Matthew 2:11 of the Aramaic Bible in Plain English says, And they entered the house and saw The Boy with Maryam his mother, and they fell and worshiped him and opened their treasures and offered him gifts: gold, myrrh, and frankincense.

Was Jesus worshipped as God in this verse?

  • I might be tempted to answer this question but ONLY if you can show, given your understanding of the meaning of προσκυνέω (proskuneó), how it is possible to break the first commandment.
    – Dottard
    Commented Jun 16, 2020 at 9:04
  • 1
    For example, in Matt 4:9, was Satan asking Jesus to break the first or second commandments? Jesus refused by answering from Deuteronomy and quoting the law that said, "Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only." Was Jesus confused?
    – Dottard
    Commented Jun 16, 2020 at 9:21
  • A two year journey (and back again). Gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh. A star in the heaven that alerted them, went before them ..... then stood above where the young child (now two years old) was housed. Yes, indeed, they 'worshipped' him. But your question cannot discern the heart and the mind ..... as to why they worshipped him. The only evidences we have - are the actions . . . and the single Greek word. (+1)
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jun 16, 2020 at 22:33

5 Answers 5


The English word worship and the Greek word proskyneo both mean to venerate (this only changed for the English word about 200 years ago or so). They do not imply divinity of the object of worship inherently. The Magi didn't know Christ was God, only that He was a king (similar to Elizabeth, where she calls Jesus Adoni or My lord, which is the normative way of addressing a King the Messiah - even in second person - Luke 1:43).

Hence, they pay the homage due to a king (pay homage or pay respects [in a royal context] is a good translation of proskyneo).

However, it can refer to divine worship in certain contexts, such as:

Matthew 4:10 τότε λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς Ὕπαγε, Σατανᾶ· γέγραπται γάρ Κύριον τὸν θεόν σου προσκυνήσεις καὶ αὐτῷ μόνῳ λατρεύσεις.

Then Jesus said to him, "Begone, Satan. For it is written: You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve."

Or in perhaps a more relevant example, where it is used of both God and man together:

1 Chronicals 29:20 LXX καὶ εἶπεν Δαυιδ πάσῃ τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ εὐλογήσατε κύριον τὸν θεὸν ὑμῶν καὶ εὐλόγησεν πᾶσα ἡ ἐκκλησία κύριον τὸν θεὸν τῶν πατέρων αὐτῶν καὶ κάμψαντες τὰ γόνατα προσεκύνησαν τῷ κυρίῳ καὶ τῷ βασιλεῗ

And David said to the whole congregation, "Bless the Lord your God." And the whole congregation blessed the Lord, the God of their fathers; and bending their knees, they worshiped the Lord and the King.


Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” (Matthew 2:1-2 ESV)

Matthew is explicit: they came to worship the one born King of the Jews. They may have taken his birth as a divine sign (his star), but there is nothing to indicate they took him to be a god.

  • Are you implying He wasn’t God? Isaiah 9:6. Isaiah 48:12 Revelation 22:13. The three men in Babylon refused to bow to a statue but it’s ok to bow to a living king, baby or not? I’m not following why it’s ok to prostrate before a king and say this is not veneration/worship as forbidden by the law. I wish Mordecai had known, it would have saved him a lot of trouble. Commented Sep 30, 2020 at 14:06
  • @NihilSineDeo No. I am saying the men from the East worshipped Him as King of the Jews. A king could be worshipped. In some cases it was required. In some cases the king was worshipped as a god. The text does not elaborate what the men thought beyond the fact they believed He was the King of the Jews. Unless it can be established "the King of the Jews" was a designation for God, then we are left with the men worshipping one born a king which by itself says nothing more about His true identity. Commented Sep 30, 2020 at 20:42

No. He was worshipped or honoured as Jesus. As God's son and the lamb - this is normal.

He was worshipped as the lamb in Rev 5:12-14

“Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honour and glory and blessing.” And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honour and glory and dominion forever and ever.”

And the four living creatures kept saying, “Amen.” And the elders fell down and worshiped.

As God's representative, he is worthy of all honour. This does not detract from the one God - for in honouring Jesus, we are worshipping God. Jesus IS the glory of God

John 13:31-32 Jesus *said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him; if God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself.

Worshipping the one God, the Father, is not diminished by honouring Jesus as God's only begotten son.

John 4:23 "But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.

There seems to be some confusion over worshipping Jesus and his restating the command, "You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him alone shall you serve."

It's true that God who calls for people to worship the Lamb, the King, the Son - and rightly so. Jesus is not of this world, but of his heavenly Father.

Heb 1:6 And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God's angels worship him.”

Luke 24:52 And they worshiped Him (Jesus) and returned to Jerusalem with great joy

Philippians 2:10 So that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow

John 9:38 And he said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped Him

There is no conflict with these examples (there are many) and Jesus' words to worship the Father only. Let's see how Jesus explains it.

Luke 9:48 And He said to them, "Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me, welcomes the One who sent me.

Luke 10:16 Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; and whoever rejects me rejects the One who sent me."

John 12:44 Then Jesus cried out, "Whoever believes in me does not believe in me alone, but in the One who sent me.

John 13:20 Truly, truly, I tell you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the One who sent me."

We 'worship' by giving service, honour, respect and praise. This act is noted to be given by men to other men in positions of office - kings, prophets etc and there is no problem with this practise noted throughout the bible records.

When any worship, honour, respect, belief, trust, service, love etc is directed to Jesus, or indeed anyone that God has placed in command or given authority to in His service (King David for eg) - it is really directed to the Father - through God's agent or, in this case His son. None of which makes Jesus God.

As we noticed earlier, Jesus says, "the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth". Doesn't that speak of one God - who is the Father very clearly? Just as Jesus is given to share the Father's throne, he shares in the worship given to the Father - not as God, but as the triumphant, exalted and now ever-living son of God who has the keys of death and hades Rev 1:18

I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.

If Jesus was God, he would not have been dead.

  • “And Jesus answered him, “It is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him ONLY shall you serve.’”” ‭‭Luke‬ ‭4:8‬ not sure how you can smuggle the worship of another when it’s exclusive to God. The only means of worshiping Jesus is if He is God and you establish that He is being worshipped but refuse to acknowledge He is God. There’s a disconnect. You can’t worship Jesus if He is not God. You’d have to break the first commandment Commented Sep 30, 2020 at 14:22
  • yep, there's a disconnect alright! With the pre-conditioned way you read the text, you're happy to make up God's that aren't mentioned, and to ignore plain statements from Jesus about his origin and his God, you don't seem remotely interested in what the bible actually teaches. Even the devil knew Jesus wasn't God! Whose side are you on? Thx again!
    – Steve
    Commented Sep 30, 2020 at 21:11
  • The OT is full of references to three persons all referred to as God. That’s the context of the NT. Trinity is an OT idea Commented Oct 1, 2020 at 1:16

Was Jesus worshipped as God in Matthew 2:11?

The answer is NO. The English word "worship" has a narrow meaning and it is used exclusively for the veneration of God. The Greek verb "proskuneo" has a variety of meanings including "worship" hence translators must find terms that accurately convey what is implied by the use of "proskuneo" in the various verses that it appears.

They "bowed to him" The expression denotes respect to a human, such as a king, not worship to a God.

Below you will notice three Bible version that gives a correct rendering of the Greek word "proskuneo" , as implied in the passage .--"did him homage", "bowed to him", and "they prostrated themselves and did Him homage.

Darby Bible Translation Matthew 2:11

And having come into the house they saw the little child with Mary his mother, and falling down did him homage. And having opened their treasures, they offered to him gifts, gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.

Weymouth New Testament Matthew 2:11

So they entered the house; and when they saw the babe with His mother Mary, they prostrated themselves and did Him homage, and opening their treasure-chests offered gifts to Him--gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Young's Literal Translation Matthew 2;11

And having come to the house, they found the child with Mary his mother, and having fallen down they bowed to him, and having opened their treasures, they presented to him gifts, gold, and frankincense, and myrrh,

  • "The English word "worship" has a narrow meaning and it is used exclusively for the veneration of God." Not until about 200 years ago or less. It was virtually synonymous with proskyneo. Commented Jun 16, 2020 at 22:15
  • So no one worshiped in the NT? Commented Feb 7, 2021 at 3:15
  • Revelation Lad: God is a Spirit, and those worshiping him must worship with spirit and truth.”​John 4:21-24., Mark 7:722 John 4:22-24 NASB reads" You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know because salvation is from the Jews. 23 But [a]a time is coming, and [b]even now has arrived, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” Commented Feb 7, 2021 at 8:43


The 'wise men' were pagan astrologers, who were led by astrology (forbidden in Israel) probably under demonic influence. The scheme was that they locate the child for King Herod, who would slaughter him. They succeeded in alerting him, but were warned against revisiting Herod. The result was mass murder in Bethlehem, from which Joseph & Mary fled. There was very little Joseph & Mary could do about their prostrating themselves (a custom back then).

  • It would have been helpful if you'd pointed out that they "were given divine warning" in a dream to avoid reporting back to Herod (Mat. 2:12) and they obeyed God. Also that Mary had no reason to object to adoration of her miracle child, given she knew him to be the Son of God, conceived by miraculous grace.
    – Anne
    Commented Jun 22, 2020 at 11:09

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