Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Vision (12.11.14): And they worshipped him

Note:  Here are some notes on Luke 24:52 from last Sunday’s message:

In Luke 24:52, after the ascension of Jesus into heaven, we have the striking statement about the apostles:  “And they worshipped him…”

This verse is one of extreme embarrassment for those who deny the deity of Jesus.  It might come as no surprise to learn that a few scribes even attempted to remove this phrase from the text of Luke.  It was even omitted in the original 1971 New American Standard Bible (NASB) translation of Luke 24:52 [but restored in the 1995 Updated Edition].  The verb proskyneo translated as “worship” here can simply mean to bow down or honor a human being.  But its predominant meaning is to bend the knee or bow low as an act of worship before God.  It thus is proper to use the English verb “to worship,” which means to ascribe “worth” to God, because he is worthy.

Luke certainly uses this verb [proskyneo] in just this sense in his writings.  Compare:

The verb is used only two other times in the Gospel of Luke, aside from its use in Luke 24:52:

In Luke 4:7, in the temptation narrative, Luke records that Satan told Jesus, “If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine.”

And in Luke 4:8, Jesus replied, “Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

In Acts (also written by Luke), the verb is used four times.  In three of those the meaning is clearly worship:

In Acts 7:43, Luke records Stephen’s speech before his martyrdom in which he rebuked his fellow Israelites for forming idols, “which ye made to worship them.”

In Acts 8:27 he says of the Ethiopian Eunuch:  he “had come to Jerusalem for to worship.”

In Acts 24:11, when Paul is on trial before Felix, he describes the circumstances of his arrest by saying, “for I went up to Jerusalem for to worship.”

The only place where the verb is used to mean simply to bow or give honor to someone other than to God (or to gods) is in Acts 10:25 where it says when Cornelius met Peter he “fell down at his feet and worshipped him.”  Even this may reflect Cornelius’ pre-conversion confusion as to whom should be worshipped, not the messenger but him who sent him.

So, you do the math on this one.  Aside from Luke 24:52, the verb proskyneo is used six times in Luke’s writings and in five of those six the unambiguous meaning is not the sense of to give honor to another creature but the sense of to worship God.

What then must we conclude that Luke meant in Luke 24:52?  The disciples worshipped Jesus as their Lord and their God.

Let that settle in for a moment.  These Jewish apostles were bending the knee in worship to Jesus.  If they did not believe that Jesus was equal in essence, power, and glory with God the Father then what they were doing was blasphemy, a violation of the first commandment.  But they saw it as the absolutely right thing to do.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

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