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Note: this is an adaptation of a question asked on Hermenutics.SE. Check it out if interested in answers from different viewpoints.


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?

I know that most trinitarians would quickly answer with something like "come on, these are trivial questions, Jesus is God, by saying God the angel is implicitly including Jesus in the list, He is part of the Godhead". Of course, that answer assumes that Jesus is God as a premise. But what about those who deny this premise? How would they answer these questions?

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  • The header here is clearer than the previous one. Up-voted +1. – Nigel J Mar 21 at 6:43
  • The header question is very confusing to me. Do you mean: "How do believers in Christ's divinity explain that the angel at Revelation 22:9 did not include Jesus in the list of beings that can be worshipped?" – Andrew Shanks Mar 21 at 11:01
  • If Jesus is not God explain angels worshipping him. That is the basic question here right? – Kris Mar 21 at 13:38
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    What list is there at Rev22:9? – Kris Mar 21 at 13:42
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    προσκυνέω Strong Definition = 'worship'. Pros towards kyneo to kiss. Literally, to prostrate oneself in worship so as to kiss the ground at the feet of the one being worshipped. – Nigel J Mar 22 at 2:30
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Jehovah's Witnesses believe that only Jehovah God should be worshipped. It would not be appropriate to worship any of Jehovah's creations, including Jesus or the angels. (Luke 4:8)

However, the matter is complicated by the fact that the Hebrew and Greek words that denote worship can also be applied to acts other than worship. This means that when translating these words, the Bible translator must be careful to take into consideration the context in order to get the intended meaning.

In the cases of Revelation 22:9, Hebrews 1:6, and Revelation 5:14, the Greek word used is pro·sky·neʹo. This word can be used to express a slave's act of obeisance towards a king (Matt. 18:26). In the Greek Septuagint translation of the Hebrew scriptures, this word pro·sky·neʹo is used to denote the acts of obeisance that were done towards the kings of Israel, prophets, and other men.

In all of these situations, many Bible translators use various terms such as "do obeisance to", "do reverence to", "do honor to", "pay homage", or "bow down to" rather than "worship", because the context makes it clear that these are not acts of worship towards these men, which would be idolatry. Rather, they are acts of subjection and respect towards a person in authority.

For this reason, the New World Translation does not use the word "worship" in Hebrews 1:6. Instead, it says:

But when he again brings his Firstborn into the inhabited earth, he says: “And let all of God’s angels do obeisance to him.”

It would logically be inappropriate for God to command the angels to worship Jesus because it would be in direct contradiction to God's commands against idolatry and giving exclusive devotion to himself. (Exodus 34:14) It would also be in contradiction to when Jesus stated that we must worship only God. (Matt. 4:8-10) So, it becomes clear that the kind of pro·sky·neʹo being expressed in Hebrews 1:6 is one of showing respect to a king, such as bowing down or kneeling. Or even if "worship" is the preferred rendering, it's clear that this worship is still given to God by means of Jesus being God's representative. (Hebrews 1:1-3)

Meanwhile, Revelation 22:9 and Revelation 5:14 are accounts where the worship is being directed towards Jehovah God (see also Revelation 4:10 and its context), so it would be Scripturally consistent to translate pro·sky·neʹo as "worship" in those verses, though the other various meanings of pro·sky·neʹo would also be acceptable.

See also:

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    In the case of Revelation 5:14, the preceding verse makes it quite clear that Jesus is part of the scene: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” – Spirit Realm Investigator Mar 22 at 13:51
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    @SpiritRealmInvestigator Right, Jesus is part of the scene and he also is the object of the "blessing and honor and glory and might", but the account establishes beforehand in Revelation 4:10, 11 that the one they are worshipping is the one seated on the throne, Jehovah God. – 4castle Mar 22 at 17:01
  • Let's see what others think: hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/57000/… – Spirit Realm Investigator Mar 22 at 17:19
  • How do JW's believe one does obeisance to Jesus now? – Revelation Lad Mar 22 at 18:23
  • @RevelationLad We can’t see Jesus right now in order to physically do obeisance to him, but we can pay respect to him by recognizing him as our King and obeying his commands. JWs believe and proclaim that Jesus is the King of God’s Kingdom, which is currently ruling in heaven. – 4castle Mar 22 at 18:36
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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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    This does not answer the text. The angel specifically says 'worship God' and, thus, prohibits any other worship at all. Nor does your link answer the question, as the document it links to does not mention this text. – Nigel J Mar 21 at 6:41
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    "The angel specifically says 'worship God' and, thus, prohibits any other worship at all" Huh? If the angel said "Love God" would he have meant John couldn't love anyone else? – One God the Father Mar 21 at 16:59
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    "Nor does your link answer the question, as the document it links to does not mention this text." The link lays out the background of the term 'worship'. Nowhere do I claim the linked page explicitly addresses this particular text, which is almost never discussed in relation to Biblical Unitarianism precisely because it is considered unproblematic from a Biblical Unitarian perspective! – One God the Father Mar 21 at 17:04
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    The angel 1) prohibits worship to himself and 2) exhorts worship to God. If anything else were relevant, then such a distinguished and capable Being would have mentioned it. – Nigel J Mar 21 at 22:22
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    @NigelJ Huh? Apply that hermeneutic consistently across the Bible and you're going to get some very interesting outcomes. – One God the Father Mar 21 at 23:24

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