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  • "proskuneo" -- worship or obeisance?
    • Kate (Login kateothelamp)
      Posted May 4, 2012 4:36 PM

      I first came across the two different translations for proskuneo while studying what Jehovah's Witnesses believe. I used to have a copy of the Kingdom Greek Interlinear, which was an invaluable resource in understanding their doctrine.

      Proskuneo is used 55 times in the New Testament:
      15 times in reference to Jesus
      19 times in reference to God
      9 times in reference to the dragon/beast/image
      2 times in reference to the Devil
      6 times generically (as in "he went there to worship" or "he worshipped at the altar")
      and one time each in reference to demons, idols, Peter, and the angel I mentioned in the passage from Revelation

      What's interesting to note is that in almost every single instance whether referring to God, idols, demons, or the Devil, proskuneo is translated as "worship". In the one reference to Peter and two of the generic references, it is translated "did obeisance" well as in all 15 references to Christ. The JW's have quite methodically attempted to scrub any reference to the deity of Jesus from their Bible translation -- even going so far as inserting words into the text to say that the Word was "[a] god", and "all [other] things were created by him."

      For the visitation of the Magi, it makes sense that proskuneo could be translated as "did obeisance". The Magi had no reason to believe the infant Jesus was the Son of God, they had come to pay respects to a king. But the other references: when his disciples witnessed him walking on water; when the desperate mother knelt at his feet, confident that he could cure her demon possessed daughter; when the man who had been blind since birth could finally see; when the leper was cured of a disease that was thought incurable, and had robbed him of his life, his family, his place in society; the ruler who knew that Jesus could raise his daughter from the dead; when the disciples saw Jesus alive after he had been crucified, and when they saw him taken up into heaven...they weren't just paying respects to a king. And even though the word proskuneo is not used, when Jesus appeared to Thomas and showed him his wounds, and Thomas said, "My Lord and my God!", he was worshipping the risen Christ.

      Matthew 19:17 is an interesting verse. Jesus said, "Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only One who is good."

      I see these as very similar passages:

      Mark 2:1-12 "A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. So many gathered that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, 'Son, your sins are forgiven.' Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, 'Why does this fellow talk like that? He's blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?' Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this is what they were hiding in their hearts, and he said to them, 'Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, "Your sins are forgiven," or to say, "Get up, take your mat and walk"? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins . . . .' He said to the paralytic, 'I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.' He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, 'We have never seen anything like this!'"

      Matthew 21:23-27 Now when He came into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people confronted Him as He was teaching, and said, "By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You this authority?" But Jesus answered and said to them, "I also will ask you one thing, which if you tell Me, I likewise will tell you by what authority I do these things: The baptism of John -- where was it from? From heaven or from men?" And they reasoned among themselves, saying, "If we say, 'From heaven,' He will say to us, 'Why then did you not believe him?' But if we say, 'From men,' we fear the multitude, for all count John as a prophet." So they answered Jesus and said, "We do not know." And He said to them, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things."

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