View Full Version : John 5:23 - Worship the Father and the Son

01-28-2014, 06:12 AM
A. The Jehovah's Witnesses believe the Lord Jesus is not God and so therefore should never be worshiped.
1. Reverent adoration should be expressed only to God. To render worship to anyone or anything else would be a form of idolatry...True Christians do well to direct their worship only to Jehovah God, the Almighty (Awake! April 8, 2000, page 26+27). Since "every prayer is a form of worship" (The Watchtower, December 15, 1994, page 23) this would mean that praying to the Lord Jesus is not allowed.

B. Their first president Charles Taze Russell did in fact worship the Lord Jesus:
1. I have found myself in prayer addressing the Lord Jesus himself, for I find nothing in the Scriptures to contradict that, for they say to honor the Son as we honor the Father (C. T. Russell, quoted in L. W. Jones, ed., What Pastor Russell Said (Chicago: Chicago Bible Students, 1917), 540–41).
2. Russell stated that prayers “are usually thank offerings and communion seasons — telling the Lord (the Father or the Son, either or both, for the Father, as well as the Son, loves us; — John 16:27 — and we have promise of communion with both; — John 14:23 — both are to be worshiped and loved equally, for ‘all men should honor the son even as they honor the Father;’ John 5:23....” (“Our Chicago Convention,” Watch Tower Reprints, 1 and 15 September 1893, 1580–81).
3. The Watchtower prohibited the worship of the Lord Jesus in 1954.

C. John 5:23
so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him (John 5:23, NASB).
1. One of the ways the Lord Jesus honored the Father (John 8:49) was by praying to/worshiping Him (Matthew 11:25). Since God is honored by our prayers and worship of Him so too then the Son is honored by our prayers and worship of Him. Refusal to pray to/worship the Son dishonors the Father.
Stephen D. Renn: Honoring God in the sense of worshiping and reverencing him in a right spirit is affirmed in John 5:23. This attitude is perfectly illustrated by Jesus' honoring his heavenly Father in John 8:49. (Expository Dictionary of Bible Words, Honor - τιμάω, page 407)
2. Both Danker and Thayer cite John 1:23 and Acts 15:8 with John 5:23 demonstrating that the Greek word "kathws" (even as) means equally in John 5:23 (A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, kathws, page 493), (Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, kathws, page 314).
3. Robertson: Jesus claims here the same right to worship from men that the Father has. Dishonoring Jesus is dishonoring the Father who sent him (8:49; 12:26; 15:23; 1 John 2:23). See also Luke 10:16. There is small comfort here for those who praise Jesus as teacher and yet deny his claims to worship.
4. Vine: the duty of all to honour the Son equally with the Father, 5:23 (Vine's Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, Honour, page 561).
5. Murray Harris: Object of worship (John 5:23) (Jesus as God, An Outline to the New Testament Testimony to the Deity of Christ, page 316).
6. Wesley: That all men may honour the Son, even as they honour the Father - Either willingly, and so escaping condemnation, by faith: or unwillingly, when feeling the wrath of the Judge. This demonstrates the EQUALITY of the Son with the Father. If our Lord were God only by office or investiture, and not in the unity of the Divine essence, and in all respects equal in Godhead with the Father, he could not be honoured even as, that is, with the same honour that they honoured the Father. He that honoureth not the Son - With the same equal honour, greatly dishonoureth the Father that sent him.
7. Guzik: That all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father: This is a further claim to deity. If the Son were not God, then it would be wrong to honor the Son just as they honor the Father. It also means that if we do not honor the Son, we do not really honor the Father either.
8. D. A. Carson: The reason why the Father has entrusted all judgment to the Son is now disclosed: it is so that all may honour the Son just as they honour the Father. Whatever functional subordination may be stressed in this section, it guarantees, as we have seen, that the Son does everything that the Father does (cf. notes on vv. 19-20); and now Jesus declares that its purpose is that the Son may be at one with the Father not only in activity but in honour. This goes far beyond making Jesus a mere ambassador who acts in the name of the monarch who sent him, an envoy plenipotentiary whose derived authority is the equivalent of his master’s. That analogue breaks down precisely here, for the honour given to an envoy is never that given to the head of state. The Jews were right in detecting that Jesus was ‘making himself equal with God’ (vv. 17-18). But this does not diminish God. Indeed, the glorification of the Son is precisely what glorifies the Father (cf. notes on 12:28), just as in Philippians 2:9-11, where at the name of Jesus every knew bows and every tongue confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord, and all this to the glory of God the Father. Because of the unique relation between the Father and the Son, the God who declares ‘I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another’ (Is. 42:8; cf. Is. 48:11) is not compromised or diminished when divine honours crown the head of the Son. Granted that the purpose of the Father is that all should honour the Son, it is but a small step to Jesus’ conclusion: He who does not honour the Son does not honour the Father, who sent him. In a theistic universe, such a statement belongs to one who is himself to be addressed as God (cf. 20:28), or to stark insanity. The one who utters such things is to be dismissed with pity or scorn, or worshiped as Lord. If with much current scholarship we retreat to seeing in such material less the claims of the Son than the beliefs and witness of the Evangelist and his church, the same options confront us. Either John is supremely deluded and must be dismissed as a fool, or his witness is true and Jesus is to ascribed honours due God alone, There is no rational middle ground. (Carson, The Gospel According to John [William Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI/ Cambridge, U.K.], pp. 254-255).
9. Richard Bauckham: Bauckham refers to John 5:23 as "the Fourth's Gospel's one clear reference to the worship of Jesus."
He continues:
just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whomever he wishes. The Father judges no one but has given all judgment to the Son, so that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Anyone who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him (5:21-23).
The verb τιμᾶν may not be adequate to describe the worship due exclusively to the one God, but it is used so by Philo (Decal, 65), while Josephus uses τιμῆ for the same purpose (Ant. 1.156). But more important is the context in John. The two divine activities cited are exercises of the uniquely divine sovereignty. Deuteronomy 32:39, the most important monotheistic text of the Torah after the Decalogue and the Shema speak of YHWH's unique sovereignty over life in terms frequently echoed and later understood to include the resurrection of the dead (cf. 1 Sam 2:2; 2Kings 5:7; Tob 13:2; Wis 16:12-14; 4 Macc 18:18-19). In the same context, YHWH declares: "Vengeance is mine" (Deut 32:35). The uniqueness of the divine throne, of curse, included the unique role of "the Judge of all the earth" (Gen 18:25; cf. Ps 94:2) to pronounce ultimate judgment. In terms of God's eschatological sovereignty, which is at stake in John 5, the giving of life and the passing of final judgment are closely connected (5:24; cf. Rev 20:12). Thus it is because the Son exercises the unique divine sovereignty that he will and should be honored just as his Father is. (The Jewish Roots of Christological Monotheism: Papers from the St. Andrews Conference on the Historical Origins of the Worship of Jesus (Supplements to the Journal for the Study of Judaism), The Jewish Roots of Christological Monotheism, The Throne of God and the Worship of Jesus, pages 68-69)

D. The Jehovah's Witnesses belief that the Lord Jesus is not to be worshiped runs contrary to what John 5:23 teaches.