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Proskyneō and the worship of Jesus as God (Luke 24:52; Revelation 3:9)

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 The fact that the Lord Jesus is the proper recipient of proskyneō demonstrates that He is God. 


 Some who deny this truth may say that in the Septuagint (LXX) we see that proskyneō was rendered by Lot unto angels (Genesis 19:1), the sons of Heth received it from Abraham (Genesis 23:7), Moses offered the same to Jethro (Exodus 18:7) and the sons of the prophet did so unto Elisha (2 Kings 2:15) and yet none of these recipients are God so why conclude that the Lord Jesus is God because He properly receives proskyneō?

 The answer is because unlike in the Old Testament era, during the time New Testament proskyneō was meant for the worship due unto God alone.[*1] Others have received it (Revelation 13:4, 8, 12, 15), but it is misplaced worship.


Luke 24:51-52
(51) While He was blessing them, He parted from them and was carried up into heaven.
(52) And they, after worshiping Him, returned to Jerusalem with great joy. (NASB)

Notice that in Luke 24:52 the Lord Jesus receives proskyneō when He was not in the physical presence of those rendering it unto Him. This clearly demonstrates that it is worship being rendered unto Him as God - and worship that is not to be in any way watered down.[*2]
     1. Adam Clarke: Let it be observed that this worship was not given by way of civil respect, for it was after he was parted from them, and carried back into heaven, that they offered it to him; but acts of civil respect are always performed in the presence of the person. They adored him as their God, and were certainly too much enlightened to be capable of any species of idolatry.
     2. Charles Spurgeon: Then they were not Unitarians — “They worshipped him,” — and there were angels present at the time who would have been sure to have rebuked them if it had been a wrong thing for them to worship him. Indeed, they themselves, both as Jews and as Christians, would have felt, in their inmost soul, that they could not worship anyone but God; but Christ is God, so they did well to worship him.
     3. William Arndt (one of the contributors to the classic BDAG Lexicon): as Jesus withdrew from the disciples, visibly rising upward, they fell down on their knees, overcome by the conviction of His being the true God and the Savior (Luke, page 501-502).  
     4. Robert Stein: In light of Luke 4:7-8 the disciples' worship of Jesus demonstrates that Luke's Christology is a high one indeed (Luke: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture, page 624).


Revelation 3:9
Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. (KJV)

Revelation 3:9 is often cited in an attempt to demonstrate that believers will receive proskyneō, but this doesn't mean they are God.
Revelation 14:3
And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders; and no one could learn the song except the one hundred and forty-four thousand who had been purchased from the earth. (NASB - the underlined is mine)
 The singing that took place is worship. The song was directed to God alone (which encompasses the Lord Jesus, cf. v. 4) even though it was also "before the four living creatures and the elders." They were in God's presence when the singing took place, but they were not recipients of this worship despite the fact that the song was done before them. The same holds true concerning the worship described in Revelation 3:9. Worship was directed to God[*3] alone but in the presence of ("before") these believers (cf. 1 Corinthians 14:25).


[*1] http://faithsaves.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/WorshipoftheSonofGod.pdf


[*2]  Agency
      1. NIDNTT: The common Jewish legal institution of the saliah (the Aram. Pass. Part. Of salah) has become important for NT exegesis. Rab. Judaism in the time of Jesus clearly recognized the function of the representative or proxy derived from the old Sem. Law concerning messengers. It is expressed briefly in the principle found in the Mishnah, "A man's agent (saluah) is like himself" (Ber. 5:5 et al.). Hence the messenger becomes the proxy of the one who has given him the commission (cf. 1 Sam. 25:40 f.; 2 Sam. 10:4, 6) (1:127-128, Apostle, E. von Eicken, H. Lindner).
 The concept of "Agency" does not apply at all in the area of worship that is directly rendered unto the Lord Jesus since one can just as easily render worship directly unto the Father. An "agent" is therefore unnecessary. 


[*3] Since the speaker and the focus is on the Lord Jesus the worship that is described is directed unto Him in the presence of His believers.

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Good material, Faber,

Of old pagans have worshipped their kings as though they were gods. Although there is no citation given in Wikipedia, it does have this to say:


To the Greeks, giving proskynesis to a mortal seemed to be a barbaric and ludicrous practice. They reserved such submissions for the gods only.

An interesting question to ask is whether the wise men knew they were worshipping more than an earthly King. 

Mat 2:1-2
(1)  Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,
(2)  Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

The answer is found in the next verses:

Mat 2:3-6
(3)  When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
(4)  And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.
(5)  And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet,
(6)  And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.

The reference to Christ and the prophesy about His birth would have been great news to the wise men who may have had some knowledge of the Scriptures, but evidently not enough to complete their journey without some help.

At any rate, we have the example of their worship and the knowledge that they got it right.

Mat 2:9-12

(9)  When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.
(10)  When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
(11)  And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.
(12)  And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.


Of course, the first commandment is a keeper:

Exo 20:3-6
(3)  Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
(4)  Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:
(5)  Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
(6)  And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.


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Thanks for this. When I read your citation of Matthew (2:2) it made me think of Matthew 1:23. This extremely close proximity (remember, there were no chapter and verse divisions in the originals) between Matthew 1:23 and Matthew 2:2 says to me that because Jesus is "God with us" He ought to be worshiped as such.

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