Christians Praise Jesus as Lord Messiah,  Not as Lord God

Christians Praise Jesus as Lord Messiah,

Not as Lord God

Is Jesus Almighty God because He Was Worshipped?

      Originally the English word “worship,” as used in the KJV and other older translations, had a broad meaning, so that worship could rightly be rendered to humans as well as to God. However, over time the word has narrowed in meaning, so that today it refers generally only to the worship of God. In fact, on this subject there are several Greek nuanced words in the New Testament related to honouring God. Unfortunately, they have continued to be rendered by the one word “worship” in many translations, rather than having renderings which show the difference in meaning and application. These Greek words are:


     These Greek words are found respectively 21 times and 5 times in the New Testament. According to the Greek-English lexicons these words refer to worship or religious service and are applied legitimately only to the Father as the one true God (Acts 24:14, John 17:1, 3) or to false gods e.g., “the host of heaven” (Acts 7:42) and to “what had been created” (Rom. 1:25). Most translations render latreuo as “service” in most of its occurrences, although “devoted service,” “divine service,” and “sacred service” are more specific renderings.

NOTE: Revelation 22:3b seems ambiguous concerning to whom the Greek word latreuo applies. The text says: “…the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship (latreuo) him.” The issue is: to whom do “his” and “him” apply—God or Jesus? The Translators’ Translation comments in its notes that: “John is writing a little loosely. If a translation is to be more explicit, the main reference in the paragraph is to God, see verse 4.” That the reference is to God and not to Jesus is strongly indicated by the similar statement in Rev. 7:15: “Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve (latreuo) him day and night in his temple”

Additionally, Revelation 22:3b makes a clear distinction between God and Jesus, so that Jesus is not the Almighty God. So, because all other occurrences of latreuo, in terms of true worship/devoted service, apply to God, then the pronouns “his” and “him” in Revelation 22:3b also apply to Him—the Father who is the true God (John 17:1, 3, 1 Cor. 8:6).


     The NIV Theological Dictionary of the New Testament states concerning threskia: “There is little difference between latreia and threskia, which means worship of God (Jas. 1:26-27), worship of Angels (Col.2:18), and religion in general (Acts 26:5).”


     The lexical definitions of proskyneo are: worship, do obeisance to, prostrate oneself to, show reverence to, pay homage to, welcome respectfully. Proskyneo is certainly rendered to Almighty God (John 4:21-23). It is also rendered to Jesus when others bowed/kneeled before him as king (Matt. 2:2), as lord (Matt. 8:2), as “Son of God” [meaning Messiah (Matt. 14:33)]. All of these were instances of simply giving honour to (paying homage to) someone of higher rank. Other instances concerned:

  • The synagogue official who, as a Jew, would not have recognized Jesus as being God (Matt. 9:18).

< > The Gerasene demoniac who “bowed before him” (Mark 5:6). No doubt this was because the demon recognized Jesus as being “the Son of God,” but not meaning a so-called ‘God the Son.’ The man born blind paid homage to Jesus as “the Son of Man” not as God (John 9:35, 38). In Matthew 28:9 the women disciples “clasped [Jesus’] feet, kneeling before him (proskyneo [REB, Barclay])” or “bowing to the ground before him” [Weymouth, Goodspeed] or “did bow to him” [YLT], or “did him homage” [NAB, NJB]. There is nothing in this context to indicate that they worshipped Jesus as Almighty God. Indeed, there is nothing more here than the “paying of homage” to him. Jesus Was Worshipped

Only from a Particular Time

     If Jesus were the Almighty God then the angels would always have worshipped him as that One. However, the writer to the Hebrews shows otherwise, stating:

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

The bringing of “the firstborn into the world” occurred when Jesus was born, and Hebrews 1:6 shows that the homage (Gk proskyneo) paid to Jesus by the angels was homage that was commanded to begin at the precise time of his birth. Yet if Jesus were God Almighty, he would have been worshipped by the angels from eternity. So clearly the ‘showing of reverence to’ or ‘paying homage to’ “the Lord Jesus Christ” is different from the worship which is offered to the Almighty God. Such homage is paid to the heavenly Father as Lord God, but to Jesus as Lord Messiah (John 20:31).

Is Jesus Almighty God Because Christians

Are to Call on His Name?

      This is a similar issue to that of the previous one involving worship of Jesus. However, to call upon the name of the LORD in the Hebrew Scriptures meant that one was appealing to God. So, to call upon Jesus’ name as Stephen did when he was dying (Acts 7:54-60) or as Christians are admonished to do in 1 Corinthians 1:2 also means that we are to appeal to Jesus, just as the Apostle Paul said:

“To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 1:2, 3).

In the phrase “call upon” the Greek word epikaleo means “to appeal to” and in the Greco/Roman world it was often the word used to describe an appeal to or an invoking of one’s god. In 1 Corinthians 1:2 this word is: “in the present middle participial form, indicating a continual earnest appeal and dependence upon Christ, who alone can save.” (The Expositor’s Bible Commentary. Vol.10, p. 189). However, because the phrase “the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” refers to: all that Jesus is as Lord and Messiah—then any calling upon i.e., appealing to him, must involve our communication with him. It is just as Paul’s appeal (Gk epikaleo) to Caesar (Acts 25:11) would have involved direct communication with Caesar and not just his aides. Hence, all such appealing to Jesus is to him as Messiah in his position as the ultimate functionary of God. This is why Jesus could receive Stephen’s spirit when Stephen died.

     Although the early English translations did not include the word “me” in their versions of John 14:14 many modern versions do according to the up-to-date Greek text and so this reads as “14If you ask me for anything within my authority I will do it.” Yet, even without the word “me” the fact that Jesus says “I will do it” indicates that one is to communicate with the glorified Lord Jesus, although this certainly does not indicate that he is the LORD God.

The Trinitarian Argument That Honouring

“The Son” Means That He Must be God

     This, too, is a similar issue to that of the previous ones involving worship of and calling on the name of Jesus. In this instance, Jesus speaks of his being honoured just the same as the Father is honoured:

< > “Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel. For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.” (John 5:19-23).  

That Jesus is here claiming divine honour is evident from the immediate context. Jesus has just claimed that he does whatever the Father does (v. 19) and that “he gives life to whomever he wishes.” The Father has even entrusted to the Son (v. 22) the responsibility of rendering eternal judgment over all people. So Trinitarian reasoning is that we can assign no higher honour or status to someone than that of our ultimate, final Judge and therefore Jesus must be God.

RESPONSE: With reference to John 5:19-23, Raymond Brown, in his famous Commentary on John, states that:

The parable that Dodd finds in John could be set in an apprentice shop where a youth is learning a trade. He cites a series of references from the Oxyrhynchus Papyri (from Egypt of NT times), where it is insisted that the apprentice must do what the master does, p. 218.

Furthermore, F. F. Bruce comments on John 5:23 that:

An ambassador receives the honour due to the sovereign whom he represents; dishonour to the ambassador is an insult to his sovereign. The Son is the Father’s envoy plenipotentiary. The Father bestows the authority and the Son exercises it; the Father sends the Son and the Son is sent.

The Gospels and Epistles of John, p. 130.

The implication of the Trinitarian Argument is that Jesus is God Almighty. However, from the two quoted theologians we can see that the honour that Jesus receives is because of his diligence in imitating his master “the Father” and his obedience to Him. As God’s representative, Jesus was to do works which are normally the prerogative of his Father—Yahweh—works described in the Hebrew Scriptures. So, if the Son is honoured by men then the Father is also honoured. This is clearly at a much higher level than was the case with the prophets, kings, judges, and priests who represented Yahweh. This is because Jesus is the Son—the Messiah. It does not mean that he is the Almighty God!

Jesus Is God’s Perfect Image

     God’s people are forbidden to make and/or worship any man-made image of God (Ex. 20:4-5) or any other god because this would be idolatrous. However, this is not the case regarding the worship of Jesus “the Lord Messiah” because he is also “the image of God” (1 Cor. 11:7; 2 Cor. 4:4; Col. 1:15). Jesus is the one in whom God is seen (John 14:9). Indeed, such worship is appropriate because Jesus is “the exact representation” of God himself (Heb. 1:3). So, such worship given to Jesus is not the worship of another god, but, through Jesus, God’s image, it is being given to the Almighty God Himself and so is not idolatrous.

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