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Did Jesus die on a cross or on a stake?

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Fri, Sept 24, 2010

Editor: I firmly believe in the death of Jesus Christ, that it provided the ransom that opens the door to everlasting life, for those who truly demonstrate faith in him. (Matthew 20:28; John 3:16) However, I do not believe that Jesus died on a cross. I do believe that Jesus died on an upright stake with no crossbeam. Why do I say this?{{more}}

The New Catholic Encyclopedia admits: “The cross is found in both pre-Christian and non-Christian cultures, where it has largely a cosmic or natural significance.” Various other authorities have linked the “cross” with nature worship and pagan sex rites.

W. E. Vine, respected British Bible scholar, offers these hard facts: “By the middle of the 3rd century A.D., pagans were received into the churches and were permitted largely to retain their pagan signs and symbols. Hence the Tau or T, with the cross-piece lowered, was adopted.”—Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words.

Oxford University’s Companion Bible says: “The evidence is that the Lord was put to death upon an upright stake, and NOT on two pieces of timber placed at any angle.”

More important, no matter what device was used for the torture and execution of Jesus, no image or symbol of it should become an object of devotion or worship for Christians. “Flee from idolatry,” commands the Bible. (1 Corinthians 10:14) Christ was made a curse for us when he died as Galatians 3:13 points out. Do we then cherish the instrument on which Christ died? If a beloved family member were killed by a knife, would we cherish that knife, that knife being comparable to a curse? Why, then, was this pagan symbol of the cross promoted? Apparently, to make it easier for pagans to accept “Christianity.” In the fourth century, pagan Emperor Constantine became a convert to apostate Christianity and promoted the cross as its symbol.

The Greek word generally translated “cross” is “stauros”. It basically means “an upright pale or stake.” The Companion Bible points out: “stauros” never means two pieces of timber placed across one another at any angle. There is nothing in the Greek of the New Testament even to imply two pieces of timber. In several texts, Bible writers use another word for the instrument of Jesus’ death. It is the Greek word xylon. (Acts 5:30; 10:39; 13:29; Galatians 3:13; 1 Peter 2:24) This word simply means “timber” or “a stick, club, or tree.”

Explaining why a simple stake was often used for executions, the book Das Kreuz und die Kreuzigung ( i.e. The Cross and the Crucifixion), by Hermann Fulda, states: “Trees were not everywhere available at the places chosen for public execution. So a simple beam was sunk into the ground. On this, the outlaws, with hands raised upward and often also with their feet, bound or nailed.”

I once again emphasize that I believe in the death of Jesus Christ, that he died for us, with benefits if we show true faith in him. However, Christ died, NOT on a cross, but on an upright stake.

Pastors, I am not challenging you, but I am kindly encouraging you to check this matter out. It is important.

Simeon James