DBG Weekend Spotlight (4-21-17)

Josh Buice

Is the pope the church’s high priest?  In this short video, Dr. Nathan Busenitz provides some helpful information regarding the office of the pope and the doctrinal positions of the Roman Catholic Church.

James White Debate — Tonight, James White will debate Joe Ventilacion on the subject:  Who is God?  The focus will involved the doctrine of the Trinity, and the event organizers are planning a livestream of the event as well.

Teach Us to Number Our Days — Dr. Robert Godfrey writes, “If our need is to number our days by contrasting their shortness with the eternal nature of God, then our prayer to God is that He would teach us: ‘Teach us to number our days.'”

Do Paul and James Disagree on Justification by Faith Alone? — Dr. Tom Schreiner writes, “In the beauty and completeness of God’s Word, Paul and James teach complementary, not contradictory, truths.”

Does the Bible Prescribe Alcohol to the Depressed? — Some good wisdom from John Piper.

John Bunyan And The Hidden Perils Of Preaching — This is a really helpful read, especially if you’re a pastor or and elder who is regularly preaching in your local church.

Ten Questions for Pastors and Polemics — For the pastor who engages in the work of polemics, Kevin DeYoung provides some necessary wisdom.

You can’t legislate morality — You will find that Adam Ford’s cartoons contain more than a laugh.

Luther — Today the new movie on Martin Luther is released.  Get your copy here.

One Very Good Reason to Study Church History — Tim Challies writes, “You have entered into something. You have become a citizen of something with a present and a future, but also a past. And your ability to glorify God in the present and future requires knowing that past.”

Why I Love to Read — Randy Alcorn talks about books and “World Book Day”—scheduled for this upcoming Sunday.

Theology Word of the Week:  Worship

Worship:  proskynéō.

A. Meaning for the Greeks. Usually connected with the Old High German Kuss, although in different ways, proskynéō is an ancient term for reverent adoration of the gods, which in the case of chthonic deities would mean stooping to kiss the earth. The Greeks abandon the outward gesture but keep the term for the inner attitude. Later the word takes on a much more general sense expressing love and respect.

B. Jewish Understanding.

1. The LXX uses the term for various words meaning “to bow,” “to kiss,” “to serve,” and “to worship.” Most of the instances relate to veneration of the God of Israel or of false gods. proskyneín may also be directed to angels, to the righteous, to rulers, to the prophets, and to the shade of Samuel (Saul). While it may express regard, it also suggests that those thus honored are in some way God’s instruments (cf. Gen. 18:2; 19:1). In Gen. 23:7, 12 observance of the formalities stresses the legality of the purchase. Mordecai’s refusal to do proskýnēsis to Haman is the focus of the dramatic action in Esther. Obeisance is always intended except later in 4 Macc. 5:12. The LXX prefers the dative or a preposition to the Greek transitive and accusative. This is partly due to the Hebrew, but partly to the fact that transitive kissing is impossible where there is no image of God.

2. Josephus follows the LXX in his use of the term for worship and respect. Yet he tends to restrict proskyneín to Gentile worship, to avoid the term with a human reference when speaking of the Jews of his own day, and to use it in relation to the temple and the law in the sense of respect rather than worship (for even the Romans respect the holy place; Jewish War 5.402).

3. Philo’s usage is mostly secular rather than religious except when he censures the worship of wealth or various forms of idolatry in city life. He accepts proskyneín to others as a form of respect but is critical of proskýnēsis to the emperor as a contradiction of ancient Roman freedom. He, too, speaks of a proskyneín directed to the temple, Scripture, and the Day of Atonement.

4. In rabbinic Judaism proskýnesis is an attitude in prayer (although standing is more customary). It may also be a means of showing respect to rabbis as those who are in a close relation to God because of their study of the law.

C. The NT.

1. The NT uses proskyneín only in relation to a divine object. Even Mt. 18:26 is no true exception, for in view of the importance of proskýnēsis in Matthew (cf. 8:2; 9:18; 14:33; 15:25; 20:2) the divine king plainly stands behind the king of the parable. Thus when those who seek help from Jesus fall at his feet, this is more than a gesture of respect. The wise men bow in worship (Mt. 2:2, 11). The tempter seeks the worship that belongs to God (4:9–10). The disciples worship Jesus when they begin to grasp his divine sonship (14:33) and when they meet the risen Lord (28:9). The thought of God’s transcendence forbids any weakening of the term in the NT. Peter rejects proskýnēsis in Acts 10:25–26. Even the angel forbids it in Rev. 19:10. The gesture is expressly mentioned in Acts 10:25.

2. In Jn. 4:20ff. proskyneín seems to have a wholly figurative sense. Yet the act of worship stands in the background. What Jesus says is that there is no one place to worship. The concrete act is lifted up into the sphere of spirit and truth which now controls it. This does not mean a total spiritualizing of worship but the possibility of true worship at all times and in all places.

3. The worship of heaven involves repeated proskýnēsis (Rev. 4:10; 5:14; 7:11; 11:16; 19:4). Those who fear God (and those who worship the beast!) are also proskynoúntes (Rev. 11:1; 13:4). Those who worship Satan will finally bow down at the feet of the angel of the church of Philadelphia (3:9), and all nations shall come and worship God at the last day (15:4).

4. While proskyneín is common in the Gospels and Acts, and then again in Revelation, it occurs in the epistles only in Heb. 1:6; 11:21 and 1 Cor 14:25. The last verse offers the only instance of proskyneín in the Christian community and it refers along OT lines to the unconditional subjection expressed by an unbeliever. Elsewhere we read of kneeling or raising hands in prayer (Acts 9:40; 1 Tim. 2:8), but the word proskyneín does not occur. Being a concrete term, proskyneín demands visible majesty. It is thus apposite only when the incarnate Christ is present or when the exalted Lord is again manifested.

D. The Early Church. The data in the apostolic fathers are much the same as in the NT. Mostly the reference is to pagan worship. Veneration of Christ is differentiated from the respect paid to martyrs in Mart. Pol. 17.3. Later the term is given very limited significance. Thus the Council of Nicea in 787 allows proskýnēsis to icons but reserves true latreía for the divine nature. The Greek accusative reappears alongside the more common dative, but with no consistent difference of sense. [1]

  1. Gerhard Kittel, Gerhard Friedrich, and Geoffrey William Bromiley, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans, 1985), 948–949.
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Author DBG Weekend Spotlight (4-21-17)

Josh Buice

Pastor Pray's Mill Baptist Church

Josh Buice is the founder and president of G3 Ministries and serves as the pastor of Pray's Mill Baptist Church on the westside of Atlanta. He is married to Kari and they have four children, Karis, John Mark, Kalli, and Judson. Additionally, he serves as Assistant Professor of Preaching at Grace Bible Theological Seminary. He enjoys theology, preaching, church history, and has a firm commitment to the local church. He also enjoys many sports and the outdoors, including long distance running and high country hunting. He has been writing on Delivered by Grace since he was in seminary and it has expanded with a large readership through the years.