Should Christians Worship Jesus?
The Watchtower Society’s position on who we should render worship to is clear. They teach that we must worship Jehovah and to give worship to anyone other than Him is erroneous. Certainly Christians all over the world accept this as biblical. Exodus 34:14 says, “For you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God” (NKJV) and Jesus said, “It is Jehovah your God you must worship, and it is to him alone you must render sacred service”. (Matthew 4:10 NWT)
But, what about Jesus? Does Jesus rank as One who is worthy to receive our worship? After all, Christians for thousands of years have worshiped Him. Are they in gross error? Are they to blame of a serious sin? The best way to find out is to approach the bible and see what it says about this topic.
Let’s start with some verses out of the New King James Version of the bible.
Matthew 2:2 “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”
Matthew 2:11 “And when they had come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him.”
Matthew 14:33 “Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, Truly you are the Son of God.”
Matthew 28:9 “And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, Rejoice! And they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him.”
Matthew 28:17 “And when they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.”
John 9:38 “Then he said, ‘Lord, I believe!’ And he worshiped Him.”
Hebrews 1:6 “But when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says, “Let all the angels of God worship Him.”
The Greek word for worship that is used in all the above verses is proskuneo. Obviously, the NKJV chose to translate this word as worship. The New World Translation (NWT), however, chose to translate this word as obeisance (honor, respect) in all the above verses. What becomes interesting about the NWT, is that whenever the same Greek word, proskuneo, is used in relation to the Father, the translators translated it as worship, even though they rendered it differently in relation to Jesus. (This can be verified by looking in the Watchtower’s own Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures.) Is this a double standard? Is the NWT justified in translating this word 2 different ways; as obeisance to Jesus and as worship to the Father?
Let’s look in the NWT at what Peter did when he was given obeisance.
Acts 10:24-26 “On the day after that he entered into Caes·a·re'a. Cornelius, of course, was expecting them and had called together his relatives and intimate friends. As Peter entered, Cornelius met him, fell down at his feet and did obeisance to him. But Peter lifted him up, saying: “Rise; I myself am also a man.” (NWT)
Interestingly, Peter refused this act of obeisance. Why did Peter so strongly oppose this act if obeisance only means honor and respect? Because, according to Peter, this act is reserved for God only, not man. Note, however, that unlike Peter, Jesus never sought to correct His followers when they bowed down and gave him obeisance. Jesus considered this act perfectly appropriate.
Do the Angels Worship Jesus?
Hebrews 1:6 “But when he again brings his First-born into the inhabited earth, he says: “And let all God’s angels worship him.” NWT, 1970 edition
In the past, up to and including the 1970 edition, the NWT translated proskuneo as worship in Hebrews 1:6. What was their reasoning behind this?
“In the New World Translation we note that when this Greek verb pros·ky·ne'o is applied to Jesus as a man on earth or materializing as a man after his resurrection, it is translated “do obeisance.” However, when referring to the glorified Jesus in the invisible heavens in the presence of the holy angels, the New World Translation makes a change and renders pros·ky·ne'o as applied to him by the English word “worship.” (Heb. 1:6) This is properly and consistently done....Well, then, since the angels are commanded to worship the glorified Jesus at his second coming, should not we, who, as humans, are so much less than angels, likewise worship him? In answer we say, We must render to him what God’s Word says we must.” The Watchtower, May 15, 1954, p.318
Keep in mind that the Watchtower never taught it’s followers to worship Jesus as God, but they did teach that we should, in some confusing way, worship him. New World Translations published after 1970 made the change from worship to obeisance. Again, we see another puzzling doctrinal and textual change within the Watchtower Society. One has to wonder to what extent early Witnesses were bewildered about this issue. To read more on this topic see our article, Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up?
What About the Book of Revelation?
If we compare Revelation 4 with chapter 5, what do we learn about the object of our worship?
Revelation 4:11 “You are worthy, Jehovah, even our God, to receive the glory and the honor and the power, because you created all things, and because of your will they existed and were created.”
1) In Revelation 4:11, Jehovah is said to be worthy of receiving glory, honor and power. By comparing this to Revelation 5:12, we see that Jesus is worthy to receive not only glory, honor and power, but riches, wisdom, strength and blessing. So, Jesus gets twice as much worship as Jehovah according to this verse! (Keep in mind that Revelation 4:11 is used in the booklet, What Does God Require of Us?, p. 4, as a proof text for worshipping the one true God.)
2) Revelation 5:13 goes on to say that every creature in heaven, on earth, under the earth and on the sea gives worship to the One sitting on the throne and to the lamb. If every creature in existence is worshipping, this must mean that Jesus is not a creature. So, the only other option left is that Jesus is the Creator who is certainly worthy to receive all worship.
3) Revelation 5:13-14 make it obvious that the One sitting on the throne and the Lamb are both given equal worship by the heavenly occupants.
What does all this conclude about whether or not worshipping Jesus is appropriate? The testimony of the New Testament is clear: Jesus accepted worship. Obviously, this says a whole lot about His identity. If Jesus is not equal to the Father, like the Watchtower teaches, then He is guilty of blasphemy in the first degree. But, if He is God manifested in the flesh, He then rightly is laudable of all our praise and worship. No wonder why Jesus said, “ .... in order that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He that does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him”. (John 5:23)