Ministry, or work, that is sacred, being directly related to one’s worship of God.
The Hebrew term ʽa·vadhʹ basically means “serve” (Ge 14:4; 15:13; 29:15) or “labor” (Ex 34:21) and is also rendered “cultivate.” (Ge 4:12; De 28:39) When used with reference to service rendered to Jehovah or to false deities, ʽa·vadhʹ implies worship, or sacred service. (Ex 10:26; De 11:16) Similarly, the Greek verb la·treuʹo denotes serving. It is used in regard to serving God (Mt 4:10; Lu 1:74; 2:37; 4:8; Ac 7:7; Ro 1:9; Php 3:3; 2Ti 1:3; Heb 9:14; 12:28; Re 7:15; 22:3), as was done at the sanctuary or temple (Heb 8:5; 9:9; 10:2; 13:10), and also in connection with false worship, rendering service to created things. (Ac 7:42; Ro 1:25) In the Christian Greek Scriptures the noun la·treiʹa appears solely with reference to serving God. (Joh 16:2; Ro 9:4; 12:1; Heb 9:1, 6) It differs from the Greek di·a·ko·niʹa, which also means “ministry, service,” but which is used in connection with common, ordinary, mundane things—things that are not sacred.
The only One to whom worship, or sacred service, can be rightly directed is Jehovah God. (Mt 4:10; Lu 4:8) On account of their special covenant relationship with Jehovah God, the privilege of rendering sacred service as spirit-begotten sons of God and members of “a royal priesthood” should have gone to the Jews. But the majority lost out because of their failure to exercise faith in Christ Jesus. (Ro 9:3-5, 30-33; 1Pe 2:4-10) Many, like the Pharisee Saul before his becoming a Christian, imagined that they were actually rendering sacred service to God by persecuting Christ’s followers.—Joh 16:2; Ac 26:9-11; Ga 1:13, 14.