Matthew 4:10 - "You must Worship Yahweh your God and you must serve him only."Hebrews 1:6 - "And let all the angels of God worship him."
It is claimed by some that the fact that our Lord Jesus received worship without rebuke signifies that he is Yahweh. Our Lord's words above quoted from Matthew 4:10 are supposed by many to imply that for any being but Yahweh to receive worship would be wrong. We answer, Not so! To so interpret these words is to think into them a meaning which they do not contain, and to set Jesus' words up as being contradictory to many other scriptures. Yahweh's decree respecting Christ, "You are my Son, this day I have begotten you," had already been recorded through the prophets; and also his decree, "Let all the angels of God worship him." (Psalm 2:7; Daniel 7:14,27; Hebrews 1:5,6) Our Lord Jesus knew this. He also knew that the angelic messengers of Yahweh had in the past been worshipped as representatives of Yahweh; and that he himself was the chief of the messengers, the Only Begotten Son, as well as tthe "Messenger of the Covenant," whom the Father had sanctified and sent into the world: he knew consequently that whoever honored him honored the Father also.
Indeed, his own words were, "He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him." -- John 5:23; Malachi 3:1
The main Greek word translated worship in the New Testament is proskuneo, which literally signifies "to kiss the hand," as a dog licks the hand of his master. However, when viewing its usage, we see that it is used in the same manner as its Hebrew and Aramaic equivalents, with significance of homage, bowing down, obeisance, worship.
Other Greek words sometimes translated as "worship" are:
Ethelothreskeia (Strong's Greek #1479)
This word is used only once(Colossians 2:23), and has no relevance to our discussion.
Eusebeo (Strong's Greek #2151)
This word is used twice: Acts 17:23 and 1 Timothy 5:4, where the King James Version translates it as "worship" and "piety" respectively. It has no relevance to our discussion.
Sebazomai (Strong's Greek #4573)
This word only appears once (Romans 1:25), and has no relevance to our discussion.
Latreuo (Strong's Greek #3000)
The basic meaning of this word as used in the Bible is "sacred service". It is mostly used in the Bible of God; of servitude to idols or service in the temple. The word, however, could also be used of anyone in servitude to another, as a servitude for hire.
And no curse shall be any more; and the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve [Latreuo, Strong's #3000] him. -- Darby Translation.
This is the only scripture that a form of the Greek word Latreuo may be read as applying to Jesus, although more than likely "his" in the phrase "his servants" refers back to "God", not Jesus. It is being claimed that in Revelation 22:3 that Jesus is being worship with the worship that is only due to God alone, and thus this proves that Jesus is God. Actually, "God" in this verse speaks of only one person, and the Lamb of God is not being depicted as God, nor is the Lamb being depicted as being worshiped with the worship that only belongs to his God. If "his" in the phrase "his servants" does refer to Jesus, it still does not mean that Jesus is receiving the worship that only belongs to the God of Jesus, since the word for serve is not necessarily used exclusively of rendering sacred service to God. Crosswalk's Lexicon cited above gives among meanings, the following: "to serve, minister to, either to the gods or men and used alike of slaves and freemen." See also the usage of this word in Hebrews 8:5 and Hebrews 13:10 (Are we to think that the tabernacle of God IS God, or that the tabernacle is a person of God?)
In reality, we need to remember that Koine Greek does not necessarily follow any rule of nearest antecedent of a pronoun.* More than likely, "his" refers back to God himself, with the Lamb being added in the middle. This would be in keeping with the way that the word is usually used in the New Testament writings.
*As an example, see the ending "he saw" Revelation 1:2 of the KJV; is "he" referring to Jesus, or is it referring to John?
*As an example, see the ending "he saw" Revelation 1:2 of the KJV; is "he" referring to Jesus, or is it referring to John?
God's symbolic throne is also the Lamb's symbolic throne, even as Solomon sat on Yahweh's throne (1 Chronicles 29:23), and yet it is also referred to as Solomon's throne (1 Kings 1:37), as well as the throne of David. (1 Kings 2:12) Furthermore, not only did Jesus say that he sits on the throne of his Father, but he also said that all the overcomers of this age would also sit with him on his throne (which is also the throne of his God and Father. -- Revelation 3:12,21
Sebomai (Strong's Greek #4576)
Translated in the KJV as "worship", "devout" and "religious". It is never directed toward Jesus, so we do not include it in our discussion.
Since the "New Testament" writings are built upon earlier writings often called the "Old Testament", we need to also examine the Hebraic tradition as shown in these Hebrew Scriptures.
The major Hebrew word rendered worship in the Old Testament is shachah and signifies to bow down.
The word shachah occurs 170 times and only about one-half of this number refer to the worship of Yahweh. But this fact is hidden from the English reader of the King James Version by reason of its having been 74 times translated bow down, bowed himself, did reverence, did obeisance, etc., when referring to homage to great earthly beings. We will give examples:
Abraham "bowed himself [shachah] toward the ground, and said, My Lords [Adonai]...let a little water be fetched and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree." These words and acts were while he thought them merely "three men." -- Genesis 18:2-4.
Lot "bowed down [shachah]" to two of the same three. -- Genesis 19:1.
Abraham "bowed himself [shachah]" to the people of Canaan. -- Genesis 23:7,12.
Isaac blessed Jacob, saying, "Let nations bow down [shachah - worship] to you;...and let your mother's sons bow down [shachah - worship] to you." -- Genesis 27:29.
"David stooped and bowed himself [shachah] to the earth" to king Saul. -- 1 Samuel 24:8.
Abigail "bowed herself [shachah] to the ground" to David; and again to David's representatives. -- 1 Samuel 25:23,41.
The woman of Tekoah "fell on her face...and did obeisance [shachah - worshipped]" to king David. And Joab and Absalom did likewise, translated "bowed himself [shachah -worshipped]." -- 2 Samuel 14:4,22,33
"When Mephibosheth...was come unto David, he fell on his face and did reverence [shachah -- worshipped]." -- 2 Samuel 9:6
Isaiah 60:14 and Revelation 3:9 offer conclusive proof that it is permissible to give relative worship to [give homage to] God's representatives, as the Israelites did to Yahweh's angels who came to them with God's message. (Genesis 18:2; 19:1; Joshua 5:13-15) Hence, Jesus' receiving homage by God's sanction no more implies that he is God Almighty, than the Church, the herald angels, David, etc., receiving homage by God's sanction are thereby proven to be God Almighty.
From these evidences it should be apparent to all that the prohibition of the First Commandment -- "You must not bow yourself down [shachah] to them nor serve them," was not understood, nor meant to be understood, as a prohibition of reverence, homage, etc., to the honorable, or to those in honored positions among men. Nor did the Jews err in giving such a relative reverence [shachah] to angels who came with messages in Yahweh's name and acknowledging him. And such reverence was approved -- never reproved. The Commandment warns against image worship or any worship of any rival gods. This Yahweh cannot tolerate. Hence there was no impropriety for any Jew who recognized Jesus as the "Sent of God" to do him reverence, obeisance; and much more proper is it for all those who recognize our Lord Jesus according to his claims -- as the Son of God.
The word used in Daniel 7:14,27, and which is alluded to in Hebrews 1:6, is pelach. It is an Aramaic word, and is translated "serve" or "minister" in the KJV. -- Ezra 7:24; Daniel 3:12,14,17,18,28; 6:16,20; 7:14,27.
Strong's #6087 is rendered worship in the KJV at Jeremiah 44:19, whereas the NASB is probably more correct in translation. However, this has no relevance to our study.
The only other Hebrew word that is translated as "worship" is the Chaldean s'geed (Strong's #5457). It is only used in the book of Daniel: 2:46; 3:5,7,6,10,11,12,14,15,18,28. It is relevant only to show that Daniel received such "worship" from Nebucadnezzar. (Daniel 2:46) It does appear to be used interchangeably with Strong's #6399.
But the claim has been made that the Greek word proskuneo is always used in the New Testament in the sense of worship of God Almighty, not in the sense of homage toward men. But is this true? Let us examine some instances in the New Testament where the Greek word proskuneo is used similarly to the Hebrew word shachah, wherein worship of God is not intended.
The wise men who came to see Jesus as a child bowed (proskuneo) before him as a king, not as God Almighty. -- Matthew 2:2-11.
Herod claimed that he wanted to bow before this newborn King; there is nothing in the scripture that would lead us to think that Herod was talking about worshiping God Almighty. -- Matthew 2:8.
In Matthew 9:18, we find a rich young ruler who came and bowed (proskuneo) before Jesus. It stretches the imagination to suppose that this rich young ruler supposed that he was actually worshiping the Almighty Yahweh. The crowds early gave the praise to God, who had given the power to Jesus to perform these works, saying: "A great prophet has arisen among us!'. (Matthew 9:8; Luke 7:16,17) Thus they believed him to a be a prophet of God, and did not claim Jesus as God Almighty, nor do we have any reason to believe that Jairus would think Jesus was God Almighty.
We have no more reason to believe that Jairus thought he was bowing before God Almighty than when the Shunammite woman bowed [Strong's Hebrew #7812 - worshiped] to Elisha. -- 2 Kings 4:37
Some have attempted to say that Jairus bowed before Jesus as God Almighty, since he expected Jesus to raise his daughter from the dead. We should note that when Jairus first approached Jesus, it was with the hope that he would heal his daughter as she had not yet died. -- Mark 5:21-43; Luke 8:40-56.
Some have suggested that Jairus was worshiping Jesus as God Almighty, since Jesus was healing and raising the dead. This, of course, has to be read into the text, evidently only to satisfy the doctrine that Jesus is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The fact that Jesus healed and raised the dead does not mean that he was Yahweh. The authority to heal and raise the dead was *given* to Jesus by his Father, the only true Supreme Being. (Matthew 11:27; 28:18; Luke 10:22; John 3:35; 5:19-22,25-27; 13:3; 17:2) The authority to heal and raise the dead was also given by Jesus to the apostles. Does this make the apostles God Almighty? -- Luke 9:1; Acts 3:6,15,16: 4:7-11; 9:36-41; 20:7-12.
After performing the miracle of raising Jairus' daughter, two blind men called him, not Yahweh, but "the Son of David." (Matthew 9:27)
Some note that they called Jesus, "Lord." (Matthew 9:28) The use of the title Kurios does not in itself carry any meaning of Yahweh. The same Greek word (kurios) is used in Revelation 7:14, where John address the elder who spoke to him. It is also used in Acts 16:30, when the jailor spoke to Paul and Silas. Thus the blind men's use of this word toward Jesus as a man was not unusual. Similarly, the young man who came to David with the news of Saul's death bowed down (shachah - worshiped) before him and called David "Lord" -- Adon. -- 2 Samuel 1:2-10.
In Matthew 14:33, we find that after Jesus calmed the winds, the men in the ship came and bowed (proskuneo) before Jesus, calling him, not God Almighty, but "Son of God" -- Son of the Supreme Being.
In Matthew 15:22-28, we read of the Phoenician woman who came to Jesus. She did not call Jesus God Almighty, but rather "Son of David." Then she bowed (proskuneo) before him to plead on her daughter's behalf. There is nothing here for us to suppose that this Phoenician woman really believed that she was bowing before the Almighty God of the universe! Again, we read that the crowds glorified the God of Israel for the miracles being performed through Jesus. -- Matthew 15:31.
Matthew 18:26 - "The servant therefore fell down and kneeled before [Strong's Greek #4352] him, saying, 'Lord, have patience with me, and I will repay you all.'" These words are part of a parable. Many believe the King in the parable to be Jesus, or God Almighty. However, we have decided add this to the list, simply because not all translations render proskuneo in this verse as "worshipped". The World English Bible translation at least shows here that proskuneo does not always mean the worship that only belong to Yahweh by rendering proskuneo here as "kneeled before". The New American Standard Bible translation renders it as "prostrated himself". The New King James Version renders it as "fell down before". The Third Millennium Bible translation renders it as "did homage to". The New Living Translation gives it as "fell down before". The New Revised Standard Version and The Good News Translation translate proskuneo in this verse as "fell on his knees before". The Revised Standard Version reads "fell on his kness, imploring". Young's Literal Translation renders the words as "having fallen down, was bowing to". All of these translations acknowledge that proskuneo is in the parable itself used in a sense other of the worship that only belongs to Yahweh. Likewise, we have no reason to believe that proskuneo , in reference to the Son of God, carries the meaning of the worship that is only due to God.
In Matthew 20:20-23 we read of the mother of Zebedee's children who came to Jesus and, bowing (proskuneo), asked that her two sons sit beside him in his kingdom. That she bowed before him as the rightful heir of the kingdom should be apparent from the scripture itself. We need to note that Jesus' heirship to God's kingdom does not include dominion over Yahweh himself; Jesus continues to be in subjection to his Father, Yahweh. -- 1 Corinthians 15:27,28; Revelation 1:1; 3:12; 5:7.
In Matthew 28:9 we read of the women who went to the tomb where Jesus' body lay, found it empty and to whom an angel appeared who told them to go tell his disciples of the risen Jesus. Jesus met them on the way and the women held onto his feet, and bowed down (proskuneo) to him. In this instance, the text implies that the women had simply bowed before Jesus at his feet, and there is nothing to suggest that they were worshiping him as the Almighty Yahweh.
In Mark 15:16-19, we read of the soldiers who mockingly called him "King of Jews" and who bowed their knees and [mockingly] gave homage (proskuneo) to Jesus. These soldiers certainly did not have any idea of "worshipping" Jesus as Almighty God. They were mocking the claim that Jesus was King of the Jews, not that he was God Almighty! In their mocking, they were bowing before him as one would bow before a king.
In John 9:35-38 the blind whom Jesus healed, when finding out that Jesus was the "Son of God", Son of the Supreme Being, bowed down (proskuneo) before him. Jesus was not depicted to this once blind man as the Supreme Being, but rather the Son of the Supreme Being. There is no indication that this man thought that he was bowing before the Supreme Being.
And note that over and over it is God, the Father of our Lord Jesus, to whom the glory is given:
"But when the multitudes saw it, they marvelled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men." -- Matthew 9:8.
"Insomuch that the multitude wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see: and they glorified the God of Israel." -- Matthew 15:31.
"They were amazed, and glorified God." -- Mark 2:12.
"And immediately he rose up before them, and took up that whereupon he lay, and departed to his own house, glorifying God. And they were all amazed, and they glorified God." Luke 5:25,26.
"And immediately she was made straight, and glorified God." -- Luke 13:13.
"When he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God." -- Luke 17:15.
"And immediately he received his sight, and followed him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God." -- Luke 18:43.
"Now the Son of Man is glorified, and God is glorified in him." -- John 13:31.
Indeed, we may be sure that those Pharisees who took up stones to kill our Lord because they found fault with his claim to be the Son of God would have been wild beyond bounds, and not only have stoned our Lord Jesus, but also his worshipers, claiming idolatry, had they entertained as a people any such extreme thought of worship, obeisance (proskuneo), as is entertained by those whose extreme views respecting this word we are combating and have proved erroneous.
Exceptions to this liberty would be in cases where the man to whom reverence, obeisance or worship is rendered is the recognized representative of a false god -- as a pseudo-Christ or false Christ -- Antichrist. Homage to the popes would, we believe, come under this head of false or wrong worship; because in his office he claims falsely to be "Vicegerent Christ." It was on this ground that our Lord Jesus refused to acknowledge Satan and his great power in the world. It was an actively evil power, designedly opposed to the laws of Yahweh. Hence the proposition that by not opposing evil, by respecting or reverencing evil customs already established under Satan's regime, Satan would cooperate with our Lord in the establishment of his kingdom, was at once declined and the answer signified -- I am in full accord with Yahweh God and therefore in full accord with the prophetic declaration: "You must reverence Yahweh your God and him you must serve" -- and since you are his willful opponent I can render no reverence to you or your methods, nor could I either serve your cause or cooperate with you. Our causes are distinctly separate. I will have nothing to do with you. -- Compare Matthew 4:10; Deuteronomy 10:20,21.
Had our Lord Jesus set himself as a rival to Yahweh instead of accepting himself as his Son and servant, any homage to him would have signified disrespect to the Father and would have been sinful -- idolatrous. On the contrary, however, while accepting homage as the Son of God he declared most positively and publicly, "The Father is greater than I," and taught his disciples to make their petitions to the Father, saying, "Whatsoever you shall ask of the Father in my name, he will give it you." -- John 16:23.
Revelation 3:9 - "Behold, I give of the synagogue of Satan, of those who say they are Jews, and they are not, but lie. Behold, I will make them to come and worship [proskuneo] before your feet, and to know that I have loved you." We have mentioned this earlier, but we want to make some comments concerning this. The New American Standard Bible translation, The New Revised Standard Version , The Revised Standard Version , The Good News Translation and the New Living Translation render proskuneo here as "bow down". The New Century Version , Young's Literal Translation and the God's Word Translation render the word as "bow". The Complete Jewish Bible renders it as "prostrate themselves." Again, these translations give evidence that the translators recognize the word proskuneo as not always referring to the worship that only belongs to God, and fall back on the Hebraic usage.
The Message translation renders the word proskuneo as "forced to acknowledge." While this translation is questionable, it still shows that the translators considered the word to mean other than the worship due only to God.
Another argument has been put forth concerning this verse that would have the worship being given to God, not the saints. Evidently this would have Revelation 3:9 read: "I will make them to come and worship God before your feet." The thought appears to be that those in the Synagogue of Satan would come to the Philadelphia church to worship God, due to the door opening as mentioned in Revelation 3:7. In actuality, those of the synagogue of Satan will bow before the saints, who will have dominion with Jesus in the age to come. (Daniel 7:14,22,27; Revelation 20:1-6) "For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly... but he is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart." (Romans 2:28, 29) These false "Jews", liars, are not now worshipping God in spirit and truth in this age, but are still blinded by Satan. (2 Corinthians 4:4; Revelation 12:9) The synagogue of Satan, very evidently, is made up of professing Christians, picked or selected by Satan, to falsify the doctrines of Christ; being a part of the permission of evil. They oppose the spiritually-enlightened ones, and brotherly love is not in them. As those who crucified the Lord will yet be caused to confess and abhor their wickedness, so the opposers of this period will have the shame of seeing, and confessing their wrong doing; and yes, they will worship God, by bowing before and acknowledging the righteousness authority of God's appointed kings and rulers in the age to come. This is further confirmed by Isaiah 60:14. When the blessings are flowing out to all the earth, it will seem to be impossible not to bow before Jesus and his saints to the glory of God. -- Philippians 2:10.
Then why did the angel refuse to accept the homage from John as recorded by John at Revelation 22:8,9? We know that earlier in the book of Revelation, proper homage (Greek, Proskuneo, worship) given to God's representatives is not condemned. (Revelation 3:9) Evidently John was giving the angel worship that was only due to the Father. The angel recognizing this told him that this was not to be done. Likewise, when Cornelius worshipped Peter (Acts 10:25); evidently Peter recognized this as worship that should only be due to God, for most certainly, as we have seen, various men were worshipped, or given homage to, in the Old Testament, without any thought that this kind of homage was that which was only due to God. Peter, realizing that Cornelius was not just giving him homage as a man given authority, or as an apostle, etc., but more so as that which should belong only to God, thus rebuked Cornelius.
God's people are to love and esteem each other, and that in proportion as they recognize in each other the spirit of God, the spirit of Christ, the spirit of holiness and devotion to truth and righteousness; as the Apostle says, the faithful should be esteemed "very highly for their work's sake" (1 Thessalonians 5:13); but while there may be danger that some will fail to render "honor to whom honor is due" (Romans 13:7), there is undoubtedly danger also that some might render too much honor to human (or angelic) instruments, whom God is pleased to use in connection with the service of the truth. Thus we note the danger of man-worship or angel worship. (Colossians 2:18,19) This matter is very forcibly brought to our attention in Revelation 22:9. John the Revelator, who, representing the living saints all down through the Gospel age, is caused to see unfolding the various features of the divine plan, in conclusion falls down to worship the angel who showed him those things. So there has been and is a tendency on the part of many to give more than love, respect and honor to the servants of God who from time to time have been used as special servants of God in bringing to the attention of the Church things new and old, or to the particular brother or sister who was the means of conversion or other spiritual benefit. There was this disposition in the early Church, some exalting one Apostle and some another as their chief and master, and naming themselves as his disciples, saying, "I am of Paul;" or "I am of Apollos;" or "I am of Peter," etc. (1 Corinthians 3:4) The Apostle Paul assures them that this disposition indicates a measure of carnality, and he inquires, who then are Paul, Apollos and Peter, but merely the servants or channels through whom God has been pleased to send you the blessings of the truth. (1 Corinthians 3:5) "Neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth, but God that giveth the increase." (1 Corinthians 3:6) He indicates thus that they should recognize, not the channels through whom the blessings came, but Yahweh, the Author of their blessings, and loyally believe in the name of him who died for and redeemed them. -- 1 John 3:23; 4:11; 5:13.
Likewise, when the Church began to get rid of the gross darkness of the dark ages under the help and instruction of the reformers, Luther, Calvin, Zwingli and others, they naturally and properly had great respect for those whom God had honored as the instruments in the work of reformation. But again the tendency to "worship" the messengers, the human agents, instead of the divine Author was manifested, and today there are hundreds of thousands who call themselves by the name of Luther, Calvin, Wesley, Campbell, Russell and others, and who give more respect to the teachings and writings of these men than to the Word of God, and this with corresponding injury to themselves.
Likewise, today, in the light of truths revealed through the Bible itself, no doubt there is need to be on guard against this carnal tendency which has had so deleterious an influence in the past.
When John fell down to worship the angel who had shown him the wonders of the divine plan, the angel's refusal to accept worship should be a lesson to all ministers (servants -- messengers) of God. He said, "You must not do that; for I am thy fellow-servant [not your Lord and Master], and [fellow-servant] of your brothers the prophets, and [fellow-servant] of [all] them who keep the sayings of this book. Worship God [the source from which come all these blessings and all this light]." All servants of God are fellow-servants regardless of the time or extent of their service (including Jesus). The Apostle calls attention to this creature-worshipping tendency in his epistle to the Colossians (2:18,19), saying, "Let no man allure you of your reward, in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels [messengers]." The intimation is that this temptation will come insidiously, craftily, and not by brazen demands for reverence. Such is the reverence accorded in general to the ministry of the nominal churches. Many ministers who seem very meek, and who would not think of demanding reverence or worship, nevertheless accept of their flocks titles of exaltation, such as "Reverend", "Right Reverend", etc., and encourage it, and feel offended if reverence or worship of this sort is not rendered. The effect has been and still is to injure the household of faith, to give an over-confidence in the judgment and word of the minister in spiritual things, so that many neglect to prove their faith by God's Word, and to trust implicitly to its authority.
And there is danger amongst those who do not use titles of exaltation. It should always be remembered that control resides in the congregation and not in self-appointed leaders, whether they seek to serve a dozen or thousands. The churches of Christ should recognize the leading of their Head, and know their leaders to be of his choice (See Heb. 13:7,17,24, Diaglott), but they should beware of any disposed to usurp the rights of the congregation or to ignore those rights by taking the place of leaders without the specific request of the congregation; alluring the company into supposing that the leader alone is competent to judge and decide for the congregation as to the Lord's choice, and thus failing to hold the Head (Christ) as the only real teacher, who is able and willing to guide all the meek in judgment, because they are his Church -- "his body."
Nor is this alluring of the attention of the flock, away from the only Shepherd, to a fellow sheep always the fault of the "leaders:" there seems to be a general tendency on the part of all who have the true, humble, sheep nature to follow someone, and if the sheep have not developed maturity in the spirit, they may easily succumb to carnal worship of human leaders. It is a lesson, therefore, for all to learn, -- that each sheep recognize as leaders only such as are found in full accord with the voice and spirit of the Chief Shepherd (Christ), and the under-shepherds (the Apostles), and that each sheep see to it that he eats only "clean provender" and drinks only "pure water" as directed by the Shepherd. (See Ezekiel 34:17-19.) This implies the exercise of the individual conscience of each member of Christ's flock on matters of doctrine and practice, and tends to keep each one in sympathy and fellowship with the Shepherd, who knows each sheep and "calls his own sheep by name." The same intimate relationship of the individual Christian with the Lord is illustrated in the figure of Christ the Head and the Church as members of his body. -- 1 Corinthians 12:12-27; Ephesians 4:15,16.
"That all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father."
We agree that Jesus is to be honored by our exalting him highly in our motives, thoughts, words and deeds, and is to receive our worship in a relative sense. This is illustrated in 2 Chronicles 29:20: "David said to all the assembly, Now bless Yahweh your God. All the assembly blessed Yahweh, the God of their fathers, and bowed down their heads, and worshipped Yahweh, and the king." Both Yahweh and the king are worshipped, but are we to claim that this makes the king into Yahweh, or that the king is equal to Yahweh?
Jesus is to receive this honor as the Father's representative and plenipotentiary. As a result of the honor given to Jesus, it will result in there being given "glory to God in the highest," that is, it will be to the glory of the only true Supreme Being (Luke 2:14; Philippians 2:11; Revelation 5:13; 15:3,4; Ephesians 1:12; 1 Corinthians 15:28; John 17:1,3). The honor due to Jesus is a high, honor being the next to the highest honor due to any being, since only his God is to receive a higher honor. The expression "as they honor the Father," does not mean that the Son is to be honored in the same degree, but as a matter of fact as the Father, because he is the Father's Vicegerent. That it does not mean that the Son is to receive equal honor with the Father can be seen from the following scriptures: Philippians 2:9-11; Ephesians 1:19-23; 1 Corinthians 15:28; Revelation 5:13. Thus they honor him as the Father in the sense that he is the Representative of Yahweh.
The assumption that our trinitarian neighbors and some others would wish us to see here is that the Greek word Kathos -- translated "as" in our text -- means equivalent, when it does not necessarily mean this, as can be seen by its usage all through the NT. Indeed, if the same reasoning were used with some scriptures, this would make the church also the Supreme Being, and/or equal in power to Jesus. (See: John 17:11,22; Ephesians 5:25,29; 1 John 4:17) Indeed, a survey of the usage of this word should convince one that rarely, if ever, is it used in the sense of exact equivalency. Indeed, so far the only scripture that we have seen anyone try to apply this definition is John 5:23.
Thayer and Smith. "Greek Lexicon entry for Kathos". "The KJV New Testament Greek Lexicon".
The context shows that this honor is due Jesus because of the authority and power that has been given to him by God, not because he is God. If he were God, the above statement would be totally meaningless, because Jesus recognized his God and Father as the only true God -- the only true Power. (John 17:1,3) After his resurrection and exaltation, Jesus was given even greater power than he had before. (Ephesians 1:17-23; Philippians 2:9,10; Daniel 7:14; 1 Peter 3:22) Jesus received his power from the only true source of all Power. If Jesus received his power from Yahweh, then this indicates that at one time he did not have this power, and needed to have the power given to him. Jesus is given this power, not because he is the Almighty, but because he carries out the work that the Almighty has given him to do. -- John 5:36; 10:25,37; Acts 2:22.
We might add in this regard that Joseph is usually recognized as a type of Jesus. Thus, we find in the relationship of the Pharaoh of Egypt to Joseph to be a type of Jesus' relationship with the Father. -- Genesis 41:39-41; Psalm 105:20,21
Some object that to give this honor to Jesus would be idolatrous, if Jesus is not God Almighty. Despite the fact that "honor" (Greek, "Timao", Strong's #5091*) is not an exact synonym for worship, the idea that to give honor to Jesus in the same manner as we are to honor the son is in no way idolatry. Since Yahweh the only Most High (John 17:1,3) who made the laws concerning idolatry put these words in the mouth of Jesus, then he who made the laws concerning idolatry does not recognize this honor given to Jesus, his Son, as idolatry. (Deuteronomy 18:18,19; John 3:32; 5:43; 7:16; 8:26,28,40; 12:49; 15:15; 17:8,14) Jesus in the one who was sent by Yahweh, and Jesus speaks for Yahweh, he is not Yahweh. (Deuteronomy 18:15,18; Matthew 23:39; Mark 11:9,10; Luke 13:35; John 3:2,17; 5:19,43; 6:57; 7:16,28; 8:26,28,38; 10:25; 12:49,50; 14:10; 15:15; 17:8,26; Hebrews 1:1,2; Revelation 1:1) Jesus is the one anointed by Yahweh, he is not Yahweh. (Psalm 2:2; 45:7; Isaiah 61:1; Acts 2:36) Jesus puts his trust in Yahweh. He is not Yahweh in whom he trusts. -- Hebrews 2:13; Psalm 16:1
*Thayer and Smith. "Greek Lexicon entry for Timao". "The NAS New Testament Greek Lexicon".
When Yahweh told Moses concerning Joshua: "You shall put of your honor on him, that all the congregation of the children of Israel may obey." this did not make Joshua into Moses. (Numbers 27:20) Nor does it necessarily mean that the honor given to Joshua is equal to that which is given to Moses. Moses was the mediator of the Law Covenant; Joshua was not. Nor does giving honor to Joshua take away from Moses the special honor that is to be given to Moses as the lawgiver and as the one who led Israel out of Egypt. Likewise, the honor that is given to Jesus is not equal to the honor that is given to the God of Jesus.
Now if we honor Jesus in an equal sense as God Almighty, that is, to promote an honor him as to the actual glory that only belongs to God Almighty, rather than to honor after the manner that we honor God Almighty, then this could be idolatry; this is indicated in the scripture where John bowed before an angel sent by God through Jesus, evidently with the heart intent of worshipping the angel as God Almighty, thus exalting the angel to a higher honor than was due to him. The angel did not condemn John, but he did rebuke the act of John in what he did. -- Revelation 22:8,9
"That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things under the earth."
This scripture indeed shows that every knee will bow to Christ; but it is to him as God's representative, and not to him as the final goal of every creature's honor, as Philippians 2:11 shows: "And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Thus Christ's exaltation is a means to a higher end -- that God be the one finally worhsiped and glorified. But as we have seen, a divinely pleasing [relative] worship is not a thing given exclusively to Yahweh; for God says that he will cause the enemies of the Church to worship her [in a relative manner]. -- Isaiah 60:14; Revelation 3:9.
Revelation 4:11 and 5:8,9,12,13
"You are worthy, O Yahweh, to receive glory and honor and power; for you have created all things, and for your pleasure they are and were created." -- Revelation 4:11.
"And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, every one of them with harps, and golden vials full of odors, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sung a new song, saying: 'You are worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof, for you were slain, and have redeemed some for God by your blood, out of all families, and language, and people, and nation.'" -- Revelation 5:8,9.
"Saying with a loud voice: 'Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory and blessing.' And every creature that is in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and those which are in the sea, and all that are them, I heard saying: 'Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb forever and ever.'" -- Revelation 5:12,13
Many have read into these scriptures that Yahweh and Jesus are receiving the same exact worship and glory, etc.
The fact that similar words are used both of the respect given to Yahweh and Jesus does not mean they are the same being. Such reasoning would have David and Yahweh the same being: "And David said to all the assembly, Now bless Jehovah your God. And all the assembly blessed Jehovah, the God of their fathers, and bowed down their heads, and worshipped Jehovah, and the king." (1 Chronicles 29:20, American Standard Version ) No one would think that when they worshipped Jehovah and the King, that the same worship due the King would be equal to that of Jehovah, and then from that conclude that the King is another person who is also God; neither should we think that the homage given to Yahweh (the Father) and his Son Jesus.
The Lamb is not the one seated on the throne of Revelation 4:9,10. He stands between the throne and the four living creatures. (Revelation 4:6) He takes the scroll from the One seated on the throne. (Revelation 4:7) The lamb was slain (God is never slain nor can he die). (5:9,12) The lamb joins with Yahweh, the only true Supreme in receiving honor and glory. Jesus receives his position as an inheritance received from his Father, Yahweh. (Psalm 2:8; 110:4; Luke 22:28-30; Revelation 2:27) The Father and Son are later joined by the joint-heirs who sit on the throne with the Lamb. These too are counted worthy of the kingdom and the glory of God and are to receive homage (worship); thus are they also to be considered God Almighty? -- John 17:22; 1 Thessalonians 2:12; Revelation 3:9.
Some of the above is based on information obtained from:
Epiphany Studies in the Scriptures, Series I: God, by Paul S. L. Johnson, pages 485, 534-536.
"worshipping Fellow Messengers," (Zion's Watch Tower and Herald of Christ's Presence ),
December 15, 1896, page 305 - Reprint 2079; Available online from:
December 15, 1896, page 305 - Reprint 2079; Available online from:
Studies in the Scriptures, Series V: The Atonement Between God and Man, by Charles Taze Russell, pages 72-74.
Related RL Studies
Edited: February 19, 2009; February 16, 2014