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The Lamb is worshipped in Revelation 5 (ESV):

Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals. 2 And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” 3 And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, 4 and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. 5 And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”

6 And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 7 And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. 8 And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 And they sang a new song, saying,

“Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, 10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”

11 Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice,

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”

13 And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying,

“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”

14 And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.

However, Exodus 20:2-4 (ESV) appears to be against the worship of anyone except God:

2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

3 “You shall have no other gods before me.

4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

Were the four living creatures, the elders and the angels breaking the first commandment by worshipping the Lamb? Or are we in the face of a contradiction, an exception to the rule or something else?

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  • May I inquire why the downvote?
    – user38524
    Feb 7, 2021 at 2:18
  • The lamb is NOT being worshiped as the Lord God Almighty. God is on throne with the scroll in His hand. The Lamb is in midst of the throne with the elders. Oct 12, 2022 at 16:15

3 Answers 3

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Rev 5 only contradicts the first commandment if the Lamb is not God. We also have other instances of Jesus (the Lamb) being worshiped:

  • Matt 2:11, 14:33, 28:9, 17; Luke 4:8; 24:52; John 9:38; Rom 10:9, Heb 1:5, 6, Phil 2:10; Rev 5:6-12

We also have instances where people pray to Jesus as God -

  • John 4:10, 14:13, 14, Acts 1:24, 24; Acts 7:59, 60, 9:5, 10-14, 1 Cor 1:1, 2, 16:22, 2 Cor 12:8, 9, 1 Tim 1:12, Rev 5:8-13, 22:20 1 Thess 3:11-14, 2 Thess 2:16, 17

Thus, if Rev 5 is an example of people breaking the first commandment, then there are plenty of others. The simplest explanation is that the Lamb is God as explicitly declared in many places like:

  • Matt 1::22, 23; John 1:1, 18, 20:28; Col 2:9, Rom 9:5, Heb 1:8, 9; Tit 2:13, 2 Peter 1:1, 1 Tim 3:16; Phil 2:5-8; 2 Peter 1:1, etc.
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Does the worship of the Lamb in Revelation 5 contradict the first commandment (Exodus 20:2-4)?

At the end of Revelation 5, the entire creation worships the Father and the Son together:

"Then I heard every creature … singing:

  • 'To him who sits on the throne (the Father)
  • and to the Lamb (the Son)

be praise and honor and glory and power! And the four living creatures kept saying, ‘Amen.’ And the elders fell down and worshiped." (Rev 5:13-14)

Were these beings breaking the first commandment by worshipping the Lamb (Rev 5:13)?

A Very Important Question

This is a very important question. The emphasis in Revelation 13 and 14 is on worship. This word appears several times. People worship the dragon (Rev 13:4) and the beast (Rev 13:4, 8, 12) as well as the image of the beast (Rev 13:15). In the context of that end-time persecution, the only direct command God’s people receive is to “worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters” (Rev 14:7). The point is that the end-time crisis will be about who we worship.

The First Commandment

The first commandment reads:

“You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness … You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God.” (Exo 20:3-5)

The word “LORD” is translated from the word YHVH, which is the personal name of God.

So, as a first observation, this commandment does not seem to be directly applicable. In Revelation 5:13-14, these beings do not have another god “before Me” and they did not make an idol. Jesus is “the image of the invisible God” (Col 1:15), meaning that He is “the exact representation of His (God’s) nature” (Heb 1:3), but He cannot be regarded as an "image" that the creatures made.

Nevertheless, they worshiped “the Lamb” (Jesus) together with “him who sits on the throne” (the Father) and the Bible does elsewhere teach that only God may be worshiped (Exo 34:14; Deut 8:19; Matt 4:10; Luke 4:8; Rev 14:7). So, perhaps we may rephrase the question as follows:

Did they, by worshiping the Father and Son together, identify the Son as God or as equal with the Father?

Jesus and God

It is often claimed that Jesus is God and, therefore, that it is appropriate that He be worshiped. But that is not what Revelation teaches. The book begins with the following words:

“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him” (Rev 1:1).

This phrase, firstly, MAKES A DISTINCTION between Jesus and God, implying that Jesus is not God. If we read on, we will see that Revelation NEVER refers to Jesus as God but ALWAYS maintains a clear distinction between Jesus and God (e.g., Rev 1:2, 9; 5:9-10; 7:10, 17; 12:5; 12:10, 17; 14:4, 12; 20:4-5; 21:22; 22:1, 3). It reserves the title “God” for the Father ONLY.

Subordinate

Revelation’s opening phrase, quoted above, secondly implies that Jesus is SUBORDINATE to God because God gave Him this revelation. Revelation does refer to Christ as “the first and the last,” “the beginning and the end” and as “the Alpha and the Omega” (Rev 1:17; 22:12-13), implying that He has always existed. Revelation, nevertheless, presents Christ as subordinate to His Father, as also indicated by the following:

Revelation refers to the Father as Jesus’ God (Rev 1:6; 3:2, 12).

One of the frequent titles for the Father in Revelation is “Him who sits on the throne.” The Father is even described as such in the verse on which the question above is based, in which Jesus is “worshiped” together with “Him who sits on the throne” (Rev 5:13-14; cf. Rev 3:21; 4:2; 5:7; 7:10; 12:5; 19:4). The Father, therefore, is the ultimate Ruler.

In defense against the indications that the Son is subordinate to the Father, people make a distinction between different types of subordination. They say that Jesus is functionally subordinate to the Father but ontologically (in terms of His being) equal to God. In other words, they say that Jesus is also the Almighty; the One who exists without a cause; the Ultimate Reality. In contrast, Revelation describes the Son also as ontologically subordinate to the Father:

The Almighty

Firstly, Revelation (and the entire New Testament) NEVER refers to Jesus as the Almighty but makes an explicit distinction between Jesus and the Almighty:

“The Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple” (Rev 21:22; cf. Rev 19:15).

Revelation identifies “God” as the “Almighty” (Rev 1:8; 4:8; 11:17; 15:3; 16:7, 14; 19:6) and “God” refers to the Father ONLY. For further discussion, see - Is Jesus the Almighty?

Essential Immortality

Secondly, Jesus is “alive forevermore” (Rev 1:18) and “will reign forever” (Rev 11:15), but Revelation identifies the Father as "Him who lives forever and ever" (Rev 4:9-10; 15:7). The difference is that the Father “alone possesses immortality” (1 Tim 6:16). As the only begotten Son of God, Jesus derived His eternal existence and nature from the Father. The Father is the Unbegotten Source of all things. He, alone, has inherent (essential) immortality.

If the Father ALONE is the Almighty and essentially immortal, then the Son is also ontologically subordinate to the Father.

Conclusion

Titles such as “the first and the last” (Rev 1:17), “the beginning and the end,” and “the Alpha and the Omega” (Rev 22:12-13) imply that the Son has always existed. Nevertheless, in the book of Revelation, only the Father is called God (cf. Rev 1:2) and Almighty (e.g., Rev 21:22) and sits on the throne (e.g., Rev 12:5; 3:21; 4:2). This presents the Son as subordinate to the Father.

Worship and Proskuneó

But, the question remains, if Jesus is not God, but subordinate to God, why is He worshiped? To explain this, consider the word “worship.”

No word in ancient Greek is exactly equivalent to the modern English word “worship.” The word translated as “worship” in Revelation 5:13 is proskuneó and means “to do reverence to.” While the word “worship” generally implies that the one worshiped is a god, proskuneó is also used when people “do reverence to” an exalted person such as a king (Matt 18:26; Rev 3:7-9; Acts 10:25). Proskuneó merely means to show extreme respect to another being by bowing down. See Stackexchange or here for a more detailed discussion.

When somebody proskuneó God or a god, “worship” is an appropriate translation. But when somebody proskuneó other beings, “bow down” or "do reverence" would be more appropriate translations. For example, in Revelation 3:9, Jesus said, “I will make them come and bow down at your feet.” “Bow down,” here, translates proskuneó. For similar examples, see Matthew 18:26 or Acts 10:25.

In the New Testament, people proskuneó Jesus 13 times. In all instances, the KJV translates this as “worship” but in six instances, where it is clear from the context that Jesus was not worshiped, the NASB translates this as “bow down.” For example:

“A leper came to Him and bowed down before Him” (Matt 8:2).

“A synagogue official came and bowed down before Him” (Matt 9:18; cf. (Matt 15:25; 20:20; Mark 5:6; 5:9; 15:19).

For further discussion, see – If Jesus is not God, why must we worship Him?

The point is that when our Bibles translate proskuneó as "worship," when Jesus receives proskuneó, it is not because of anything in the word proskuneó itself; it is based on the view most translators have that Jesus is God. The same applies to the translation of proskuneó in Revelation 5:14. If the translators did not assume that Jesus is the Ultimate Reality, perhaps they would have translated proskuneó in that verse differently.

In conclusion, the translation of proskuneó in 5:14 as "worship" is an interpretation. It does not mean that Jesus is God or equal with His Father.

Philippians 2

Revelation 5 describes what happens in heaven when Jesus arrives after His ascension. In particular, it describes His enthronement at His Father’s right hand. Philippians 2:6-11 describes that same event. In that passage:

  1. Jesus is worshiped by the entire creation (“every knee will bow”) because “God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name” (Phil 2:9-19),

  2. He is worshiped “to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:11), and

  3. “Every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord;” i.e., they do NOT confess Him as God.

This is exactly what we see in Revelation 5 where the entire universe praises them:

“To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.” (Rev 5:13) Then the elders fell down and worshiped/did reverence (Rev 5:14).

For a discussion, see the article on Philippians 2.

We Must Worship Jesus.

I would accept the translation “worship” for Jesus in Revelation 5. We must honor Him just like we honor the Father (John 5:23). God is the Creator, but He created and still maintains all things THROUGH His Son (John 1:3; Col 1:16-17; Heb 1:2-3; 1 Cor 8:6). God is the ultimate Ruler, but He GAVE all authority to His Son (Matt 28:18). The Father has “life in Himself” but He also gave the Son to have “life in Himself” (John 5:26). Before He became human (or, a human being), He existed in the form of God and equal with God (Phil 2:6). After His victory on earth, “God highly exalted Him … so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow” (Phil 2:9-10). “It was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him” (Col 1:19; 2:9). “He is the image of the invisible God” (Col 1:15). “All will honor the Son even as they honor the Father” (John 5:23).

God cannot be seen because He exists outside the physical universe. Inside this universe, His unique Son has “all authority” (Matt 28:18). Created beings simply cannot see God (1 Tim 1:17) but, in Christ, we can see the fullness of God. For these reasons I maintain that we must worship Jesus to the full extent of the meaning of that word, even knowing that He is subordinate to the Ultimate Reality. He is worthy of all our adoration.

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No it does not contradict. We see the worship of persons other then YHWH being permitted in scripture. Here are some examples.

Revelation 3:9 (KJV)

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 before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.

Matthew 18:26 (KJV)

The servant therefore fell down and worshiped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. 27 Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.

1 Chronicles 29:20

And David said to all the congregation, Now bless the Lord your God. And all the congregation blessed the Lord God of their fathers, and bowed down their heads, and worshipped the Lord, and the king.

Joseph was also worshiped by his brothers as the ruler over them and he was also given a dream from God that he would be also and again it is the same word used for worship of God as was used for his brothers bowing to him in worship.

Revelation chapter 4 needs to be examined as context for chapter 5 in question.

Rev4:8- 11

8 And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.

9 And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever,

10 The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying,

11 Thou art worthy, O LORD, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

In the next chapter, we read that the Lamb is in the midst of the throne with the elders. He takes the scroll from the One being worshiped as the Creator of everything.

5:6And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.

7And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne.

So we can objectively understand by this scene in scripture that the Lamb is not being worshiped as God, but is receiving praise for his victory and his worthiness to open the seals. The only begotten is the only one who can do this.

ONLY worship our Father, YHWH, AS the One True God. John 17:3

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  • This answer appears self-contradictory - the Bible often says to worship only the One True God, YHWH, Ex 20:3, 34:14, Deut 8:19, 2 Kings 17:35-38, Matt 28:17; Luke 24:52; John 9:38; Rom 10:9, Heb 1:5, 6, Phil 2:10, Acts 10:25, 26; Rev 19:10, 22:8, 9. Yet you say that the Bible also permits worship of other things.
    – Dottard
    Oct 12, 2022 at 21:05
  • And yet I provided verses where persons other than YHWH are worshiped. Then I provided an interpretation that explains this. You will notice that the examples I provided show worship of men but they aren't worshiped as God. Oct 12, 2022 at 21:36
  • So, are there multiple gods? You answer has not addressed the essence of the question.
    – Dottard
    Oct 12, 2022 at 21:37
  • The question was if the 2 verses contradict. They do not because in that specific scene in question....the Lamb is NOT worshiped as God. I stated this in my conclusion. Oct 12, 2022 at 21:42
  • That is the very problem that creates the self-contradictory part of your answer!! You say other things/people are worshiped, yet when the same verb is used frequently in the NT for Christ, it is not worship? Indeed, the verb to worship (60 times) is applied most often to Jesus in the NT (about 45 times). Yet you simply assert without evidence that in Rev 5 it is not worship!
    – Dottard
    Oct 12, 2022 at 21:47

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