Re: Does the NT contain evident that Jesus was worshipped?

From: Edgar Foster (
Date: Wed Jun 24 1998 - 08:46:55 EDT

---Tony Calman wrote:

> 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
> 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
> "to worship". Within the Semantic range it does >include "to give
> obeisance", "to pay homage".

>From a brief look at both the OT and NT, it is clear that Satan did
not mean that only YHWH was to receive PROSKUNEW. As mentioned above,
PROSKEUNEW has a wide semantic range. It can mean either "worship" or
"obeisance." The emphasis in Matt. 4:10 seems to be "worship."
Therefore, Matthew is reporting that Jesus said ONLY YHWH is to be
"worshiped." This doesn't mean, however, that YHWH is the only one Who
can properly receive PROSKEUNEW. It is my contention that PROSKEUNEW
does not PRIMARILY denote "worship." This is seen in a number of ways:

(1.) The Hebrew equivalent of PROSKEUNEW is SHACHAH. SHACHAH is
utilized to describe the acts of prostration, obeisance, humble
imploration, and worship. But note, SHACHAH does NOT primarily mean
"worship." Foremost, SHACHAH is used in the OT to delineate Joseph's
brother's bowing down to him (Gen. 37:5, 9, 10). Ruth also performs an
act of SHACHAH toward Boaz, as does David before Saul (Ruth 2:10; 1
Sam. 24:8). Kings and princes are also 'bowed down to'; but SHACHAH is
also demonstrated toward God (Gen. 22:5; 1 Sam. 1:3). A very
significant point vis-a'-vis SHACHAH is that it could also be
performed WITHOUT bowing the body (Gen. 47:31; 1 Kings 1:47). Based on
these thoughts and other considerations (note the Akkadian cognate
term), I would say that the Greek equivalent PROSKENEW does not (in
the first sense) denote worship.

(2.) The LXX often employs PROSKEUNEW in place of SHACHAH. Some
notable instances are: Gen. 22:5; 23:7; 47:31; Deut. 32:41ff; 1 Kings

(3.) BAGD says that PROSKEUNEW "used to designate the custom of
prostrating oneself before a person and kissing his feet, the hem of
his garment, the ground, etc" (716). According to this lexical work,
PROSKEUNEW is used of:

(a.) human beings who are to be recognized as belonging to a
supernatural realm [See Matt. 18:26; Rev. 3:9].

(b.) God [Philo, Gig. 54].

(c.) the God worshiped by monotheists [Mt. 4:10; 1 Cor. 14:25; Rev.

(d.) idol worshipers.

(e.) Satan and his demons.

(f). of Jesus.

Concerning PROSKEUNEW used in relation to Jesus, we read: "To Jesus,
who is revered and worshiped as Messianic King and divine helper"
(BAGD 717).

Overall, I think one must consider the use of PROSKEUNEW in Matt.
18:26 and Rev. 3:9 very carefully. In these two passages, the word is
PROPERLY applied to creatures. Furthermore, in Heb. 1:6 the context of
this passage may well dictate understanding PROSKUNEW as "obeisance."
Since Heb. 1 utilizes the OT (in which SHACHAH is used), one does well
to proceed with caution on the notion that PROSKENEW = worship. See
also the study of Hebrews in the Anchor Bible Series.


Edgar Foster

Classics Major

Lenoir-Rhyne College

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