Does the NT contain evident that Jesus was worshipped?

From: Tony Calman (
Date: Mon Jun 22 1998 - 15:29:21 EDT

I have been in discussion with two Jehovah's Witness over the last 6
months. We have meet together 4 times and the discussion is very civil. I
am meeting with them in 7 days and want to raise the question "Was Jesus

One of greatest complants with their theology is that I do not think they
are fair with Scriptures. My aim is therefore to be fair with Scriptures
but also be loving towards them. I therefore would like to put forward to
you what I will present, and would appreciate any feedback. Am I being fair
with the use of PROSKUNEW in the NT? Do you agree with my conclusions?

                        Was Jesus Worshipped?

Matt 4:9-10 - Satan asked to be worshipped by Jesus. Jesus reply was that
Yahweh alone is to be worshipped. The word used is PROSKUNEW. This means
"to worship". Within the Semantic range it does include "to give
obeisance", "to pay homage".

Matthew's gospel identifies Jesus as "Immanuel, God with us" (Matt 1:23),
then uses the word PROSKUNEW ten times in respect to Jesus and once in the
"kingdom of heaven" parable of the unforgiving slave when the slave was
before his king (Matt 18:26).

Within these ten uses directed towards Jesus, there are seven which are
probably best to be translated "to give obeisance" or "homage" (Matt. 2:2,
8, 11; 8:2; 9:18; 15:25; 20:20). However, the other three seem to be more
than this.

Matt. 14:33 comes immediately after the disciples witnessed Jesus walking
on the water. He tells them to take heart. He identifies himself arguably
by using the name of Yahweh, EGO EIMI (14:27). After Peter's watery attempt
to walk on the water, Jesus entered the boat then the wind ceased. It was
then that the disciples PROSKUNEW - ed Jesus.

Matt. 28:9 is just after the resurrection, when Mary and Mary meet the
Risen Lord. The text tells us that they came and took hold of his feet and
they PROSKUNEW - ed him. Here, PROSKUNEW means more than just "bowed in
respect", for if they had hold of his feet they were already on their
knees. PROSKUNEW here was something done after they were in a bowed
position before Jesus.

The third one from Matthew is 28:17. Here PROSKUNEW must be more than just
an action, because those who PROSKUNEW -ed the Risen Lord was contrasted
with those who doubted. Then Jesus declares the authority that has been
given to him. He commands the disciples to make disciples of the whole
world, in the authority / name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He
(Jesus) commands that they teach the disciples everything that he has
taught them. Matthew ends the story of Immanuel (God with us) with the
assurance that he, Jesus, will be with his disciples till the end of the

The New World Translation translates PROSKUNEW directed towards God as
"worship". Improper PROSKUNEW towards Satan is also translated as
"worship". PROSKUNEW directed to Jesus or other human being is translated
by "to do obeisance", both in the gospel of Matthew and the other uses in
the NT. The Oxford dictionary defines "obeisance" as "1. a bow, curtesy, or
other respectful or submissive gesture, 2. Homage, submission, deference."

On face value this seems fair especially when it comes to Peter in Acts
10.25. But Peter's reaction seems to suggest more than just obeisance. His
objection against being PROSKUNEW - ed by Cornelius is that he is "only a
mortal". So here, just as in at least the three other examples in Matthew,
PROSKUNEW should be understood as "worship". For Peter, who has prime place
amongst the apostles, would not have reacted this way if they were simply
honouring him, but here they clearly were doing more than just an act of

Matthew's use of PROSKUNEW would seem to be at least provocative. There
were other word he could have used if he did not wish to show that Jesus
was worshipped. He could have used the word for honour (Matt 13.57), to bow
down (Matt 27:29), people could have come and kneeled before him (eg. Acts
9.40) or they could have bowed (Rom 11:10, literally "to bend their
backs"). But Matthew, who arguably was originally writing to Jewish people,
chose to use PROSKUNEW which Jesus himself said was only to be directed
towards Yahweh.

Finally, when the end times is seen in a vision by the author of
Revelation, the elders fall down and PROSKUNEW the One Upon the Throne AND
the Lamb. When John falls down before an angel and PROSKUNEW the angel, he
was immediately stopped because the angel is only a fellow servant of
John's (Rev 19:10; 22:8). Also in Revelation, it was seen as an abhorrent
thing when Demons or Satan was the object of PROSKUNEW (Rev 9:20; 13:4;

Therefore, the Bible shows us that:

Humans are not to be the object of PROSKUNEW;
Angels are not to be the object of PROSKUNEW;
Demon or Satan are not to be the object of PROSKUNEW;
Jesus was the object of PROSKUNEW; and
God was the object of PROSKUNEW

Therefore is it right that we PROSKUNEW, that is worship Jesus as the Risen
Lord and Saviour. If the Jehovah's Witness recognise Jesus as "a god", then
the Biblical claims concerning Jesus needs to be rethought.

Thanks. In Christ's service

Tony Calman

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