Was Jesus of Nazareth worshipped? Indeed he was!
However was he worshipped as God? NO!!
Let me explain.
Jesus of Nazareth was (and is to be) worshipped as Prophet, Messiah and King!
Sadly, many things have been lost in translation when translating the Hebrew OT and the Greek NT into English. Also, the translators of the KJV for example, were somewhat biased, being trinitarians, to present Jesus as
God (the Son)
One needs to be aware of this when reading the English text of our Bibles.
This brings us to the word “worship”. In our Gentile way of thinking :
- we assume that seeing it is the word “worship” and
- seeing that only GOD must be worshipped and
- seeing that it is used in reference to Jesus
- we conclude: Jesus must be God! Yes?
- No! Not so!
The Hebrew word for “worship” is shachah.
The Greek word is proskuneo.
The Hebrew word means to bow down, prostrate oneself before superior in homage OR before God in worship
The Greek word means 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
These two words collectively are in fact used more in reference to human beings than they are to Almighty God!!
So the context should determine whether the Hebrew word shachah or the Greek word proskuneo ought to be translated simply as bow down in reference to men such as dignitaries, prophets or kings;
or translated as worship in reference to God Almighty.
So, Jesus refused to proskuneo before the devil and rather proclaimed that GOD alone ought to be worshipped-proskuneo in that context – Matthew 4:10, Luke 4:8
Jesus teaches us: seeing that the Father alone is GOD;
Him only ought to be worshipped-proskuneo AS GOD!
See John 4:22-26
Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
25 The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. 26 Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.
See the clear distinction between God and Jesus?
Jesus identifies the Father as the ONE GOD who ought to be worshipped-proskuneo! The Father seeks such worshippers. And then Jesus identifies himself as the Messiah.
So, did the Samaritan woman think that she had just met God (in the flesh)?
Let the Scriptures answer:
John 4:29 Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did:
is not this the Christ?
What were the Samaritans’ response? John 4:42 And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.
Nevertheless as shown in the OT (e.g. Gen. 42:6, Exo. 11:8, 1 Sam. 24:8, 2 Sam. 9:6, 1 Kings 1:16,23,53; 2 Kings 4:37, etc) the Biblical as well as Jewish custom was to bow down before a prophet, a king; this includes doing homage to anyone to express respect or to make supplication; this biblical custom does not infringe on the worship of GOD Almighty!
Jesus used this fact when in a parable he was describing a servant begging forgiveness from a king :-
Matthew 18:23 Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. 26 The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
The audience wouldn’t have thought that Jesus was describing this ‘king’ as God; rather they understood that this is the servant bowing down and making obeisance to the king whilst making supplication!
So obviously Jesus being the Messiah i.e. the King of Israel (Luke 19:38, John 12:13) would be worthy of such obeisance; and anyone recognizing him as such would bow before him.
That is “Bow before him” – Not because he is GOD!
Rather because he is the Messiah, the Son of God, the King of Israel – John 1:49
Let us consider that it was the custom of the biblical era that in order to receive from a superior or dignitary, one would bow down and do homage to (make supplication to) such a one. This is how one would receive their request!
1. the leper simply recognised Jesus as a healer; he wanted healing! So he made obeisance to Jesus –
2. a certain ruler needed healing for his daughter so he made obeisance to Jesus – Matthew 9:18ff
1. The magi came looking for a newly-born King of the Jews (Matthew 2:1-2,8). What does one do before a king? One bows and does homage hence Matthew 2:11
2. The disciples recognized Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God; hence Matthew 14:33
3. The Canaanite woman recognized Jesus as the Son of David (a safer or politically correct way of saying that he is the promised King of Israel); also she needed healing for her daughter, hence Matthew 15:22,25
4. Demons (who believe in ONE GOD and tremble – James 2:19) know who Jesus really is –
that he is the Christ, the Son of God!!
So they bow before him – Mark 5:6-7 (Compare Mark 3:11, Luke 8:28, 4:35,41)
5. The man who was blind can now truly see that Jesus is the Son of God hence John 9:35,38
- In each case where the word worshipped-proskuneo is used it was because Jesus was recognized as a human superior NOT that he was recognized AS GOD!
There is simply no case at all in Scripture where one bows before Jesus and confesses that he is GOD!
- Thus, in each case, the word worshipped-proskuneo should have been simply translated as bowed down not worship
- So the translators somewhat deceived and misled us readers, into thinking that Jesus was somehow God in the flesh because of the way they used the word worship in our English Bibles, when referring to Jesus.
There is more information about the word worship in