The “Worship” of the Son of God

The subjects I want to address in this study are whether or not Yeshua/Jesus, the Son of God can be worshiped even though he is not “God”, but “God’s” Son and whether or not Yeshua’s receiving worship makes him “God”.

Some believe it would be idolatrous to worship anyone other than “God”. They justify their own worship of Yeshua by claiming he is “God”. This study will not address the deity of Yeshua, but only the aspect of “worship” in light of the Hebrew and Greek words translated “worship”.

Much confusion concerning “worship” arises from the fact that the Hebrew and Greek words translated “worship” were translated differently when the “worship” was directed toward men.

The Hebrew word translated “worship” is Strong’s #7812 – “shachah” meaning; to depress, that is, prostrate (especially reflexively in homage to royalty or God).

Here are the various ways it was translated in the KJV; bow (self) down, crouch, fall down (flat), humbly beseech, do (make) obeisance, do reverence, make to stoop, worship.

An example of “shachah” from one man to another is found in Genesis 23:7;

And Abraham stood up, and bowed himself (shachah) to the people of the land, even to the children of Heth.​

In the previous chapter, we see Abraham going to “worship” Yahweh.

And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship (shachah), and come again to you. Genesis 22:5 

The same Hebrew word is used in two different ways. Abraham “bowed” himself to men, but was going to “worship” Yahweh.

In Gen 33:3, Jacob bowed down to Esau;

But he himself passed on ahead of them and bowed down to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother.​

What if “shachah” was translated “worship” here instead of “bowed down”? Would that make Esau “God”? Of course not. Neither does Yeshua receiving “worship” make him “God”.

The translators of the Old Testament made a distinction in the words they chose to translate “shachah” based on who was receiving the action. If men were the recipients, then words like bow (self) down, crouch, fall down (flat), humbly beseech, do (make) obeisance, etc. were chosen. When the recipient was Yahweh, they chose the word “worship”.

The New Testament Greek word translated “worship” is “proskuneo” (meaning; to kiss, like a dog licking his master’s hand); to fawn or crouch to, that is, (literally or figuratively) prostrate oneself in homage (do reverence to, adore). Strong’s Lexicon.

Here is the definition from Thayer’s Lexicon:

1) to kiss the hand to (towards) one, in token of reverence

2) among the Orientals, especially the Persians, to fall upon the knees and touch the ground with the forehead as an expression of profound reverence

3) in the NT by kneeling or prostration to do homage (to one) or make obeisance, whether in order to express respect or to make supplication

3a) used of homage shown to men and beings of superior rank

3a1) to the Jewish high priests

3a2) to God

3a3) to Christ

3a4) to heavenly beings

3a5) to demons

Proskuneo is the same word used in Exodus 34:14 in the Greek Septuagint for the worship of Yahweh.

The translators of the New Testament were not as selective as the translators of the Old Testament. They translated all occurrences of “proskuneo” as “worship”. Here are two important examples that will help understand the NT usage of “worship”. The first is the worship of the Son.

Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped (proskuneo) him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God. Matthew 14:33 

Here is how they translated “proskuneo” when the recipients were men;

Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship (proskuneo) before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.​ Revelation 3:9

This is being said by Yeshua to the believers comprising the Philadelphia church. A time will come in the future when Yeshua will command his followers to be “worshiped” as well. Now, should we consider these men to be “Gods” simply because they are worshiped? No. Neither should we consider the Son to be “God” simply because he was worshiped.

Yeshua and the believers in the Philadelphia church are not being worshiped as Yahweh (God), but as Yahweh’s representatives. They are being bowed down to and given honor as such.

Yeshua is deserving of our “worship” as we bow down to him, honor him, and adore him. However, it is Almighty Yahweh alone that we are to worship as the one and only true God (John 17:3).

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