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The Divinity of Jesus in the Book of Revelation

The Divinity of Jesus in the Book of RevelationThe Divinity of Jesus in the Book of Revelation

Imagine this scenario. A Jehovah’s Witness knocks at your door and asks if you believe Jesus is God. You tell him you do, and then he asks you to prove it from Scripture. What should you do? Which passages should you bring up? For many of us, our first instinct is probably to point out verses that explicitly apply the word “God” to Jesus, like John 1:1 and Romans 9:5. On the surface, those are the clearest and most convincing scriptural proofs of his divinity, but if we dig a bit deeper, they’re not quite as airtight as we often think.

Jehovah’s Witnesses are usually aware of those passages, and they’re prepared to give alternative explanations of them (often revolving around technicalities of ancient Greek grammar). While you can try to go back and forth about the translations and meanings of those texts, that is not your only option. The New Testament teaches the divinity of Jesus in other, much subtler ways as well, and Jehovah’s Witnesses are usually not nearly as well prepared for them. In fact, in my experience, those arguments are much more effective than the ones people normally use, so let’s take a look at one of them and see how the book of Revelation teaches the divinity of Jesus in a subtle but decisive way.

The Heavenly Worship

In chapter 4 of Revelation, John sees a vision of heavenly worship. He sees God seated on a throne and heavenly beings around the throne worshipping him ceaselessly (Revelation 4:1-11). Then, in the next chapter, Jesus appears. He looks like “a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain” (Revelation 5:6), and the same creatures that worshipped God in the previous chapter now bow down to Jesus and worship him (Revelation 5:8-12). Finally, at the end of this chapter, John sees “every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all therein” worship God and Jesus together (Revelation 5:13-14).

Even a cursory reading of this vision shows pretty clearly that Jesus isn’t just a creature like you, me, or the angels. Rather, he is truly divine, and a few things demonstrate that. To begin, he receives the same kind of worship that God receives. Take a look at these two prayers (I’ve highlighted the similarities):

Worthy are you, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they existed and were created.” (Revelation 4:11)

Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” (Revelation 5:12)

Notice that both Jesus and God are called “worthy,” and Jesus is worthy to receive everything God receives: glory, honor, and power. These are obviously two instances of the same kind of worship, so it is already clear that Jesus really is God.

Worshipped Together

But that is not all. Remember, immediately after this, John sees God and Jesus being worshipped together:

“And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all therein, saying, ‘To him who sits upon the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might for ever and ever!’ And the four living creatures said, ‘Amen!’ and the elders fell down and worshiped.” (Revelation 5:13-15)

This takes it one step further. Not only is Jesus worshipped in the same way as God, but he is also worshipped together with God, and that pretty much seals the deal for us. You can’t worship Jesus in the same way as God and together with God without believing that he is also God.

We Don’t Worship Angels

But even that isn’t all. While these chapters are already pretty decisive on their own, the divinity of Jesus becomes even clearer when we read them in the context of the entire book. Twice in Revelation, John is so struck by the majesty of an angel that he bows down to it, and both times the angel tells him to get up because he is only supposed to worship God (Revelation 19:10, 22:8-9).

Naturally, this raises a question for us. If we are supposed to worship God rather than creatures, why doesn’t anybody have a problem with Jesus being worshipped earlier in the book? If Jesus isn’t God, then this is a massive oversight on the part of every character in Revelation, from John all the way up to God himself. On the flipside, if Jesus really is divine, it makes perfect sense. We can’t worship creatures, but we can worship Jesus because he is God.

Who Worships God?

And if there is still any doubt left, let’s consider one final point. It is important to notice who worships God in that opening scene. First, it is the heavenly beings that sit around his throne (Revelation 4:1-11), and then it is “every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all therein” (Revelation 5:13). But if we read the passage carefully, there is one person who is noticeably absent from all this: Jesus.

In fact, we see God worshipped multiple times throughout the book (for example, Revelation 7:11-12, 11:16-18), but Revelation never depicts Jesus worshipping him. There are times when Jesus is worshipped together with God, and there are times when creatures worship God in Jesus’ presence (Revelation 7:9-12), but there is not a single scene in the entire book where Jesus joins in and worships God with them.

Now, if Jesus is just a created being, this is very puzzling. All creatures have to worship the supreme ruler and creator of all that exists, so you would expect Jesus to participate in this worship at least once. But since he doesn’t, there is again only one explanation that can make sense of this apparent anomaly: Jesus doesn’t worship God because he is a divine person himself.

Jesus is God

When we put this all together, we find something remarkable. This is not just a single passage that Jehovah’s Witnesses can translate or interpret in a different way. No, this is a theme that stretches across an entire book of the New Testament. We’ve been exploring what the book of Revelation says about worship, and we’ve seen multiple expressions of that theme. We’ve looked at who does and does not worship God as well as who we should and should not worship, and every step along our journey has pointed to the same conclusion: Jesus is God.

So like a rope that is stronger than any single strand, this argument is much stronger than just a single passage. Even if a Jehovah’s Witness could explain away one of these elements, there is no way to get around the clear implication of the theme as a whole. When it comes to worshipping God in the book of Revelation, Jesus is not on the creaturely side, the side that gives worship. No, he is on the side that receives worship, so we can be confident that he really is God, just like traditional, historic Christianity has taught for almost two millennia.

image: DyziO / Shutterstock.com

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