throughout Scripture, is a reverential submission and obedience to deity. We bow our heads in prayer to God as a matter of deep respect and awe. I suppose that would at least partially mean "obeisance." Of course, Christ said in Jn. 14:15: "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments." Too often, we think of "love" as a feeling (and so it often appears). But love in many cases is seeking the very best for another, as in "love your enemies" - to seek the best of another's interests.
    – Xeno
    Apr 26 at 0:20
  • @xeno that is true, but sacrifice is not an act of worship. As i said, people simply assume that the sanctuary service and its sacrificial ordinances were only given at Sinai...even though we know full well that isnt correct.
    – Adam
    Apr 26 at 11:32

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