Worshiping the Lord Jesus Christ:

How Bible Translations Matter

In this article we are going to see how various Bible versions translate the Greek word typically rendered as worship, namely proskyneo, in reference to the Lord Jesus. This will show why choosing the right Bible translation, and learning how to correctly interpret words in their respective contexts, are vitally important in seeking to properly understand God’s inspired Word.

The God-breathed Scriptures are explicitly clear that God alone is to receive worship:

“Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; and saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” Matthew 4:8-10 – cf. Luke 4:5-8 Authorized King James Version (AV)

“And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him. But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man.” Acts 10:25-26 AV

“And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things. Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.” Revelation 22:8-9 – cf. 19:9-10 AV

Therefore, if Jesus were indeed God then we would expect him to be given the very worship that God Almighty receives from his creatures.

We will now compare the way three specific Bible versions render the word proskyneo whenever it is applied to the Lord Jesus, since this will show the impact that a Bible translation will have on whether an individual should worship Christ as God in the flesh or not. One particular version that we will be comparing here is the English translation produced by the Jehovah’s Witnesses, since this happens to be an organization that expressly prohibits its members from worshiping the Lord Jesus who, to them, is none other than the archangel Michael. This will perfectly illustrate how one’s views and decisions greatly affect the way a person decides to render specific words in the Holy Bible into a target language.

 

 

Authorized Version (AV)

 

 

Common English Bible (CEB)

 

New World Translation (NWT)

 

“Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judæa in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him… And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also… And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.” Matthew 2:1-2, 8, 11

“And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.” Matthew 8:2

“While he spake these things unto them, behold, there came a certain ruler, and worshipped him, saying, My daughter is even now dead: but come and lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live.” Matthew 9:18

“Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.” Matthew 14:33

“Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.” Matthew 15:25

“Then came to him the mother of Zebedee’s children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him.” Matthew 20:20

“And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him… And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.” Matthew 28:9, 17

“But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him,” Mark 5:1-6

And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy:” Luke 24:52

“Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God? He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee. And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him.” John 9:35-38*
“And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.” Hebrews 1:6

 

* Note that the AV has the reading “the Son of God” at John 9:35, whereas both the CEB and NWT read “the Human One/Son of Man.”

 

“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in the territory of Judea during the rule of King Herod, magi came from the east to Jerusalem. They asked, ‘Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We’ve seen his star in the east, and we’ve come to honor him.’… He sent them to Bethlehem, saying, ‘Go and search carefully for the child. When you’ve found him, report to me so that I too may go and honor him.’… They entered the house and saw the child with Mary his mother. Falling to their knees, they honored him. Then they opened their treasure chests and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.”

“A man with a skin disease came, kneeled before him, and said, “Lord, if you want, you can make me clean.”

“While Jesus was speaking to them, a ruler came and knelt in front of him, saying, “My daughter has just died. But come and place your hand on her, and she’ll live.”

“Then those in the boat worshipped Jesus and said, “You must be God’s Son!”

“But she knelt before him and said, “Lord, help me.”

“Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus along with her sons. Bowing before him, she asked a favor of him.”

“But Jesus met them and greeted them. They came and grabbed his feet and worshipped him… When they saw him, they worshipped him, but some doubted.”

“When he saw Jesus from far away, he ran and knelt before him,”

They worshipped him and returned to Jerusalem overwhelmed with joy.”

“Jesus heard they had expelled the man born blind. Finding him, Jesus said, ‘Do you believe in the Human One?’ He answered, ‘Who is he, sir? I want to believe in him.’ Jesus said, ‘You have seen him. In fact, he is the one speaking with you.’ The man said, ‘Lord, I believe.’ And he worshipped Jesus.”

“But then, when he brought his firstborn into the world, he said, All of God’s angels must worship him.

“After Jesus had been born in Bethʹle·hem of Ju·deʹa in the days of Herod the king, look! astrologers from the East came to Jerusalem, saying: ‘Where is the one born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when we were in the East, and we have come to do obeisance to him.’… When sending them to Bethʹle·hem, he said: ‘Go make a careful search for the young child, and when you have found him, report back to me so that I too may go and do obeisance to him.’… And when they went into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and falling down, they did obeisance to him. They also opened their treasures and presented him with gifts—gold and frankincense and myrrh.”

“And look! a leper came up and did obeisance to him, saying: ‘Lord, if you just want to, you can make me clean.’”

“While he was telling them these things, look! a certain ruler who had approached did obeisance to him, saying: ‘By now my daughter must be dead, but come and lay your hand on her, and she will come to life.’”

“Then those in the boat did obeisance to him, saying: ‘You really are God’s Son.’”

“Then the mother of the sons of Zebʹe·dee approached him with her sons, doing obeisance and asking for something from him.”

“And look! Jesus met them and said: ‘Good day!’ They approached and took hold of his feet and did obeisance to him… When they saw him, they did obeisance, but some doubted.”

“But on catching sight of Jesus from a distance, he ran and bowed down to him.”

And they did obeisance to him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy.”

“Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and on finding him, he said: ‘Are you putting faith in the Son of man?’ The man answered: ‘And who is he, sir, so that I may put faith in him?’ Jesus said to him: ‘You have seen him, and in fact, he is the one speaking with you.’ He said: ‘I do put faith in him, Lord.” And he did obeisance to him.”

“But when he again brings his Firstborn into the inhabited earth, he says: ‘And let all of God’s angels do obeisance to him.’”

 

 

 

Of the three translations that we compared, the NWT translation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses is the only one that refused to render proskyneo as worship whenever it refers to Christ. This is obviously due to the Society’s belief that Jesus is to never receive worship from anyone, at least not in the same sense that the Father is to be worshiped.

 

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