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

PURPOSE

In Revelation 5:13, the whole creation praises both “Him who sits on the throne” and “the Lamb.” In Revelation, “Him who sits on the throne” always refers to the Father (Rev 5:6-7; 5:13; 12:5; 6:16; 7:9-10). And the Lamb is Jesus Christ (e.g., Rev 5:8-9)

The next verse continues:

“And the elders fell down and worshiped” (Rev 5:14).

However, it does not say WHO they worshiped. The purpose of this article is to determine whether they worship both the “Him who sits on the throne” and “the Lamb.”

SUMMARY

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

1) In all other instances of heavenly worship, the Father alone is worshiped.

In Revelation, in addition to 5:14, there are five other instances of true worship in heaven and, in all five, the Father alone is worshiped:

In four, “God” is worshiped and, in Revelation “God” always refers to the Father; never to Jesus.

In the fifth, “Him who sits on the throne” is worshiped (Rev 4:10-11) and Revelation uses that title for the Father alone.

We should assume, therefore, that 5:14, which does not say who is worshiped, describes worship of the Father alone.

2) In other instances of praise followed by worship, both are praised but the Father alone is worshiped.

In 5:13-14, both the Father and the Son are present and both are praised. Then the elders worship but it does not say who.

We find the same praise-worship pattern in Revelation 7:9-11 and in 11:15-16. In these instances:

(a) both the Father and the Son are present and
(b) both are praised but
(c) the Father alone is worshiped.

If we apply this praise-worship pattern to Revelation 5:13-14, only the Father is worshiped there as well.

3) We must worship the Creator, who is the Father.

In the end-time, the three angels will warn the world to worship the Creator alone (Rev 14:7) and they identify the Creator as “God,” who is the Father alone.

Revelation 4:10-11 identifies the Creator as “Him who sits on the throne” and as “God.” Both these titles always refer to the Father alone.

 – End of Summary –


WORSHIP IN REVELATION

In heaven, the Father alone is worshiped.

In Revelation, in addition to 5:14, there are five other instances of true worship in heaven. in all five, the Father alone is worshiped (Rev 4:10-11; 7:11; 11:16; 15:3-4; 19:4). 1There are many instances where people on earth worship false gods, for example, “worship demons” (Rev 9:20) or “worshiped the dragon” (Rev 13:4). The five instances are:

“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 these, “God” is worshiped and Revelation NEVER refers to Jesus as God. Revelation always maintains a distinction between “God” and Jesus Christ and refers to the Father alone as “God.” For example:

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

“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; cf. Rev 21:22; 1:2, 9; 7:17; 12:5, 17; 14:4, 12; 20:4, 6; 21:22, 23; and 22:1, 3). See – Does the book of Revelation present Jesus as God Almighty?

In the fifth instance, “Him who sits on the throne” is worshiped (Rev 4:10-11) and Revelation uses that title for the Father alone. 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).

“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).

Since, in the other five instances, the Father alone is worshiped, we should assume that 5:14, which does not say who is worshiped, describes the worship of the Father. Revelation never directly says that the Son and the Holy Spirit are worshiped.

Both are praised but One is worshiped.

In 5:13-14, both the Father and the Son are present and both are praised. Then the elders worship but we do not know who.

We find this praise-worship pattern also in Revelation 7 and 11. The difference is that, in these two instances, it is explicitly the Father who is worshiped:

Revelation 7:9-11

These verses read:

9 … a great multitude …
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. The absence of Jesus from this worship is striking. If we apply this praise-worship pattern to Revelation 5:13, only the Father is also worshiped there.

In Revelation 4, the Father alone is worshiped. One may argue that the Son is not present in that chapter because 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 is, therefore, important that the Father alone is worshiped.

Revelation 11:15-16

In these verses, we find a similar pattern. 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).

Here, “Lord” refers to the Father. This verse, therefore, mention both the Father and the Son. In the next verse, “the twenty-four elders .. fell on their faces and worshiped God” (Rev 11:16). The absence of Jesus in this worship is again significant.

We must worship the Creator, who is the Father.

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).

So, we must worship the Creator, but who is He? 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 alone is the Creator:

Firstly, the first angel commands us to worship “God” and, as argued, in Revelation, “God” always refers to the Father, 

Secondly, in Revelation 4:10-11:

“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’.”

The Creator here is the Father because:

1) The Creator is “Him who sits on the throne” and, in Revelation, that 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) The Creator is identified as God and, as stated, in Revelation, only the Father is God.

3) The Son is not present in Revelation 4. As said, 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 crisis (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 the end-time conflict will be over who to worship. The message of the three angels, therefore, is very important.

God’s people worship the Father alone.

In Revelation, there are also instances where humans worship, but they always worship the Father; never the Son:

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

In Revelation 15:3-4, they say: “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, “God” is worshiped, and “God” always refer to the Father.

The second instance also identifies the Person worshiped as “the Almighty.” Another article analyses all instances of this term and shows that this term is used for the Father alone. For example:

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

John was told to worship “God.”

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 also an instruction to worship the Father.


OTHER ARTICLES

FOOTNOTES

  • 1
    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).

Who are the woman and her child in Revelation 12?

In Revelation 12:1-5, we read about a woman, a dragon, and the woman’s “male child.” The purpose of this article is to identify the woman and her child.

SUMMARY CONCLUSIONS

The Child is Jesus Christ because He ascended to God’s throne and will rule the nations with an iron rod, which Revelation says Christ will do. He is the woman’s great desire and Satan’s great enemy.

The woman cannot be the formal church because she existed before Christ was born.

She can also not be literal Israel because she continues to exist after Christ ascended to heaven and because her other children are described as Christians.

She cannot be either Israel or the church because Revelation merges the church into Israel.

The symbolic nature of the entire Book of Revelation and of the immediate context argues against her being Mary.

She symbolizes God’s true people from all times and places because:

      • The Bible describes His people as His wife,
      • This description of the woman and her child alludes to God’s promise in the Garden of Eden that the woman’s seed would crush the head of the serpent,
      • The rest of Revelation elaborates on this conflict between the Dragon and the Woman and explains the Woman as God’s people, and because
      • Her antipole is the harlot Babylon, who exists always and everywhere.

THE CHILD

The Male Child is Jesus Christ.

For the following reasons, this “male child” is Jesus Christ:

The Woman was intensely longing for Him.

The mother is represented as clothed with the sun, and with the moon under her feet (Rev 12:1). She has many other children (Rev 12:17), but this “male child” stands out far above them all because the woman is said to be expecting him “in pain to give birth” (Rev 12:2), meaning that she is longing intensely for his arrival.

He was caught up to God’s throne.

The dragon, identified as Satan (Rev 12:9), stood ready to devour him as soon as he was born (Rev 12:3-4). But the male child “was caught up to God and to His throne” (Rev 12:5). Who else could this be, other than Jesus Christ? As Mark 16:19 states, “The Lord Jesus … was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God.”

He is the Woman’s Seed God promised in Eden.

The dragon is also identified as “the serpent of old” (Rev 12:9). This refers to the serpent in the garden of Eden (Gen 3:1). This, and the context of a woman and her child supports the view that this “male child” is the Seed of the Woman whom God’s promised will bruise the head of the serpent (Gen 3:15).

He will rule the nations with a rod of iron.

This “male child” will “rule all the nations with a rod of iron” (Rev 12:5). That identifies Him as Jesus because Revelation says that the Father gave Jesus the authority to rule the nation with “a rod of iron” (Rev 2:27) and, when Christ returns (Rev 19:11-21), “the Word of God” (Rev 19:13), a title which the writer of Revelation also elsewhere uses for Jesus (John 1:1, 14), will rule the nations with a rod of iron (Rev 19:15).

Conclusions

Revelation 12:5 describes the entire period from Christ’s birth to His ascension. For that reason, the preceding verses must describe the time before Christ and the subsequent verses describe the time immediately after His ascension.

THE WOMAN

The Alternative Views

The alternative views as to the identity of the woman include:

1) Mary: The Catholic Church identifies the woman as Mary; the literal mother of Jesus; to whom it refers as the Mother of God (Theotokos), “the All-Holy,” who lived a perfectly sinless life (Catechism 411, 493), and the co-mediator to whom people can entrust all their cares and petitions (Catechism 968-970, 2677). See – Worship of Mary.

2) The formal church;

3) Literal Israel, i.e., the nation of Israel; both before and after Christ; and

4) God’s People, meaning the true believers from all times and nations and denominations.

Indications of her Identity

She gave birth to Christ.

Since the church came into existence after Christ, it did not give birth to Christ and cannot be the woman of Revelation 12.

Her other children proclaim Jesus.

After the child “was caught up to God and to His throne,” “when the dragon saw that he was thrown down to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male child” (Rev 12:5, 13). The woman, therefore, remains on earth after Jesus’ ascension. “The rest of her children … hold to the testimony of Jesus” (Rev 12:17). She now, therefore, God’s New Testament people and cannot symbolize literal Israel.

Revelation merges the Church into Israel.

Perhaps the most important argument against the proposal that the woman of Revelation 12 symbolizes literal Israel is that the Book of Revelation does not distinguish between Israel and the church but merges the church into Israel. (See, the 144,000.) For example:

Revelation uses one of the things in the Jewish temple, namely, the seven-fold lampstands, as a symbol for the seven churches (Rev 1:20).

“The New Jerusalem” – a symbol of God’s people (Rev 21:9-10) – has written on it the names of both the 12 apostles and the 12 tribes of Israel (Rev 21:12, 14). 1“Those who had been victorious over the beast … sang the song” of both Moses and the Lamb (Rev 15:3); the two main characters in the Old and New Testaments. 2In the seven letters, there are people “who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan” (Rev 2:9; 3:9). In this context, to claim to be a Jew is a claim to be a true Christian (cf. Rom 2:28-29). What value would a claim to be a literal Jew have in a Christian context?

Revelation, therefore, is consistent with Paul’s analogy of the olive tree, from which some natural Jewish branches were cut off and some wild Gentile branches were grafted in (Rom 11:16-24). 3The many references in the book of Revelation to Jewish things, such as the 144,000 from the tribes of Israel, therefore, must be understood as referring to Christians.

This is a symbolic prophecy.

Revelation is a book of symbols. The immediate context also indicates that this woman is a symbol. For example:

Both the woman and the dragon are described as signs in heaven (Rev 12:1, 3). The word “sign” (sémainó) means “to give a sign” and implies that the thing seen is not literal.

The woman is clothed with the sun, stands on the moon, and is confronted by a “great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns” (Rev 12:1-3). 4The woman’s clothes might relate to Jesus’ face, which “was like the sun shining in its strength” (Rev 1:16). 5The dragon’s tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth (Rev 12:4) – not literal stars or a literal tail. The stars symbolize angels or people and the tail might be interpreted in terms of Isaiah 9:15 as “the prophet who teaches falsehood.” 6The dragon intended to “devour her child” (Rev 12:4) but not literally. This symbolizes that Satan (see Rev 12:9) was expecting the Messiah and knew that the Messiah was promised to crush his head (Gen 3:15). He, therefore, attempted to cause the Messiah’s mission to fail in any way possible.

Her description seems to be an application of Joseph’s vision in which his father Jacob (renamed as Israel) is represented as the sun, his mother as the moon, and the twelve sons of Israel as twelve stars (Gen 37:9-11). However, since Revelation merges the church into Israel, this does not mean that this woman is limited to Israel.

For these reasons, the woman should not be interpreted as a literal woman such as Mary. 7The safer approach to interpreting the entire Book of Revelation is to assume that everything in it is symbolic unless it is clearly literal.

She is beautiful in God’s sight.

The woman is beautiful in God’s sight. For example, she is “clothed with the sun” (Rev 12:1). Neither Israel nor the Church was always beautiful. Israel killed the Son of God and, during the Middle Ages, the church killed countless numbers of God’s people. The woman, therefore does to symbolize either of them.

The Bible describes God’s people as His wife.

The Old Testament symbolizes the relationship between God and His people as a marriage; God is the husband and Israel is His “wife.” (e.g., Isa 54:5-6; Ezek 16:8; Hos 2:14-20) And, when Israelites are unfaithful to Him, Israel is called an adulteress (e.g. Jer 3:8; Hos 2:1-13; Jer 3:6-10; Ezek 16 and 23). Since God is the only true god, God referred to the worship of false gods as playing the harlot. (e.g., Exo 34:15; Deut 31:16). The New Testament describes the relationship between Christ and His church also as a marriage (e.g., 2 Cor 11:2; Eph 5:25-32; Rev 19:7-8). Therefore:

The beautiful woman of Revelation 12 is “the bride, the wife of the Lamb” (Rev 19:7; 21:9), symbolizing God’s true worshipers.

For that reason also, “the great harlot” and “acts of immorality” (Rev 17:1-2, 5; 18:3) are not literal harlotry or immorality but symbolize people and organizations who claim to obey God but who are unfaithful to Him.

She is the woman of Genesis 3.

In the description of the woman in Revelation 12:1-5, there are several allusions to God’s judgments following Adam’s sin (Gen 3:14-16).

1) Both mention a woman bearing a child causing severe pain. If we had only been told that she was crying out in birth pangs, we would have had enough to understand the situation, yet Revelation adds that she was in the agony of giving birth. It is as if we are invited to make a connection with Genesis 3 and remember that Eve’s punishment was essentially the pain of delivering children (Gen 3:16).

2) The dragon of 12:3 is explained as “the serpent of old” (Rev 12:9), which refers to the serpent in the Garden of Eden (Gen 3:14).

3) “The dragon (the serpent) stood before the woman” (Rev 12:4), reminding us that God said that there would be “enmity” between the woman and the serpent.

4) Both passages refer to Jesus Christ; In Genesis 3:15 He is the seed promised to Eve in Revelation 12:5, He is the “male child.”

In other words, Revelation here converts the woman of Genesis 3 into a symbol. Consequently, the promise in Genesis 3 of a savior that will be born from the woman implies that the woman in Revelation 12:1-2, who is expecting a male child, symbolizes all people before the time of Christ who has been waiting eagerly for the savior promised in Genesis 3:15. This would also include all of God’s people who lived before Israel existed and outside Israel after it came into existence.

Revelation explains the Woman as God’s people.

While Revelation 12 presents it as a war between the Dragon and the Woman, the rest of the book explains both the Dragon and the Woman in more detail. In that explanation, the Dragon works through allies and the Woman includes the 144000 (Rev 14:1) and “those who had been victorious over the beast” (Rev 15:2). These are God’s true people.

For example, the description of the war in the second half of Revelation (Rev 12-22) begins with the Dragon and the Woman but it also ends with the Dragon and the Woman. It ends when the Dragon (Satan) is thrown in “the lake of fire and brimstone” (Rev 20:10) while “the bride, the wife of the Lamb” is received in “a new heaven and a new earth” (Rev 21:9, 1). This “bride” is a familiar concept referring to Christ’s followers (e.g., 2 Cor 11:2; John 3:29; Luke 5:35). By implication, it is the same woman at both the beginning and the end, meaning that the woman in Revelation 12 is Christ’s bride.

Like Babylon, she exists always and everywhere.

Revelation describes two opposing women and describes both as cities:

      • Christ’s bride and the New Jerusalem are two perspectives of the same reality (Rev 21:9-10). (See, Hear/see Combinations)
      • Similarly, “Babylon the great, the mother of harlots” is “the great city” (Rev 17:5, 18).

The harlot Babylon, therefore, is the opposing counterpart of the bride, who is the Woman of Revelation 12. It means that they are the same type of thing but in the opposing camps. For that reason, we are able to identify the woman by identifying the harlot.

Another article series shows that Babylon always exists. For example, she is guilty of the deaths of all of God’s people who died for their faith in all ages (Rev 18:24; cf. 17:6; 19:2). It also shows that Babylon is worldwide. For example, she sits on “peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues” (Rev 17:15).

It is therefore implied that the Woman of Revelation 12, as the opposing counterpart of Babylon, also always exists and is also worldwide. Consequently, she cannot be limited to Israel or to the church or to Mary; the literal mother of Jesus.


OTHER ARTICLES

FOOTNOTES

  • 1
    “Those who had been victorious over the beast … sang the song” of both Moses and the Lamb (Rev 15:3); the two main characters in the Old and New Testaments.
  • 2
    In the seven letters, there are people “who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan” (Rev 2:9; 3:9). In this context, to claim to be a Jew is a claim to be a true Christian (cf. Rom 2:28-29). What value would a claim to be a literal Jew have in a Christian context?
  • 3
    The many references in the book of Revelation to Jewish things, such as the 144,000 from the tribes of Israel, therefore, must be understood as referring to Christians.
  • 4
    The woman’s clothes might relate to Jesus’ face, which “was like the sun shining in its strength” (Rev 1:16).
  • 5
    The dragon’s tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth (Rev 12:4) – not literal stars or a literal tail. The stars symbolize angels or people and the tail might be interpreted in terms of Isaiah 9:15 as “the prophet who teaches falsehood.”
  • 6
    The dragon intended to “devour her child” (Rev 12:4) but not literally. This symbolizes that Satan (see Rev 12:9) was expecting the Messiah and knew that the Messiah was promised to crush his head (Gen 3:15). He, therefore, attempted to cause the Messiah’s mission to fail in any way possible.
  • 7
    The safer approach to interpreting the entire Book of Revelation is to assume that everything in it is symbolic unless it is clearly literal.
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