4

When John fell down to worship the angel that had just showed him the prophetic visions of Revelation, the angel quickly stopped him in his tracks and corrected him for doing so, as he (the angel) was just a fellow servant and God is the only one to be worshipped:

8 I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me, 9 but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.” [Revelation 22:8-9 ESV]

However, angels are reported to have worshipped Jesus as well. For example:

Hebrews 1:5-6 ESV:

5 For to which of the angels did God ever say,

You are my Son, today I have begotten you”?

Or again,

“I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son”?

6 And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says,

“Let all God's angels worship him.”

Revelation 5:11-14 ESV:

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.

Why didn't the angel at Revelation 22:9 mention Jesus when he said to John that God is the one to be worshipped? Shouldn't the angel have concluded the verse with "Worship God and his Son"? Did the angel forget about Jesus?

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  • 4
    The Son of God is worshipped as God. One does not need to specify Person when one exhorts the worship of the Divine. I cannot see the point of your question.
    – Nigel J
    Mar 20, 2021 at 22:07
  • 1
    @NigelJ - that's exactly the point, not everyone on here is trinitarian. I'm very interested in reading non-trinitarian responses.
    – user38524
    Mar 21, 2021 at 0:01

5 Answers 5

5

There are numerous places in the NT where people worship Jesus as God such as: 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.

Further, we have numerous instances where people pray to Jesus as God such as: 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, etc.

Thus, the simplest solution to Rev 22:9 is understand "God" in the generic sense of including the entire Godhead.

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    "Matt 2:11" I've only checked this one so far, and off the bat it's problematic. What in the text shows the Magi were worshipping Jesus as God? It just says they fell down and worshipped him - just as they would a King. The context makes that pretty clear. "“Where is the One who has been born King of the Jews? We saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”" (Matthew 2:2) Mar 21, 2021 at 5:58
  • 1
    Do you think the Magi thought Jesus was God? Mar 21, 2021 at 16:57
  • 1
    Again, starting with your new list of quotations, it is problematic off the bat with Matthew 4:10. It says serve only God. Not worship only God. Mar 21, 2021 at 17:02
  • 1
    Moving to the second one, Acts 10:25. Again, this doesn't say only God should be worshipped. It's just Peter telling Cornelius not to worship him. Mar 21, 2021 at 18:59
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    To the third one, this is just the angel saying he is a mere messenger, and John should worship God, not him. Again, not a blanket claim that only God should be worshipped. Mar 21, 2021 at 19:10
4

When John “fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed” these visions to him, the angel said, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant … Worship God” (Rev 22:8-9). The question is, why didn't the angel tell John to worship both God and Jesus?

From a Trinitarian perspective, a possible answer may be that “God” includes Jesus. However, that is not how the word “God” is used in Revelation. The title "God" is found about 100 times in Revelation. The title "God" is found about 100 times in Revelation. In most instances, nobody else is mentioned in the context so it is not immediately clear to whom the title "God" refers. However, in the following 17 instances, the title is used to identify the Father in distinction from Jesus, making it clear that Jesus is NEVER called God and that the title "God" ALWAYS refers exclusively to the Father. The point of the following is not to show that the Father and Son are different Persons, but that GOD AND THE SON ARE DIFFERENT PERSONS:

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

“John, who testified to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Rev 1:2)

“I, John … was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus” (Rev 1:9).

“You (the Lamb – Jesus) were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe …” (Rev 5:9).

“Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb” (Rev 7:10).

“The Lamb … will be their shepherd … and God will wipe every tear from their eyes” (Rev 7:17).

“She gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne” (Rev 12:5).

“Now … the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come” (Rev 12:10).

“The dragon … went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus” (Rev 12:17).

“These have been purchased from among men as first fruits to God and to the Lamb” (Rev 14:4).

“The saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus” (Rev 14:12)

“Those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God” (Rev 20:4)

“They will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years” (Rev 20:6).

“I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple” (Rev 21:22).

“The glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb” (Rev 21:23).

“A river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb” (Rev 22:1)

“There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it” (Rev 22:3).

The above shows that God and His unique Son belong together. For example, they share one single throne (22:1, 3) and, together, they are the temple and the light of the New Jerusalem (21:22-23). Nevertheless, God is one Person and Jesus is somebody else. People who do not accept this VERY CLEAR conclusion will argue that Jesus is elsewhere called God. That is simply not true.

VERY FEW

The word theos appears about 1300 times in the New Testament. Of those, Trinitarians propose about 7 instances where Jesus is called God. The extremely small number of instances where Jesus is POSSIBLY called God shows that, in the other 99.5% of the instances, there is no dispute. In the other 99.5% instances, it is agreed that “God” refers to the Father ONLY. In other words, IT IS OVERWHELMINGLY CLEAR THAT THE TITLE "GOD" REFERS PREDOMINANTLY TO THE FATHER.

PAUL

Paul should be our main interpreter of the gospels. I have done a similar exercise as the above for the book of Colossians, which has Paul’s highest Christology, and I similarly found that the title God is used for the Father ONLY.

Furthermore, with the exception of two disputed passages in Paul's other letters, PAUL NEVER REFERS TO JESUS AS GOD.

The one is Romans 9 verse 5, but that depends entirely on punctuation. In 50% of the translations, the punctuation is such that it does not describe Jesus as God, but says that Jesus is blessed by God.

The other is Titus 2:13, which reads, “Our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.” Trinitarians read this as referring to only one Person but it can just as well be a reference to two Persons; God and Jesus.

Just think of it: In all of Paul’s letters, which is about half of the New Testament, and which should be our main guide to doctrine, there are ONLY TWO instances where he POSSIBLY refers to Jesus as God. Since Paul never clearly refers to Jesus as God but maintains a clear and consistent distinction between God and Jesus (e.g., I Cor 8:6; 1 Tim 6:13), do we not have abundant evidence that Paul does not describe Jesus as God?

JOHN

The main verse Trinitarians use to say that Jesus is called God is John 1:1. I feel very passionate about this verse because the translators KNOW that theos is used in that verse in a qualitative sense. But they argue that this means that Jesus is like God in nature and that this means that He is God. Consequently, the average Christian reads the translation of John 1:1 as an identification of Jesus as God, rather than as a qualitative description. A better translation, I believe, would be something like: "And the word was with God and the word was like God."

The other verse in John is when Thomas sees Jesus after His resurrection and exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28)! Can you imagine? Jesus never taught His disciples that He is God! In fact, in the very same chapter He refers to His Father as His God (John 20:17). And John summarises the purpose of his entire gospel a few verses later. Does he say his purpose is to show that Jesus is God? No! His purpose was to proclaim Jesus as Christ (John 20:31)! But Thomas, about 60 years before John made this summary of his gospel, miraculously simply knew that Jesus is God!

What the poor average churchgoer is not told is that there is a huge difference between the word theos and the word God. Hanson explains:

“The word theos or deus, for the first four centuries of the existence of Christianity had a wide variety of meanings. There were many different types and grades of deity in popular thought and religion and even in philosophical thought.” (link)

In Thomas’ day, the word theos was used for any immortal being with supernatural powers. And there were thought to be quite a number of such beings; including the Greek pantheon. In contrast, the word “God” is a name for one specific Being. Since the standard explanation of John 20:28 cannot be right, I think that Thomas used the word theos in a generic sense. Namely, seeing the risen Jesus, he used theos in the sense of an immortal being with supernatural powers.

HEBREWS 1:8

In Hebrews 1:8 Jesus is called theos but the very next verse refers to God as His theos. At least, that means that Jesus is subordinate to His Father. But Hebrews 1:8 is simply a quote from Psalm 45:6 where the king of Israel is called god IN A GENERIC SENSE. Hebrews 1 applies this to Jesus and also calls Him theos IN A GENERIC SENSE. It does not identify Jesus as God Almighty.

2 PETER 1:1

In the NASB, 2 Peter 1:1 reads “our God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” However, since this is the only possible instance when Peter describes Jesus as God and since, in the very next verse, Peter makes a distinction between God and Jesus (“The knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord” (2 Peter 1:2)), we should read verse 1 as referring to two Persons; the Father and the Son.

CONCLUSION

The evidence that the New Testament refers to Jesus as God is negligible. Since the title “God” is consistently used to identify the Father in distinction from Jesus, when the angel told John, "worship God,” he referred to the Father ONLY.

I am not disputing that the Son always existed or that God created all things through Him. My point is that only the Father is the Ultimate Reality; the Source of all else, and that the Son is subordinate to the Father.

This answers the question: WHY did the angel not include Jesus? Why must only the Father be worshiped? Since only the Father is identified as “God,” all other beings, including His unique Son, are subordinate to Him. Therefore, we worship Him.

JESUS IS WORSHIPED.

But, as the question rightly states, angels and the entire creation worship Jesus (Heb 1:6; Rev 5:13-14). That does not contradict the statement that we must worship God only. The Greek word translated as “worship” (proskunuo) merely means to show extreme respect by falling down before somebody else. It is also used when people fall down before other people such as kings. For example, in Revelation 3:9, Jesus said, “I will make them come and bow down at your feet.” “Bow down,” here, translates proskuneó.

Furthermore, as we read in Philippians 2:9-11 and Hebrews 1:6, Jesus is worshiped by the entire creation BECAUSE THAT IS GOD’S WILL. There is, therefore, nothing wrong with showing extreme respect to the One through whom God created all things. But, as Philippians 2:11 adds, it is all “to the glory of God the Father.”

2

The Biblical Unitarian view on this is fairly straightforward. Although Jesus can and ought to be worshipped as King, God is a larger ultimate object of worship. So the angel mentioned God and not Jesus.

See Should we "worship" Jesus Christ? which lays out the issue of worship and Jesus from a Biblical Unitarian perspective.

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  • The article you reference is wrong. The fact people worshipped other people does not make it right, anymore than people committing some other sin makes it right. The point of the verse is to not do what others say is right. One of the contemporary issues Revelation addresses is that of emperor worship. The fallacy of the article is it that it claims it is acceptable to worship the emperor because that is what people did. That is the opposite message of Revelation which says emperor worship is not ok under any circumstance. Mar 22, 2021 at 5:01
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    @RevelationLad Do you think the Magi thought Jesus was God? Mar 22, 2021 at 5:09
  • The question is about what the instruction the angel gives John in Revelation. Bringing the magi into the exegesis is a straw dog argument. First, the magi are likely polytheistic - so what would their action count for if they did worship Him? Second, you can test the validity of the article by applying the reasoning to some other area, like making sacrifice for sin. You could argue Jesus death on the cross was insufficient because sacrifices were offered and even required by the Law. Mar 22, 2021 at 5:20
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    @RevelationLad 'straw dog argument' LOL! I like that! The Magi worshiped Jesus as a King, not as a polytheistic deity. Worshiping Jesus as King is fine. Mar 22, 2021 at 17:28
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I'm confused as to why you even ask the question. Scripture is clear that God is three in one trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. What is so hard to figure out?

You can not pick and choose Scripture. It's all or nothing.

Jesus is God. Jesus claimed to be God. Jesus is named as God in Scripture other than the Gospels.

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    There is something called non-trinitarianism.
    – user38524
    Mar 21, 2021 at 0:46
  • So, do you reject any part of Scripture, and pick and choose what to believe, or do you think that all Scripture teaches you non-trinitarianism?
    – Jonathan
    Mar 21, 2021 at 2:14
  • 2
    I'm not defending a position, I'm just asking the question. Answerers are the ones who usually take a position. However, people have sometimes attempted to give objective answers. For an illustrative example, see this answer .
    – user38524
    Mar 21, 2021 at 2:18
  • 2
    Seriously, the topic is not all trivial and settled as you make it out to be. You should watch Unitarian vs Trinitarian debates to see why. There are plenty of those debates available on YouTube. Also, check out the biblical unitarian questions on Christianity.SE. Maybe you can come up with additional questions to challenge their views.
    – user38524
    Mar 21, 2021 at 2:27
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    Again, I'm not defending a position, I'm just asking a question. If you don't like how the question is written, fine.
    – user38524
    Mar 21, 2021 at 2:35
-1

New Testament Worship
Once the Temple is destroyed, there is a valid question on where and when one is to worship God. Before His death, Jesus gave the answer:

For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them (Matthew 18:20) [ESV]

21 But he was speaking about the temple of his body. 22 When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken. (John 2)

21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4)

The believers do not need a physical Temple because when they gather in His name, Jesus is in their midst, and, after His resurrection, His body is the Temple. From the perspective of the Old Testament, this new Temple implies (more likely, demands) the divinity of Jesus.

In their book, Unveiling Empire; Reading Revelation Then and Now, Wes Howard-Brook and Anthony Gwyther make this observation:

One of the greatest differences between Revelation and other New Testament texts is Revelation's portrayal of numerous scenes of liturgy and worship. The Gospels never show the followers of Jesus in prayer, although Jesus prays regularly...teaches his followers how to pray...and harshly criticizes hypocritical prayer of the Jerusalem elite...Similarly, Paul refers many times to his own prayer and offers advice to his communities on how to pray and conduct themselves during worship...as do the other epistle writers...Revelation, though, like the work of a good novelist, shows rather than tells its audience how to offer prayer and worship.1

Revelation's importance to worship is affirmed by the use of προσκυνέω, the word for worship:

Matthew       13
Mark           2
Luke           3
John          11
Acts           4
1 Corinthians  1
Hebrews        2
Revelation    24

Forty percent of the use occurs in Revelation. If the Fourth Gospel was written by the same John, those two works account for almost sixty percent of the use in the New Testament.

As Howard-Brook and Gwyther note, Revelation describes worship taking place and, not surprisingly, has seven scenes of worship (4:2-11; 5:8-14, 7:9-17, 11:15-18, 14:1-4, 15:2-4, and 19:1-8). As these occur in heaven, they provide a "worship handbook" given mostly by narrating both the who and the how of worship. These scenes can serve as models for how worship on earth should be conducted and from the scenes it is clear worship may include but is not limited to falling down or prostration before the one being worshipped. In other words, worship cannot be narrowly defined as a physical act of obeisance.

In addition to providing examples on worship, Revelation includes specific didactic instruction on the "dos" and "dont's" of worship. The "dos" are described with more than "God:"

Do Worship                                 Do Not Worship                            
Him that lives forever (4:10, 5:14)        Devils and idols (9:20)
Him that made heaven, and earth, and the   The dragon and the beast (13:4)
 sea and the fountains of water (14:7)     The image of the beast (13:15)
                                           The beast (14:10-11)
                                           Angels or fellow bondservants (19:10, 22:8-9)

Conclusion
If all which Revelation has to say about worship is considered, then these are the final words:

9 And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” 10 Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.” For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. (Revelation 19)

8 I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me, 9 but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.” (Revelation 22)

There is no need to speculate on the identity of "God" because the seven heavenly worship scenes described who is being worshipped. God is:

  • Him who sits on the throne and the Lamb (5:8-14; 7:10-11)
  • Our Lord and His Christ (7:15-18)
  • The Lamb (14:1-5)

As this is done in truth and Spirit, all three persons of the Godhead are present.

Moreover, worship is described as being given to one who is described by their actions: one who judges and whose ways are just and true and who is the one all nations will come before and so forth. The New Testament attributes these actions to the Lord Jesus Christ. In other words, based on the New Testament, Jesus is being worshipped in heaven for His actions.

There is no way to understand the message of worship in Revelation other than the Lamb is to be worshipped as God. Effectively Revelation describes the Trinity not by theological discourse, rather by describing the heavenly worship of God.


1. Wes Howard-Brook and Anthony Gwyther, Unveiling Empire; Reading Revelation Then and Now, Orbis Books, 2001, p. 197.

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    Dear Revelation Lad, you seem to assume that proskuneó and worship are similar in meaning. They are not. While worship in modern English is used ONLY with respect to a god, proskuneó is used with respect to both gods and humans. To translate proskuneó, when it relates to the SON, is an APPLICATION of the Trinity doctrine.
    – Andries
    Sep 1, 2022 at 7:44
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    You also imply that Jesus is God because He is the “one who judges and whose ways are just and true and who is the one all nations will come before.” The Bible teaches that God GAVE His son all judgment and EXALTED Him so that all knees will bow before Him (John 5:22; Phil 2:9-11). That means that, even though His Son is the Judge and Lord, the Father alone is the Most High.
    – Andries
    Sep 1, 2022 at 7:50
  • @Andries 1) Emperor worship was demanded during the time of Revelation. In fact, that is a major theme. If the meaning of the word could be understood at that time as you believe, then there would be no issue for Christians. People could proskuneó the Emperor or idols without violating the Law, because, as you anachronistically claim, proskuneó does not mean to worship. 2) When the passage includes both an act of homage and proskuneó, a translator is justified in translating as worship, since, in fact, two actions are described. Sep 1, 2022 at 15:21
  • No. Proskuneó CAN mean to worship. Proskuneó may be translated as worship or as “give reverence to” DEPENDING ON WHO receives the proskuneó; NOT ON THE ACTION. Therefore, the moment that proskuneó is given to a divine being (as Roman emperors were assumed to be), then it is what we would call “worship,” and Christians are not worship other gods.
    – Andries
    Sep 2, 2022 at 6:54

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