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Jesus receives latreuō: Correcting the confusion of James Dunn

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James Dunn: In no case in the New Testament is there talk of offering cultic worship (latreuein) to Jesus (Did the First Christians Worship Jesus?, page 13).[*1]


That the Lord Jesus is the proper recipient of latreuō are as follows:

1. Exodus 23:25

But you shall serve the LORD your God, and He will bless your bread and your water; and I will remove sickness from your midst. (NASB)

The Jewish Encyclopedia (1901) teaches that to pray is the same thing as offering latreuō. It reads: 
  "Ye shall serve the Lord your God" (Exodus 23:25) is understood as "Ye shall worship God in prayer" (Prayer, see "In Rabbinical Literature"). 
  The Greek word in Exodus 23:25 (LXX) for "serve" is latreuō. If the Lord Jesus was the proper recipient of just one prayer this would mean that He is the proper recipient of latreuō. The fact that He is the proper recipient of many prayers further strengthens this affirmation. 
     1. Richard N. Longenecker: There is no commandment in the Jewish Scriptures that says simply "Thou shalt pray!" Rather, what one finds is a verse like Deut 11:13, which calls on Israel "to love the Lord your God and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul." The rabbis of the Talmud asked about this verse: "What kind of service is it that takes place in the heart"? And they answered their own question: "It is prayer!" (b. Ta' anith 2a) (Studies in Paul, Exegetical and Theological, page 33). 
     2. Moisés Silva: The meaning of worship has been perpetuated in the synagogue. But it is used also of the inner worship of the heart. So it is said that to serve God means prayer (with ref. to Deut 11:13 and Dan 6:11, 16; cf. Str-B 3:26) (NIDNTTE 3:95, latreuō). 


2. Deuteronomy 10:20

You shall fear the LORD your God; you shall serve Him and cling to Him, and you shall swear by His name. (NASB)

 The Greek word in the Septuagint for serve is latreuō. When one fears the Lord and clings to Him they are rendering latreuō unto Him.

     a. That we are to fear the Lord Jesus demonstrates that latreuō is rendered unto Him (Acts 9:31; 2 Corinthians 5:11; Ephesians 5:21; 6:5; Philippians 2:12; Colossians 3:22; 1 Peter 3:15).

     b. That we are to cling/be joined to the Lord Jesus demonstrates that latreuō is rendered unto Him (1 Corinthians 6:17).


3. By turning to false gods people improperly rendered latreuō unto them (Deuteronomy 11:16; 31:18, 20). Instead, they ought to have worshiped God by turning unto Him (Isaiah 45:22). That people turned unto the Lord Jesus in worship demonstrates that He received latreuō (Acts 9:35; 11:21; 2 Corinthians 3:16; 1 Peter 2:25).


4. Directing one's heart to the Lord (Joshua 24:23) involves rendering latreuō unto Him (Joshua 24:24). That Paul would ask the Lord Jesus to direct their hearts demonstrates that He is the proper recipient of latreuō (2 Thessalonians 3:5).


5. Isaiah 41:16

But you will rejoice in the LORD,
You will glory in the Holy One of Israel. (NASB, the underlined is mine)

 Without question this refers to worshiping God and yet we are told to rejoice in the Lord and glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:1, 3) all within the context of rendering latreuō (Philippians 3:3).


6. Rendering prayers and giving thanks to God (Daniel 6:10) means one is rendering latreuō unto Him (Daniel 6:16). See #9.


7. In Luke 2:37 Anna rendered latreuō by her fastings (nēsteia) and prayers (deēsis). That people fasted in reference to the Lord Jesus and prayed to Him (Acts 13:3; 14:23) demonstrates that He received latreuō.


8. Acts 24:14

 See footnote #10 as found here:



9. Rendering latreuō unto God as the Creator (Romans 1:9, 25) encompasses thanking (eucharisteō) Him (Romans 1:8), praying (proseuchē) and making requests (deomai) to Him (Romans 1:10) with the determination to do His will (Romans 1:10).

     a. In 1 Timothy 1:12 the Lord Jesus is thanked in that it is the "appropriate response to the Deity for benefits conferred" (BDAG, 3rd Edition, charis, page 1080, the underlined is mine).

     b. He receives prayer (proseuchē) in Romans 12:12 and Revelation 5:8 as well as requests (deomai) in Acts 8:22, 24. 

     c. He is prayed to with firm reliance upon His supreme will (Acts 1:24-26; 21:13-14; 1 Corinthians 4:19; 16:7; Ephesians 5:17; James 4:15). 

 Thus, the Lord Jesus is properly rendered latreuō as the Creator.


10. Colossians 2:6

As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him. (KJV)

 In the Old Testament, to walk in the way of the Lord is to render latreuō unto the Lord (Deuteronomy 10:12; Joshua 22:5; cf. Isaiah 2:5 with Ephesians 5:8).[*2] Likewise, to walk after other gods is to render this same worship unto them (Jeremiah 7:9; cf. Micah 4:5). Since the Christian is commanded to walk in the Lord Jesus this refers to rendering latreuō unto Him.[*3]  Indeed, to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord in order to please the Lord Jesus (Colossians 1:10; cf. 1 Corinthians 7:32) corresponds to walking in God in order to please Him (1 Thessalonians 4:1).[*4] 


11. 2 Timothy 1:3 
I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience the way my forefathers did, as I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day. (NASB, the underlined is mine) 
2 Timothy 2:22 
Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. (NASB, the underlined is mine) 

      Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (TDNT): Calling on the Lord from a pure heart (2 Tm. 2:22) is the same as worship with a clear conscience (2 Tm. 1:3). In the formal speech of the Pastorals the pure conscience is the total standing of the Christian. This is particularly plain when the difference between the life of the Christian and that of the heretic is formulated in compendious confessions (7:918, synoida, C. Maurer). 

Two points are worth mentioning: 

                    1. Calling on the Lord Jesus from a pure heart (2 Timothy 2:22) is the same as worshiping God with a clear conscience (2 Timothy 1:3). The Greek word for "serve" in 2 Timothy 1:3 is latreuō. This demonstrates that by calling on Lord Jesus from a pure heart one is rendering latreuō unto Him.[*5] 
                    2. Since latreuō is properly due unto God alone Christians worship the Lord Jesus as God while heretics deny such actions to Him as God. 

 Notice also that Paul rendered latreuō unto God by thanking (charis) Him and by means of his prayers (deēsis). See #9.


12. Revelation 7:15 (cf. v.10) teaches that the Lord Jesus receives latreuō.[*6]


13. Revelation 20:6 teaches that Christ has priests. As such they would render latreuō unto Him (see footnote #6) 


14. Revelation 22:3 teaches that the Lord receives latreuō (see footnote #6).




[*1] Arthur W. Wainwright: In the New Testament it is never used of service or worship given to Christ (The Trinity in the New Testament, page 103). 


[*2] The Greek word  for "serve" in the Septuagint in both Deuteronomy 10:12 and Joshua 22:5 is latreuō.


[*3] Since walking in the name of the Lord (Zechariah 10:12) entails rejoicing in the Lord (Zechariah 10:7) - apart from all other gods, the Christian walks in the name of the Lord Jesus (Colossians 2:6) and rejoices in Him (Philippians 3:1; 4:10). To rejoice in the Lord means to worship the Lord (see Isaiah 41:16 above).


[*4] A. Lukyn Williams in citation of Moule: such alternative expressions indicate how truly for St Paul the Father and the Son are Persons of the same Order of being (Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges, Colossians).



[*5] https://www.christforums.com/forums/topic/8806-calling-on-the-name-of-the-lord-praying-to-jesus/


[*6] https://www.christforums.com/forums/topic/6234-yes-it-is-proper-to-worship-the-lord-jesus-christ/



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 I came across a recent challenge to the fact that the Lord Jesus is the proper recipient of latreuō in Revelation 22:3.



 I would like to address the many areas of confusion found within this article.


1. Pronouns

 John has elsewhere used pronouns that can equally be applied to both the Father and Son without being specific as to whom they refer to.[*1] A Trinitarian would expect to find such examples as these[*2] because the Son is equally "God" as the Father. See my comments concerning this in "1 John 5:20-21" from the link in post #6 of the OP.


2. Distinguishing the Meaning of the Greek Verbs in the Semantic Domain for Worship.

 The author is Karen Jobes (not Jones). Concerning latreuō she elsewhere affirms:

 As used in the New Testament, the word latreuō denotes actions that are always evaluated positively when God is the grammatical object and negatively with reference to any other object. (Karen H. Jobes in Moises Silva's "Biblical Words and Their Meaning: An Introduction to Lexical Semantics", copyright 1994 revised and expanded edition from 1983, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, page 203).

 --> Since only God is the proper recipient of latreuō the fact that it is properly rendered unto the Lord Jesus demonstrates that He is God.


3. Daniel 7:27

 This passage was already addressed in the link found in post #6 from the OP (see "Daniel 7:13-14"). The saints are not receiving latreuō.


4. Deuteronomy 28:47-48

(47) Because you did not serve the LORD your God with joy and a glad heart, for the abundance of all things;
(48) therefore you shall serve your enemies whom the LORD will send against you, in hunger, in thirst, in nakedness, and in the lack of all things; and He will put an iron yoke on your neck until He has destroyed you. (NASB)

     a. Deuteronomy 28:48 is a judgment upon the ungodly Israelites who are given up to worship false gods, including men who deify themselves (cf. Deuteronomy 28:36, 64; Daniel 3:12-18) (See footnote #24)


     b. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (TDNT): For here there is a play on words. Because Israel was not willing to "serve" the Lord, who sought only its good, it must "serve" its enemies, who destroy it (4:60, latreuō, Strathmann).


5. The worship of Adam in the Sibylline Oracles.

 This is not an inspired text by God so it does not hold the same weight as the worship of Christ as recorded in the Bible.



[*1] Unitarians can't even agree on to whom "Lord" refers to in Hebrews 1:10. See the very end of the following article:



[*2] Not only is this true concerning the writings of John, but also Paul, Luke, James, Jude, and Peter as well.




I would like to include the following important citations:

A. As properly defined when used in the New Testament latreuō ought to be rendered unto God alone. 
     1. BDAG (3rd Edition): in our literature only of the carrying out of religious duties, especially of a cultic nature, by human beings: λ. θεώ (latreuō, page 587). (Compare B, #1) 
     2. H. Strathmann: The ministry denoted by latreuein is always offered to God (or to heathen gods...R. 1:25...Ac. 7:42) (TDNT 4:62, latreuō). 
     3. James Hope Moulton and George Milligan: In Biblical Greek always refers to the service of the true God or of heathen deities (The Vocabulary of the Greek Testament, WM.B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan, copyright 1982, page 371). 
     4. A. T. Robertson (Acts 7:42): The verb latreuō is used of the worship of God (#Mt 4:10) as well as of idols. (Compare B, #6)



B. Scholars have pointed out that the Lord Jesus is the proper recipient of latreuō. 
     1. BDAG (3rd Edition): of one's relation to Christ...Revelation 22:3 (doulos, page 260). (Compare A, #1) 
     2. Murray Harris: This verse could equally appropriately be listed under 'slaves of Christ', for the singulars 'his slaves' (hoi douloi autou) and 'him' (autō) could refer to 'the Lamb', the nearest antecedent. More probably, however, the reference is to both God and the Lamb, conceived of as forming an inviolate unity, just as in Rev. 11:15 the one kingdom belonging to 'our Lord' and 'his Christ', in Rev. 21:22 the one temple in the heavenly city is 'the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb', and in Rev. 22:1 the one throne belongs to 'God and the Lamb' (Slave of Christ: A New Testament Metaphor for Total Devotion to Christ, page 22, footnote #8). 
     3. G. K. Beale: That "they will serve him" likely does not refer only to God or only to the Lamb. The two are conceived so much as a unity that the singular pronoun can refer to both. This may find a parallel in 6:17b...possibly in reference to both God and the Lamb (see on 6:17; cf. also 11:15). That both are sitting on only one throne and together form one temple (21:22) enhances their perceived unity (The Book of Revelation, page 1113). 
     4. G. R. Beasley-Murray: But observe: his servants serve him. Whose servants, and who is served? God, or the Lamb, or God and the Lamb? It is difficult to interpret the statement in reference to the Lamb alone, who is the immediate antecedent of his. Still more difficult is it to refer to God alone. We must assume, therefore, that the third alternative is correct: God and the Lamb are viewed as a unity in so real a fashion that the singular pronoun alone is suitable to interpret them (The Book of Revelation, page 332). 
     5. R. T. France: not only is Jesus ('the Lamb') regularly associated with God in His glory and sovereignty (e.g. Rev. 7:14-17; 11:15; 12:10; 14:1, 4; 20:6; 21:22f.; 22:1-4) but worship and praise are offered to Him equally with the Father (Rev. 1:5f.; 5:8-14; 7:9-12; 22:3). 
Footnote #29 appears immediately after "22:1-4": Note the remarkable use of singular pronouns to refer to 'God and the Lamb' in 22:3f.; cf. 11:15; 20:6 (The Worship of Jesus - A Neglected Factor In Christological Debate?, Vox Evangelica 12, c. 1981, page 30). 
     6. A. T. Robertson: "Their" (autōn) means the wrath of God and of the Lamb put here on equality as in...22:3 (Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament, Revelation 6:17). (Compare A, #4)
     7. W. E. Vine: to God and Christ ("the Lamb"), Revelation 22:3 (Vine's Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, Serve, page 1021).
     8. Wayne Grudem: We become perfectly like Christ, but we do not become Christ, and we are not absorbed into Christ or lost forever as individuals. Rather, it is we as real individuals who shall still know as we are known (1 Cor. 13:12); it is we who shall see him as he is (1 John 3:2); it is we who shall worship him, and see his face, and have his name on our foreheads, and reign with him for ever and ever (Rev. 22:3-5) (Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, page 846).


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Behold we are the sons of God...

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11 hours ago, PetHesedZao said:

Behold we are the sons of God...


 But we are not to receive latreuō because we are not God.


a. Only God is the proper recipient of latreuō.

b. The Lord Jesus is the proper recipient of latreuō.

c. Therefore the Lord Jesus is God.

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Yes and whoever believes in Jesus becomes a son of God howbeit an adopted son. 

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