What does the Bible say about giving honor to saints and angels? Does the Bible teach the practice of Dulia?
The Roman Catholic Church teaches their members to practice dulia. In the English language, dulia refers to veneration given to the saints and angels.The Britannica Dictionary defines veneration as showing deep respect for someone or something. Consequently, this raises a major question. Where in the Bible are we told to practice veneration? Some claim that 1 Chronicles 29:20 teaches that God wants us to practice dulia.
In 1 Chronicles 29:20 we read,
Then David said to all the assembly, “Now bless the LORD your God.” And all the assembly blessed the LORD, the God of their fathers, and bowed low and did homage to the LORD and to the king. 1 Chronicles 29:20 (NASB)
The critical part of the verse is the phrase “and bowed low and did homage to the LORD and to the king.” In order to understand the phrase, we must understand the two Hebrew words that are translated as “bowed low” and “homage.” The Hebrew word that is translated as “bowed low” is qdd. It just simply means to “bow low.” The Hebrew word, qdd, occurs 15 times in the Old Testament. Nine times it is translated as “to bow low” or “to bow down.” The basic meaning of the word means “to bow head” or “to bow face.”
The second Hebrew word in 1 Chronicles 29:20 is hwh. It means to prostrate oneself to the ground. Numbers 22:31 is a verse that helps us understand both Hebrew words. Since both words occur in 1 Chronicles 29:20, it is helpful for us to see how they are translated in another verse. Here is the verse,
Then the LORD opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way with his drawn sword in his hand; and he bowed all the way to the ground. Numbers 22:31 (NASB)
The first Hebrew word, qdd, is translated in this verse as “bowed.” The second Hebrew word hwh is translated as “all the way to the ground.” That helps us understand that a better translation of 1 Chronicles 29:20 is that the people bowed their heads low as they prostated themselves on the ground. Here is a photograph as an example. The two women are down on the ground (hwh) and their heads bowed low (qdd). The photograph illustrates the position one would take if one was to bow low and do homage.
Therefore, 1 Chronicles 29:20 does not teach the practice of veneration of saints and angels. The practice of dulia is not described in 1 Chronicles 29:20. In addition, it cannot be found in the Bible. It is not a biblical concept. That is the answer to the question, is the veneration of saints and angels biblical? is no.
In addition, if we compare the two definitions of veneration and worship, we discover they have almost the same meaning. Notice that we have already discovered that veneration is defined by the Britannica Dictionary as showing deep respect for someone or something. The Britannica Dictionary also defines worship as giving honor or respect to someone or something such as a god. That is, there is no difference between the two definitions, except one adds that it is directed to a god. Therefore, it is an error to claim that veneration is not worship. Veneration is worship. To state otherwise is an illusion. Therefore, it is deception to say that the veneration of saints and angels or anyone else is biblical.
1. Venertion. The Britannica Dictionary (www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/dulia).
2. Worship. The Britannica Dictionary (www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/worship)
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