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

From: Chuck Tripp (
Date: Wed Jun 24 1998 - 20:10:07 EDT

I am probably better off answering this off list. It is interesting.
Discussions with Jehovah's Witnesses was the same reason I began studying
New Testament Greek about three years ago. I was having an ongoing
discussion with a co-worker and we quickly got into the "my version vs.
your version" debate. I wanted to short-circuit that and talk about what
the greek new testament says.

I'd like to echo an couple of responses that I saw on the list. PROSKUNEW
it is true can mean something other than worship. However, the JW are
creating a distinction in their translation between worship and obeisence
which simply does not exist in the greek new testament. How was the 1st
century reader of the new testament to know that in some instances worship
was meant and in others obeisance when the same word PROSKUNEW was used
throughout. As others wrote on the list, we are told in numerous instances
to PROSKUNEW God only and yet in numerous instances we find people
PROSKUNEW'ING Jesus. Again the distinction which the JW make in the
english simply does not exist in the greek.

There are several other areas of discussion where JWs do similar things.
Another example which comes to mind is PAROUSIA. It is also interesting
what they do with John 1:1-18 as well. The case they make for their
translation of John 1:1 do not apply consistently. Their argument is this:
 QEOS HN HO LOGOS, the predicate nominative preceding the verb without the
article ho: must be translated "a god". Ok, have a look at their
translation of the Mark 14:39 "Surely this man was the Son of God." They
translate it ".. the Son of God..." and yet the sentence structure is
exactly the same as John 1:1, why not translate "... a son of God..."

If you want to discuss this further or if you have other questions please
feel free to email me. I am a little tight on time this evening. Like I
say I have looked at many of the issues that the JWs raise in light of the
greek nt. It seems that this discussion is now welcome on b-greek, but we
can certainly do it off list

In Christ

> From: Tony Calman <>
> To: Biblical Greek <>
> Subject: Does the NT contain evident that Jesus was worshipped?
> Date: Monday, June 22, 1998 2:29 PM
> 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
> Worshipped?"
> 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
> 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
> "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.
> 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
> 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
> 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
> 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
> age.
> 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,
> other respectful or submissive gesture, 2. Homage, submission,
> 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.
> 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
> PROSKUNEW should be understood as "worship". For Peter, who has prime
> 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
> obeisance.
> 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
> down (Matt 27:29), people could have come and kneeled before him (eg.
> 9.40) or they could have bowed (Rom 11:10, literally "to bend their
> backs"). But Matthew, who arguably was originally writing to Jewish
> 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
> the Lamb. When John falls down before an angel and PROSKUNEW the angel,
> 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;
> 19:20).
> 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
> Lord and Saviour. If the Jehovah's Witness recognise Jesus as "a god",
> the Biblical claims concerning Jesus needs to be rethought.
> Thanks. In Christ's service
> Tony Calman
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