Are both the Father and the Son worshipped in Revelation 5:14?

In Revelation 5:13, the whole creation praises both “Him who sits on the throne” and “the Lamb.” The next verse continues: “And the elders fell down and worshiped” (Rev 5:14) but it does not say who they worshiped. Did they worship both the “Him who sits on the throne” and “the Lamb,” as mentioned in the previous verse?

Summary

This article argues as follows that the elders worship only “Him who sits on the throne,” namely, the Father:

1) Other instances of Divine Worship

In Revelation, in addition to 5:13-14, there are five other instances of divine worship by heavenly beings and, in all five, the Father alone is worshiped. In four of those instances, “God” is worshiped (Rev 7:11; 11:16; 15:3-4; 19:4) and this article shows that Revelation NEVER refers to Jesus as God but consistently maintains a distinction between “God” and Jesus Christ. For example:

The Revelation of Jesus Christ,
which God gave Him” (Rev 1:1; cf. Rev 1:2, 9; 5:9; 7:10, 17; 12:5, 17; 14:4, 12; 20:4, 6; 21:22, 23; and 22:1, 3).

In the fifth instance, “Him who sits on the throne” is worshiped (Rev 4:10-11) and that title also always refers to the Father. For example:

The Lamb” (Jesus) “came and took the book out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne” (Rev 5:6-7; cf. Rev 5:13; 12:5; 6:16; 7:9-10).

In conclusion, in five instances of divine worship by heavenly beings, the Father alone is worshiped. The sixth instance, which is 5:14 and does not say who is worshiped, therefore, should also be understood as worship of the Father.

2) The Praise-Worship Pattern

In 5:13-14, both the Father and the Son are present and both are praised in 5:13. Then, in 5:14, the elders worship.

We find this pattern of praise followed by worship also in Revelation 7. In Revelation 7:9-11, both the Father and the Son are present (see Rev 6:16) and both are praised but only the Father is worshiped. This is significant. If we apply this pattern of praise followed by worship to Revelation 5:13, only the Father is worshiped there as well.

3) Worship the Creator

The message of the three angels, which will be proclaimed in the end-time, warns us to worship only the Creator (Rev 14:7) and Revelation identifies the Father as the Creator:

Firstly, that verse (14:7) commands us to both “fear God” and worship the Creator, implying that the Creator is “God.” And, as argued, in Revelation, “God” always refers to the Father.

Secondly, Revelation 4:10-11 identifies “Him who sits on the throne,” who is also called “God,” as the Creator. Both these descriptions always refer to the Father in distinction from the Son, for example:

“Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb” (Rev 7:10; 5:13; 6:17; 4:9-10; 19:4)

Further Conclusions

Twice John attempts to worship the angel and in both instances, he is instructed to “worship God” (Rev 19:10; 22:9). Since Revelation always refers to the Father alone as God, and never refers to the Son as God, this is an instruction to worship the Father alone.

– End of Summary –


Purpose

In Revelation 5:13, the whole creation praises both “Him who sits on the throne” and “the Lamb.” The next verse continues: “And the elders fell down and worshiped” (Rev 5:14) but it does not say who they worshiped. Did they worship both the “Him who sits on the throne” and “the Lamb,” as mentioned in the previous verse? For the following reasons, the elders worshiped only “Him who sits on the throne,” namely, the Father:

1) Other instances of Worship

In Revelation, there are many instances where people on earth worship false gods, for example, “worship demons” (Rev 9:20) or “worshiped the dragon” (Rev 13:4). In addition to 5:14, there are five other instances of true worship in heaven and, in all five, it is the Father alone that is worshiped (Rev 4:10-11; 7:11; 11:16; 15:3-4; 19:4).

The five instances are as follows:

The twenty-four elders will fall down
before Him who sits on the throne,
and will worship Him …
for You created all things
” (Rev 4:10-11).

All the angels …
fell on their faces before the throne
and worshiped God
” (Rev 7:11).

The twenty-four elders …
fell on their faces and worshiped God
” (Rev 11:16).

O Lord God, the Almighty …
all the nations will come and worship before you
” (Rev 15:3-4).

The twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sits on the throne” (Rev 19:4).

In four of the five instances, “God” is worshiped and, in Revelation, “God” is ALWAYS somebody other than Jesus Christ, namely, the Father. For example:

The Revelation of Jesus Christ,
which God gave Him” (Rev 1:1)

There are many other such verses that make an explicit distinction between God and Jesus. For example:

Salvation to our God who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb” (Rev 7:10).

You (the Lamb – Jesus) were slain,
and purchased for God with Your blood
men from every tribe …” (Rev 5:9).

The Lord God the Almighty and
the Lamb are its temple
” (Rev 21:22).

For similar statements, see Revelation 1:2, 9; 7:17; 12:5, 17; 14:4, 12; 20:4, 6; 21:22, 23; and 22:1, 3. Revelation NEVER refers to Jesus as God.

In the fifth instance, “Him who sits on the throne” is worshiped. That title also always refers to the Father. For example, the following verses make a distinction between Jesus and Him who sits on the throne:

The Lamb” (Jesus) “came and took the book out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne” (Rev 5:6-7).

Every created thing … I heard saying,
To Him who sits on the throne,
AND to the Lamb” (Rev 5:13; cf. Rev 12:5; 6:16; 7:9-10).

In conclusion, there are 6 instances of divine worship by heavenly beings in Revelation. In five, the Father is worshiped. Therefore, the sixth, which is 5:14 and which does not say who is worshiped, should also be understood as worship of the Father.

Furthermore, the Son and the Holy Spirit are never explicitly worshiped in Revelation.

2) The Praise-Worship Pattern

In 5:13-14, both the Father and the Son are present and both are praised in 5:13. Then, in 5:14, the elders worship. We find this pattern of praise followed by worship also in Revelation 7 and 11. The only difference is that, in these two instances, it is explicitly the Father who is worshiped. To explain:

Revelation 7:9-11

These verses read:

9 I looked, and behold,
a great multitude which no one could count …
10 … cry out with a loud voice, saying,

“Salvation to our God who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.”

11 and all the angels … fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God.”

The great multitude praises both “God who sits on the throne” and “the Lamb.” Here, the One sitting on the throne (the Father) is explicitly identified as “God.” In the next verse “God” is worshiped. No mention of the Lamb being worshiped. If we apply this pattern of praise followed by worship to Revelation 5:13, only the Father is worshiped there as well.

In Revelation 4, the Father alone is worshiped. That can be explained as that the Son is not present in that chapter. He only enters the throne room in Revelation 5:6. In contrast, in Revelation 7, both the Father and the Son are present (see Rev 6:16). It, therefore, is significant that only the Father is worshiped.

Revelation 11:15-16

In these verses, we find a similar pattern. First, in verse 15, “loud voices in heaven” say:

The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom
of our Lord and of His Christ;
and He will reign forever and ever
” (Rev 11:15).

The phrase, “our Lord and of His Christ,” means that “Lord” in this verse refers to the Father. Therefore, both the Father and the Son are mentioned in 11:15. Then, in the next verse, “the twenty-four elders .. fell on their faces and worshiped God” (Rev 11:16). There is no mention of the worship of the Son.

3) Worship the Creator

Another place where we are told WHO to worship is in the message of the three angels (Rev 14:6-12). The first angel commands:

Fear God, and give Him glory …
worship Him who made the heaven and
the earth and sea and springs of waters” (Rev 14:7).

This commands us to worship the Creator. So, who is the Creator? In the New Testament, we read that God created all things “through” His Son (e.g., Heb 1:1-2). Is Jesus the Creator? For the following reasons, in Revelation, the Father is the Creator:

Firstly, the first angel commands us to both “fear God” and worship the Creator. This implies that the Creator and God are one and the same Person and, as argued, in Revelation, “God” always refers to the Father, 

Secondly, in Revelation 4:

The twenty-four elders will fall down
before Him who sits on the throne … saying,
‘Worthy are You, our Lord and our God … 
for You created all things,
and because of Your will they existed, and were created‘.”

For the following reasons, this Person is the Father:

1) This person is identified as “Him who sits on the throne” and, in Revelation, this title always refers to the Father in distinction from the Son, for example:

Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb” (Rev 7:10; 5:13; 6:17; 4:9-10; 19:4).

2) This person is also described as God and, as stated, in Revelation, only the Father is God.

3) The Son is not present in Revelation 4. He only enters the throne room in Revelation 5:6.

The three angels, therefore, command us to worship the Father. Their message will be proclaimed to the world with a mighty voice during the end-time persecution of God’s people (Rev 13:16-17). The many times that the word “worship” appears in that context (Rev 13:4, 8, 12, 15, 14:7, 9, 11) means that that will be a conflict over worship. We should, therefore, regard the message of the three angels as very important.

4) Worship in the Temple.

The examples of divine worship above are instances where heavenly beings worship. There are also instances of divine worship in Revelation by humans:

Revelation 11:1 refers to people who worship in “the temple of God.”

In Revelation 15:3-4, they sang the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb, saying, “Great and marvelous are Your works, O Lord God, the Almighty … You alone are holy; For all the nations will come and worship before you.”

In both instances, the title “God” identifies the Person who is worshiped as the Father. The second instance also identifies this Person as “the Almighty.Another article analyses all instances of this term and shows that this term is used for the Father in distinction from the Son. For example:

The Lord God the Almighty
and the Lamb are its temple
” (Rev 21:22)

Further Conclusion

Twice John attempts to worship the angel and in both instances, he is instructed to “worship God” (Rev 19:10; 22:9). Since Revelation always refers to the Father alone as “God” – never to the Son, this is an instruction to worship the Father.


Other Articles

Jesus is worshiped. Does that mean that He is God?

Overview

The Bible teaches that only God may be worshiped (Exo 34:14; Deut 8:19; Matt 4:10; Luke 4:8; Rev 14:7). Similarly, in Revelation, John twice fell down to worship an angel, and both times the angel prevented him, saying:

Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren … worship God” (Rev 19:10; cf. 22:9).

However, in Revelation 5, describing His enthronement after His ascension, the creatures in God’s throne room worship “the Lamb” (Jesus) together with “Him who sits on the throne” (the Father):

The four living creatures and the twenty-four elders
fell down before the Lamb
” (Rev 5:8).

Every created thing” worships “Him who sits on the throne, AND … the Lamb” (Rev 5:13-14).

Does this mean that the Son is God or equal to the Father? To respond to this question, this article discusses two aspects:

Does Revelation present Jesus as the Almighty God? Is Jesus the One who exists without a cause; the Ultimate Reality?

What is the difference between the English word “worship” and the word that is sometimes translated as “worship” (proskuneó).

The article also notes that Philippians 2 describes the same event as Revelation 5, namely, what happens in heaven when Jesus arrives after His ascension. It then interprets the worship in Revelation 5 accordingly.

The last section of this article is important. It explains why we must worship Jesus to the full extent of the meaning of that word, even knowing that He is subordinate to the Ultimate Reality.

A Very Important Question

The question above is very important. The emphasis in Revelation 13 and 14 is on worship. The word “worship” appears several times. People worship the dragon (Rev 13:4) and the beast (Rev 13:4, 8, 12) as well as the image of the beast (Rev 13:15). In the context of that end-time persecution, the only direct command God gives to His people is to “worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters” (Rev 14:7). The point is that the end-time crisis will be about who we worship.

Jesus and God

Revelation does not teach that Jesus is God. For example, the book begins with the following words:

The Revelation of Jesus Christ,
which God gave Him” (Rev 1:1).

Firstly, this phrase MAKES A DISTINCTION between Jesus and God, implying that Jesus is not God. If we read on, we will see that Revelation NEVER refers to Jesus as God but ALWAYS maintains a clear distinction between Jesus and God (e.g., Rev 1:2, 9; 5:9-10; 7:10, 17; 12:5; 12:10, 17; 14:4, 12; 20:4-5; 21:22; 22:1, 3). It reserves the title “God” for the Father ONLY.

Subordinate

Secondly, according to that phrase, Jesus received this revelation from God. This implies that He is SUBORDINATE to God. Revelation does refer to Christ as “the first and the last,” “the beginning and the end” and as “the Alpha and the Omega” (Rev 1:17; 22:12-13), implying that He has always existed. It also describes Him as “He who searches the minds and hearts” (Rev 2:23). Nevertheless, Revelation presents Christ as subordinate to His Father. This is also indicated by the following:

Revelation refers to the Father as Jesus’ God (Rev 1:6; 3:2, 12).

One of the frequent titles for the Father in Revelation is “Him who sits on the throne” (Rev 3:21; 4:2; 5:7; 5:13-14; 7:10; 12:5; 19:4). The Father, therefore, is the ultimate Ruler.

In defense against such indications that the Son is subordinate to the Father, some people make a distinction between different types of subordination. They say that Jesus is functionally (in terms of His role) subordinate to the Father but ontologically (in terms of His substance or being) equal to God. In other words, they say that Jesus is also the Almighty; the One who exists without a cause; the Ultimate Reality. In contrast, Revelation describes the Son also as ontologically subordinate to the Father:

The Almighty

Firstly, Revelation (and the entire New Testament) NEVER refers to Jesus as the Almighty but makes an explicit distinction between Jesus and the Almighty:

The Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple” (Rev 21:22; cf. Rev 19:15).

Revelation identifies “God” as the “Almighty” (Rev 1:8; 4:8; 11:17; 15:3; 16:7, 14; 19:6) and “God” refers to the Father ONLY. For further discussion, see – Is Jesus the Almighty?

Essential Immortality

Secondly, Jesus is “alive forevermore” (Rev 1:18) and “will reign forever” (Rev 11:15), but Revelation identifies the Father as “Him who lives forever and ever” (Rev 4:9-10; 15:7). As Paul stated, the Father “alone possesses immortality” (1 Tim 6:16). As the only begotten Son of God, Jesus derived His eternal existence and nature from the Father. The Father is the Unbegotten Source of all things. He, alone, has inherent (essential) immortality.

Conclusion

If the Father ALONE is the Almighty and has essentially immortal, then the Son is also ontologically subordinate to the Father. The Son, therefore, is not God (understood as the Ultimate Reality – the One who exits without cause), nor equal with God. For a more detailed discussion, see – Does the book of Revelation present Jesus as God Almighty?

Worship and Proskuneó

Then the question remains, if Jesus is not God, but subordinate to God, why is He worshiped? To explain this, consider the word “worship.”

No word in ancient Greek is fully equivalent to the modern English word “worship.” The word translated as “worship” in Revelation 5:13 is proskuneó and this word means “to do reverence to.” While the word “worship” generally implies that the one worshiped is a god, proskuneó is also used when people “do reverence to” an exalted person such as a king (Matt 18:26; Rev 3:7-9; Acts 10:25). Proskuneó merely means to show extreme respect to another being by bowing down.

When somebody proskuneó God or a god, “worship” is an appropriate translation. But when somebody proskuneó other beings, “bow down” or “do reverence” would be more appropriate translations. For example, in Revelation 3:9, Jesus said, “I will make them come and bow down at your feet.” “Bow down,” here, translates proskuneó.

In the New Testament, people proskuneó Jesus 13 times. In all instances, the KJV translates this as “worship” but in six instances, where it is clear from the context that Jesus was not worshiped, the NASB translates this as “bow down.” For example:

A leper came to Him and bowed down before Him” (Matt 8:2).

A synagogue official came and bowed down before Him” (Matt 9:18; cf. (Matt 15:25; 20:20; Mark 5:6; 5:9; 15:19).

For further discussion, see – If Jesus is not God, why must we worship Him?

The point is that when our Bibles translate proskuneó as “worship” when Jesus receives proskuneó, it is not because of anything in the word proskuneó itself; it is based on the view most translators have that Jesus is God. The same applies to the translation of proskuneó in Revelation 5:14. If the translators did not assume that Jesus is the Ultimate Reality, perhaps they would have translated proskuneó in that verse differently.

In conclusion, the translation of proskuneó in 5:14 as “worship” is an interpretation. It does not require Jesus to be God or equal with His Father.

Philippians 2

Revelation 5 describes what happens in heaven when Jesus arrives after His ascension. In particular, it describes His enthronement at His Father’s right hand. Philippians 2:6-11 describes that very same event and EXPLAINS WHY the Son is worshiped in Revelation 5. In that passage:

1) Jesus is worshiped by the entire creation (“every knee will bow”) because “God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name” (Phil 2:9-11). This makes a distinction between God and Jesus. It also means that we worship Jesus because God wants us to (cf. Heb 1:6).

2) He is worshiped “to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:11); not independent from or co-equal with God. This relationship between the worship of the Father and the Son is also indicated by the statement: “He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him” (John 5:23). In other words, by honoring the Son, we honor the Father.

3) “Every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord;” i.e., they do NOT confess Him as God.

This explains what we see in Revelation 5:13-14 where the entire universe praises “the Lamb” together with “Him who sits on the throne.” For a discussion, see the article on Philippians 2.

We must worship Jesus.

Therefore, we must “worship” Jesus:

    • God is the Creator, but He created and still maintains all things THROUGH His Son (John 1:3; Col 1:16-17; Heb 1:2-3; 1 Cor 8:6).
    • God is the ultimate Ruler, but He GAVE all authority to His Son (Matt 28:18).
    • The Father is the Judge but He “has given all judgment to the Son” (John 5:22). He gave the Son “authority to execute judgment” (John 5:27).
    • Just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself” (John 5:26).
    • In Christ “all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form” (Col 2:9), because “it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him” (Col 1:19).
    • He is the image of the invisible God” (Col 1:15).
    • After His victory on earth, “God highly exalted Him … so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow” (Phil 2:9-10).
    • All will honor the Son even as they honor the Father” (John 5:23).

The point is that God is the uncaused Cause of all things, but His Son is the Intermediary between God and the universe. The Son represents God. For that reason, to worship the Son, is to worship God. It does NOT mean that the Son is the Almighty Creator; equal with the Father.

Created beings simply cannot see God (1 Tim 1:17) because He exists outside the physical universe. However, inside this universe, His unique Son has “all authority” (Matt 28:18). In Christ, we can see the fullness of God. For these reasons, I maintain that we must worship Jesus to the full extent of the meaning of that word, even knowing that He is subordinate to the Ultimate Reality. He is worthy of all our adoration.

For further discussion, also see the articles on:


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