That’s Why We Call It a Church “Service”

The Hebrew word AVODAH (work) in Genesis 2:15 is rendered as “service,” “work,” or “craftmanship” in many places in the Bible, yet at other times it is translated as “worship.” Avodah is the word used to describe the back-breaking hard work of the Hebrews making bricks as slaves in Egypt (used four times in Exodus 1:14).

Interestingly, the same word is used of the skilled workers who built the tabernacle (Exodus 35:24); the fine craftmanship of linen workers (1 Chronicles 4:21); and in the context where Solomon assigned priests for their temple ministry in 2 Chronicles 8:14.

The point is that whether they were making bricks, crafting fine linen, or leading people in corporate worship, the Old Testament teaches a seamless connection between work and worship. 

To illustrate, we only need to observe this interesting word play in Exodus. God redeemed Israel from the “service (slavery)” of the Pharaoh so they could “serve (worship)” Jehovah in the mountain (Exodus 3:12). Both words have the same root. One is used for work, the other is used for worship.

We actually have a similar usage in Taglish. When we speak of a “church service” (as in, nag-service ka na ba?), we actually mean “worship (as in, nagsimba ka na ba?).”


Published by

Jojo Agot

Pastor at Victory. Teacher and writer at Every Nation Leadership Institute (ENLI). MA in Theology and Mission at Every Nation Seminary.

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