Reasonable Service And Spiritual Worship

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It is written:

Romans 12:1-I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

Notice that phrase translated “reasonable service” in Romans 12:1. In other translations of the Bible, these words are rendered differently. For example:

Romans 12:1 (BBE)-For this reason I make request to you, brothers, by the mercies of God, that you will give your bodies as a living offering, holy, pleasing to God, which is the worship it is right for you to give him.

Romans 12:1 (ERV)-So I beg you, brothers and sisters, because of the great mercy God has shown us, offer your lives as a living sacrifice to him—an offering that is only for God and pleasing to him. Considering what he has done, it is only right that you should worship him in this way.

These translations (and others) render “reasonable service” as “worship” (or some corresponding term).

Why is this the case?

Famed Greek scholar William Barclay tells us:

“‘So,’ Paul says, ‘take your body; take all the tasks that you have to do every day; take the ordinary work of the shop, the office, the factory, the shipyard, the mine; and offer all that as an act of worship to God.’ The word in verse 1 which we, along with the Revised Standard Version, have translated as worship has an interesting history. It is latreia, the noun of the verb latreuein. Originally, latreuein meant to work for hire or pay. It was the word used of the labourers who gave their strength to an employer in return for the pay the employer would give them. It denotes not slavery but the voluntary undertaking of work. It then came to mean quite generally to serve; but it also came to mean that to which one gives one’s whole life. For instance, someone could be said latreuein kallei, which means to give one’s life to the service of beauty. In that sense, it came very near to meaning to dedicate one’s life to. Finally, it came to be the word distinctively used of the service of the gods. In the Bible, it never means human service; it is always used of service to and worship of God. Here, we have a most significant thing. True worship is the offering to God of one’s body and all that one does every day with it. Real worship is not the offering to God of a liturgy, however noble, and a ritual, however magnificent. Real worship is the offering of everyday life to him–not something carried out in a church, but something which sees the whole world as the temple of the living God. As the American poet and hymn-writer J. G. Whittier wrote, For he whom Jesus loved hath truly spoken: The holier worship which he deigns to bless, Restores the lost, and binds the spirit broken, And feeds the widow and the fatherless. We might say: ‘I am going to church to worship God’; but we should also be able to say: ‘I am going to the factory, the shop, the office, the school, the garage, the mine, the shipyard, the field, the cowshed, the garden, to worship God.’” (William Barclay, The Letter to the Romans (The New Daily Study Bible), 184-185 (Kindle Edition); Louisville, KY; Westminster John Knox Press)

There is another Greek word, proskuneo, that has primary reference to the “worship” that we offer especially as a congregation assembled together for worship.

“There are a number of words in the Greek New Testament that can be translated “worship.” We will confine this study to two words. • Proskuneo. This verb form, meaning “to make obeisance, do reverence to (from pros, towards, and kuneo, to kiss), is the most frequent word rendered to worship. It is used of an act of homage or reverence.” 1 It should be emphasized that proskuneo is a distinct act of worship that is to be distinguished from a life of worshipful service to Christ that generally characterizes Christians (for this definition see latreuo below). The worship (proskuneo) that is performed as a special act of reverence is illustrated in Abraham’s statement to the young men that accompanied him to the sacrifice of Isaac: “Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you” (Genesis 22: 5). The Septuagint2 uses a form of proskuneo. It is clear that Abraham and Isaac went to a particular place to perform a special act of worship as God had directed. They worshiped, and after completing their worship they returned. Hence, all of life is not proskuneo worship….Latreuo. This is a verb that means “to serve, to render religious service or homage.”…Thus latreuo is the worshipful lifestyle that characterizes the Christian’s daily walk….Both the acts of worship as commanded and authorized in God’s Word and the life of daily service to God according to His Word are distinctive means of worship.” (Edward C. Wharton, The Church Of Christ: The Distinctive Nature Of The New Testament Church, 1944-1973 (Kindle Edition); Nashville, TN; Gospel Advocate Company)

As children of God, it is fitting that we offer our entire self-our bodies and our lives-unto God.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.

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