Is Jesus worthy of worship?
Both Muslims and Jehovah’s Witnesses generally hold that Jesus is not worthy of worship:
~à No one but God Almighty can receive the glory God has (Isaiah 42:8; 48:11) ß ~
Isaiah 42:8 “I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.” (King James Version)
Isaiah 48:11 “For mine own sake, even for mine own sake, will I do it: for how should my name be polluted? and I will not give my glory unto another.” (KJV)
However, Jesus did receive glory with the Father’s approval; Thus, Jesus is Divine and worthy of worship: “And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.” (John 17:5, King James Version)
The Greek word for “Worship” is translated differently, depending on who is described:
“The Jehovah's Witnesses [who are considered by some to be a Christian religion] teach that Jesus is a created thing and is not worthy of worship. [Most other mainline] Christians counter that Jesus is worshipped in the New Testament and cite verses such asMatt. 2:2,11; 14:33; 28:9; John 9:35-38;and Heb. 1:6. The Witnesses acknowledge that at times people bowed down before Jesus the same way they would to God the Father, but they deny that Jesus was worshiped. In fact, in the New World Translation produce[d] by the Jehovah's Witness, the Greek word for worship "proskuneo" is always translated as "obeisance" whenever it refers to Christ, but is translated as worship whenever it refers to the Father. The witnesses select which way to translate the word "proskuneo" depending on two things: Who is being addressed and what their theology tells them. So, the debate continues.”
Quotation taken from: http://www.carm.org/jw/1Chron29-20.htm
Source: CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS & RESEARCH MINISTRY, whose website is found at: www.carm.org
Editor’s note: I, Gordon Wayne Watts, looked up selected some passages in an Interlinear Bible (see printout here: http://www.gordonwatts.com/theology/proskunevw.html), and I discovered that the chart that CARM provides (see: http://www.carm.org/jw/nwt_proskuneo.htm) is correct in its claim that proskuneo is translated differently by Jehovah’s Witnesses depending on the person being described. This is “adding to” the Word of God and is impermissible bias.
An opposing view:
“To what ‘worship’ are you referring? All the ‘worshiping’ that the King James renders from the Greek proskyne´ō?
The clergy of Christendom that believe in a trinity as the main doctrine of Christianity will answer with a positive Yes to this question. Quite to be expected, for they believe that worshiping Jesus is at the same time worshiping God the Father and God the Holy Spirit, for these three they believe to be Three Persons mysteriously making up one God. The King James Version of the English Bible was rendered by trinitarian translators, and doubtless for this reason the translators rendered the Greek word proskyne´ō by the word “worship,” when applying to Jesus. In fact, in every case of its occurrence in the Christian Greek Scriptures they consistently rendered this Greek verb by “worship.” So we read of the magi’s “worshiping” the babe Jesus, and of persons who approached Jesus or received healing from him or asked favors of him “worshiping” Jesus on earth.
However, we note in the New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures that in all these cases of Jesus’ receiving such attention on earth as a man this Greek verb is rendered, not as “worship,” but as “do obeisance to.” This is in harmony with the fact that this Greek verb proskyne´ō occurs many times in the Greek Septuagint Version of the Hebrew Scriptures and there this verb is used toward men, such as Joseph the son of Jacob and Boaz the benefactor of Ruth. In these latter cases proskyne´ō could not mean “worship” but merely bowing or doing obeisance to a person out of deep respect. So it must have been such outward show of respect that was paid to Jesus on earth, because he was viewed as being God’s representative, servant and prophet, and as the Son of David who was to be the Messianic King. The kings of ancient Israel were regularly bowed down to in obeisance. The New World Translation is not detracting from Jesus the Son of God by thus rendering this Greek verb as meaning the doing of obeisance to Jesus while on earth. (Gordon: The Greek Septuagint is merely a translation of the Hebrew, not the reliable original.)
Be it noted, however, that there are other Greek words that the King James Version renders “worship,” but not a single one of these Greek verbs is directed to Jesus to show that such action was commanded to be performed or was performed toward him. Surely when Luke 14:10 (KJ) says, “Then shalt thou have worship [do´xa] in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee,” Jesus did not mean that a human guest who was given a higher place at a Jewish meal would be worshiped, but it meant he would merely “have honor,” as the New World Translation renders the word (do´xa). Thus we see that the Christian Greek Scriptures make a distinction between Jehovah God and his Son Jesus Christ, by reserving some words rendered “worship” for God, to the exclusion of Jesus.
When Satan the Devil tempted Jesus to try to have him worship the adversary, Jesus did not say to the Tempter, ‘Worship me,’ but said, “It is Jehovah your God you must worship [proskyne´ō], and it is to him alone you must render sacred service [latreu´ō].” (Matt. 4:10, NW; Luke 4:8) Jesus, speaking and including himself, said to the Samaritan woman: “You worship [proskyne´ō] what you do not know; we worship [proskyne´ō] what we know, because salvation originates with the Jews. . . . the genuine worshipers will worship the Father with spirit and truth. . . . God is a Spirit, and those worshiping him must worship with spirit and truth.” (John 4:22-24, NW) Jesus, even after his glorification in heaven, did not change from directing worship to God his Father rather than to himself. In the Revelation, which God gave Jesus, the pure worship is shown as due to be given to the Most High God, Jehovah. (See Revelation 4:10; 5:14; 7:11; 11:16; 14:7; 15:4; 19:4, 10.) And when John fell down at the feet of the angel whom Jesus sent to deliver the revelation, the angel said to John: “Worship God.” (Rev. 19:10; 22:9) Thus the worship was to be rendered to Jehovah God, although blessing, glory and praise were to be ascribed to the glorified Jesus, the Lamb, as well as to God his Father.”
Quotation taken from: http://www.prince.org/msg/105/150405
Source: http://Prince.org “independent and unofficial Prince fan community site”
(Editorial note from Gordon: JEHOVAH alone is referred to re “sacred service,” but this is not as emphatic and strong as worship; Jesus also received 100% prostrate “proskyne´ō” worship. JESUS is God: Only God is worshipped.)
An answer to this view:
“In Acts 10:25-26 it says, "And when it came about that Peter entered, Cornelius met him, and fell at his feet and worshiped him. But Peter raised him up, saying, 'Stand up; I too am just a man'" (NASB). Here, Cornelius bows down before Peter. The Greek word here is "proskuneo." Peter knew that this homage is to be given to God alone. Jesus, undoubtedly, knew the same thing. Yet, when they bow down before Jesus, He does not rebuke them. Why? Because Jesus is worthy of worship. He is God in flesh (John 1:1,14).”
* Source: http://www.carm.org/jw/heb1_6.htm
* Clearly, this is a tough topic:
* In Matt. 2:11, the wise men worshipped Jesus, and no angels interfered;
* In Matt. 8:2, the leper worshipped Jesus, without reprimand;
* In Matt. 28:9 and 17, the disciples (most of them who didn’t doubt anyhow) worshipped the risen Jesus -all without being rebuked or reproved by Jesus for it! (This implies that Jesus is worthy of worship.)
* Yet, in Matthew 18:26, Jesus says that a servant both “fell down” and “worshipped” his master, supporting the JW argument that the people who worshipped Jesus merely showed respect or deference to His authority: “The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.” Of note, however, is the fact that this is not given as an example on worship. In other words, Jesus really did acknowledge this common behavior, contemporary in that day, but He nowhere approves of it. Just because it was a common practice for servants to “worship” their masters, that does not make it right. Let’s compare scripture with scripture on this point, OK? “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. 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: worship God.” (Revelation 22:8-9, KJV)
Again, this scripture is not totally conclusive, when considering the full JW argument on this topic: This religion holds Jesus to be the same person as Michael the Archangel (see other discussion herein), and, if Jesus is merely the top angel, then He is not worthy of worship. All we can really gather from Rev. 22:8-9 is that worship of angels is a forbidden no-no.
* Also, a favorite verse quoted is John 14:28b: “…for my Father is greater than I.” (John 14:28b, KJV) Someone may quote John 10:29-30, which says that: 29 “My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.” 30 “I and my Father are one.” They may also make the argument that Jesus and the Father are “one,” -and both worthy of worship -but this argument alone does not prove Jesus to be worthy of worship, like His Father: We see in John 17:20-21a, which says: 20 “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;” 21 “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us...” (John 17:20-21a, KJV) CLEARLY, Jesus’ followers are not worthy of worship, so being “one” is not the vehicle or identifying mark of Divine nature, to the extent one may worship said person.
** HOWEVER, John 14:28b does NOT exclude Jesus from worship: It merely says that the Father was greater than Jesus at the time spoken; Now that Jesus has ascended to the right hand of the Father, He may very well have regained His former position. Translation- Jesus could say: “My Father is greater than I right now, because I voluntarily give up many Divine rights, but I will reclaim what is rightly mine upon ascension, and even if you don’t believe me, believe at least for my works’ sake: While prophets have performed miracles in times past, I alone lived a perfect life -and performed miracles to boot; None of the prophets (who performed miracle) nor any angel has lived a perfect life.”: “Behold, he put no trust in his servants, and his angels he charged with folly.” (Job 4:18, KJV) Even the Angels are not perfect, and thus not worthy of worship. Recall Rev. 22:7-8, quoted above: The angel refused worship.
The case of Thomas is a little clearer and less ambiguous:* John 20:28 records that: “Thomas answered and said unto him [Jesus], My LORD and my God.” JW say that Jesus is not worthy of worship and point to verse 31, which says that “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.” Yet, in verse 17, Jesus tells Mary that He ascends “unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.” Since Jesus uses the same language here “my God” as does Thomas, the JW claim that this is merely a title (their web site, cited below, and near the bottom of the page, says: “To Thomas, Jesus was like "a god,"…”) is a lame argument: The title “my God” as used in context by Jesus demands worship of God, His Father. (I don’t mean any disrespect to my JW neighbors by use of the term “lame argument”; I am merely refuting the argument.) Thus, to be fair and not “change definitions,” we see that Jesus, Who uses this same title must also be worthy of worship, not mere respect! As if that were not enough… * Phil. 2:6 clearly says that Jesus “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” The JW website, http://www.watchtower.org/library/ti/article_08.htm, tries to explain this away by saying that verse 5 must be taken in context:
5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.
Thus, the JW say that we are to have the mind of Christ: “namely the importance of humility and obedience to one's Superior and Creator, Jehovah God.” (Almost half-way down their web page.)
* Now, this is true, but this is another lame argument: It does not negate the other claim that Jesus made.
Such an argument, if applied to other claims of Jesus, would also negate them too: We clearly can’t have the “mind of Christ” to pay for our own sins, and yet Jesus did indeed die as the perfect sacrifice for our sins.
Thus, if Jesus’ claim as savior was not negated by this argument (it was not!), then clearly His other claims (such as His claim not robbery to be equal with God) would also not be negated or canceled:
Jesus didn’t have a problem with being worshipped in Rev. 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.” Contrast that with Rev. 19:10, which says: “And I [John, the Revelator] fell at his feet to worship him [some angel]. 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.”
* CONCLUSION: Clearly, if Jesus had wanted to, He could have explicitly said “Don’t worship me.” That He did not, even knowing the difficulty of the issue, indicates He accepted worship. Jesus indeed, worthy of divine worship, like His father, wasn’t just joking around when He said that He did not think that it was robbery to be equal with God, His Father: Only one who is perfect and worthy of worship could lead a perfect life and earn His own salvation -and be a perfect “example” (role model) for us to follow (John 13:15; 1st Peter 2:21), so we might actually do “greater works” than Jesus (John 14:12). (See also: John 1:1; John 1:14; Genesis 1:1, etc.)