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


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.


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.


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:

Other Articles

Is Jesus the Most High God? – List of articles on this website

The conclusion, that the Bible makes a distinction between God and Jesus, and therefore that Jesus is not God, given how the New Testament uses the title “God,” came as a surprise to me personally.  To confirm my conclusion, I studied various books of the New Testament. These studies are available as articles:

Summary of the articles below
The Bible provides much evidence for Christ’s divinity but also that He is distinct from God and subordinate to the Father. We must consider both sets of evidence. This article summarizes the articles on this website about the nature of Christ.

Specific Bible Books

Book of Revelation
This article analyzes the relationship between God and Jesus in the book of Revelation, including how it uses divine titles. It concludes that the Son is subordinate to the Father, but also belongs with the Father when compared to the created universe.

Colossians Part 1
The roles of God and Christ in the letter to the ColossiansAre we saved by Christ or by God? Who created all things and who reconciled all things to God; God or Christ Jesus?

Colossians Part 2
This article discusses the view of Jesus in the letter to the Colossians; is Jesus God? Is He equal to the Father? Or is He a created being?

Specific Bible Passages

Philippians 2
Philippians 2:5-11 describes four chronological stages of Christ’s life – before He became man – His human life – His death – and His exaltation after His ascension. Do these verses describe Him as God? If Jesus is not God, why will every knee bow to Him?

1 Corinthians 8:6
1 Corinthians 8:6 shows that God is the Father alone. Trinitarians counter by saying that Jesus is God because (1) He co-created with God, (2) “God” and “Lord” are synonyms, and (3) this verse divides the words of the Shema between the Father and the Son.

Did Jesus claim to be God?
In this verse, the Jews accused Jesus of claiming to be God. Based on Jesus’s debate with the Jews in this chapter, what did Jesus claim to be? Is verse 33 correctly translated? Or did Jesus, in John 10:36, claim to be THE Son of God?

I and the Father are one.
This article discusses three statements by Jesus that are often thought to mean that He is God Himself, namely “I and the Father are one,” “The Father is in Me, and I in the Father,” and “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 10:30; 38; 14:9).

Origin and Pre-Existence

Only-Begotten Son
As the “only-begotten,” Jesus is the only being generated from the being of the Father. But some argue that monogenēs should not be translated as “only begotten” but as “only unique.” This article motivates why “only begotten” is correct.

Firstborn Of All Creation
This article argues that Colossians 1:15 refers to the Son as the firstborn in a literal sense, namely that He literally was the first to exist. But since He was “born,” He was not created. Rather, He, Himself is “the Beginning” (Col 1:18; Rev 3:14) of all creation.

Jesus existed before his birth.
The Son always existed in the form of God and was equal to God, but was sent by God, emptied Himself, and descended from heaven to be born as a human being.

God created through His Son.
God created all things through Jesus Christ. As begotten of God, the Son was not created. Since the Son also created time, He ‘always’ existed. But of the reality beyond time – the source of the universe – we know nothing.

Jesus in the Old Testament
Jesus always existed for God created all things through Him. We must, therefore, find Jesus in the Old Testament (OT). God is invisible but was seen in the OT. This article finds evidence of two divine beings in the OT, implying that one of them is Jesus.

Jesus is not God but subordinate to God.

Jesus is not God.
In the Trinity theory, God is one Being but three equal Persons. In contrast, the Bible always distinguishes between God and Jesus. For example, God is invisible but Jesus is visible, Jesus calls God His God, He is the image of God, and He is at God’s right hand.

Jesus is the Word of God.
Christ is the “Word of God” because everything that the creation receives from God, including existence, sustenance, knowledge, and salvation, flows through His Son. Also, through Christ, the adoration and thanksgiving of the creation flow back to God.

The Almighty is the Father.
The title, “the Almighty,” appears ten times in the New Testament. This article shows that the New Testament refers to the Father alone as “the Almighty.” Some verses make an explicit distinction, e.g., “the Lord God the Almighty AND the Lamb” (Rev 21:22).

The Son is subordinate to God.
The Son was subordinate to God before His birth and still is now after His ascension. Everything that the Son has, both as a human and eternally, He received from His Father, including His authority to raise the dead and to judge, and the Fullness of Deity.

If Jesus is not God, why must we worship Him?
We may worship only God, but we must also worship Jesus. Does that mean that He is God? The English word “worship” implies worshiping God. The Greek word that is translated as worship (proskuneó) does not require the one worshiped to be God.

List of all worship verses in the New Testament.

Is Jesus called God?

Summary of these articlesThe basic meaning of the Greek word translated as “God” (theos) is an immortal being with supernatural powers. To translate theos as “God” when it refers to Jesus is an application of the Trinity doctrine; not proof there-of.

What does theos mean?
The Greek word theos has a wide range of meanings, including false gods, God’s people, and the Almighty. The English word “God” refers only to the Almighty. This article analyses in what sense the New Testament refers to Jesus as theos.

John 1:18 – The Only Begotten God
Many ancient manuscripts of John 1:18 refer to Jesus as son and not as theos. In any case, the word “God” is an interpretation for theos means “god” and is only translated as “God” when the translator thinks that it refers to the Ultimate Reality.

John 20:28 – “My Lord and my God!
Why did Thomas address Jesus as ho theos (literally, the god) in John 20:28? Thomas could not have called Jesus “my God” because Jesus never taught that He is God and because the disciples, at the time, did not think or teach that Jesus is God.

Is Jesus “God” in John’s gospel?
The title “God” appears more than 100 times in John’s gospel and it consistently distinguishes between God and Jesus. Only 3 instances possibly refer to Jesus as God, but these instances are debatable. And John wrote that the Father is Jesus’ God.

Romans 9:5
Paul never refers to Jesus as God. He always distinguishes between Jesus and God. The huge variation in the translation of Romans 9:5 disqualifies it as evidence that Jesus is God. It depends on punctuation which, in the Bible, is interpretation.

Hebrews 1:8
Hebrews 1:8 refers to Jesus as theos but the next verse shows that He is NOT God for it says that God is His God. Furthermore, Hebrews 1:1-2, 6 makes an explicit distinction between Jesus and God and represents Jesus as subordinate to God.

John 1:1

John 1:1 is very important in the controversy over the deity of Christ. This article introduces the articles that discuss its translation, including alternative translations, and the meanings of “the Word,” “the beginning,” and “with God.” 

The Word
The normal meaning of logos is “message.” Some propose that the logos in John 1:1 is not a person but a personification of God’s eternal plan. In Greek philosophy, the logos was the intermediary through whom God created all things. 

The Word was a god.
John 1:1b includes the article (the) before theos (God), but John 1:1c omits it. Jehovah’s Witnesses, therefore, translate John 1:1c as: “the Word was a god.” This article lists seven objections to this translation.

Theos is a count noun.
To defend their translation, “the Word was a god,” Jehovah’s Witnesses argue that “God” is a count noun and count nouns must always be either definite or indefinite, even when used qualitatively. This article evaluates this argument.

The Word was God.
The translation, “the Word was God,” interprets theos as definite, but John 1:1c uses theos in a descriptive sense. In other words, it says that the Word was like God; He is the image of the invisible God (Col 1:15; cf. Heb 1:3).

This translation interprets theos as definite, but John 1:1c uses theos in a descriptive sense. In other words, the Word was like God, as the Bible elsewhere states, He is the image of the invisible God and the exact representation of His nature.

Is John’s Logos the same as Philo’s Logos?
Philo, a Jewish philosopher who wrote a few decades before the NT was written, included the Logos of Greek philosophy in his interpretation of the Old Testament and described the Logos as very similar to the Logos in the New Testament (Jesus Christ). This article shows these parallels and explains why they exist.