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Friday, September 22nd, 2023
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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Language Studies

Greek Thoughts

SEBASMA* - εχηγεομαι (Strong's #1834)
Object of worship, place of worship

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Please note that all Biblical quotes, in this and all other lessons posted to Greek Thoughts, are from The Literal English Translation of the Bible produced by BTE Ministries - The Bible Translation and Exegesis Institute of America.

We are in the process of studying, from the New Testament, the most important Greek words translated "worship." We first studied προσκυνὲω (Strong's #4352), which expresses the idea of submission to the Spirit of the Lord and His truth as the only acceptable form of worship of God. In the second part of our study, we are considering a series of Greek words formed from the root word σὲβομαι (Strong's #4576), which relates to religious worship and reverence. It is the Greek word used to represent human effort to worship and reach God or even idols. Within this particular group of words, we have already looked at σεβὰζομαι (Strong's #4753), a verb form derived from σὲβομαι, which denotes the expression of religious veneration as well as general reverential behavior. This week the focus of our study is σὲβασμα, a noun derived from σὲβομαι. It represents a place of worship as well as the objects of worship. Σὲβασμα is found in only two places in the New Testament, Acts 17:23 and 2 Thessalonians 2:4.

Acts 17:22-23

Now Paul, having stood in the middle of the Areopagus, said, "Men, Athenians, I am observing you as extremely religious according to all things.

When Paul came to Athens during his second missionary journey, he had an opportunity to stand before the Council of the Areopagus, the chief court and supreme authority in Athens. He opened his address to them by relating how he observed them as being "extremely religious." An accurate understanding of this description of the Athenians is important to our understanding of σὲβασμα - an object of worship. The Greek word translated "extremely religious" is δεισιδαὶμων (Strong's #1174), which means "fearing gods." This word perfectly describes the people of Athens and gives us insight into σὲβασμα, our word of study (found in the next verse).

For while going through and looking up at the objects of your worship (σὲβασμα), I also found an altar in which it had been inscribed, 'TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.' Whom therefore you are ignorantly worshiping, this One I am proclaiming to you.

Paul then provides explanation of his observation of them. He tells them that while he was going through and looking up at the objects of their worship (σὲβασμα), he noticed an altar that had the inscription on it: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. History tells us that there were more than 30,000 idols erected in Athens, each one representing a god that they worshiped. Paul uses one such monument to begin his presentation to them. This idol's altar was dedicated to AN UNKNOWN GOD. Paul makes the connection between those who are "extremely religious" (those fearing the gods) and that one particular altar, expressing that the religious people in Athens superstitiously worshiped a God that wasn't known to them. Paul then tells them that this One, whom they ignorantly worship, is the One he is proclaiming to them.

The next occurrence of σὲβασμα is in 2 Thessalonians 2:4.

2 Thessalonians 2:3-4

2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 records Paul's concern for the believers in Thessalonica. They are troubled over the coming of the Lord, because some had been taught that the Lord had already come. Paul reassures them that the Day of Christ has not yet come and then tells them what events must happen before the Lord's return.

Let not anyone deceive you according to any way; because if the apostasy should not come first, and the man of sin should have been revealed, the son of destruction,

In this verse, Paul states that an apostasy (a falling away) and revelation of the man of sin must take place first. He then describes the religious conditions present on the earth when the man of sin is revealed:

the one opposing and exalting himself over everything being called God or object of worship (σὲβασμα), so that he should sit downF1 into the temple of God as God, demonstrating himself that he is God.

The man of sin will oppose and exalt himself over everything called god or any object of worship (σὲβασμα). This tells us that he will present himself as the fulfillment of all of the idols and objects of worship upon the earth, the fulfillment of everything related to God —he will in fact claim to be God. He will absorb everything religious into his one world religion.

As we have discovered from our studies of σὲβομαι and σεβὰζομαι, σὲβασμα is associated with objects of worship other than God Himself. The New Testament teaches that this is religious worship, devoid of any personal relationship with God. Again, as in our last study of σεβὰζομαι, the Greek words related to the primitive root σὲβω are representative of human effort made to express religious worship to a god or the gods. The Bible teaches that true, genuine spiritual worship takes place in and from the heart of man as an expression of submission to the Spirit of God and His truth. Most of the New Testament words for worship or places of worship actually represent the religious expression of man as opposed to a heart response to God through submission to Jesus Christ, which the Bible defines as the only true worship of the living God.

* SEBASMA is the English font spelling of the Greek word σὲβασμα.

F1: The infinitive of result with the accusative subject ὥστε͂αὐτὸνκαθὶσαι, "so that him...to sit down," is translated ὥστε͂νὰ͂καθὶσῃ, "so that he might sit down."

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Meet the Author

Bill Klein has been a pastor, counselor, and educator for the past 41 years. He has had extensive training and education in biblical languages, and has authored a Biblical Greek course.

He is currently serving as Professor of Biblical Greek at Master's Graduate School of Divinity, and president of BTE Ministries - The Bible Translation and Exegesis Institute of America, a non-profit organization located in California that provides Bible study tapes and Greek study materials through their website BTEMinistries.org.

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