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Hebrews 1:6 (NIV) says:

when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.”

My question is for those who don’t believe Jesus to be “the only true God”: Why the command that the firstborn should be worshipped by God's angels, something that God said in clear terms, He only allows for Himself?

Exodus 34:14 says:

Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.

Quotes from Unitarian or Jehovah’s Witnesses sources or scholars making sense of this are welcome.

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    The Biblical Unitarian REV Bible says in Hebrews 1:6 "And when he again brings the firstborn into the inhabited world, he says, And let all the angels of God bow down before him."
    – Lesley
    Commented May 3 at 16:17

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From a Jehovah’s Witnesses point of view, here are a few points taken from an article about the subject in the Awake of April 8, 2000

First, we have to understand what Paul meant here by worship. He used the Greek word pro·sky·neʹo. Unger’s Bible Dictionary says that this word literally means to ‘kiss the hand of someone in token of reverence or to do homage.’ An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, by W. E. Vine, says that this word “denotes an act of reverence, whether paid to man . . . or to God.” In Bible times pro·sky·neʹo often included literally bowing down before someone of high stature.

Consider the parable Jesus gave of the slave who was unable to repay a substantial sum of money to his master. A form of this Greek word appears in this parable, and in translating it the King James Version says that “the servant therefore fell down, and worshipped [form of pro·sky·neʹo] him [the king], saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.” (Matthew 18:26; italics ours.) Was this man committing an idolatrous act? Not at all! He was merely expressing the kind of reverence and respect due the king, his master and superior.

Such acts of obeisance, or expressions of respect, were fairly common in the Orient of Bible times. Jacob bowed down seven times upon meeting his brother, Esau. (Genesis 33:3) Joseph’s brothers prostrated themselves, or did obeisance, before him in honor of his position at the Egyptian court. (Genesis 42:6) In this light we can better understand what happened when the astrologers found the young child Jesus, whom they recognized as “the one born king of the Jews.” As rendered in the King James Version, the account tells us that they “fell down, and worshipped [pro·sky·neʹo] him.”—Matthew 2:2, 11.

Clearly, then, the word pro·sky·neʹo, rendered “worship” in some Bible translations, is not reserved exclusively for the type of adoration due Jehovah God. It can also refer to the respect and honor shown to another person. In an effort to avoid any misunderstanding, some Bible translations render the word pro·sky·neʹo at Hebrews 1:6 as “pay him homage” (New Jerusalem Bible), “honour him” (The Complete Bible in Modern English), “bow down before him” (Twentieth Century New Testament), or “do obeisance to him” (New World Translation).

Jesus Is Worthy of Obeisance

Is Jesus worthy of such obeisance? Most decidedly, yes! In his letter to the Hebrews, the apostle Paul explains that as the “heir of all things,” Jesus has “sat down on the right hand of the Majesty in lofty places.” (Hebrews 1:2-4) Thus, “in the name of Jesus every knee should bend of those in heaven and those on earth and those under the ground, and every tongue should openly acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.”—Philippians 2:10,11.

Outstandingly, Christ will soon use this exalted position and the extensive executive powers that go with it to transform this earth into a global paradise. Under God’s direction, and as a result of the ransom sacrifice of Jesus, he will rid the world of all sadness, pain, and sorrow for the benefit of those who submit to his righteous rule. Is he therefore not worthy of our honor, respect, and obedience?—Psalm 2:12; Isaiah 9:6; Luke 23:43; Revelation 21:3, 4.

Some may counter that Jesus himself said “that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father.” (John 5:23) They may argue that honoring the Son “just as” the Father would imply the same form of worship. However, the verb “honor” (greek: timao) has the meaning of “venerate” when it is given towards a person. It means to regard someone with great respect; to revere. The level of reverence in this case is of secondary importance. You can honor or respect someone slightly more (in your heart) than you honor or respect someone else - yet you can say that you honor the one just as the other. I for instance could say: “I honor the law of the land just as I honor the relationship with my spouse.”

Me as a Jehovah’s Witness would also say: “I have tremendous love for Jesus just as I have tremendous love for Jehovah.” I honor and have great respect for both of them.

Hebrews 1:6 does support a few more JW doctrines, that I think are harder to explain from a trinitarian point of view:

  1. The timing: the context shows a starting point where Jehovah asks his angels to subordinate to Jesus. It should happen “when He (God) again brings the firstborn into the world” (Hebrews 1:6 NKJV), which denotes Jesus’ second coming, where he started to become active as King in his inheritance of God’s Kingdom.
  2. The command: Jehovah God officially delegates the Kingship to Jesus and makes his Angels aware that they are now accountable to Jesus. With Jehovah God delegating His power and authority to Jesus, Jesus “has become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they” (Hebrews 1:4)
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    Js.I am well aware of how the word can be used in another way as opposed to the strictly worship of God Himself. However, what your missing is the context of how worship is used. True, Hebrews 1:6 says, "And let all the angels of God worship Him." So how can it possibly mean "obeisance" when at vs8 the first word is "But." But is used to introduce a phrase or clause, contrasting with what has already been mentioned. BUT, "Thy Throne, O God is forever and ever." And if you continue reading the context you come to vs10 where the Father credits the Son with creating the heavens and the earth
    – Mr. Bond
    Commented May 3 at 14:18
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    You said, "Obviously, the Bible writer of this psalm did not think that this human king was Almighty." The hope of the Jewish people was the coming of a future king which was promised by God. When Jesus finally came many of the Jews did not believe the Messiah was to be God, but some did. So tell me, how do you determine who was right? Show me your exegesis of Hebrews chapter one in a way that demonstrates how you can deny the obvious of what it says? I know one way of how you did it at Colossians 1:16. You added the word "other" to the verse and "presto" God alone did not create all things
    – Mr. Bond
    Commented May 4 at 13:42
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    Which Jews hoped for the Messiah to be God? I’ve never heard of that. To this day, in Judaism, the Messiah is not considered to be God or a pre-existent divine Son of God. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Messiah?wprov=sfti1#. Are you really reading Hebrews 1? In the first 2 verses alone we have already 3 hints that show that Jesus cannot be God. He’s said to be like the prophets of old through whom God spoke - these prophets were NOT actually God, but their words were considered to come from God. Only “in these last days” God spoke through his Son, so where was the Son in the Hebrew scriptures?
    – Js Witness
    Commented May 4 at 20:31
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    That already on its own throws the idea that Jesus is the Angel of the Lord from the OT out the window. The next sentence tells us that God “has appointed” Jesus as “heir of all things”. How can God appoint Himself to be “heir of all things” when “everything in heaven and on earth” already belongs to Him(1 Chronicles 29:11). Vers 3 continues to show that Jesus is not God, as he‘s „the image“ or „imprint“ of God‘s being. A picture or copy of it… the mirror might show an image of me, but the image in the mirror IS NOT me. He is NOT the „Majesty on High“ but sits at His right hand.
    – Js Witness
    Commented May 4 at 20:52
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    @js witness the text in Psalms 45 bible interlinear says "your throne IS GOD"...Please show which interlinear you used for your comment please as you statement is at odds with the interlinear I'm using on biblehub.com Also, this word is used at least 4 other times in the Old Testament...its translated "your throne" in every case.
    – adam
    Commented Jun 2 at 20:53

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