Honoring Jesus as God

The Meaning of John 5:23 as taken from Bible Expositors

Sam Shamoun

Since Bassam Zawadi loves quoting Bible expositors when it suits his purpose we have decided to include the views of specific commentators regarding the meaning of John 5:23, supplementing our answer to this article.

Donald A. Carson

23. The reason why the Father has entrusted all judgment to the Son is now disclosed: it is so that all may honour the Son just as they honour the Father. Whatever functional subordination may be stressed in this section, it guarantees, as we have seen, that the Son does everything that the Father does (cf. notes on vv. 19-20); and now Jesus declares that its purpose is that the Son may be at one with the Father not only in activity but in honour. This goes far beyond making Jesus a mere ambassador who acts in the name of the monarch who sent him, an envoy plenipotentiary whose derived authority is the equivalent of his master’s.

That analogue breaks down precisely here, for the honour given to an envoy is never that given to the head of state. The Jews were right in detecting that Jesus was ‘making himself equal with God’ (vv. 17-18). But this does not diminish God. Indeed, the glorification of the Son is precisely what glorifies the Father (cf. notes on 12:28), just as in Philippians 2:9-11, where at the name of Jesus every knew bows and every tongue confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord, and all this to the glory of God the Father. Because of the unique relation between the Father and the Son, the God who declares ‘I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another’ (Is. 42:8; cf. Is. 48:11) is not compromised or diminished when divine honours crown the head of the Son.

Granted that the purpose of the Father is that all should honour the Son, it is but a small step to Jesus’ conclusion: He who does not honour the Son does not honour the Father, who sent him. In a theistic universe, such a statement belongs to one who is himself to be addressed as God (cf. 20:28), or to stark insanity. The one who utters such things is to be dismissed with pity or scorn, or worshiped as Lord. If with much current scholarship we retreat to seeing in such material less the claims of the Son than the beliefs and witness of the Evangelist and his church, the same options confront us. Either John is supremely deluded and must be dismissed as a fool, or his witness is true and Jesus is to ascribed honours due God alone, There is no rational middle ground. (Carson, The Gospel According to John [William Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI/ Cambridge, U.K.], pp. 254-255)

The Adam Clarke Commentary

Verse 23. That all men should honour the Son, Son is to be honoured, EVEN AS the Father is honoured, then the Son must be God, as receiving that worship which belongs to God alone. To worship any creature is idolatry: Christ is to be honoured even as the Father is honoured; therefore Christ is not a creature; and, if not a creature, consequently the Creator. See John 1:3.

He that honoureth not the Son
God will not receive that man's adoration who refuses to honour Jesus, even as he honours him. The Jews expected the Messiah as a great and powerful Prince; but they never thought of a person coming in that character enrobed with all the attributes of Godhead. To lead them off from this error, our Lord spoke the words recorded in these verses. (Source; underline emphasis ours)

Albert Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament

Verse 23. That all men should honour, &c. To honour is to esteem, reverence, praise, do homage to. We honour one when we ascribe to him in our hearts, and words, and actions the praise and obedience which are due to him. We honour God when we obey him and worship him aright. We honour the Son when we esteem him to be as he is; when we have right views and feelings toward him. As he is declared to be God (John 1:1), as he here says he has power and authority equal with God, so we honour him when we regard him as such. The primitive Christians are described by Pliny, in a letter to the Emperor Trajan, as meeting together to sing hymns to Christ as God. So we honour him aright when we regard him as possessed of wisdom, goodness, power, eternity, omniscience -- equal with God.

Even as. To the same extent; in the same manner. Since the Son is to be honoured EVEN AS the Father, it follows that he must be equal with the Father. To honour the Father must denote religious homage, or the rendering of that honour which is due to God; so to honour the Son must also denote religious homage. If our Saviour here did not intend to teach that he ought to be worshipped, and to be esteemed as equal with God, it would be difficult to teach it by any language which we could use.

He that honoureth not the Son. He that does not believe on him, and render to him the homage which is his due as the equal of God.

Honoureth not the Father. Does not worship and obey the Father, the first person of the Trinity--that is, does not worship God. He may imagine that he worships God, but there is no God but the God subsisting as Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. He that withholds proper homage from one, withholds it from all. He that should refuse to honour the Father, could not be said to honour God; and in the like manner, he that honoureth not the Son, honoureth not the Father. This appears farther from the following considerations:--

1st. The Father wills that the Son should be honoured. He that refuses to do it disobeys the Father.

2nd. They are equal. He that denies the one denies also the other.

3rd. The same feeling that leads us to honour the Father will also lead us to honour the Son, for he is "the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person," Hebrews 1:3.

4th. The evidence of the existence of the Son is the same as that of the Father. He has the same wisdom, goodness, omnipresence, truth, power.

And from these verses we may learn --

1st. That those who do not render proper homage to Jesus Christ do not worship the true God.

2nd. There is no such God as the infidel professes to believe in. There can be but one God; and if the God of the Bible be the true God, then all other gods are false gods.

3rd. Those who withhold proper homage from Jesus Christ, who do not honour him EVEN AS they honour the Father, cannot be Christians.

4th. One evidence of piety is when we are willing to render proper praise and homage to Jesus Christ --to love him, and serve and obey him, with all our hearts.

5th. As a matter of fact, it may be added that they who do not honour the Son do not worship God at all. The infidel has no form of worship; he has no place of secret prayer, no temple of worship, no family altar. Who ever yet heard of an infidel that prayed? Where do such men build houses of worship? Where do they meet to praise God? Nowhere. As certainly as we hear the name infidel, we are certain at once that we hear the name of a man who has no form of religion in his family, who never prays in secret, and who will do nothing to maintain the public worship of God. Account for it as men may, it is a fact that no one can dispute, that it is only they who do honour to the Lord Jesus that have any form of the worship of God, or that honour him; and their veneration for God is just in proportion to their love for the Redeemer--just as they honour him. (Source; bold and underline emphasis ours)

The New John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible

That all men should honour the Son
This is the end of all judgment, and the exercise of all authority, and power being committed to him; namely, that he might have the honour given him by men that is due unto him:

even as they honour the Father;
that the same honour and glory may be given to the one, as to the other, which must never have been done was he not equal with him, since he gives not his glory to another, (Isaiah 42:8) (48:11). Indeed, all men do not honour the Father as they should; the Gentiles, who had some knowledge of God, glorified him not as God; and the Jews, who had an external revelation of the one, true, and living God, which other nations had not, yet were greatly deficient in honouring him, which made him complaining say, "if then I be a father, where is mine honour?" (Malachi 1:6). And Christians, who are favoured with a clearer revelation still of the Father of Christ, are much wanting in giving him his due glory; but in common he is honoured, though in an imperfect manner; nor is there so much danger of his losing his honour, as of the Son's losing his; the reason is this, though the Son is in the form of God, and equal with him, yet by taking upon him the form of a servant, by becoming man, he has veiled the glory of his divine person, and made himself of no reputation; and by reason of this was reckoned by many, or most, as a mere man: wherefore, by agreement, that judgment, power, and authority, which equally belonged to the Father, and the Son, the exercise of it is put visibly and openly into the Son's hands, that he might have his due honour and glory from all men, whether they will or not: from true believers in him he has it willingly, by their ascribing deity to him, by putting their trust in him, by attributing the whole of their salvation to him, and the glory of it, and by worshipping him: and he will be honoured by all men at the last day; they will be obliged to do it; for all judgment being committed to him, and he being Judge of all, every knee shall bow to him, and every tongue shall confess that he is Lord, to his own glory, and to the glory of God the Father; see (Isaiah 45:23) (Philippians 2:10,11).

He that honoureth not the Son;
that denies his divine sonship, or his proper deity; that detracts from the dignity of his person or office; that shows no regard to him in point of salvation, or of obedience:

honoureth not the Father which hath sent him;
they are so the same in nature and perfections, in power, will, affections, and operations; and their interests and honours are so involved together, that whatever dishonour is done to one, reflects on the other: and indeed, whatever is done in a way of disrespect to the Son, as incarnate, and in his office capacity, highly reflects on his Father, that sent him in the fulness of time, in human nature, to obtain eternal redemption for his people, according to a rule often expressed by the Jews, "a man's messenger is as himself"; (See Gill on 10:40). (Source; underline emphasis ours)

Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible

Secondly, That all men should honour the Son, John 5:23. The honouring of Jesus Christ is here spoken of as God's great design (the Son intended to glorify the Father, and therefore the Father intended to glorify the Son, John 12:32); and as man's great duty, in compliance with that design. If God will have the Son honoured, it is the duty of all to whom he is made known to honour him. Observe here, 1. The respect that is to be paid to our Lord Jesus: We must honour the Son, must look upon him as one that is to be honoured, both on account of his transcendent excellences and perfections in himself, and of the relations he stands in to us, and must study to give him honour accordingly; must confess that he is Lord, and worship him; must honour him who was dishonoured for us. 2. The degree of it: Even as they honour the Father. This supposes it to be our duty to honour the Father; for revealed religion is founded on natural religion, and directs us to honour the Son, to honour him with divine honour; we must honour the Redeemer with the same honour with which we honour the Creator. So far was it from blasphemy for him to make himself equal with God that it is the highest injury that can be for us to make him otherwise. The truths and laws of the Christian religion, so far as they are revealed, are as sacred and honourable as those of natural religion, and to be equally had in estimation; for we lie under the same obligations to Christ, the Author of our being; and have as necessary a dependence upon the Redeemer's grace as upon the Creator's providence, which is a sufficient ground for this law--to honour the Son as we honour the Father. To enforce this law, it is added, He that honours not the Son honours not the Father who has sent him. Some pretend a reverence for the Creator, and speak honourably of him, who make light of the Redeemer, and speak contemptibly of him; but let such know that the honours and interests of the Father and Son are so inseparably twisted and interwoven that the Father never reckons himself honoured by any that dishonour the Son. Note, (1.) Indignities done to the Lord Jesus reflect upon God himself, and will so be construed and reckoned for in the court of heaven. The Son having so far espoused the Father's honour as to take to himself the reproaches cast on him (Romans 15:3), the Father does no less espouse the Son's honour, and counts himself struck at through him. (2.) The reason of this is because the Son is sent and commissioned by the Father; it is the Father who hath sent him. Affronts to an ambassador are justly resented by the prince that sends him. And by this rule those who truly honour the Son honour the Father also; see Philippians 2:11. (Source; bold and underline emphasis ours)

A.T. Robertson’s Word Pictures of the New Testament

That all may honour the Son (hina panten timosin ton huion).

Purpose clause with hina and present active subjunctive of timao (may keep on honouring the Son).

He that honoureth not the Son (ho me timon ton huion).

Articular present active participle of timao with negative me. Jesus claims here the same right to worship from men that the Father has. Dishonouring Jesus is dishonouring the Father who sent him (8:49; 12:26; 15:23; 1 John 2:23). See also Luke 10:16. There is small comfort here for those who praise Jesus as teacher and yet deny his claims to worship. The Gospel of John carries this high place for Christ throughout, but so do the other Gospels (even Q, the Logia of Jesus) and the rest of the New Testament. (Source; underline emphasis ours)

James Burton Coffman’s Commentaries on the Old and New Testament

That all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father.

No stronger statement of the deity of Christ appears in Scripture. How is God honored? By the soul's purest adoration and worship. That is the way Christ should be honored. These words are equivalent to Jesus' saying, "I am God and am entitled to all the honor belonging to the Father!" (Source; italic and underline emphasis ours)

David Guzik's Commentaries on the Bible

e. That all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father: This is a further claim to deity. If the Son were not God, then it would be wrong to honor the Son just as they honor the Father. It also means that if we do not honor the Son, we do not really honor the Father either.

i. "Jesus claims the same right to worship from men that the Father has." (A.T. Robertson)

ii. There are many groups that pretend to honor God but they dishonor Jesus, who is the perfect revelation of God the Father. In this, they demonstrate that they do not honor God the Father at all. (Source)

The foregoing expositions should leave no doubt whatsoever that Jesus, in John 5:23, was demanding that all must honor him in the same way that they honor the Father. Basically, Jesus was commanding his hearers to worship him as God for that is what he truly is.

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