What is Worship? Proskuneo

Proskuneo is a Greek word that calls us to kneel before our God. On Thursdays I have been posting on the meaning of various words related to worship.  Here is a complete list of the words we are studying:

Worship Terms

Worship – What is the meaning of the English word “Worship?”
Shachah – The primary Hebrew word for worship
Proskuneo – The primary Greek word for worship
Halal – A Hebrew word for crazy exuberant praise
Shabach – A Hebrew word for loud praise
Tehillah – A Hebrew word for song of praise
Zamar – A Hebrew word for making music accompanied by strings
Yadah – A Hebrew word for extending the hands in thanksgiving and praise
Towdah – A Hebrew word for a thanks offering
Barak – A Hebrew word for kneeling before God in humble submission

Hidden Meaning in Psalm 100:4 - See how understanding these words enhances the meaning of this popular praise verse.

This is the third post in a series on the meaning of worship.  The first word I looked at was the English word "worship". Last week I presented the Hebrew word "Shachah". In this post I will continue by looking at the most common Greek word used for worship: proskuneo.


Definition of Proskuneo from Bible Hub

Meaning of Proskuneo

The New Testament was written in Greek and the most common Greek word translated as worship is "proskuneo." According to Strong's Concordance "proskuneo" means "to kiss" as in to kiss the hand of a superior. It is commonly associated with bowing down or lying prostrate on the ground with the idea of kissing the ground before someone. Some scholars believe the word actually is derived from the idea of a dog licking its masters hand.  The idea is to show profound reverence and submission to someone.

What can we learn from this?

"Who will not fear, O Lord,
    and glorify your name?
For you alone are holy.
    All nations will come
    and worship [proskuneo] you,
for your righteous acts have been revealed.” Revelation 15:4 (ESV)


Shachah - kneel down in worship

  • Servanthood.  Worship is about a servant approaching his Master.  Like a dog coming to his owner, we are very much the lesser being.  All we have comes from our Master and we approach Him knowing our place.
  • Submission.  Worship is about submission.  Like the Hebrew word, “shachah“, proskuneo reminds us that underlying all our worship of God should be a profound recognition of our responsibility to be in full submission to our Master.
  • Physical Response.  In both the Hebrew and Greek words for worship we find that worship is directly connected with physically bowing, kneeling or even lying prostrate on the ground.  In our modern mindset, we often overlook the importance of physically responding to God.  We were created as physical beings and our worship should also include the physical.  To restrict our physical actions is often to restrict our hearts.


Three Questions to Ask

  1. Am I coming to God as His servant? or do I come as an equal?
  2. Am I willing to submit to His commands?
  3. Am I willing to physically kneel or bow down before God as I worship and pray?

by Jerry Wyrick, President of Worship Arts Conservatory

Posted in General Worship, Personal Worship and tagged , .