Was Jesus crucified on a cross, pole, or stake?


Clarify Share Report Asked July 01 2013 Mini Anonymous (via GotQuestions)

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Shea S. Michael Houdmann Supporter Got Questions Ministries
The cross is arguably the most beloved symbol in all of Christianity. It adorns our churches and cathedrals, our jewelry, our books and music, and is used in numerous marketing logos. The empty cro...

July 01 2013 2 responses Vote Up Share Report

Closeup Jennifer Rothnie Supporter Housewife, Artist, Perpetually Curious
While there were many forms of crucifixion that the Romans employed -from the simple upright pole, actual trees, varying positions of the crossbars, or even multiple poles -there are clues in scripture to help narrow the possibilities down. 

First, Jesus was ordered to carry his own cross. (John 19:17, Matt 27:32). This would not have been the entire cross that he carried, as is often portrayed in film, but rather the crossbeam of his own cross (the patibulum). A full cross would have weighed over 300lbs. Romans often had someone condemned carry the crossbeam, to add to their humiliation and punishment. Once it was set up, they would leave it up for future crucifixions. 

As the Romans did not have this practice for crucifixions on simple upright poles, it is unlikely Christ was crucified on a simple pole with no crossbeam (it would have broken with custom).

Furthermore, Jesus would have literally been "lifted up" in this method of crucifixion, as he would have either been attached to the crossbeam and lifted to the cross-pole, or attached to the cross entire and lifted up. (John 3:14)

Secondly, Jesus is described in scripture as having "nails" through his wrists. (John 20:25) which would also eliminate the single upright pole- of which practice was to only use one nail.

Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. This was probably the 'titulus', a sign bearing notice of the condemned's name and crimes carried by a soldier during the processional. It would probably have been fastened to the cross just after Christ was fastened. 

This could have been done on either a 'high tau' or 'low tau' cross - that is a cross like a lower case t or a cross like a capital T.

One thing not seen on modern replicas of the imagined cross is the sedile, a small seat or protrusion about halfway down the cross. It was not there for comfort, but to prolong agony by preventing early asphyxiation. Justin Martyr and Iraneus mention the five extremities of the cross:

"The very form of the cross, too, has five extremities, two in length, two in breadth, and one in the middle, on which [last] the person rests who is fixed by the nails." Iraeneus, 'Against Heresies', Book II, Chapter 24 (175-185 AD)

(This would support the low tau form of the cross, as the T only has 4 extremities if one includes a sedile.)

As such, Jesus very likely died on a cross with a proper crossbeam. From scripture it cannot be divined the exact form of the cross. It does seems that from at least the second century church tradition was already holding to the little t cross (which doesn't make it automatically true, but is a point in its favor).

October 26 2013 5 responses Vote Up Share Report

Stringio Nathan Toronga Christian Elder.
While it is really insignificant what shape Jesus' cross was (if it were, Scripture would have said so directly), I still wish to state that yes, the shape is there in the bible.

This refutes teachings by the Watchtower (they're certainly NOT my God's witnesses. Of some other god, maybe, but not of the Creator God)

Ok, look at John 21:18-19 NIV "Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will STRETCH OUT your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”"

This was how Peter would die, as Jesus Himself had died. (Of course, Peter requested to be crucified upside down, so that he wouldn't die EXACTLY as Jesus had been crucified. 

Also look at Exodus 12:7 KJV "And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it."

As most people will be aware, this blood symbolised Christ's, and the blood spots clearly portray a cross. If you take the door into account. 

The Watchtower lie about this, and try to extrapolate the lie to the deity of Jesus. 

Regrettably, the cross, or anything else, may NOT be used as a symbol in worship or to signify Christianity. That amounts to idolatry. 


October 27 2013 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

To find out the significance of the cross is more important then the shape and size. In my opinion and view, cross is the symbolic TREE OF LIFE. why the LIFE? ".. The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and LIVE. So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they LIVED." (Numbers 21:4-9). Actually, could that bronze snake cure snakebite? No Way! This serpent represented Christ. It was a symbol of Christ. Shamefully, this artifact later became an idol that God's people worshiped. See II Kings 18. What was it that held the bronze snake up high so everyone could see it? A wooden pole with a cross beam near its top! This is an early symbol of the Cross! Jesus said: John 12:32 "But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself." What a wonder that our pure precious Lord would condescend to be symbolized by a snake. Galatians 3:13 says He was made a curse for us. The brazen serpent had no venom in itself, just the form of a poisonous serpent. Just so, Christ had no sin in Him but Romans 8:3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh. 

Jesus Crucifixion is the symbolic significance of the tree of life. "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree " (Galatians 3:13). But this doesn't mean that Jesus was crucified on a literal tree. Remember, above in Matt 27:40 we see exactly which word is used to describe what Jesus was crucified on, a cross(Greek ξύλον, wood). "...You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the CROSS," (Matt. 27:40). CROSS not the TREE! But Christians should not focus on the outer appearance of the cross, focus on spiritual cross.

January 03 2014 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

1340324413 Chris Eleam Chris Eleam
According to Greek scholar W. E. Vine, stauros′ “denotes, primarily, an upright pale or stake. On such malefactors were nailed for execution. Both the noun and the verb stauroō, to fasten to a stake or pale, are originally to be distinguished from the ecclesiastical form of a two beamed cross.”
The Imperial Bible-Dictionary says that the word stauros′ “properly signified a stake, an upright pole, or piece of paling, on which anything might be hung, or which might be used in impaling a piece of ground.” The dictionary continues: “Even amongst the Romans the crux (Latin, from which our cross is derived) appears to have been originally an upright pole.” Thus, it is not surprising that The Catholic Encyclopedia states: “Certain it is, at any rate, that the cross originally consisted of a simple vertical pole, sharpened at its upper end.”

There is another Greek word, xy′lon, that Bible writers used to describe the instrument of Jesus’ execution. A Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testament defines xy′lon as “a piece of timber, a wooden stake.” It goes on to say that like stauros′, xy′lon “was simply an upright pale or stake to which the Romans nailed those who were thus said to be crucified.”

In line with this, we note that the King James Version reads at Acts 5:30: “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree [xy′lon].” Other versions, though rendering stauros′ as “cross,” also translate xy′lon as “tree.” At Acts 13:29, The Jerusalem Bible says of Jesus: “When they had carried out everything that scripture foretells about him they took him down from the tree [xy′lon] and buried him.”
In view of the basic meaning of the Greek words stauros′ and xy′lon, the Critical Lexicon and Concordance, quoted above, observes: “Both words disagree with the modern idea of a cross, with which we have become familiarised by pictures.” In other words, what the Gospel writers described using the word stauros′ was nothing like what people today call a cross. Appropriately, therefore, the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures uses the expression “torture stake” at Matthew 27:40-42 and in other places where the word stauros′ appears. Similarly, the Complete Jewish Bible uses the expression “execution stake.”

February 28 2014 1 response Vote Up Share Report

Image Tega Edafiogho I am a University undergraduate I am now 17 got saved at 10.
The bible clearly states that Jesus died on a cross which was a plus (+)sign and I'll prove it.....Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe. (John 20:25b KJVA)

Notice Thomas witnessed the crucifixion and he said hands and NAILS meaning Jesus hands bore more than one nail, the Jehovah Witnesses would depict one nail driven through both hands, but the bible said NAILS. 

Notice the bible also says the 'print' of the nails, not 'prints' of the nails, because each nail made one print and Thomas wanted to see the print each nail made. This is only logical if the cross is a plus(+) sign, if it was as Jehovah's Witness say it should have been the prints of the nails in his hand.

Interestingly enough, even the New World Translation (Jehovah's witness bible) says THE PRINT OF THE NAILS ON HIS HANDS.

April 24 2015 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Toby Wooster
At the Colosseum in Rome a picture was revealed at a cleaning awhile back. The picture was drawn by Jews exiled to Rome after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Around 5000 Jews from Jerusalem built the Colosseum. If you enter the Colosseum from the normal entrance off the street go to your right a few arches then look back and a faint painting can be seen. Go up to that painting and look close. The picture will be of Old Jerusalem, however on the left hand side of the painting the cross used for Roman Crucifixion will be revealed. It certainly looks just like what you would expect and probably depicts the crucifixion of Jesus. I asked my Roman tour guide, "I thought you said it was Jews who painted this picture?". He stated, "I said they were Jews by birth, but some would have been Christians by faith."

May 02 2019 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Mike Dumais
Some of the confusion stems from "Hung".

The Israelite camp in the desert after Exodus was in the shape of a cross. 

The mark of Cain was, according to tradition a Tau or Tav....looks like the Red Cross symbol does today. 

Haman the Agagite was "Hung" impaled on a pole 70' high

Judas probably self impaled, also known as "Hung" on a stake.

July 17 2015 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini John Appelt
The Bible offers some clues on how Jesus was crucified.

Simon of Cyrene was compelled to bear Jesus’ cross, Matthew 27:32, Luke 23:26. As the whole cross weighed 200-300 pounds, it was likely just the crossbar, weighing about 75 to 125 pounds, which was carried. Thomas referred to the print of the nails in the hands, John 20:24, again suggesting a crossbar. The practice of breaking legs to hasten death means the feet were supported on some type of footrest.

Concerning the Lord’s death, Peter and Paul specifically used “tree” (Greek, “xulon”) in Acts 5:30, 10:39, 13:29, Galatians 3:13 (quoting Deuteronomy 21:23, LXX “xulon”), I Peter 2:24. The word can mean wood, Matthew 26:47, Acts 16:24, I Corinthians 3:12, Revelation 18:12. But, there is no hint that “tree” was meant to be a metaphor for the cross. The way the passages in Acts are literal and factual, symbolism would not have been normal or appropriate, especially when indicting the audience of their crime. The same word (not “dendron” meaning “ordinary tree”) is used for the “tree of life,” Revelation 2:7, 22:2, 14, 19. 

This raises the idea that Jesus was crucified on a living tree, which many early Christians understood. Melito of Sardis said, “Just as from a tree came sin, so also from a tree came salvation.” The crossbar was likely nailed to a living tree, making a complete cross.

Romans often executed at the place of crime or arrest, which would have been at Gethsemane, “olive press,” in a garden at the Mount of Olives, Mark 14:26, 32, Luke 22:39, John 19:41, outside the city, Hebrews 13:10-13, across the valley from the temple, Matthew 27:51-54. This locates Golgotha or Calvary nearby, Mark 15:22, Luke 23:33. Some scholars believe that as the next day was a Sabbath, they needed to hurry. There may not have been time to dig deep holes for each cross. According to historians, wood was scarce, so it would have been quite reasonable to use trees when readily available. 

Matthew 27:38 relates the “two robbers were crucified with Him.” This wording places three men on the same tree which would have been possible on an old olive tree. John 19:32 says “sustaurothentos” meaning “together crucified.” The two criminals were on either side with Jesus in the center, John 19:18. They were then close enough to hear each other. John 19:31 says, “the bodies (plural) should not remain on the cross (singular),” which suggests that it was not three crosses, but three men crucified on one tree. 

The manner of how the soldiers broke legs to hasten death proves this. If Jesus was on the center cross, He would have been the second to be killed in the normal arrangement. However, if the three were around one tree, then the chances are greater that Jesus would have been last, John 19:31-33. 

The evidence seems to be that the cross, that Jesus was crucified on, was likely a living tree with the crossbeam nailed to it.

July 31 2022 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

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