My Thoughts. . .
In John 4:20-24 the word “worship” or proskuneo (προσκυνεω) is used eleven times. The Samaritan woman was first to introducing it and did so twice before Jesus revealed the kind of “worship” the Father wanted. Strong’s Greek-English Lexicon defines the word “worship” as “to kiss, like a dog licking his master’s hand; to fawn or crouch; or to prostrate oneself in homage.” That definition of “worship” may be a surprise and shocking to some of today’s believers? Some have reduced that word to five specific acts exercised in the Sunday morning’s assembly.
The New Testament never states that “worship is singing, praying, preaching, giving, or communion.” Some assume that was Jesus’ meaning of the word when he used it in John 4:20-24. If scripture does not state “Worship is singing” or the other four acts, then what is New Testament worship? Since the primary meaning of the word is “to kiss, like a dog licking his master’s hand, to crouch, or prostrate,” then what is the importance in the additional words displayed with the expression “and worship(s)”? Why did Bible time individuals feel compelled to kneel or fall down to “lick God’s hand”? Did Jesus not say that “the Father seeketh such to worship him” (v. 24)? Out of 60 uses of the word proskuneo in the New Testament, several include that specific activity with the word “worship.”
Jesus, for example, was being tempted by Satan who offered him the kingdoms of the earth if he would “FALL DOWN and worship” him. Satan wanted Jesus to fall down before him and like “a dog licking his master’s hand,” make Satan his master. If Jesus had done that, he would not have been our Savior. Satan failed and Jesus won. In the Corinthian letter Paul spoke of a man going into the church’s assembly “who FALLS DOWN ON HIS FACE and worships” (1 Corinthians 14:25). In Revelation 4:10, 5:14, 7:11, 11:16, 19:10, and 22:9 different ones FALL DOWN and worship. Some are said to have FALLEN on their “face.” In Matthew 2:2, 8, 11; 8:2, 9:13; 15:25; and 20:20 different ones FELL or KNELT to worship. In none of those passages are we informed that any of those individuals performed “worship” by engaging in those five acts previously mentioned. Keep in mind that Greek scholars define worship as, “to kiss, like a dog licking his master’s hand.” Jesus is giving us a picture of what worship in spirit and in truth looks like.
What is worship? If the word was translated and we used the translation in our descriptions, people would be confused and have no idea what we were talking about. Someone might ask, “Where are you going?” You respond, “Oh, the family and I are going to lick God’s hand in spirit and in truth.” What is the definition of worship which Jesus discussed with that Samaritan woman? Worship when translated means “to kiss or lick God’s hand? Notice what some did prior to that kiss or lick. They knelt or fell down to express that Jesus was their Lord.
If Jesus appeared in the skies, coming to judge the world, what posture do you think both saint and sinner would manifest? Paul said, “every knee shall bow” (Romans 14:11; Philippians 2:10). I’m sure some would go further by falling on their face? Will we be like a dog that appreciates his master, or be calling for the mountains to fall upon us so we could hopefully escape the judgment of God? What is worship? Is it not an attitude which one develops because of who he belongs to? Jesus said to that Samaritan woman, “You worship what you do not know” (John 4:22). Do we have that woman’s misunderstanding of “worship”?
What did the word “worship” (proskuneo) mean when Jesus used it? Have we substituted another meaning because ours suits our culture and acceptability? Are we guilty of placing it in the same category as some do with “baptism” which allows an individual to substitute sprinkling or pouring rather than submit to immersion? If our shortcoming on this subject is negative, we have a problem. If perfection is required before one may enter heaven, the problem is compounded. Perhaps that is why God’s grace and Jesus’ blood is so important! So, do you agree with Greek scholarship that it means “to kiss, like a dog licking his master’s hand”? If not, then what do you believe “worship,” as given by Jesus in John 4:20-24, means?