Worshiping Jesus as God: The Issue of David Pt. 1
Some anti-Trinitarian groups like the Jehovah’s Witnesses love to appeal to the following OT text to counter the claim that the Lord Jesus was worshiped as God:
“And David said to all the congregation, Now bless the Lord your God. And all the congregation blessed the Lord God of their fathers, and bowed down their heads, and worshipped the Lord, and the king.” 1 Chronicles 29:20
Here we have the nation bowing down in worship before Yahweh and David. The anti-Trinitarian uses this to show that a person can be worshiped in a relative sense in union with God without making that individual God himself or divine. As one Arian apologist puts it:
“In the Bible, the worship of Jesus is nowhere said to have anything to do with his being a ‘person’ of the Trinity. But the Bible does provide us with numerous instances where Jah permits the ‘worship’ of certain humans, even in the same context, by the same people, and at the same time that he himself is being worshipped. For example, consider 1 Chronicles 29:20 according to the NIV: ‘Then David said to the whole assembly, “Praise the LORD your God.” So they all praised the LORD, the God of their; they bowed down and fell prostrate before the LORD and the king‘ (emphasis added).
“In the LXX of this account both king David and Jah God are given proskyneo by the same people at the same time. David did not reject such ‘worship’ here and instead direct it all to God, but perhaps because he understood that it was due to his position as God’s royal representative, and because Jah allowed it…” (Greg Stafford, Jehovah’s Witnesses Defended: An Answer to Scholars and Critics [Elihu Books, Murrieta, CA; Third edition, 2009], Chapter 5 – Jah’s “Firstborn”: The Worship of Jah’s “Firstborn”, p. 366)
In response to this assertion, we are going to show that Jesus is worshiped in the exact same way that David and Israel worshiped God.
Sacrificing unto the LORD
To begin with, note what the passage in 1 Chronicles goes on to say:
“And David said to all the congregation, Now BLESS the Lord your God. And all the congregation BLESSED the Lord God of their fathers, and bowed down their heads, and worshipped the Lord, and the king. And they sacrificed sacrifices unto the Lord, and offered burnt offerings unto the Lord, on the morrow after that day, even a thousand bullocks, a thousand rams, and a thousand lambs, with their drink offerings, and sacrifices in abundance for all Israel: and did eat and drink before the Lord on that day with great gladness. And they made Solomon the son of David king the second time, and anointed him unto the Lord to be the chief governor, and Zadok to be priest.” 1 Chronicles 29:20-22
Here we have the king and the people blessing Yahweh and offering sacrifices to him. Now compare this with the following NT references:
“Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God AND OF CHRIST, and shall reign with him a thousand years.” Revelation 20:6
“Nevertheless, brethren, I have written the more boldly unto you in some sort, as putting you in mind, because of the grace that is given to me of God, that I should be THE MINISTER OF JESUS CHRIST (leitourgon 'Iesou Christou) to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that THE OFFERING UP (he phosphora) of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost. I have therefore whereof I may glory through Jesus Christ in those things which pertain to God. For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me, to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed, through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.” Romans 15:15-19
Like Yahweh, Jesus has priests ministering before him by offering up sacrifices to him (albeit spiritual ones). Such service is only ascribed to Yahweh, since one will never find a single instance where an angel or human being is offered sacrifices with God expressly approving it.
Praising the LORD God as the Possessor and Head of all creation
Further notice the prayer that David offered to God:
“Wherefore David BLESSED the Lord before all the congregation: and David said, BLESSED be thou, Lord God of Israel our father, FOR EVER AND EVER. Thine, O Lord, is the GREATNESS and the POWER, and the GLORY, and the VICTORY, and the MAJESTY: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and thou art exalted as head above all. Both riches and honour come of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all. Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name. But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort? for all things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee. For we are strangers before thee, and sojourners, as were all our fathers: our days on the earth are as a shadow, and there is none abiding. O Lord our God, all this store that we have prepared to build thee an house for thine holy name cometh of thine hand, AND IS ALL THINE OWN.” 1 Chronicles 29:10-16
Note the way that David puts himself down as someone who is insignificant in comparison to the greatness and majesty of God. He is humble enough to realize that he and the people of Israel together are nothing without God and that he is as much without hope as they are apart from God. This is why David refuses to take credit for anything that he is about to do in helping Solomon build the temple for the glory of the LORD God Almighty.
With that said, we shall now document how the inspired NT writers take everything that David says about God and applies it to the risen Christ!
For instance, the inspired Christian Scriptures proclaim that it is Christ who receives eternal praise and glory for being the Lord and Judge of all creation, who possesses an indestructible kingdom:
“I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at HIS appearing and HIS kingdom… henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love HIS appearing… And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto HIS heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” 2 Timothy 4:1, 8, 18
“But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.” 2 Peter 3:18
“and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” Revelation 1:5-6
Christ is also praised for being the only blessed Ruler who reigns as the King of all kings and Lord of lords, and for being the only One that possesses immortality:
“I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession; that thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: which in HIS times HE shall shew, WHO is the blessed and ONLY Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; WHO ONLY only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; WHOM no man hath seen, nor can see: to WHOM be honour and power everlasting. Amen.” 1 Timothy 6:13-16
Shockingly, even the JW’s own Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society admits that Paul is ascribing all these descriptions to Christ,
Jehovah is the “happy God” and his Son Jesus Christ is called “the happy and only Potentate” (1 Tim. 1:11; 6:15)… (Aid to Bible Understanding [Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc., 1971], p. 711; bold emphasis ours)
Even though they try to explain the blessed Apostle’s exalted language in a manner that is consistent with their heretical views:
How can Jesus be “the one alone having immortality”?
The first one described as being rewarded with immortality is Jesus Christ. That he did not possess immortality before his resurrection by God [sic] is seen from the inspired apostle’s words at Romans 6:9: “Christ, now that he has been raised from the dead, dies no more; death is master over him no more.” (Compare Re 1:17, 18). For this reason, when describing him as “the King of those who rule as kings and Lord of those who rule as lords,” 1 Timothy 6:15, 16 shows that Jesus is distinct from all other kings and lords in that he is “the one alone having immortality.” The other kings and lords, because of being mortal, die, even as did also the high priests of Israel. The glorified Jesus, God’s appointed High Priest after the order of Melchizedek, however, has “an indestructible life.” – Heb 7:15-17, 23-25. (Insight on the Scriptures [Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc., Brooklyn, NY 1988], Volume 1. Aaron-Jehoshua, p. 1189 – see also p. 1032)(1)
We are even told that Christ is the One who answers prayers and saves his people from all their sins and calamities:
“And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought THE LORD thrice, that it might depart from me. And HE SAID unto me, MY GRACE is sufficient for thee: for MY STRENGTH is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that THE POWER OF CHRIST may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:7-10
“And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting. Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, BE HONOUR AND GLORY FOR EVER AND EVER. AMEN.” 1 Timothy 1:12-17
That’s not all we find. The Scriptures teach that Christ possesses absolute sovereign authority over all things, since he is the Head of the entire creation:
“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” Matthew 28:18
“All things that the Father hath ARE MINE: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.” John 16:15
“And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.” John 17:10
“and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, FAR ABOVE ALL principality, and power, and might, and dominion, AND EVERY NAME THAT IS NAMED, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: and hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be THE HEAD OVER ALL THINGS to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.” Ephesians 1:19-23
“For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is THE HEAD OF ALL principality and power:” Colossians 2:9-10
The risen Lord is further described as the font of all spiritual blessings and graces, who freely bestows his riches upon all his people:
“For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.” 2 Corinthians 8:9
“Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;” Ephesians 3:8
“But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When HE ascended up on high, HE led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that HE ascended, what is it but that HE also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? HE that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that HE might fill all things.) And HE gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: from whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” Ephesians 4:7-16
This last passage is amazing since the Apostle not only states that is the Lord Jesus who appoints apostles and prophets,
“Wherefore, behold, I SEND UNTO YOU prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city:” Matthew 23:34
He even goes as far as to cite the following Psalm, which speaks of Yahweh setting his people free from captivity and bestowing gifts upon them,
“The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels: the Lord is among them, as in Sinai, in the holy place. Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the Lord God might dwell among them.” Psalm 68:17-18
And adopt the language of the following OT reference, where Yahweh is said to fill the entire creation with his spiritual Presence,
“Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off? Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord.” Jeremiah 23:23-24
And ascribes this all to the risen Lord!
As if this is weren’t astonishing enough, notice the vision that the Holy Spirit gave to the Apostle John:
“And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints. And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive POWER, and RICHES, and WISDOM, and STRENGTH, and HONOUR, and GLORY, and BLESSING. 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, heard I saying, BLESSING, and HONOUR, and GLORY, and POWER, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, AND UNTO THE LAMB FOR EVER AND EVER. And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever.” Revelation 5:6-14
John sees every created being in existence giving the Lord Jesus the same exact worship that the Father receives, and that forever!
This proves that Christ is not a part of creation (even though he later became a part of it by taking on a human nature), but separate and distinct from it, and is therefore essentially coequal to God the Father since he belongs on the same side of the Creator/creature divide that the Father belongs to. This is why the Father does nothing to silence his creation from granting his Son the same exact blessing, honor, glory and power that he receives.
After all, if anyone knows the Son it is the Father (and the Holy Spirit),
“All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him.” Luke 10:22 – cf. John 14:26; 16:12-13; 1 Corinthians 2:10-12
And the Father definitely knows that his Son is worthy of the same divine praise and worship since the Son is one with him in essence and majesty.
Hence, Jesus isn’t worshiped as David was. Rather, Jesus is worshiped in the exact same way that David and Israel worshiped Yahweh God, obviously because he is Yahweh Almighty in the flesh (even though he is not the Father or the Holy Spirit).
With that said, we are now ready to proceed to the second part of our discussion where we will provide further examples of the Lord Jesus receiving the same worship God Almighty does.
(1) To say that the explanation offered by the Society is desperate would be a wild understatement. The NT doesn’t teach that Christ possesses immortality because of the indestructible life he received by virtue of his resurrection. Rather, Jesus has this quality due to his being Life itself who gives life to every person:
“in him was life; and the life was the light of men.” John 1:4
“Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said unto her, I AM THE RESURRECTION, AND THE LIFE: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.” John 11:25-27
“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, AND THE LIFE: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14:6
“The God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His Son Jesus, whom you handed over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release Him. You denied the Holy and Righteous One and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and you killed THE CREATOR OF LIFE, whom God has raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses.” Acts 3:13-15 Modern English Version (MEV)
“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (for THE LIFE was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that ETERNAL LIFE, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.” 1 John 1:1-3
Therefore, since Christ is the Life, the Eternal Life, and the Creator of Life it was impossible for him to remain dead:
“Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.” Acts 2:22-24
In fact, the Lord himself said that no one could take his life away and that he would personally raise himself up from the dead in three days:
“Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I WILL RAISE IT UP. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt THOU REAR IT UP in three days? But he spake of the temple OF HIS BODY. When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.” John 2:19-22
“Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.” John 10:17-18
Yet despite the Society’s erroneous interpretation, their position on 1 Timothy 6:15-16 shows that even an anti-Trinitarian cult can clearly see and readily acknowledge that the blessed Apostle Paul described the risen Christ as the only Sovereign Lord and King, who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light!