Scripture Queries and Answers: Homage and Worship

 •  2 min. read  •  grade level: 9
Q. In the Bible Treasury for December there is an article on Προσκυνέω. Would the writer be so good as to say what he means by doing homage or doing obeisance to Jesus Christ, and what her means by worshipping the Father?
A. A well-known version of the New Testament, which has had the respectful commendation of the best Biblical scholars in the Anglican body as well as outside it, was attacked by one not only incompetent but disposed to impute the worst motives for that which was beyond his own measure. The writer of the reply had not the least notion of its source, though he has since heard the name with regret. The aim was to show that the translator insinuated the inferiority of the Son to the Father by restricting “worship” to the latter and translating the same word by “homage” where the Son was concerned. It was shown that this was doubly false; and that the version assailed does speak of “worship” where the Son is spoken of, and gives “homage” where the obeisance is unquestionably rendered to God the Father or to God as such. It is admitted by all persons of real intelligence that the word “worship” has become narrowed in modern English, and that when the language was in an earlier stage it, embraced all acts of obeisance, such as prostration, which were paid to kings or other superiors, as well as what was paid to a divine Being (or one regarded as divine). So it was in Greek; so it stands in the Authorized Version, because at that time the English word “worship” had a generic force as well as that special reference. But this is not so in present usage; and therefore a modern translator must exercise his judgment. Whether Mr. D. has in every instance succeeded in determining the different senses is more than I would say; but his principle is sound and certain. It is ignorance to suppose that, when Jews came to Jesus to heal their diseases, they meant by their homage to convey their conviction that He was God. That He was God and therefore worthy of honor as the Father is what every Christian rejoices to know, and to pay it; but the true meaning of πρ. in these cases throughout the gospels is another matter. In John 4 “worship” is clearly required. On the other hand, “doing homage” may be and is rightly used where God or the Father is in question.