Did Jesus die on a cross or was He hung on a tree?

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The Greek word translated “cross” is stauros, meaning “a pole or a cross used as an instrument of capital punishment.” The Greek word stauroo, which is translated “crucify,” means “to be attached to a pole or cross.”

We cannot construct a biblical stand, for either a cross or a pole/stake. Historically, the Romans crucified people on crosses, poles, stakes, upside-down crosses, X-shaped crosses walls, roofs, etc. Jesus could have been crucified on any of these objects.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses, raise this question and teach that Jesus did not die on a cross because the cross is a pagan symbol. And in their effort to support this teaching they worded their New World Translation to say that Jesus died on a “torture stake” rather than a cross. What is far more important than this is that the Jehovah’s Witnesses deny the deity of Christ.

But there is a New Testament clue that points that Jesus was in fact crucified on a cross. This clue is found in John 21. “‘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” (verses 18–19). The fact that Peter would “stretch out” his hands shows that the Roman crucifixion usually involved outspread arms that would be positioned on a crosspiece.

What is more important than the shape of the object on which Jesus was crucified is that the fact that Jesus offered His life for our sins and His death bought for us eternal life. And in return Jesus invites us, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it” (Matthew 16:24–25).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team


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