Can We Worship Jesus?

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on whatsapp
Share on email
Image by Angelica Reyes. Adapted for Redemption of Humanity. Used under licence.

Last edited on 21/Apr/2021

The Bible’s Answer

God Alone Should Be Worshipped

The Bible tells us that we can—and should—worship Jesus Christ (Matthew 14:31-33; 28:9). What’s important to note, first of all, is that the Bible strictly teaches that we are to worship the Lord God alone, and that to worship anyone or anything else is a serious sin (which is called idolatry). The Old Testament is full of commandments against worshipping beings or things other than God, for example:

  • “You shall tear down their altars and break their pillars and cut down their Asherim 14 (for you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God),” (Exodus 34:13-14)
  • “And if you forget the LORD your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish.” (Deuteronomy 8:19)
  • “‘You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 9 You shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me,” (Deuteronomy 5:8-9)

The New Testament also issues commandments against worshipping anyone or anything besides God.

  • “And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” (Matthew 4:9-10)
  • “Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonouring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever! Amen.” (Romans 1:24-25)

Jesus Christ Accepted Worship

Keeping this in mind, it is incredible, then, that not only is Jesus worshipped on several occasions throughout the New Testament, but that he even accepted it every time.

  • “And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshipped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.” (Matthew 2:11)
  • “Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 And those in the boat worshipped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” (Matthew 14:31-33)
  • “And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshipped him.” (Matthew 28:9)
  • “Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshipped him, but some doubted.” (Matthew 28:16-17)
  • “While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. 52 And they worshipped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and were continually in the temple blessing God.” (Luke 24:51-53)
  • “Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36 He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” 37 Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.” 38 He said, “Lord, I believe”, and he worshipped him.” (John 9:35-38)
  • “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 honour and glory and might for ever and ever!” 14 And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshipped.” (Revelation 5:13-14)

Notice how Jesus did not once stop or rebuke those who worshipped him. He didn’t tell them that God alone is to be worshipped, like he said to Satan. Instead, Jesus accepted the worship, because he knew that as God in the flesh, he is fully entitled to be worshipped.

Peter and an Angel Refused to Be Worshipped

When Peter the apostle and an angel of God were worshipped, however, they told the worshippers to stop straight away:

“When Peter entered, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshipped him. 26 But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I too am a man.” (Acts 10:25-26)

“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) (See also Revelation 19:10)

The exact same Greek word for “worship” in these verses is also used on every occasion Jesus was worshipped, “προσκυνέω” (proskyneō).¹ This, along with the fact that Jesus told Satan this form of worship belongs to God alone, and that Peter and the angel refused receiving this form of worship on the basis that they are just creatures and not God, is a clear indication of Jesus’ real identity: Jesus is God in flesh, distinct from the Father and the Holy Spirit, but one with them in Being and Nature. In conclusion, because Jesus is worshipped and accepts worship in the Bible, we can—and should—worship him too.

Reference List

1. προσκυνέω, Blue Letter Bible, accessed on 8 March 2019,  <https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G4352&t=KJV>

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on whatsapp
Share on email