Both Testaments teach that only God may be worshiped. Yet, Jesus was worshiped on earth by the magi from the east, after He walked on water and after His resurrection. Jesus was also worshiped in heaven after His ascension. God commanded all angels to worship Jesus. All will honor the Son even as they honor the Father.
Only God may be worshiped.
God commands us to worship only Him (Exodus 34:14; Deuteronomy 8:19). There has always been one sin which God did not and will not tolerate, and that is worshiping any god other than the Creator. This is confirmed by the New Testament:
Peter (Acts 10:25–26) and Paul (Acts 14:14–15) both corrected others for trying to worship them. In the book of Revelation John twice attempted to worship an angel, and each time the angel’s response was:
“Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus; worship God” (Revelation 19:10; compare 22:9).
Note the instruction to worship only God. Earlier in Revelation we are told to “worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters” (14:7).
Jesus similarly said to the devil, “You shall worship the Lord your God and serve Him only” (Luke 4:8).
Yet, Jesus was worshiped on earth.
When the magi from the east “saw the Child with Mary His mother; … they fell to the ground and worshiped Him” (Mt. 2:11).
After He walked on water “those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, ‘You are certainly God’s Son!’”(Mat. 14:28-33).
After His resurrection “His disciples … came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him” (28:8-9). “The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him” (Matthew 28:16-17).
Jesus didn’t correct them. He accepted their worship.
Heavenly beings worship Jesus.
Revelation 5 describes events in heaven when Jesus ascended (see Introduction to the Seven Seals). In that chapter heavenly beings worship Jesus:
The “four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb (Jesus see John 1:29), each one holding a … golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints” (Rev. 5:8-9).
“Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, ‘Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.’” (5:11-12)
The Lamb is Jesus. In these quotes Jesus was worshiped, but in the next quote God and the lamb are worshiped together:
Then John heard “every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them … saying, ‘To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever’. And the four living creatures kept saying, “Amen.” And the elders fell down and worshiped” (5:13-14).
The word “worship” appears in 5:14. However, that verse does not specifically mention the Lamb. But given the context of the previous verse, where God and the Lamb receive equal honor (5:13), the implication is that they worship Lamb in 5:14.
Support for this conclusion is that 5:13 reads very similar to 4:10-11 and to 7:11-12, where the heavenly being “worship” God.
Worship Jesus equal to God.
God commanded all created beings to worship Jesus:
God commanded all angels to worship His Son (Hebrews 1:6).
“God highly exalted Him … so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Phil. 2:5-11).
These statements make a distinction between God and His Son, yet created beings worship Jesus equal to God. Jesus said, “All will honor the Son even as they honor the Father” (John 5:23).
The Bible maintains a clear distinction between God and Jesus (see Jesus is not the Same Person as God). It teaches that God is the Head of Christ (1. Cor. 11:3). The Bible furthermore clearly teaches that only God may be worshiped. But still, Jesus was worshiped. We therefore conclude that, although He is not God, we must honor Him equal to God. In our admiration and worship we must not distinguish between God and His Son.
The three views of the Son
In the beginning was the Word. An identification of the “Word” in John 1:1
Only Begotten Son of God
Jesus in Colossians
Does Philippians 2 say that Jesus emptied Himself of equality with God?
Jesus is not the same Person as God
God is the Head of Christ.
God created all things through His Son.
The Bible calls Jesus God.