by Matt Slick
The Jehovah's Witnesses teach that Jesus is a created being and is not worthy of worship. Christians counter that Jesus is worshiped in the New Testament and cite verses such as Matt. 2:2, 11; 14:33; 28:9; John 9:35-38; and Heb. 1:6. The Witnesses acknowledge that at times people bowed down before Jesus the same way they would to God the Father, but they deny that Jesus was worshiped. In fact, in the New World Translation produced by the Jehovah's Witnesses, the Greek word for worship, proskuneo, is always translated as "obeisance" whenever it refers to Christ but is translated as worship whenever it refers to the Father. The witnesses select which way to translate the word proskuneo depending on two things: who is being addressed and what their theology tells them. So, the debate continues. The Witnesses deny Jesus' deity, and the Christians rightfully proclaim it. Jesus is the second person of the Trinity.
In an attempt to prove their position, Jehovah's Witnesses sometimes quote 1 Chron. 29:20 which says in the King James, "And David said to all the congregation, now bless the LORD your God. And all the congregation blessed the LORD God of their fathers, and bowed down their heads, and worshiped the LORD, and the king." (KJV). By quoting the King James, the Jehovah's Witness will try to establish that since King David was worshiped along with God, it means that David was worshiped to a lesser degree than God. Therefore, they say it follows that Jesus can also be worshiped to a lesser degree than God in the same way that King David was, and it would not require that Jesus be divine.
First of all, 1 Chron. 29:20 obviously cannot mean that David was worshiped equally with God. This would be blasphemy. Therefore, it is best to translate the Hebrew word shachah as "pay homage" or "bow down" as is attested to by other translations.
- "Then David said to all the assembly, "Now bless the Lord your God." And all the assembly blessed the Lord, the God of their fathers, and bowed low and did homage to the Lord and to the king," (NASB).
- "Then David said to the whole assembly, "Praise the LORD your God." So they all praised the LORD, the God of their fathers; they bowed low and fell prostrate before the LORD and the king," (NIV).
- "Then David said to all the assembly, "Now bless the Lord your God." So all the assembly blessed the Lord God of their fathers, and bowed their heads and prostrated themselves before the Lord and the king," (NKJV).
- "Then David said to all the assembly, "Bless the Lord your God." And all the assembly blessed the Lord, the God of their fathers, and bowed their heads and paid homage to the Lord and to the king," (ESV).
Is it legitimate to translate the verse this way? Yes it is because it is consistent with Hebrew dictionaries which tell us that the word shachah can mean worship, bow down, obeisance, reverence, fall down, crouch, prostrate oneself, (Enhanced Strong's Lexicon, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1995.) See the same thing stated in The Abridged Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew-English Lexicon of the Old Testament, Richard Whitaker, Editor, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997). This would easily demonstrate that David was not being worshiped. Instead, homage was being paid to him as was also being paid to God--though, of course, there is no confusion about who is God and who is not. As if that weren't enough, the Jehovah's Witnesses own New World Translation translates the Hebrew word shachah in 1 Chron. 29:20 as "prostrate."
"And David went on to say to all the congregation: "Bless, now, Jehovah YOUR God." And all the congregation proceeded to bless Jehovah the God of their forefathers and bow low and prostrate themselves to Jehovah and to the king," (NWT).
Therefore, the Jehovah's Witnesses own Bible recognizes that King David, though greatly revered by the people, was not worshiped. Instead, both God and David were revered by the people by prostration and not worship.
Let's assume the Jehovah's Witness argument for a moment. Even if we were to say that Jesus could be honored the same way that David was honored, in a lesser sense than God, this does not mean that Jesus is not God. Remember, Jesus is both God and man. As a man, people would bow down to Him. As God, He was worshiped. In addition, it is said of Jesus that He knew all things (John 21:17), that He would be with the disciples wherever they went (Matt. 28:20), etc. He is called God by Thomas in John 20:28 and by the Father in Heb. 1:8. The divinity of Christ is well attested to in the New Testament; and only the Jehovah's Witnesses, with their preconceived idea that Jesus is not divine, will twist the scriptures to suit their own needs.
The Bible says, "In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God . . . and the word became flesh and dwelt among us." (John 1:1, 14). Clearly, Jesus is the Word made flesh; and as it says in Col. 2:9, all the fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily in Jesus. Jesus is not a created being but the creator of all things (Col. 1:16-17) just as God alone is the creator of all (Isaiah 44:24). He is both God and man. This is called the Hypostatic Union.
The Jehovah's Witnesses are wrong, and their continued attempt to dethrone Christ will continue to fail as the truth of God's word is revealed.