Introduction (Written by Jason Petersen)
This is a comprehensive seven-part article on the Deity of Christ that is written by Evan Osborne. Seven arguments can be used to show that Christ was God in the flesh. The seven parts to this series is listed below. The reader can feel free to click on any of the links below so that they may easily access the parts.
Written by Evan Osborne.
As we continue in our series asserting the deity of Christ, we now turn to the presentation of the worship that is given to him. Unlike the previous article, this article will present a logical argument (more specifically, a deductive syllogism), based upon the sound exegesis of Scripture, for demonstrating that the worship of Christ means that he is God. My argument is presented as such:
P1: Only God is to be worshipped
P2: Jesus Christ was worshipped
C: Therefore, Jesus Christ is God
Now, this argument is deductive, meaning that if the premises are true (P1 AND P2), then the conclusion (C) must necessarily be true. So, with that in mind, let us present the biblical affirmation of the first premise.
P1: ONLY GOD IS TO BE WORSHIPPED
When giving the Ten Commandments to Moses, God gives the people of Israel the command that there are to be no gods before him, and that worship is to be given to none but him (cf. Exodus 20:3-5). All throughout the OT we read such commands, whether from the mouth of God or his prophets. When we get into the NT, Jesus asserts that only God is to be worshipped. At the climax of his temptation in the wilderness by Satan (cf. Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13), Christ is offered all the kingdoms of the world if he will worship Satan. Christ responds by saying, “Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’” It is abundantly clear from Scripture that only God is to be the subject of worship, and virtually no one disputes this premise.
P2: JESUS CHRIST WAS WORSHIPPED
There are numerous texts in the NT that state that Jesus was worshipped (since I contend that prayer is a form of worship, prayer directed toward Christ counts as worship). To those we now look.
Matthew 2:2,11: Many know the story of the wise men presenting their gifts to the young Jesus, but many don’t pay attention to the reason why they wanted to travel and see him. The Bible makes it quite clear: “we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him” (v. 2). After travelling to where Jesus and his parents were, they finally do worship him: “After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.”
Matthew 8:2: “And a leper came to Him and bowed down before Him, and said, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” While the NASB (cited here) is not very explicit in it’s translation, most translations of Scripture will have a footnote giving an alternate rendering to “bowed down before him” as “worshipped.” Also, the context of the verse points to worship, as the leper identifies Christ as Lord, a reference to deity. That worship is what is in mind here is quite clear.
Matthew 9:18: As Jesus has just finished explaining about fasting (vv. 14-17), “a synagogue official came and bowed down before Him, and said, “My daughter has just died; but come and lay Your hand on her, and she will live.” The similarity of the language of this text with that of Matthew 8:2 points to worship being practiced here.
Matthew 14:33: In this text, the disciples are in a boat, being tossed around by the wind and waves. As the well-known story goes, they see Jesus walking on water, Peter goes out with him, begins to sink, and is rescued. The response of the disciples to Christ’s great work is such: “And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “You are certainly God’s Son!”
Matthew 28:9: The women who went to the tomb on the first day of the week, having heard from the angel that Christ was not in the tomb, that he had risen (v. 6), while running to tell the other disciples, came into contact with Christ: “And behold, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him.”
John 9:38: Earlier in the text, Jesus heals a man born blind (vv. 1-12). After the healing, controversy arises over this man, and eventually the Jewish leaders put him out of the synagogue (v. 34). Shortly thereafter, Jesus comes to the healed man and identifies himself as the one who healed him (vv. 35-37). Worship is the result: “And he said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped Him.”
John 14:14: Here we have an example of prayer given as a form of worship. In John 14-16, Christ is giving his final words of teaching and encouragement to his disciples. In John 14, Christ describes his unity with the Father (vv. 7-11), and continues to describe blessings for those who believe in him. In v. 14, he describes another blessing: “If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.” That prayer in this verse is directed toward Christ is evident in a number of ways: 1.) his disciples are asking Christ things, 2.) it is in his name, 3.) he is the one who answers these prayers (“I will do it”).
John 20:28: Now, this text doesn’t explicitly mention worship, but Thomas’ statement can easily be seen as a form of worship. Shortly after Christ rose from the dead, he appeared to his disciples (vv. 19-23). However, Thomas wasn’t present at the time (v. 24), so when he was told of the resurrected Lord, he doubted (v. 25). Eight days later, Christ again appears and demonstrates his resurrection to Thomas (vv. 26-27), to which Thomas responds with, “My Lord and My God!” This attitude, holding Christ as your very God, seems to be clear as an act of worship.
Acts 1:24: With Judas dead, the apostles need to look for a replacement. For guidance, they pray “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all men, show which one of these two You have chosen.”
To establish whether or not Christ is to be worshipped, we need to establish who the “Lord” is in the text. It would seem that the “Lord” being prayed to is same “Lord” mentioned in v. 21: “Therefore it is necessary that of the men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us….” A clear reading of Acts 1:21-24 provides a good exegetical basis for the prayer in v. 24 being directed toward Christ.
Acts 7:59-60: Stephen, after being tried by the Jewish leaders, is being taken to be stoned. As he is awaiting his execution, he prays, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!’ Then falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them!’ Having said this, he fell asleep.” Here, we again have worship given in the form of prayer.
1 Corinthians 16:22: At the end of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, he writes, “If anyone does not love the Lord, he is to be accursed. Maranatha.” For those who don’t know what “Maranatha” means, I direct you to the ESV’s rendering of v. 22: “If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed. Our Lord, come!” So, Paul is directing a plea to the Lord, but who is the “Lord” referred to here? Verse 23 answers that question: “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you.” Therefore, by saying “Maranatha,” Paul is praying to Christ for him to come. We have the worship of Christ demonstrated yet again. Also, John, in Revelation 22:20, gives the same prayer, as he writes “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!”
2 Corinthians 12:8-10: In this text, Paul speaks of a thorn in his flesh, and he prays to the Lord for it to be removed. The Lord answers with “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (v. 9). So, Paul prays to the Lord, and the Lord’s power is made perfect in weakness. The “Lord” is identified in the same verse, when Paul speaks of “the power of Christ.” Therefore, Paul’s prayer here in 2 Corinthians 12 is directed to Jesus.
Philippians 2:10-11: Paul, after describing how Christ humbled himself, becoming a man and being obedient to death on a cross (vv. 6-8), presents the exaltation of Christ after his resurrection. Christ, restored to this exalted state is now the subject of worship again, as the text states, “at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Bowing down to Christ and confessing his Lordship seems to be a statement of worship.
Hebrews 1:6: The author of Hebrews spends his entire first chapter explaining how Christ is superior to the angels. One way in which Christ is superior to these creatures is that they are to worship him, as v. 6 states, “and let all the angels of God worship him.”
Revelation 5:9-14: Revelation 4-5 present a vision that John has of Heaven and the throne of God. Among the creatures that stand out in the text are the “living creatures.” In Revelation 5, they worship the Lamb (Christ), in this scene: “And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.” 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. And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard 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.” This proclamation of the worthiness of the Lamb can be explained as nothing else but worship.
It is clear from the NT text that Jesus Christ truly was worshipped, and that he allowed people to worship him.
C: THEREFORE, JESUS CHRIST IS GOD
Since the argument I’m presenting is a deductive syllogism, if the first two premises are true, then the conclusion (C) is necessarily true. Therefore, we have another argument giving a positive defense of the deity of Christ.