Was Jesus worshipped and does it make him God?

One of the biggest debates regarding the deity of Jesus revolves around worship, was Jesus worshipped? There are those, mainly those who profess Jesus is God that claim Jesus was worshipped and therefore this makes him God. The counter argument, mainly from those that oppose the deity of Jesus is that Jesus was not worshipped rather he was given obiesence or homage.

These arguments are based on 2 premis

  1. Only God can be worshipped.
  2. Jesus was or wasn’t worshipped

 

If the 2 premis are both in the affirmative, Jesus was worshipped and worship can only be given to God then it can be a reasonable conclusion that Jesus is God. If either of the premis are in the negative, either Jesus was not worshipped or not only God can be worshipped then Jesus would not necessarily be God.

However it is my contention and something I will demonstrate here in this writing that Jesus WAS worshipped , worship IS only meant for God BUT this did NOT maken Jesus God. Now isn’t that a contradiction? have I not defeated my own argument before I have even started?  No is the answer to that and I will explain why.

But before I get to the conclusion and show why Jesus was worshipped and how this did not make him God I need to show the other 2 points. Let’s first start with was worship ONLY for God.

When it is claimed that worship is ONLY meant for God people will often go back to the statement of Jesus to the devil in the wilderness as evidence that worship is meant only for God.

Matthew 4-10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

 

Luke 4-8 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

However these verses do NOT actually say that only God can be worshipped. Jesus actually states that we should worship God and him alone must we serve. It is only God that we must serve. Jesus most certainly says that we should worship God but the reference to him alone actually refers to serving and does not include worship.

Serve is the Greek word  λατρεύω latreuó meaning to to serve or worship Appears 21 times and the KJV translates it 19 times as serve(and derivatives)

This is a reference back to Deuteronomy where we will see only service is mentioned.

Deuteronomy 6-13 Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name.

Deuteronomy 10-20 Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God; him shalt thou serve, and to him shalt thou cleave, and swear by his name.

 

In the OT it was condemned by God to worship and SERVE other gods.

Deuteronomy 8:19 And it shall be, if thou do at all forget the Lord thy God, and walk after other gods, and serve them, and worship them, I testify against you this day that ye shall surely perish.

Deuteronomy 11:16 Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them;

Deuteronomy 17:3 And hath gone and served other gods, and worshipped them, either the sun, or moon, or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded;

Serve is the Hebrew word עָבַד abad and only means to serve or to work for (either freely or by force)

We most certainly must only serve God and worship no other gods . But this doesn’t answer the question can only God be worshipped? What about men?

 

So let’s go back to the OT and look in more detail at worship.

The Hebrew word translated as worship in the OT is  שָׁחָה shachah, it means to bow down, to prostrate oneself, to pay homage or to worship. So we see it CAN mean worship but doesn’t necessarily always mean worship.

This word appears 172 times throughout the OT scriptures and is not always translated as worship (KJV) .

The very first use of this word is when we see Abraham bowing (shachah) himself in front of the 3 “men” that came to visit him.  

Genesis 18-  2 And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground, KJV

Here it most certainly cannot be stated that Abraham was worshipping these “men”. He was simply showing his respect and bowing before them and so it is correct that it should not be translated as worship.

Lot bowed (shachah) to angels again most certainly not an act of worship.

Genesis 19- 1 And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground;

The KJV does translates shachah as worship 115 times

The first time the word is translated as worship is just before Abraham’s “sacrifice” of Isaac. Where he states he was going to worship the Lord


Genesis 22-5 And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.

It was commanded NOT to worship (shachah) any other god

Exodus 34-14 For thou shalt worship no other god: for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God:

 

If Jesus was NOT God then worshipping him as god would violate this command.

 

It is also interesting to note that the KJV NEVER, not once translates the word as worship or derivatives of (worshipping/worshipped) when it is referring to ANYONE else other than God or in condemnation of the worship of other gods.

In the OT Worship was ONLY to be given to God and never for anyone other than God. It was never translated as worship when in reference to men or angels and was always condemned when other gods were worshipped and this is very clearly shown in the KJV.

In the NT Peter and an angel BOTH refuse to be worshipped when offered worship.

Peter refuses worship from Cornelius

Acts 10-25 And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him.

Peter responds to him that he is just a man

Acts 10-26 But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man

The angel in revelation twice refused worship from John and called himself a fellow servant

Revelation 19-10 And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

Revelation 22-8 And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things.9Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.

On both occasions the angel tells John not to do it and also states to worship God.

Each time worship (proskuneó) is offered and each time worship (proskuneó) is refused and each time they proclaim why they are not to be worshipped.

There is however one incidence where a man does receive and accept worship. This though happens in the parable of the unforgiving servant told by Jesus

 

Matthew 18:21-35

 

Parables were exactly that, they were examples and not reality. The man in the story was not real.

Angels and men did not receive worship.

As previously stated those who claim Jesus was God will assert that Jesus was worshipped and most (certainly the vast majority) of those that deny the deity of Jesus will argue that Jesus was not in fact worshipped at all.

Jesus was worshipped

The Bible very clearly states that Jesus received worship throughout his life.

He received worship shortly after his birth from the magi.  

Matthew 2-11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.

 

It is shown that Jesus received worship during his ministry on numerous occasions

Matthew 8-2 And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.

Matthew 9-18 While he spake these things unto them, behold, there came a certain ruler, and worshipped him, saying, My daughter is even now dead: but come and lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live.

Matthew 15-25 Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.

Matthew 20-20 Then came to him the mother of Zebedee’s children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him.

Mark 5-6 But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him,

Mark 15-19 And they smote him on the head with a reed, and did spit upon him, and bowing their knees worshipped him

Luke 24-52 And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy:

John 9-38 And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him.

Jesus receives worship from his disciples

Matthew 14-33 Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.

 

And he received worship AFTER his resurrection

After he was risen the disciples worshipped at his feet

Matthew 28- 9 And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.

Matthew 28-17 And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.

And Jesus is worshipped by the angels

Hebrews 1-6 And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.

So the Bible very clearly records that Jesus was worshipped and unlike John and the Angel, Jesus did not refuse this proskuneó worship.

OBJECTION

However this is where those that object to Jesus receiving worship will more often than not refer back to the Greek word that is translated as worship. The Greek word being proskuneó

The argument put forward is that this word does not necessarily mean worship, rather it can also mean to do obiecense to or pay homage.

The word is derived from the Greek πρός pros which means to- towards and κύων kyneō which means to kiss as in a dog licking a masters hand (κύων kyneō  is derived from the Greek κύων kyōn which means dog)

Therefore it is claimed Jesus did not receive worship but he was given obiecense or simply paid respect to. In the same way that Abraham gave obeisance or respect to the 3 “men”

So the focal argument would be on the translation of the word proskuneó and if worship is the correct translation of the word.

The word appears 60 times in the NT and is translated as worship or worshipped in EVERY single occurrence in the KJV

ALthough I personally only use the KJV I shall just show that this word has also been translated as worship in many other translations, I shall just use one verse, Matthew 2-11 as an example.

Matthew 2-11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. NIV

Matthew 2-11 And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. ESV

It is also translated as worship in the NLT, BSB, BLB, NASB, GNT, ISV, Net Bible, ERV, to name a few.

So it isn’t just a KJV translation “thing”. Most other Bibles have Jesus being worshipped rather than being given obeisance.

We will also see proskuneó  translated as worship when it refers to that of God.

When Jesus was being tempted by the devil in the wilderness the devil tells Jesus he will give Jesus all things if Jesus would worship him

Matthew 4-9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.

The word translated worship is proskuneó

Jesus responds that thou shalt worship (proskuneó) the Lord thy God.

Matthew 4-10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

This is also stated in the Gospel of Luke

Luke 4-7 If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine.

Luke 4-8 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

Again both occurrences here are proskuneó

The devil wasn’t asking Jesus to give him obeisance (to simply kiss his hand)  and Jesus most certainly did not reply to give obeisance to god (to kiss the hand of God)

The devil wanted Jesus to worship him and Jesus responded that we should worship God.

The word is translated as worship or worshipped when referring to God in MANY other passages.

John 4-20 Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.

John 4-21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

1 corinthians 14-25 And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth

Revelation 4-10 The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying,

Revelation 5-14 And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever.

Revelation 7-11 And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God,

Revelation 11-16 And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God,

Revelation 14-7 Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worshiphim that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.

Revelation 15-4 Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest.

Revelation 19-4 And the four and twenty elders and the four beasts fell down and worshipped God that sat on the throne, saying, Amen; Alleluia.

Revelation 22-9 Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worshipGod.

Therefore worship most certainly CAN be the correct translation of proskuneó. We do not simply give obeisance to God. God is to be worshipped.

It would therefore be incorrect to simply state that worship is NOT a correct translation of proskuneó or that it cannot be translated as such as it most certainly can and certainly there are times when worship would not only be the correct translation it would be the only translation that could indeed  be correct.

However we are still left with the question is worship the correct translation when proskuneó refers to Jesus.  How do we know that the correct translation of (proskuneó) in the case of Jesus, is worship rather than simply bow down or to give obeisance.

There are many times proskuneó (worship) of Jesus stands alone in verses which we have already seen, such as Matthew 8-2  where the leper comes and gives proskuneó worship to Jesus

Matthew 8-2 And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.

Although I believe worship is the correct translation, here it at least can be argued that the translation should be gave obeisance or bowed down.

However there are 3 times when this translation could not be correct and would make no sense whatsoever.

In Matthew 2-11 the Magi don’t just offer proskuneó they fell down and then offered proskuneó.

Matthew 2-11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.

If they were simply bowing down when offering proskuneó then it would render the fell down pointless. Fell down is the Greek πίπτω piptó which means to fall. So the Magi were already “down” before they offered proskuneó (worship). A clear distinction being made.

This is the same in Mark 15-19

Mark 15-19 And they smote him on the head with a reed, and did spit upon him, and bowing their knees worshipped him

The Greek τίθημι tithémi which one of its definitions is to bow down would make no sense here at all . Having already been shown to bow they then offer proskuneó worship.

And Finally we have the disciples who held Jesus by his feet before they offered proskuneó

Matthew 28- 9 And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.

The Greek translated as held is Κρατέω krateó To lay hold of , to hold on to.

Very clearly there is a distinguishing of the bowing down and the proskuneó worship.

And when we look back at the worship refused by Peter we see that Cornelius falls at his feet BEFORE worshipping

Acts 10-25 And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him.

Again in this verse we have the Greek πίπτω piptó to fall down that precedes the proskuneó worship

And this same word precedes the worship in both revelation 19-10 and revelation 22-8

Revelation 19-10 And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

Revelation 22-8 And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things.9Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.

And this was EXACTLY what the devil asked Jesus to do in Matthew 4-9

Matthew 4-9 And saith  unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.

 

He asked Jesus to πίπτω piptó to fall down and then to proskuneó worship him.

 

There is not one incidence in the OT where anyone is described as bowing down and then worshipping other than to God or the false worship of gods.

So we have seen that Jesus was worshipped and worship was only ever meant to be given to God.

 

So how then can Jesus receive worship and yet I claim he is NOT God?

The answer is very simple when we understand the very basic concept that God has ordained it as such.

Jesus was the Messiah, he was the king of Israel.

God made Jesus both Lord and Christ.

Acts 2-36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.

God made Jesus head over all principality and power.

Colossians 2- 10 And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:

Jesus was GIVEN a name above all others and at that name every knee would bow. Which would be to the GLORY of GOD the father

Philippians 2-9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of thingsin heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Honouring the son honours the father who sent him

John 5- 23 That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.

 

The Bible states that God has put all things under Jesus, EXCEPT for him (God) who put everything under him (Jesus)

1 Corinthians 15-27 For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith, all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him.

Hebrews 2-8 Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him.9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.

This had already been foretold of the Messiah in the OT

Isaiah 52-13 Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high.

Daniel 7-14 And He was given dominion, glory, and kingship, so that every people, nation, and language should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and His kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.

Psalm 8-6 Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet:

God had stated declared that the angels would worship Jesus.

Hebrews 1-For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? 6 And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.

God ordained it so. Jesus was made Lord, he was made above the angels. If Jesus was God then the angels of God would not need to be LET to worship him , which is AFTER God had brought his firstbegotten (Jesus) into the world

Jesus was not worshipped AS God he was worshipped because God had decreed it so for God’s own Glory.

 


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