Vine’s Expository Dictionary
to make obeisance, do reverence to.
It also says:
Zondervan’s Analytical Greek Lexicon
It is used as an act of homage or reverence.
To do reverence or homage by kissing the hand; in N.T. to do reverence or homage by prostration; to pay divine homage, worship, adore; to bow one’s self in adoration.
The mere use of the word makes no implication as to the perceived humanity or divinity of the recipient. This is clearly seen from the use of proskuneo
in Matthew 18:26
(the parable of the two debtors) where it is applied to the debtor pleading for mercy from his human lord:Matthew 18:25-26.
But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.
The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped
him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.Proskuneo
is the word which has been translated here as “worshipped” in the KJV, but less archaically translated “begged” in the NIV, “imploring” in the RSV, “prostrated himself” in the NASB and “fell prostrate” in the NEB. The servant clearly was not intending to imply any divinity in his creditor.
In reference to this distinction, Vine quotes in the note of the American Committee in the Revised Version:At the word ‘worship’ in Matt 2:2 etc, add the marginal note ‘The Greek word denotes an act of reverence, whether paid to man (see chap 18:26) or to God (see chap 4:10).
We also see that the man who comes to a banquet, "has worship" from those around him:Luke 14:9-11.
And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room.
But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee.
For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
Christ says that the enemies of the members of the church of Philadelphia will be forced to worship
at the feet of the Philadelphian Christians:Revelation 3:8-10.
I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.
Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.
Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
In this passage, which is obviously not talking about the worship of God, the NIV and the NEB translate the phrase as “come and fall down at your feet” while the RSV and NASB both say, “come and bow down at your feet."
So we see that where the object of proskuneo
is human, the modern translations have been unanimous in changing to a more modern English wording instead of “worship.” King Herod accepted proskuneo
, and was struck dead by God. But in Herod's case, he was clearly and unambiguously worshipped as a god, and he accepted such worship as his due.
This was nothing short of blasphemy, and God rightly punished him. Jesus, however, neither receives nor accepts this form of worship.