Swept off your Feet
Worship Reference Study
Consider the Data
This reference study contains additional resource material along with Bible verses arranged in categories based on their association with worship.
You worship [proskuneo] what you do not know; we worship [proskuneo] what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers [proskunetes] will worship [proskuneo] the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers [proskuneo]. God is spirit, and those who worship [proskuneo] Him must worship [proskuneo] in spirit and truth. (John 4:22-24)
The following table lists Hebrew and Aramaic words associated with worship and bowing in the Old Testament. It includes their Strong’s reference number, translation found in the New American Standard Bible (NAS), grammar, transliteration, pronunciation, frequency of use, and meaning. Additional information from various sources follows this table.
The following table lists Greek words associated with worship and bowing in the New Testament. It includes their Strong’s reference number, translation found in the New American Standard Bible (NAS), grammar, transliteration, pronunciation, frequency of use, and meaning. Other information from various sources follows this table along with additional Greek words relevant to worship from John 4:22-24.
Bold Bible references indicate worship toward God. An inserted Greek or Hebrew words appear in [brackets] as do [comments]. Gray highlighting indicates worshipers of God by name or identity. Light shading indicates bowing or falling facedown when worshiping God.
This chapter contains scriptures arranged in the following categories:
1. Worship(ed) and Serve(ed): 28 x’s
2. Bow Down and Serve: 9 x’s
3. Worship but NOT Serve (in same verse not translated from `abad): 79 x’s
4. Worship [from `abad] but NOT Serve: 13x’s (6 refer to God)
5. Worships: 3 x’s
6. Worshiping: 5 x’s
7. Worshiped but not Serve(ed) in the same verse: 37 x’s
8. Worshipers: 12 x’s (6 refer to God)
9. Fell or Fall on face: 32 x’s (22 before God)
10. Bow(s) and Down from shachah: 1x
11. Bowed from shachah NOT Worship or Serve in same verse: 43 x’s
12. Bowed not from shachah and NOT Worship in same verse: 17 x’s
13. Bowing and NOT Worship in same verse: 6 x’s
14. Bow and Down but NOT Worship or Serve in same verse: 20 x’s
The following four tables include individuals and groups from the Old and New Testament respectively. Nearly everyone mentioned offered God a response of worship by bowing or falling facedown.
The following table details occasions that prompted a response of worship. It identifies the individuals and groups who offered such a response, its frequency, and the associated scripture references.
In heaven, angels, elders, and living creatures established a unanimous precedent for facedown worship (7 times). On earth, six categorical occasions prompted a response of worship (38 times).
Two accounts refer to worship without describing the act. Prompted by ulterior motives, Saul worshiped God in an unspecified manner at Gilgal in the presence of Israel, its elders, and Samuel. At Jacob’s well, a Samaritan outcast announced to Jesus that her relatives had worshiped God in an unspecified way on Mount Gerizim, as an alternative to worshiping Him in Jerusalem.
Besides bowing, at least nine activities appear in the same context where the Bible mentions a Hebrew or Greek word for worship.
Bowing: 32 references
Offerings, sacrifices, altars, or food: 15 references
Service: 12 references
Speaking: 14 references
Singing, music, or praise: 11 references
Six tables distinguish between falling down and bowing down in worship before God. After each table, Scripture references detail the incidents involved.
While worship occurs occasionally in the same context with offerings, sacrifices, altars, and food, the Bible does not emphasize them as expressions of worship in reference to God.
“Worship” and “serve” appear together 28 times in the NAS version (25x’s OT and 3x’s NT). Throughout the Bible, this dual association invariably refers to false gods or idols. In one notable exception from parallel Gospel accounts, Jesus tells Satan, “You shall worship the LORD your God and serve Him only.”
In the Old Testament, the NAS translates the Hebrew verb `abad 200 times using variations of the word “serve”. Another 77 times, it translates `abad with words like labor, work, slave or enslave, bondage, perform, do, cultivate, and till. Of the 13 times that NAS translators render this word “worship”, only 6 refer to God. In each of these references, the NKJ (and at times the NIV and ESV) deviates from the NAS by translating `abad as serve or sacrifice.
Worship occurs occasionally in the same context with speaking. However, the Bible does not emphasize speaking as an independent expression of worship. When phrased as an expression of worship, speaking generally occurred in conjunction with bowing or falling down.
While worship occurs occasionally in the same context with singing, music, and praise, the Bible does not emphasize singing or playing an instrument to express worship (especially in reference to David’s Tabernacle).
The psalmists emphasize praise over worship by a margin of greater than ten to one. They use words for praise over 150 times in 147 verses. Many other psalms convey praise for God without mentioning a specific word for it in the Hebrew text.
In contrast, only 12 psalms mention a Hebrew word for worship in reference to God, Psalms 5, 22, 29, 45, 66, 86, 95, 96, 97, 99, 132, and 138. Of these 12, ten mention a Hebrew word for worship and praise together. Only six psalms mention a Hebrew word for worship and singing together in the same context: Psalms 22, 66, 95, 96, 132, and 138. Two psalms, 5 and 29, mention worship without using a Hebrew word for praise.
• God as Creator: 7 times
• Disciples Worshiping Jesus: 5 times
• Angels Worshiping God: 5 times
• Falling, bowing, or worshiping a fellow human: 1 time
• Falling, bowing, or worshiping before an Angel: 6 times
• Worship associated with Demons or Satan: 7 times
• Worship at the Idol of Jealousy: 1 time
• Worship associated with Warfare/Bloodshed: 4 times