Waffling on the Worship of Jesus
To the church at Philippi the apostle Paul wrote: “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him [Jesus] and given Him the name which is above every
name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven,
and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue
should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father”
(Philippians 2:9-11, emp. added). The reference to the bowing of the knee
is an obvious allusion to worship (cf. Isaiah 45:23; Romans 1:4). Such
worship, Paul wrote, would not only come from those on Earth, but also from “those in heaven” (Philippians 2:10).
This statement harmonizes well with Hebrews 1:6. In a section in which the writer of Hebrews exalted Jesus above the heavenly hosts, he affirmed that even the angels worship Christ. He wrote: “And let all the angels of God worship (proskuneo) him.” The KJV, ASV, NKJV, NASB, ESV, NIV, RSV (even though they’re corrupt in other ways) and a host of other translations render proskuneo in this verse as “worship.” How does the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ New World Translation render this passage? Unfortunately, as with all other times in the NWT when Jesus is mentioned as being the object of proskuneo, the word is translated “do% obeisance,” not “worship.” Hebrews 1:6 reads: “Let all God’s angels do obeisance to him.”
Interestingly, however, the NWT has not always rendered proskuneo in Hebrews 1:6 as “do obeisance.” When Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Watchtower Bible and Tract Society first printed the NWT in 1950, the verse actually rendered proskuneo as “worship” instead of “do obeisance.” Even the revised 1961 edition of the NWT translated proskuneo as “worship.” By 1971, Jehovah’s Witnesses had changed Hebrews 1:6 to read: “Let all God’s angels DO OBEISANCE to him.”
The fact is, the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society has been very inconsistent in their teachings on whether or not Jesus should be worshiped. In the past few decades Jehovah’s Witnesses’ flagship magazine (November 1964, p. 671) has claimed that “it is unscriptural for worshipers of the living and true God to render worship to the Son of God, Jesus Christ” (as quoted in Rhodes, 2001, p. 26; see also The Watchtower 2004, pp. 30-31). But, “from the beginning it was not so.” Notice what Jehovah’s Witnesses used to teach in The Watchtower (called Zion’s Watch Tower in the early days) regarding whether or not Jesus should be worshiped:
.“The wise men came at His birth to worship Him. (Matt. 2) The leper worshiped Him. They in the ship worshiped Him, as did also the ruler and woman of Canaan. Yet none were ever rebuked for it….[T]O WORSHIP CHRIST IN ANY FORM CANNOT BE WRONG” (Allen, 1880, emp. added).
*.“[A]lthough we are nowhere instructed to make petitions to him, it evidently could not be improper to do so; for such a course is nowhere prohibited, AND THE DISCIPLES WORSHIPPED HIM” (Zion’s Watch Tower, 1892, emp. added).
“Yes, we believe our Lord Jesus while on earth was really worshiped, and properly so” (Zion’s Watch Tower, 1898) …“[W]hosoever should worship Him must also worship and bow down to Jehovah’s Chief One in that capital organization, namely, Christ Jesus…” (The Watchtower, 1945, p. 313).
For more than half a century, Jehovah’s Witnesses taught that it was acceptable to worship Jesus. Now, however, they claim it is unscriptural. Such inconsistency regarding the nature of Christ, which is no small matter, reveals to the honest truth seeker that the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society is an advocate of serious biblical error.
Sadly, Jehovah’s Witnesses not only reject the worship of Jesus because of their belief that He is not deity, they also must deny Him such religious devotion because they teach He actually is an angel. The Watchtower has taught such a notion for several years. The November 1, 1995 issue indicated, “The foremost angel, both in power and authority, is the archangel, Jesus Christ, also called Michael” (“The Truth About Angels”). More recently, an article appeared on the Jehovah’s Witnesses official Web site affirming “the Bible indicates that Michael is another name for Jesus Christ, before and after his life on earth…. [I]t is logical to conclude that Michael is none other than Jesus Christ in his heavenly role” (“Who Is Michael…?,” 2015). Since, according to Revelation 19:10 and 22:8-9, good angels do not accept worship, but rather preach the worship of God, and no other, Jehovah’s Witnesses must reject paying religious praise and devotion to Jesus. But, notice (again) how inconsistent Jehovah’s Witnesses have been.
In only the fifth issue of Zion’s Watch Tower magazine (originally edited by Charles Taze Russell, the founder of The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society), regular contributing writer J.H. Paton stated about Jesus: “Hence it is said, ‘let all the angels of God worship him’: (that must include Michael, the chief angel, hence MICHAEL IS NOT THE SON OF GOD)…” (1879, p. 4, emp. added). Thus, at one time Jehovah’s Witnesses’ official publication taught that Jesus is NOT Michael the archangel, and that He SHOULD be worshiped.
In the 21st century, however, Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that Jesus IS Michael the archangel, and that He should NOT be worshiped. Clear contradictory statements like these found throughout the years in The Watchtower should compel current and potential members of this religious group to question their teachings in light of THE Truth found in God’s Word.
“Worthy is the Lamb”
One additional passage to consider regarding the worship of Jesus is Revelation chapters four and five. In chapter four, the scene in this book of signs (cf. 1:1) is the throne room of God. The “Lord God Almighty” is described as sitting on His throne while “…those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him” (4:9). Also, “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, 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.” (4:10-11). In chapter five, the Lamb that was slain is introduced as standing “in the midst of the throne” (5:6). No one argues the fact that this Lamb is Jesus—the One Whom John the Baptizer twice called “The Lamb of God” (John 1:29,36), and Whom Peter called the “lamb without blemish and without spot:” (1 Peter 1:19).
Regarding this Lamb, the apostle John recorded the following in Revelation 5:11-14: “And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; saying with a loud voice, WORTHY IS THE LAMB that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, AND UNTO THE LAMB for ever and ever And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever.” (emp. added).
In this chapter, John revealed that BOTH God the Father and Jesus are worthy to receive worship from all of creation. In fact, Jesus is given the SAME praise and adoration that the Father is given. Just as God the Father is “worthy…to receive glory and honour and power” (4:11), so Jesus is “worthy…to receive power…and honour and glory…” (5:12). Indeed, “Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, AND UNTO THE LAMB for ever and ever.” (5:13, emp. added). Although Jehovah’s Witnesses use Revelation 4:11 as a “proof” text for worshiping God the Father they reject and call unscriptural the worship that Jesus rightly deserves.
To be continued.