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John Calvin puts forward a very simple reason why love is the greatest gift: “Because faith and hope are our own: love is diffused among others.” In other words, faith and hope benefit the possessor, but love always benefits another. In John 13:34–35 Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Love always requires an “other” as an object; love cannot remain within itself, and that is part of what makes love the greatest gift.

Jesus receives latreuō: Correcting the confusion of James Dunn

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James Dunn: In no case in the New Testament is there talk of offering cultic worship (latreuein) to Jesus (Did the First Christians Worship Jesus?, page 13).[*1]


That the Lord Jesus is the proper recipient of latreuō are as follows:

1. Exodus 23:25

But you shall serve the LORD your God, and He will bless your bread and your water; and I will remove sickness from your midst. (NASB)

The Jewish Encyclopedia (1901) teaches that to pray is the same thing as offering latreuō. It reads: 
  "Ye shall serve the Lord your God" (Exodus 23:25) is understood as "Ye shall worship God in prayer" (Prayer, see "In Rabbinical Literature"). 
  The Greek word in Exodus 23:25 (LXX) for "serve" is latreuō. If the Lord Jesus was the proper recipient of just one prayer this would mean that He is the proper recipient of latreuō. The fact that He is the proper recipient of many prayers further strengthens this affirmation. 
     1. Richard N. Longenecker: There is no commandment in the Jewish Scriptures that says simply "Thou shalt pray!" Rather, what one finds is a verse like Deut 11:13, which calls on Israel "to love the Lord your God and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul." The rabbis of the Talmud asked about this verse: "What kind of service is it that takes place in the heart"? And they answered their own question: "It is prayer!" (b. Ta' anith 2a) (Studies in Paul, Exegetical and Theological, page 33). 
     2. Moisés Silva: The meaning of worship has been perpetuated in the synagogue. But it is used also of the inner worship of the heart. So it is said that to serve God means prayer (with ref. to Deut 11:13 and Dan 6:11, 16; cf. Str-B 3:26) (NIDNTTE 3:95, latreuō). 


2. Deuteronomy 10:20

You shall fear the LORD your God; you shall serve Him and cling to Him, and you shall swear by His name. (NASB)

 The Greek word in the Septuagint for serve is latreuō. When one fears the Lord and clings to Him they are rendering latreuō unto Him.

     a. That we are to fear the Lord Jesus demonstrates that latreuō is rendered unto Him (Acts 9:31; 2 Corinthians 5:11; Ephesians 5:21; 6:5; Philippians 2:12; Colossians 3:22; 1 Peter 3:15).

     b. That we are to cling/be joined to the Lord Jesus demonstrates that latreuō is rendered unto Him (1 Corinthians 6:17).


3. By turning to false gods people improperly rendered latreuō unto them (Deuteronomy 11:16; 31:18, 20). Instead, they ought to have worshiped God by turning unto Him (Isaiah 45:22). That people turned unto the Lord Jesus in worship demonstrates that He received latreuō (Acts 9:35; 11:21; 2 Corinthians 3:16; 1 Peter 2:25).


4. Directing one's heart to the Lord (Joshua 24:23) involves rendering latreuō unto Him (Joshua 24:24). That Paul would ask the Lord Jesus to direct their hearts demonstrates that He is the proper recipient of latreuō (2 Thessalonians 3:5).


5. Isaiah 41:16

But you will rejoice in the LORD,
You will glory in the Holy One of Israel. (NASB, the underlined is mine)

 Without question this refers to worshiping God and yet we are told to rejoice in the Lord and glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:1, 3) all within the context of rendering latreuō (Philippians 3:3).


6. Rendering prayers and giving thanks to God (Daniel 6:10) means one is rendering latreuō unto Him (Daniel 6:16). See #9.


7. In Luke 2:37 Anna rendered latreuō by her fastings (nēsteia) and prayers (deēsis). That people fasted in reference to the Lord Jesus and prayed to Him (Acts 13:3; 14:23) demonstrates that He received latreuō.


8. Acts 24:14

 See footnote #10 as found here:



9. Rendering latreuō unto God as the Creator (Romans 1:9, 25) encompasses thanking (eucharisteō) Him (Romans 1:8), praying (proseuchē) and making requests (deomai) to Him (Romans 1:10) with the determination to do His will (Romans 1:10).

     a. In 1 Timothy 1:12 the Lord Jesus is thanked in that it is the "appropriate response to the Deity for benefits conferred" (BDAG, 3rd Edition, charis, page 1080, the underlined is mine).

     b. He receives prayer (proseuchē) in Romans 12:12 and Revelation 5:8 as well as requests (deomai) in Acts 8:22, 24. 

     c. He is prayed to with firm reliance upon His supreme will (Acts 1:24-26; 21:13-14; 1 Corinthians 4:19; 16:7; Ephesians 5:17; James 4:15). 

 Thus, the Lord Jesus is properly rendered latreuō as the Creator.


10. Colossians 2:6

As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him. (KJV)

 In the Old Testament, to walk in the way of the Lord is to render latreuō unto the Lord (Deuteronomy 10:12; Joshua 22:5; cf. Isaiah 2:5 with Ephesians 5:8).[*2] Likewise, to walk after other gods is to render this same worship unto them (Jeremiah 7:9; cf. Micah 4:5). Since the Christian is commanded to walk in the Lord Jesus this refers to rendering latreuō unto Him.[*3]  Indeed, to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord in order to please the Lord Jesus (Colossians 1:10; cf. 1 Corinthians 7:32) corresponds to walking in God in order to please Him (1 Thessalonians 4:1).[*4] 


11. 2 Timothy 1:3 
I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience the way my forefathers did, as I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day. (NASB, the underlined is mine) 
2 Timothy 2:22 
Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. (NASB, the underlined is mine) 

      Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (TDNT): Calling on the Lord from a pure heart (2 Tm. 2:22) is the same as worship with a clear conscience (2 Tm. 1:3). In the formal speech of the Pastorals the pure conscience is the total standing of the Christian. This is particularly plain when the difference between the life of the Christian and that of the heretic is formulated in compendious confessions (7:918, synoida, C. Maurer). 

Two points are worth mentioning: 

                    1. Calling on the Lord Jesus from a pure heart (2 Timothy 2:22) is the same as worshiping God with a clear conscience (2 Timothy 1:3). The Greek word for "serve" in 2 Timothy 1:3 is latreuō. This demonstrates that by calling on Lord Jesus from a pure heart one is rendering latreuō unto Him.[*5] 
                    2. Since latreuō is properly due unto God alone Christians worship the Lord Jesus as God while heretics deny such actions to Him as God. 

 Notice also that Paul rendered latreuō unto God by thanking (charis) Him and by means of his prayers (deēsis). See #9.


12. Revelation 7:15 (cf. v.10) teaches that the Lord Jesus receives latreuō.[*6]


13. Revelation 20:6 teaches that Christ has priests. As such they would render latreuō unto Him (see footnote #6) 


14. Revelation 22:3 teaches that the Lord receives latreuō (see footnote #6).




[*1] Arthur W. Wainwright: In the New Testament it is never used of service or worship given to Christ (The Trinity in the New Testament, page 103). 


[*2] The Greek word  for "serve" in the Septuagint in both Deuteronomy 10:12 and Joshua 22:5 is latreuō.


[*3] Since walking in the name of the Lord (Zechariah 10:12) entails rejoicing in the Lord (Zechariah 10:7) - apart from all other gods, the Christian walks in the name of the Lord Jesus (Colossians 2:6) and rejoices in Him (Philippians 3:1; 4:10). To rejoice in the Lord means to worship the Lord (see Isaiah 41:16 above).


[*4] A. Lukyn Williams in citation of Moule: such alternative expressions indicate how truly for St Paul the Father and the Son are Persons of the same Order of being (Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges, Colossians).



[*5] https://www.christforums.org/topic/8806-calling-on-the-name-of-the-lord-praying-to-jesus/?tab=comments#comment-53909


[*6] https://www.christforums.org/topic/6234-yes-it-is-proper-to-worship-the-lord-jesus-christ/


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