Jump to content
The World News Media

Worship or Obeisance? Translating the Greek word "proskuneo"


Jack Ryan

Recommended Posts

  • Member

In the NWT, every time the Greek word "proskuneo" is used in reference to God, it is translated as "worship" (Rev 5:14, 7:11, 11:16, 19:4, Jn 4:20, etc.). Every time "proskuneo" is used in reference to Jesus, it is translated as "obeisance" (Mt 14:33, 28:9, 28:17, Lk 24:52, Heb 1:6, etc.), even though it is the same word in the Greek (see Gr-Engl Interlinear).

Especially compare the Greek word "prosekunhsan" used with reference to God in Rev 5:14, 7:11, 11:16, and 19:4 and used with reference to Christ in Mt 14:33, 28:9, and 28:17. What is the reason for this inconsistency? If the NWT was consistent in translating "proskuneo" as "worship", how would the verses above referring to Christ read?

Link to comment
Share on other sites


  • Views 8.6k
  • Replies 7
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

(Philippians 1:9) “This is what I continue praying, that your love may abound still more and more with accurate knowledge and full discernment.”   (1 John 5:20) . . .. 20 But we know that th

In the NWT, every time the Greek word "proskuneo" is used in reference to God, it is translated as "worship" (Rev 5:14, 7:11, 11:16, 19:4, Jn 4:20, etc.). Every time "proskuneo" is used in reference t

Vine's Expository Dictionary states this: 'PROSKUNEO,  to make obeisance, do reverence to (from pros, towards, and kuneo, to kiss), is the most frequent word rendered to worship. It is used of an

  • Member

Vine's Expository Dictionary states this:

'PROSKUNEO,  to make obeisance, do reverence to (from pros, towards, and kuneo, to kiss), is the most frequent word rendered to worship. It is used of an act of homage or reverence'.

 Surely context must determine the way this word proskuneo or pro·sky·neʹo is translated, rather than a consistency of English expression. If the word were rendered as "worship" in every case for consistency as suggested, then Rev 3:9 would have the 1st Century Christians receiving worship from those Jews in Philadelphia who come to recognize Jehovah's new arrangement involving the Christian congregation. The related word here is rendered as "bow" in the 2013 NWT, footnote "do obeisance".

The word worship in English can mean to "regard with great respect, honor, or devotion", and, in Britain, "Your Worship" is used in addressing or referring to an important or high-ranking person, especially a magistrate or mayor. However, in my experience, the word is far more likely to be understood in it's other guise of "reverence offered to a divine or supernatural being" especially when used in a Biblical context. (Webster's definitions).

Jesus simple statement at Matt 4:8-10 helps me to see the need for this consideration of context. He told Satan: “It is Jehovah your God you must worship [form of pro·sky·neʹo], and it is to him alone you must render sacred service.” So using "obeisance" when this word is applied to created beings, rather than "worship", seems consistent with it's meaning. Most importantly, a consideration of the context of it's use in scripture, should relate particularly the example of Jesus Christ who "gave no consideration to a seizure, namely, that he should be equal to God" (Ph.2:6). This makes it clear that Jesus, unlike Satan, would never misappropriate or embezzle "worship". Worship belongs only to Jehovah God.

The 1954 Watchtower 1 January  30-31 has a Question from Readers article for further reasoning on this subject.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Member

(Philippians 1:9) “This is what I continue praying, that your love may abound still more and more with accurate knowledge and full discernment.”

 

(1 John 5:20) . . .. 20 But we know that the Son of God has come, and he has given us insight so that we may gain the knowledge of the one who is true. And we are in union with the one who is true, by means of his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and life everlasting.

 

(Exodus 20:2, 3) 2 “I am Jehovah your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 3 You must not have any other gods besides me.

 

(Matthew 4:8-10) 8Again the Devil took him along to an unusually high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to him: “All these things I will give you if you fall down and do an act of worship to me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him: “Go away, Satan! For it is written: ‘It is Jehovah your God you must worship, and it is to him alone you must render sacred service.’”

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Member

In the United States, or at least many parts of it, this question might not have even come up 100 years ago, because it would have been so widely recognized that "worship" and "bowing down" were closely related, but the specific meaning would have been determined by context.

In many countries the remnants of this "confusion" still exists in the language. Words related to respect for authority of a husband, or a "reverend," or noble "lord," or a king, or God -- they still contain a lot of this historical overlap. In the Bible, a false God was known as Baal, but Jehovah was also referred to as Baal, and a husband could also be referred to as Baal. (Baal could mean "master" or "owner.") In many languages the words for husband still have these implications. Mister and Master are titles that have stuck. Bowing before authority was easily understood to mean different things through context. The word "worship" itself was still used until recently to refer to earthly "lords" and "kings." (Might still be used by some residents of England to refer to the Queen as "your worship.")

Note this definition from the OED, under the heading "worship":

I. 1.I.1 a.I.1.a The condition (in a person) of deserving, or being held in, esteem or repute; honour, distinction, renown; good name, credit. Obs. exc. arch. (Common down to 16th c.)

The word "worship" in some contexts meant no more than "worthiness." In fact that's the English etymology: worth[y]-ship.

Whether the NWT got it exactly right in all cases is a different discussion, but there is no question that the word always required context. Language, in this case, also changes connotations and some of the meanings are lost. So translating "worship" might have been just fine 100 years ago, and needs to be clarified now, due to obsolete meanings.

 

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Member

I have asked myself the same question, Jay Witness.  If I line it all up, this is the breakdown:

In reference to God, the word for “worship” is used in John 4:23 1 Cor 14:25; Heb 11:21 Rev 4:10; Rev 5:14

For idolatrous images or Satan I found: Luke 4:7; Matt 4:9; Acts 7:43

In reference to Jesus, the same word for worship elsewhere is translated "obeisance" or "bowed down" in Luke 24:52; Mark 5:6; Matt 2:2,8,11;8:2;9:18; 14:33; 15:25; Matt 28:9; John 9:35,38; Mark 5:6; Luke 24:52; Heb 1:6

 Where all other bibles use “worship”, why would the NWT never, in any case, use it when referencing Jesus?  Heb 1:6 is especially interesting when checking the WT Kingdom Interlinear where it reads,

“But when he again brings his firstborn into the inhabited earth, he says: “And let all God’s angels WORSHIP him”.

Yet the RNWT contrastingly uses the word “obeisance”. This is something to rightly consider, since he has been given the authority to judge mankind.  Our life is in his hands, and God expects honor be given him as we honor our God.  Ps 110:1,2

“ For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will.  For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.”  John 5:21-23

The word for “honor (G5091) from Strong’s:  τιμάω timáō, tim-ah'-o; from G5093; to prize, i.e. fix a valuation upon; by implication, to revere:—honour, value.

G5093 - valuable, i.e. (objectively) costly, or (subjectively) honored, esteemed, or (figuratively) beloved:—dear, honourable, (more, most) precious, had in reputation.

If we are to revere the Son just as we hold in high esteem the Father; then it seems to me these scriptures in John 5 give full evidence that worshiping the Son is expected by the Father; but not necessarily on the same level.  John 17:22; Exod 20:3

Definition of worship from the dictionary:  “to honor or respect (someone or something) as a god. : to show respect and love for God or for a god especially by praying, having religious services, etc. : to love or honor (someone or something) very much or too much.”

 Using the argument against worshiping Jesus, found in Matt 4:8-10, Jesus is speaking to Satan and not another human.  Jesus reminded him where his worship should lie, since Jesus worships the Father; the angels worship the Father and Satan should worship the Father. Instead, Satan demanded worship be given him.  Under no other account that I’m aware of did Jesus stop a human from giving him worship.

“And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: “Blessing and honor and glory and power Be to Him who sits on the throne, And to the Lamb, forever and ever!”  Rev 5:13

We keep the position of authority in mind when giving worship to God and Christ. 

“For ‘He has put all things under His feet.’ But when He says ‘all things are put under Him,’ it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted.  Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.”  1 Cor 15:27,28

If the word “worship” is used in reference to demons or idols in the NWT, how much more so should it be used for Jesus Christ, our Saviour.

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 years later...
  • Member

In the NWT, every time the Greek word "proskuneo" is used in reference to God, it is translated as "worship" (Rev 5:14, 7:11, 11:16, 19:4, Jn 4:20, etc.). Every time "proskuneo" is used in reference to Jesus, it is translated as "obeisance" (Mt 14:33, 28:9, 28:17, Lk 24:52, Heb 1:6, etc.), even though it is the same word in the Greek (see Gr-Engl Interlinear). Especially compare the Greek word "prosekunhsan" used with reference to God in Rev 5:14, 7:11, 11:16, and 19:4 and used with reference to Christ in Mt 14:33, 28:9, and 28:17. What is the reason for this inconsistency? If the NWT was consistent in translating "proskuneo" as "worship", how would the verses above referring to Christ read?
 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Member

There is no inconsistency. We are talking about Jesus while on earth as a human right? And we are talking about Jehovah God, right? So are they equal in anything? Who gets exclusive devotion? Christ in heaven, would he be worshipped? Would we at anytime give him any devotion? While he was here in the flesh, though he was in fact the Messiah, and many felt the need to show such esteemed honor, many times he shunned it, for he also knew what Jehovah said to Israel about worship. Why would he allow to happen to him exactly what Satan wanted from him for all the kingdoms? Remember language speaks a picture and when we read the picture it tells should be a correct one. Again common sense is powerful.

Link to comment
Share on other sites





  • Recently Browsing

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Popular Contributors

  • Topics

  • Posts

    • Just once I’d like to see a Pharma ad in which the actors, rather than acting out the touted benefits of the drug, instead act out the side effects of the voiceover—gasping, clutching their throats, turning blue, hair falling out, doubling over, dropping dead, straining on the toilet to ‘go’, swiveling about in dizziness.
    • Journalists who go rogue often do it for me. https://www.thefp.com/p/npr-editor-how-npr-lost-americas-trust RFKjr is turning out a fine source as well. Look how he says 60 years ago most people (80%) trusted government and now 90% do not: https://x.com/vigilantfox/status/1777710201937732085?s=61&t=fM8K_zHB-Zw9l_mM_4QHqg
    • My overall point is that most Witnesses I know in the United States are very political and don't even know it. Often much more political than their neighbors who vote. There are certain limits to what we will say about our political views, but I think we don't recognize that those political views often come out inadvertently in other ways. In fact, I've seen strong political views among Witnesses who only use the line "we don't take sides in politics" when they wish to shut down an argument they disagree with. My parents and many relatives were of the type that said they wouldn't be fooled by all the lies and exaggerations from MS-NBC supposedly on the "progressive left." Nor the lies and exaggerations from FOX News on the supposedly "conservative right." But that didn't stop them from being fooled by thinking that CNN was not mostly "state-sponsored media" that would cherry-pick stories now and then to keep up the ruse that they weren't. As long as they continued to support corporate sponsors, including "Big Pharma" and "Big Military Industrial Complex," it was clear what side they were going to take. And although Trump was golden to all networks for his ability to spout controversy, one of his biggest sins for CNN was the fact that he went 4 years without getting the USA involved in any new wars.  We were watching CNN once, not on purpose, and although many segments were introduced with "Brought to you by Pfizer" one was introduced "Brought to you by McDonnell-Douglas." As if any of us watching were about to go out and buy McDonnell-Douglas fighter jets and missiles for accessories. Of course, even the segments brought to you by Pfizer weren't really for any of us to be swayed in our pharmacy choices, either. As with all corporate media, those ads are really just payments to CNN; they are all just a way for corporations to PAY (bribe) the news writers and commentators to realize on which side their bread is buttered. They are merely buying influence. ---- All this was probably just my own rationale to excuse my own tendency to throw in opinions about politics, politicians, and the mainstream corporate media. There are no easy answers to how someone should go about getting their news, or how to feed their own opinions. But I would be happy to hear about the various sources people use when trying to find the "truth" about various world events. 
    • Here was the general conversation, skipping a part where I had just explained how 30,000 Palestinians, largely women and children, had been killed, and the majority of major news outlets were still equivocating about whether Israel had gone too far. But when half-a-dozen mostly "white" aid workers were killed, suddenly Nancy Pelosi (friend of the aid organization founder), Joe Scarborough, Elizabeth Warren, and a bunch of others turn on a dime to stop giving Israel a free pass -- embarrassing their own man Biden.  THEM: Well, anyway, we don't take sides about literal Israel, and we don't discuss political sides of who supports whom. ME: But that last part is just information, even history. THEM: History is one thing but the Bible says don't speak against the King. What's that it says in Ecclesiastes? (Ecclesiastes 10:20) . . .Even in your thoughts, do not curse the king, and do not curse the rich in your bedroom; for a bird may convey the sound, or a creature with wings may repeat what was said. ME: Yeah. That's where we get the expression: "a little birdie told me." Basically, it means that someone on Twitter will turn you in. Or all the government agencies will be listening in on Twitter.   THEM: Very funny. You mean "X." ME: Yeah, but they still call them "tweets." THEM: But still we don't take sides, we don't even say anything against any ruler, whether he's good or bad. We only pray that they make decisions that are good for us.  ME: I don't think it's wrong to say something against a ruler. Don't you think Hitler was a bad ruler? THEM: But he's not a king now is he? He's dead. ME: I mean even when he was alive. THEM: Well, of course, because he was attacking Jehovah's people. ME: But it would have been wrong to say he was bad while he was attacking millions of Jews? THEM: [changing subject] But look how respectful Paul was talking to Felix, he never said a word against him. ME: Maybe not, but Luke tells us he was probably looking for a bribe. That's pretty negative. ME: continuing . . . And Jesus called Herod a fox. THEM: Well maybe he was "foxy" -- "crafty" not always a bad thing. ME: You don't believe that . . . and even if it was a good thing, then Jesus was taking sides. THEM: Anyway . . . it's wrong.
    • The conversation went like this: ME: I'm just now seeing the new article on the front of jw.org, about whether Bible prophecy points to literal Israel. That seems to be on everyone's mind. THEM: Absolutely. One of my studies just asked that question and I went through the usual scriptures, especially Galatians  6. I hadn't seen the article yet. I wish I had. ME: Yes, the article uses Matthew 23:37 "your house is abandoned to you" and Galatians 6, and Romans 11. THEM: I think I used Romans 11, too.  ME: I just noticed that the article says one thing that might be confusing though. “A dulling of sensibilities has happened in part to Israel until the full number of people of the nations has come in, and in this manner all Israel will be saved.” (Romans 11:25, 26) . . . By the expression “all Israel,” Paul meant all of spiritual Israel. ME: continuing . . . Actually, I don't think that will make sense to most people though. I mean, ultimately, yes, it's spiritual Israel that is saved. We know that from Galatians 6, but in this context people are going to notice that Paul actually was speaking about the two olive trees and the LITERAL Gentiles getting grafted into the tree representing LITERAL Israel.  THEM: But it means all of spiritual Israel will be saved. ME: That's the only way it works out in the long run, yes. But doesn't it make more sense that as many of literal Israel as possible get saved because it's these people of the nations who now have Jehovah's blessing, and this makes some of natural Israel jealous? And that helps lead to the salvation of as many natural Israelites as possible. (Romans 11:11) etc., etc. Who is right on this point is not important here, it's the next part of the conversation. Next post . . . 
  • Members

  • Recent Status Updates

  • Forum Statistics

    • Total Topics
      65.4k
    • Total Posts
      159.2k
  • Member Statistics

    • Total Members
      17,678
    • Most Online
      1,592

    Newest Member
    James Hume
    Joined
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

Terms of Service Confirmation Terms of Use Privacy Policy Guidelines We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.