Share on facebook
Share on twitter

Does Jesus Receive Latreuo?

In Revelation, John sees a vision of the new heavens and earth where God and Christ reign together on the same throne and where their servants serve them:

“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the THRONE of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The THRONE of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and HIS servants will serve HIM (latreusousin auto). They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.” Revelation 22:1-5

The word for serve, latreuo, is the type of worship that is to be given to God alone. More on this point shortly.

Here I will set out to prove that Jesus is included in the worship/service offered up by the redeemed.

The prophet Daniel had a vision in which he clearly saw two distinct Divine figures seated on two separate thrones:

As I looked, thrones were placed, and the Ancient of Days took his seat; his clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames; its wheels were burning fire. A stream of fire issued and came out from before him; a thousand thousands served him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him; the court sat in judgment, and the books were opened… In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him (yipelachun). His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.” Daniel 7:13-14

Daniel sees thrones being set in place, one of which belonged to the Ancient of Days, i.e., God (the Father). It is obvious from the context that the other throne belonged to the Son of Man since he reigns forever like God and receives the very worship which can only be appropriately given to God:

“Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be handed over to the saints, the people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship (yipelachun) and obey him.” Daniel 7:27

“I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end.” Daniel 6:26 – cf. 4:2-3, 34-37

“Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, ‘O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve (pelachin) is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve (pelachin) your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.’” … Then Nebuchadnezzar said, ‘Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve (yipelachun) or worship any god except their own God.’” Daniel 3:16-18, 28 – cf. 3:12, 14; 6:16, 20

The Aramaic verb pelach, which is translated in the above texts as serve, refers to the cultic worship which is to be rendered to God alone. Moreover, the Greek translation of Daniel (e.g., the Septuagint [LXX]) uses the word latreuo for pelach.

In fact, here is a quotation from the Greek version of Daniel 7:9-28 by second-century Christian apologist Justin Martyr:

But if so great a power is shown to have followed and to be still following the dispensation of His suffering, how great shall that be which shall follow His glorious advent! For He shall come on the clouds as the Son of man, so Daniel foretold, and His angels shall come with Him. These are the words: ‘I beheld till the thrones were set; and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head like the pure wool. His throne was like a fiery flame, His wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him. Thousand thousands ministered unto Him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. The books were opened, and the judgment was set. I beheld then the voice of the great words which the horn speaks: and the beast was beat down, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame. And the rest of the beasts were taken away from their dominion, and a period of life was given to the beasts until a season and time. I saw in the vision of the night, and, behold, one like the Son of man coming with the clouds of heaven; and He came to the Ancient of days, and stood before Him. And they who stood by brought Him near; and there were given Him power and kingly honour, and all nations of the earth by their families, and all glory, serve Him (latreuousa). And His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not be taken away; and His kingdom shall not be destroyed. And my spirit was chilled within my frame, and the visions of my head troubled me. I came near unto one of them that stood by, and inquired the precise meaning of all these things. In answer he speaks to me, and showed me the judgment of the matters: These great beasts are four kingdoms, which shall perish from the earth, and shall not receive dominion for ever, even for ever and ever. Then I wished to know exactly about the fourth beast, which destroyed all [the others] and was very terrible, its teeth of iron, and its nails of brass; which devoured, made waste, and stamped the residue with its feet: also about the ten horns upon its head, and of the one which came up, by means of which three of the former fell. And that horn had eyes, and a mouth speaking great things; and its countenance excelled the rest. And I beheld that horn waging war against the saints, and prevailing against them, until the Ancient of days came; and He gave judgment for the saints of the Most High. And the time came, and the saints of the Most High possessed the kingdom. And it was told me concerning the fourth beast: There shall be a fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall prevail over all these kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall destroy and make it thoroughly waste. And the ten horns are ten kings that shall arise; and one shall arise after them; and he shall surpass the first in evil deeds, and he shall subdue three kings, and he shall speak words against the Most High, and shall overthrow the rest of the saints of the Most High, and shall expect to change the seasons and the times. And it shall be delivered into his hands for a time, and times, and half a time. And the judgment sat, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end. And the kingdom, and the power, and the great places of the kingdoms under the heavens, were given to the holy people of the Most High, to reign in an everlasting kingdom: and all powers shall be subject to Him, and shall obey Him. Hitherto is the end of the matter. I, Daniel, was possessed with a very great astonishment, and my speech was changed in me; yet I kept the matter in my heart.’ (Dialogue with TryphoChapter 31. If Christ’s power be now so great, how much greater at the second advent!; bold and italicized emphasis mine)

According to the Lord Jesus Christ only God is to receive latreuo:

“Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. ‘All this I will give you,’ he said, ‘if you will bow down and worship me.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Away from me, Satan! For it is written: “Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only (kai auto mono latreuseis).”’” Matthew 4:8-10 – cf. Luke 4:5-8

In light of this, it is, therefore, apparent that the Son of Man is a fully Divine Person otherwise he could not receive pelach/latreuo since that would be idolatry, e.g., rendering to a creature the worship and service due only to the Creator! As the following Evangelical scholars explain:

“… The book of Daniel contains a vision in which people of all nations, tribes, and languages ‘serve’ someone who is ‘like a Son of Man’ (Dan. 7:13 NASB)… In the Septuagint version of Daniel the word translated ‘serve’ is latreuo, which is also used in the Rahlfs edition of the Septuagint and in other critical editions of the Greek Old Testament. In the Greek version of Daniel produced in the late second century A.D. by Theodotion, the word translated ‘serve’ is douloo, a far more common Greek word that has a broader range of meanings.

“Whichever Greek translation one chooses to follow, the underlying Aramaic word (Daniel 2:4-7:28 was originally written in Aramaic, not Hebrew) is pelacha word that is always used to refer to rendering religious service or performing religious rituals in honor of a deity. In other words, latreuo is an excellent Greek translation of pelach. That is why all extant ancient Greek versions of Daniel usually use latreuo elsewhere in Daniel to translate pelach (Dan. 3:12, 14, 18; 6:16, 20 [6:17, 21 in Greek]). In the early chapters of the book, Daniel and his Jewish friends had refused to ‘serve’ the image of Nebuchadnezzar or to ‘serve’ Darius, identifying themselves as those who ‘serve’ only their God, the living God (3:12, 14, 17, 18, 28; 6:16, 20). In this setting, the vision of people from all nations ‘serving’ the Son of Man presents a startling contrast. The ‘service’ that Daniel and his friends refused to give to Nebuchadnezzar’s image or to Darius, Daniel envisions all nations giving to the heavenly Son of Man.

“Daniel’s reference to the Son of Man being ‘served’ implies a divine status for the Son of Man, not merely because of the use of that one word, but because of the context in which it is used. The universal sovereignty attributed to the Son of Man is earlier attributed to Daniel’s God by the Babylonian and Persian kings… This language of a kingdom that will not be destroyed and that will endure forever is then applied to the kingdom of the Son of Man… Within this larger context, the reference to all peoples ‘serving’ the Son of Man is confirmed as an expression of religious devotion. The One whom you regard as Ruler of your entire universe for all time is by definition your God, and it would be the height of folly not to render devotion or service to him.” (Robert M. Bowman Jr. & J. Ed Komoszewski, Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ [Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI 2007], Part 1: The Devotion Revolution – Jesus Shares the Honors Due to God, Chapter 5. The Ultimate Reverence Package, pp. 67-69; underline emphasis mine)

Moreover, Jesus is identified as this very same Son of Man that Daniel saw,

“Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?’ ‘I am,’ said Jesus. ‘And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.’” Mark 14:61b-62 – cf. 13:26-27; Matthew 25:31-46; Acts 7:55-56

“Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen… I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone ‘like a son of man,’ dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: ‘Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.’” Revelation 1:7, 12-18

“I looked, and there before me was a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was one ‘like a son of man’ with a crown of gold on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand. Then another angel came out of the temple and called in a loud voice to him who was sitting on the cloud, ‘Take your sickle and reap, because the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.’ So he who was seated on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested.” Revelation 14:14-16

This means that Jesus must be God and all creation must, therefore, worship him as God! To put this in the form of a logical syllogism:

Only God is to receive latreuo/latreia.

Jesus, the Son of Man, receives latreuo/latreia.

Therefore, Jesus is God (yet not the Father or the Holy Spirit).

This explains why Apostolic Fathers such as Polycarp, a disciple of the Apostle John, could write that every living creature renders latreuo to Jesus!

“Therefore prepare for action and serve (douleusate) God in fear” and truth, leaving behind the empty and meaningless talk and the error of the crowd, and “believing in him who raised” our Lord Jesus Christ “from the dead and gave him glory” and a throne at his right hand; to whom all things in heaven and on earth were subjected, WHOM EVERY BREATHING CREATURE SERVES (latreuei), who is coming as “Judge of the living and the dead,” for whose blood God will hold responsible those who disobey him. (The Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians, Chapter 2, The Apostolic Fathers, Greek Texts And English Translations, edited and revised by Michael W. Holmes [Baker Books, Grand Rapids, MI 1999], pp. 207, 209; bold and capital emphasis mine)

Here is another translation:

Chapter 2. An exhortation to virtue

Wherefore, girding up your loins, 1 Peter 1:13; Ephesians 6:14 serve the Lord in fear and truth, as those who have forsaken the vain, empty talk and error of the multitude, and believed in Him who raised up our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead, and gave Him glory, 1 Peter 1:21 and a throne at His right hand. To Him all things 1 Peter 3:22; Philippians 2:10 in heaven and on earth are subject. Him every spirit serves. He comes as the Judge of the living and the dead. Acts 17:31 His blood will God require of those who do not believe in Him. But He who raised Him up from the dead will raise us up also, if we do His will, and walk in His commandments, and love what He loved, keeping ourselves from all unrighteousness, covetousness, love of money, evil speaking, false witness; not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing, 1 Peter 3:9 or blow for blow, or cursing for cursing, but being mindful of what the Lord said in His teaching: Judge not, that you be not judged; Matthew 7:1 forgive, and it shall be forgiven unto you; be merciful, that you may obtain mercy; Luke 6:36 with what measure you measure, it shall be measured to you again; Matthew 7:2; Luke 6:38 and once more, Blessed are the poor, and those that are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of God. (Epistle to the Philippians)

They knew both from their direct contact with the Apostles and the inspired Scriptures that this is the honor that Jesus deserves since he is God Almighty in the flesh.

Hence, Daniel’s vision of multiple thrones, one for the Ancient of Days (God the Father) and for the Son of Man (Jesus Christ), affirms that there is more than one Divine Person within the Godhead. On the other hand, John’s vision of one throne belonging to both God (the Father) and the Lamb (Jesus Christ) affirms their essential unity, e.g., although they are personally distinct they are still one, specifically in regards to their essence.

Related articles

John MacArthur’s Exposition of our Lord’s Use of Psalm 110:1

In light of our recent rebuttal https://answeringislamblog.wordpress.com/2016/09/15/how-jesus-definition-of-god-proves-muhammad-was-an-antichrist/ to Paul Williams’ post of a meme from a unitarian heretic’s misuse of Mark 12:28-34 https://bloggingtheology.net/2016/09/10/the-definition-of-god-given-by-jesus-in-mark-1229/, we’ve decided to switch

Read More »

JESUS SUPERIOR TO ANGELS

The Jehovah’s Witnesses assert that Jesus in his preincarnate state was the archangel Michael. They further state that after Christ’s earthly mission, Jehovah God recreated

Read More »

Muhammad

Allah