A response to
But people 'worshiped' Jesus and he did not object

Worship of the Lord Jesus


Before we continue in this section, let us first denote "worship1" to be the worship of God or idols, devils, etc, and "worship2" to mean respect, reverence, etc. This is necessary in view of Mr. Al-Kadhi making two objections, which he sometimes didn't quite clearly differentiate. If worship1 is directed towards God, then this is true worship, but if worship1 is directed towards Satan, idols, etc, then this is plain idolatry or shirk.

Objection and non-objection

The author made two objections, which he didn't very explicitly state, and sometimes he didn't quite differentiate them properly :

Objection 1:

But people "worshipped" Jesus and he did not object: With regard to John 9:38 "Lord. I believe, and he worshipped him." and Matthew 28:17 "they saw him, they worshipped him." Please note that the word translated as "worshipped" in both verses is the GREEK word "prosekunesan" which is derived from the root word proskuneo {pros-ku-neh'-o}. The literal meaning of this word is (and I quote): "to kiss, like a dog licking his masters hand." This word also has the general meaning of "bow, crouch, crawl, kneel or prostrate." Please check the Strong's concordance for the true meaning of this word. Is the act of kissing someone's hand the same as worshipping him? Once again, selective translation.

Objection 2:

Worship is one of those English words which carry a double meaning. The one most popular among most people is to pray to. This is the meaning that immediately springs into everyone's mind when they read this word. However, worship has another meaning. It also means to respect, to reverence, or to adore (see for example Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, tenth edition) .... What the translators have done when translating these verse is that they have technically translated the word correctly, however, the true meaning of this word is now completely lost.
In the first objection, the author was saying that when the word "worship" was used of the Lord Jesus, it was a mistranslation. It should be "kissing his hand," "bowing," "respect", etc, instead. In the second objection, he was saying that the word "worship" was translated correctly, but that it had a double meaning, and it was not worship1 that was meant. In both cases, he was saying that the word should be translated into worship2 in our modern day English.

He made this charge against the translators :

However, the above two verses of John and Matthew are not the only two verses of the Bible were such selective translation techniques are employed in order to impress upon the reader a chosen doctrine.
But since he made the second objection, it is also clear that it is not the fault of the King James translators (which he seemed to use most often) to have translated "worship" in all the occasions when proskuneo was used in the Bible. The consistency of the KJ translators certainly cannot be faulted with "selective translation techniques ... to impress upon the reader a chosen doctrine," and he just vindicated the KJV translators!

The author's quotations from the Old Testament to prove that falling to the ground does not mean worship is correct. The only problem is that none of those quotations from the Old Testament can be interpreted as worship based on the word alone. They are different from the word worship :

The Hebrew word simply means fall (literally), and none of which was a meaning of kissing, "like a dog licking his masters hand." The KJV translated it as "fall" 318 times, "fall down" 25 times, "cast" 18 times, "cast down" 9 times, "fall away" 5 times, "divide" 5 times, "overthrow" 5 times, "present" 5 times, "lay" and "rot" thrice each, "accepted", "lie down", "inferior", "lighted" and "lost" twice each, other words 22 times --- not once as "worship"! (see the Blue Letter Bible) So, to impute "worship" onto them is simply incorrect. The word for worship in "For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God" (Exodus 34:14) is the Hebrew word shachah, which is translated as paying homage, etc., when used of man. But this word is not used in the New Testament which was written in Greek. The author hurts himself by making this sort of misleading generalization.

The Usage of proskuneo in the New Testament

On the other hand, if the literal meaning of proskuneo is "kissing his master's hand like a dog," why is it possible to impute the meaning of worship1? In order to understand this, it is necessary and important to look at all the cases in the Greek New Testament to see how it was used.

Already, the literal meaning is quite illustrative. It is a dog licking its master's hand. Indeed, proskuneo already includes a very very reverential meaning and a lordship of the object to the subject of that very act. Of course, this is not conclusive, but clearly, a very reverential act is already involved. It is not just respect; it is at least deep respect.

The author's quotation of the literal meaning of the Greek word proskuneo is also misleading. Strong's concordance has the word "probable derivative of" before the derivative word. The author also did not give us all the meanings given in Strong's concordance (see Blue Letter Bible):

4352 proskuneo {pros-koo-neh'-o}

from 4314 [pros] and a probable derivative of 2965 (meaning to kiss, like a dog licking his master's hand); TDNT - 6:758,948; v

1) to kiss the hand to (towards) one, in token of reverence
2) among the Orientals, esp. the Persians, to fall upon the knees and touch the ground with the forehead as an expression of profound reverence
3) in the NT by kneeling or prostration to do homage (to one) or make obeisance, whether in order to express respect or to make supplication
3a) used of homage shown to men and beings of superior rank
3a1) to the Jewish high priests
3a2) to God
3a3) to Christ
3a4) to heavenly beings
3a5) to demons

and saying "Is the act of kissing someone's hand the same as worshipping him? Once again, selective translation," he thus seemed to imply and created an illusion that the meaning of proskuneo does not include worship (worship1, that is) in his first objection (he, however, turned around in the second objection). But surely, item 3a2 denote worship1, rightful worship of God. Items 3a4 and 3a5 also denote worship1, but these are sacrilegous acts, i.e., shirk. Indeed, in the following passage, the correct translation has to be "worship" :
Jesus declared, "Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth. (John 4:21-24)
where each of the word translated "worship" and "worshiper" is the very same Greek word proskuneo and its derivative, proskunetes respectively! Is it selective translation that it was translated "worship"? The author's real objection, therefore, is not that because the word literally means "to kiss, like a dog licking his masters hand," and so it does not qualify to be translated worship1. Otherwise, if it is used in that sense of worship1 for the Lord Jesus, this whole section of his is meaningless (the theological ramifications is something else). The reason he wrote this section is that he believed that when proskuneo was used of the Lord Jesus, it is not worship1, but worship2, which he then tried to justify in the rest of the section.

What remains, therefore, is to determine that when it was used of Christ in the many situations (i.e., item 3a3), which of the two meanings it should be. Were these exclusively worship2, or could these be both worship1 and worship2? The author will probably opt for the first alternative, while Christians will argue for the second.

The exhaustive list of verses with the occurrence of proskuneo is given in this section's appendix. A quick statistical analysis reveals many interesting facts. These passages fall into the following categories :

  1. passages that talked about worshipping God (28 instances altogether) plus another instance of worshippers (proskunete).
  2. passages that talked about worshipping Satan or idols (17 instances).
  3. passsages talked about worshipping angels (tentatively 2 instances).
  4. passages that talked about worshipping humans other than the Lord Jesus (tentatively 2 instances).
  5. passages that talked about worshipping the Lord Jesus (or the Son) (16 instances)
As a first cut-off, categories 1 and 2 can be excluded from consideration since these are correctly and must in fact be translated as worship1 (whether rightful or idolatrous worship). In other words, 45 instances of proskuneo (46 if including proskunete) means worship1 (rightly or wrongly), i.e., 69%. In other words, for at least 2 out of 3 occurrences, the corrrect translation of proskuneo is worship1. Passages in category 4 have to be translated worship2, so modern translations like "fell at his feet," etc are correct. The rest of the passages are in category 3 or 5. Passsages in category 5 (those used for the Lord Jesus) accounts for 25% of the occurrences. That must surely caution the student a bit when trying to determine the meaning. If the Lord Jesus is not God, then surely these 25% of occurrences can easily be translated as worship2. But since we are trying to determine if the Lord Jesus is/is not God, it is not proper to use this to determine the meaning, otherwise, we end up with a circular argument.

In the Gospel of John, all instances of proskuneo except one must refer to worship1 (i.e., 11 out of 12). The remaining instance dealt with the Lord Jesus. The same is true for the Gospel of Luke (which has 2 refering to worship1, and one dealing with the Lord Jesus). Thus, the probability that it means worship1 is already very high in these two books. Although this does not imply that every instance that is used of the Lord Jesus imply worship1, the probability that some of the instances imply worship1 is not zero, but indeed very probable.

Let us now take a closer look at the 4 passages in categories 3 and 4 (worship of angels and men) first :

These 4 passages are particularly illuminating. They tell us that the apostle Peter and the angel of God saw it inappropriate even for a creature of God to be the object of proskuneo. They clearly associated the very act of proskuneo with worship1. Seen in this light, categories 3 and 4 do not necessarily exist. We therefore have this situation : in all (except perhaps one) instance of proskuneo used other than on the Lord Jesus, the proper context teaches us that it is to be translated to or taken to mean worship1. Whether or not these actions were intended to be worship1 was not important. The important thing was that they knew they do not deserved to be objects of proskuneo.

This still does not mean that when used of the Lord Jesus, all instances indicate worship1. That is correct, and reasonable to expect, especially when one who was not familiar with the Lord Jesus should "worship" him, i.e., we are operating with a benefit of doubt here (benefit given to the doubt, that is). Thus, when the Canaanite women (Matthew 15:24) or the Zebedee mother (Matthew 20:20) "worshipped" the Lord Jesus, "fall at his feet" is possibly an accurate translation (assuming that these people do not really know the Lord Jesus that well). Of course, they may indeed worship1 the Lord Jesus, but this we don't really know, when we are looking in from the 20th century.

The author gave the following example:

However, the above two verses of John and Matthew are not the only two verses of the Bible were such selective translation techniques are employed in order to impress upon the reader a chosen doctrine. For example, in the "Gospel of Matthew" the English "translation" records that Jesus was "worshipped" by Magi that came from the East (2:11); by a ruler (9:18) , by boat people (14:33), by a Canaanite woman (15:24), by the mother of the Zebedees (20:20); and by Mary Magdalene and the other Mary (28:9) to name but a very few.

What is more important, however, is to consider those passages involving the disciples and/or those who had seen or were expecting the Lord's working in a mighty way. We might discount cursory acquintance, but not close fellowship or understanding. Into this category, we have to include the Magi's worship (Matthew 2:2,11), the disciples' worship after the Lord Jesus calmed the storm (Matthew 14:33), the disciples' worship after the resurrection (Matthew 28:9), the disciples' worship in Galilee at a mountain (Matthew 28:17), at the mount of Olives (Luke 24:52), the worship of the blind man who was healed (John 9:38). If ever there is worship, some of these will be the cases. Let us consider some of them :

Putting it all together

In the minds of Christians and the disciples of the Lord, there can be no doubt that worship was rendered unto the Lord Jesus. The various occasions indicate that worship1 was rendered unto Him. Peter's and the angel's insistence not to be the object of proskuneo indicate that they viewed this matter very seriously, and that these acts were no less than worship1.

The Qur'an describes the disciples (all of them, not one exception) as :

And when I inspired the disciples, (saying): Believe in Me and in My messenger, they said: We believe. Bear witness that we have surrendered (unto Thee) "we are muslims". (Surah 5:111, Pickthall's translation, The Meaning of the Glorious Koran, also 3:52, 61:14)

The author says :

Since worshipping any one other than God is a fundamental sin, therefore, the reader understands that Jesus was God since he condoned them "worshipping" him. Since Jesus (pbuh) never once in the whole Bible ever told anyone "worship me!" (as God Himself does in many places), therefore, once again, we are told that Jesus was "hinting" that he wants us to worship him. However, as we can plainly see, what the author was in fact saying in these verses is that these people "fell at Jesus' feet," or that these people "knelt before Jesus."
It is intersting that suddenly the literal "kissing" is no more. But more importantly, it is that either the disciples of the Lord Jesus were correct in worshipping the Lord Jesus, or that they were committing a grave sin.
Jesus said to his disciples: "Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. (Luke 17:1-2)

The words of the Qur'an

The author accused the Christians :
Once again, we remember that such sublime manipulation of the translation in order to establish with the reader a chosen doctrine was exposed by God in the noble Qur'an. The Qur'an says:

"There is among them a party who distort the Scripture with their tongues that you might think that it is from the Scripture, when it is not from the Scripture; and they say, 'It is from God,' but it is not from God; and they speak a lie against God, and [well] they know it!" The Qur'an, al-Umran(3):78

Almost immediately, I am reminded of Yusuf Ali who did exactly just that when he translated the Qur'an :
O People of the Book! Commit no excesses in your religion: Nor say of God aught but the truth. Christ Jesus the son of Mary was (no more than) an apostle of God, and His Word, which He bestowed on Mary, and a spirit proceeding from Him: so believe in God and His apostles. Say not "Trinity" : desist: it will be better for you: for God is one God: Glory be to Him: (fawill be better for you: for God is one God: Glory be to Him: (far exalted is He) above having a son. To Him belong all things in the heavens and on earth. And enough is God as a Disposer of affairs. (Surah 4:171. see also Surah 5:73)
The word translated "Trinity" in these two passages certainly does not appear in the Qur'an. Other translators have faithfully and literally translated it as "Three" (see, for example, Pickthall and Shakir). Muslims have snatched up this translation to refute the Christian doctrine of Trinity, but the Qur'an certainly does not say that. If Muslims condoned Yusuf Ali (and many Muslims believed that his translations are good) for making this sort of interpretation, how can Muslims charged Christians with distortion?

But what was more misleading was that under what circumstances was Surah 3:78 supposed to be revealed. Who were the people addressed to in Surah 3:78? Syed Maududi's commentary tells us about this surah :

This Surah consists of four discourses :-

The first discourse (vv. 1-32) was probably revealed soon after the Battle of Badr.

The second discourse (vv. 33-63) was revealed in 9 A. H. on the occasion of the visit of the deputation from the Christians of Najran.

The third discourse (vv. 64-120) appears to have been revealed immediately after the first one.

The fourth discourse (vv. 121-200) was revealed after the Battle of Uhd.

So, Surah 3:78 is among the 3rd discourse. Regarding this discourse, Maududi tells us :
In these verses the people of the Book, the Jews, have been invited to give up their sinister ways and accept the divine Guidance. At the same time the Muslims have been warned to be on their guard against their malicious intentions, erroneous ways and absurd objections. (Syed Maududi, in the section Topics and their Interconnection)
Iman Fakhar al-Din Razi in his commentary on Surah 3:78 speaks of Jews indulging in "Tahrif-I-Manwai" only and goes on to maintain that it does not mean that they altered the text. (Hughes, Dictionary of Islam, p. 62).

In other words, these verses were not addressed to the Christians, but the Jews! The Christians were not under this charge, but the author simply stereotyped it on the Christians. Who was the one distorting?

The Demands of the Lord Jesus

Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel. For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth [them]; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will. For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: That all [men] should honour the Son, even as (kathos) they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man. (John 5:19-27)
Here, we see the Lord Jesus claiming that anyone honoring the Father should honor Him. And not just honoring Him, but honoring Him in the same manner as one honors the Father. Which Biblical prophet dare claim such a privilege? Did Muhammad dare claim such an honor? No, not one, except the Lord Jesus Himself.

The author claims in the Preface that Muslims honors the Lord Jesus. Indeed, the honor given to the Lord Jesus was that of a prophet. The author does not even accord to the Lord Jesus the status of "the supreme agent" (like the Jehovah Witnesses), much less the honor equal to that of God.

I am reminded of a recent incident when President Clinton was addressed as Governor Clinton, and that caused quite a furore in the press. Why wouldn't the Christians be distressed when the Lord Jesus was stripped of all His honor, which is equal to God and sitting at the right hand of God, in the lips and hearts of Muslims? One often finds in the newsgroups an angry response from Muslims when some people regarded Muhammad not as the best of all prophets. Does the author himself understands the anguish Christians feel when Muslims make Jesus only a prophet?


Exhaustive list of instances of "worship" (proskuneo) in the New Testament. The numbers in parenthesis indicates the number of times the word appears in the verse.

Matt 2:2 Magi wants to worship Jesus,
Matt 2:11 Herod wants to worship Jesus,
Matt 4:9 Satan says worship me,
Matt 4:10 Jesus says worship God,
Matt 8:2 leper worshipped Jesus,
Matt 9:18 ruler worshipped Jesus,
Matt 14:33 worshipped Jesus,
Matt 15:25 women worshipped Jesus,
Matt 18:25 servant worship king,
Matt 20:20 Mother of sons of Zebedee worshipped Jesus,
Matt 28:9 disciples worshipped Jesus,
Mark 5:6 worshipped Jesus,
Mark 15:19 soldiers worshipped him,
Luke 4:7 Satan says: worship me,
Luke 4:8 Jesus says: worship God,
Luke 24:52 disciples worship Jesus,
John 4:20 worship on mountain (2),
John 4:21 worship on mountain (1), worship the Father (1),
John 4:22 worship what you do not know (1), worship what we know (1),
John 4:23 worship the Father (2),
John 4:24 worship God (2),
John 9:38 worship Jesus,
John 12:20 Greeks came up to worship at the feast,
Acts 7:43 worship false gods,
Acts 8:27 eunuch came to Jerusalem to worship,
Acts 10:25 Cornelius came to worship him,
Acts 24:11 went up to Jersulem to worship,
1 Corinthians 14:25, worship God,
Hebrews 1:6 angels worship Jesus,
Hebrews 11:21 Jacob worshipped while dying,
Rev 3:9 worship at thy feet,
Rev 4:10 24 elders worship,
Rev 5:14 beasts worshipped him that lives forever,
Rev 7:11 worshipped God,
Rev 9:20 should not worshipped devil (2),
Rev 11:1 worship in the temple,
Rev 11:6 worship God,
Rev 13:4 worship dragon(1), worship the beast(1),
Rev 13:8 worship dragaon,
Rev 13:12 worship the first beast,
Rev 13:15 worship the image of the beast (2),
Rev 14:7 worship him that made heaven,
Rev 14:9 worship beast,
Rev 14:11 worship beast,
Rev 15:4 worship before thee(God),
Rev 16:2 worship image,
Rev 19:4 worship God,
Rev 19:10 worship angel,
Rev 19:10 worship God,
Rev 19:20 worship image,
Rev 20:4 worship beast (2),
Rev 22:8 worship at angel's feet,
Rev 22:9 worship God.

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