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Randolph Pemberton wrote:

Hi, guys —

I can't seem to explain to a friend that bowing to the Pope is respectful and not wrong. 

My friend keeps bringing up that in the Bible, the Lord says you should not bow to any man except God or Jesus and, for that reason, it's wrong to bow to the Pope.

He also said asking a saint to pray with you or for you is wrong and is a sin; instead one should ask Jesus for help; you don't need a saint.

My answers are not sufficient for him or he just wants to argue.

Any help in answering his questions would be greatly appreciated.



  { How do I show my friend that bowing to the Pope is not worship and is praying to the saints wrong? }

Eric replied:

Hi, Randolph —

  • Who says the Bible says it is categorically wrong to bow to someone?

There is lots of bowing to men in the Bible. The exact same Hebrew phraseology used in the First Commandment in Exodus is used by righteous Isaac when speaking to Jacob in Genesis 27:29,

May nations serve you and peoples bow down to you.

Here are some other examples:

  • 1 Kings 1:16: "Bathsheba bowed low and knelt before the king. 'What is it you want?' the king asked." <No rebuke from David.>

  • 1 Kings 1:31: "Then Bathsheba bowed low with her face to the ground and, kneeling before the king, said, "May my lord King David live forever!"

  • 1 Samuel 24:8: "Then David went out of the cave and called out to Saul, 'My Lord and king!' When Saul looked behind him, David bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground."

  • 1 Samuel 25:23: "When Abigail saw David, she quickly got off her donkey and bowed down before David with her face to the ground. She fell at his feet. . ." Again in verse 41.

  • 1 Samuel 28:14: "Then Saul knew it was Samuel, and he bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground."

  • 2 Samuel 9:6-8: "When Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, came to David,
    he bowed down to pay him honor. David said, 'Mephibosheth! . . . Don't be afraid, for I will surely show you kindness . . .' Mephibosheth bowed down and said, 'What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?'"

  • 2 Samuel 14:33: "Then the king summoned Absalom, and he came in and bowed down with his face to the ground before the king. And the king kissed Absalom."

  • 2 Samuel 18:28: "Then Ahimaaz called out to the king, 'All is well!' He bowed down before the king [David] with his face to the ground . . ."

  • 2 Samuel 22:40, in David's song of praise to the Lord: "You made my adversaries bow at my feet." Also Psalm 18:39.

  • 1 King 1:22-23: "While she was still speaking with the king, Nathan the prophet arrived.
    And they told the king, 'Nathan the prophet is here.' So he went before the king and bowed with his face to the ground."

    <Nathan, the prophet, bowing to King David! What blasphemy! ;-) (cf. Exodus 34:14)>

  • 1 Kings 2:19: "When Bathsheba went to King Solomon to speak to him for Adonijah, the king stood up to meet her, bowed down to her and sat down on his throne."

  • 1 Kings 18:7: "As Obadiah was walking along, Elijah met him. Obadiah recognized him, bowed down to the ground, and said, 'Is it really you, my lord Elijah?'" verse 3 says, "(Obadiah was a devout believer in the Lord...)"

  • 2 Kings 2:15: "The company of the prophets from Jericho, who were watching, said, '
    The spirit of Elijah is resting on Elisha.' And they went to meet him and bowed to the ground before him."

Also see 2 Samuel 15:5, 2 Samuel 24:20, 1 Kings 1:53, 2 Kings 4:37, and 1 Chronicles 21:21.

  • Don't the angels in the Bible correct men when they bow to them
    (Revelation et al)?

Not always. Cf. Genesis 19:1 and Numbers 22:31 for starters. Note that in Revelation 22:8,
it explicitly says that John fell down to worship at the feet of the angel. The angel rebuked him, Worship God! Thus it was the worship he was objecting to; not the bowing. As a matter of fact, my concordance and my online (KJV) New King James Version do not find any occurrences of people bowing to angels and being rebuked, simply for bowing.

I pointed out earlier that on a number of occasions in the Old Testament, you find people bowing down to one another, even prophets to kings or people to prophets, without anyone indicating that something is wrong. Bowing in Eastern culture is a form of honor, and not exclusively associated with worship. This is evident because very frequently, when the Scriptures speak of bowing down in worship to a deity, it says explicitly, so and so bowed down and worshiped, but in other places, when people bow down to other people in a non-worship context, it simply says that they bowed down.

Thus worship is not inherent in bowing. cf.:

As for saints, do a Knowledge base search, on some key words and you'll find postings such as:

Hope this helps,


Randolph replied:

Thank you and hooray!

I made him read this and then made him look up the passages you gave me to read and finally convinced him that bowing to the Pope out of respect is not worshipping the Pope as one would worship Our Lord Jesus, or our Heavenly Father.

Thank-you again with respect.


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