Questions From Readers
● Should we worship Jesus?—G. B., Ethiopia.
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 proskyneʹō 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 proskyneʹō 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 proskyneʹō 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.
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 [doʹxa] 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 (doʹxa). 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 [proskyneʹō], and it is to him alone you must render sacred service [latreuʹō].” (Matt. 4:10, NW; Luke 4:8) Jesus, speaking and including himself, said to the Samaritan woman: “You worship [proskyneʹō] what you do not know; we worship [proskyneʹō] 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.
At Hebrews 1:6 we read: “But when he again brings his Firstborn into the inhabited earth, he says: ‘And let all God’s angels worship him.’” (NW) As the Greek verb here is proskyneʹō, it could also have been rendered “do obeisance to,” as in all the preceding cases having to do with Jesus when on earth as a man. This same word in Greek is used in addressing those who will become members of Christ’s glorified congregation or “bride,” in these words at Revelation 3:9 (NW): “Look! I will give those from the synagogue of Satan who say they are Jews, and yet they are not but are lying—look! I will make them come and do obeisance [proskyneʹō] before your feet and make them know I have loved you.” They will not be worshiped.
Worship is not asked to be given to the anointed King whom Jehovah God sets upon his holy hill of Zion, namely, his Son Jesus Christ, but due submission and respect are asked of the kings and judges of the earth, in these words: “Serve Jehovah with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the son, lest he be angry, and ye perish in the way, for his wrath will soon be kindled.” (Ps. 2:11, 12, AS) This agrees with the recognition that the apostle Paul says must yet be given to the glorified Jesus by all living creation, at Philippians 2:9-11 (NW): “God exalted him to a superior position and kindly gave him the name that is above every other name, so that in the name of Jesus every knee should bend of those in heaven and those on earth and those under the ground, and every tongue should openly confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.” The knee is bent in the name of Jesus as Lord and in worship to the Father as God, and the tongue confesses openly that Jesus Christ is Lord, but this is done to the glory of God the Father, all this showing the superiority of the Father. Thus, “all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father.”—John 5:22, 23, NW.
Consequently, since the Scriptures teach that Jesus Christ is not a trinitarian co-person with God the Father, but is a distinct person, the Son of God, the answer to the above question must be that no distinct worship is to be rendered to Jesus Christ now glorified in heaven. Our worship is to go to Jehovah God. However, we show the proper regard for God’s only-begotten Son by rendering our worship to God through and in the name of Jesus Christ. Even now when we kneel in prayer, as Paul did according to Ephesians 3:14-19, we offer prayer in the name of Jesus Christ in obedience to his own directions (John 15:16; 16:23-26), but the prayer itself is addressed, not to Jesus, but to God his Father. In this way we keep things in their relative positions.