did jesus really die on a cross?

THE cross is one of the most recognizable religious symbols known to man. Millions revere it, considering it to be the sacred instrument on which Jesus was put to death. Roman Catholic writer and archaeologist Adolphe-Napoleon Didron stated: “The cross has received a worship similar, if not equal, to that of Christ; this sacred wood is adored almost equally with God Himself.”

Some say that the cross makes them feel closer to God when they pray. Others use it as an amulet, thinking that it protects them from evil. But should Christians use the cross as an object of veneration? Did Jesus really die on a cross? What does the Bible teach on this subject?

Long before the Christian era, crosses were used by the ancient Babylonians as symbols in their worship of the fertility god Tammuz. The use of the cross spread into Egypt, India, Syria, and China. Then, centuries later, the Israelites adulterated their worship of Jehovah with acts of veneration to the false god Tammuz. The Bible refers to this form of worship as a ‘detestable thing.’—Ezekiel 8:13, 14.

The Gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John use the Greek word stau·ros′ when referring to the instrument of execution on which Jesus died. (Matthew 27:40; Mark 15:30; Luke 23:26) The word stau·ros′ refers to an upright pole, stake, or post. The book The Non-Christian Cross, by J. D. Parsons, explains: “There is not a single sentence in any of the numerous writings forming the New Testament, which, in the original Greek, bears even indirect evidence to the effect that the stauros used in the case of Jesus was other than an ordinary stauros; much less to the effect that it consisted, not of one piece of timber, but of two pieces nailed together in the form of a cross.”

As recorded at Acts 5:30, the apostle Peter used the word xy′lon, meaning “tree,” as a synonym for stau·ros′, denoting, not a two-beamed cross, but an ordinary piece of upright timber or tree. It was not until about 300 years after Jesus’ death that some professed Christians promoted the idea that Jesus was put to death on a two-beamed cross. However, this view was based on tradition and a misuse of the Greek word stau·ros′. It is noteworthy that some ancient drawings depicting Roman executions feature a single wooden pole or tree.

A more important issue for true Christians should be the propriety of venerating the instrument used to kill Jesus. Whether it was an upright single torture stake, a cross, an arrow, a lance, or a knife, should such an instrument be used in worship?

Suppose a loved one of yours was brutally murdered and the weapon was submitted to the court as evidence. Would you try to gain possession of the murder weapon, take photographs of it, and print many copies for distribution? Would you produce replicas of the weapon in various sizes? Would you then fashion some of them into jewelry? Or would you have these reproductions commercially manufactured and sold to friends and relatives to be venerated? Likely you would be repulsed at the idea! Yet, these very things have been done with the cross!

Besides, the use of the cross in worship is no different from the use of images in worship, a practice condemned in the Bible. (Exodus 20:2-5; Deuteronomy 4:25, 26) The apostle John accurately reflected the teachings of true Christianity when he admonished his fellow Christians with the words: “Guard yourselves from idols.” (1 John 5:21) This they did even when it meant facing death in the Roman arena.

First-century Christians, however, held the sacrificial death of Christ in high esteem. Likewise today, although the instrument used to torture and kill Jesus is not to be worshipped, true Christians commemorate Jesus’ death as the means by which God provides salvation to imperfect humans. (Matthew 20:28) This superlative expression of God’s love will bring untold blessings to lovers of truth, including the prospect of everlasting life.—John 17:3; Revelation 21:3, 4.

28 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Yes, and it happened exactly like the Ot foretold about it

  • Mike C
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    Didron's Catholicism is incidental to his archeology, ergo, I completely disagree with his, and your, contention that the cross receives "worship." Yes, Christians can venerate the cross. Almost certainly Jesus died on a cross, not a stake. the bible is silent on the use of objects in worship...though not on worshipping object.

    You mention adulterated worship by Israel...most of those "worship" sites were marked by a single upright pole...a phallic symbol...a stake in the ground.

    Nice "cut and paste" on the whole stauros nonsense. Here's the deal...unless you're an expert in ancient greek you should stay away from discussing language...but since your brought it up..here's my question...if the word STAUROS means only an upright stake...what word did the greeks use to denote a T shaped cross?

    More importantly, address the issue of history. What was the purpose of crucifixion? It was a deterent...part of this deterence was that it be seen. A person on an upright stake can be confused for many things...from a distance a man on a cross is mistaken for nothing else. The Romans had been in Judea for some time by the time Christ was crucified...they had regular execution sites set up...it was their habit in those cases to have the upright stakes already in place, and the condemned would carry the cross beam out to the execution site.

    Yes, some "drawings" you're talking of one in particular, show an upright stake, but the same artist also shows the normal mode of execution...a T shaped cross.

    A more important drawing was one found in ancient Rome, it showed a human body with a donkey's head being crucified on a T shaped cross...it dates to the late 1st century...the caption reads "Alexemos Worships his God"...later another graffiti accusses Alexemos of Christianity. This shows veneration of the cross (though mocked by pagans) and the form of crucifixion most often known to Rome...the T shaped cross.

    There IS a single sentence to indicate that Christ was crucified on a T Shaped Cross rather than a pole...several in fact...the most important one is that it means the marks the NAILS (plural) made in his hands...John 21 tells of the prophecy that Peter would die as Christ did...and mentions streching out his arms as in a normal T shaped Crucifixion.

    Should we venerate the instrument used to kill Jesus when we don't orther instruments of death? Was any other instrument of death the most singular event in human history bringing about the salvation of humans?

    The Jehovah's Witnesses have built entire theologies around the STAKE...yet again another of their attempts to "be different." Nothing at all in the bible indicates a "torture stake" but rather infers the traditional T shaped cross...yet the rest of Christianity will say it doesn't matter what shape...yet JWs INSIST AS A MATTER OF DOCTRINE.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Adolphe-Napoleon Didron has a right to his opinion, just as anyone does ... even when he's wrong ... and on this point, he is.

    No Christian worships the cross. Christians worship God alone.

    There's no doubt Jesus died on a cross ... since the Assyrians invented the process, and the Romans gladly adopted it, some 600 years earlier, since crucifixion had proven remarkably effective at controlling indigenous populations..

    Only those who like to micro-analyze and nit pick the Bible make any claims to the contrary, while the Church, which was there at Calvary with Christ, never had any doubt about what was used to crucified him.

    Catholics will tell you that a cross without Christ is merely the bare remains of a tree ... while a cross with Christ on it is the authentic sign and symbol of our salvation, until Jesus comes again.

    Such a symbol is worthy of veneration. Not worship.

  • 5 years ago

    Definition: The device on which Jesus Christ was executed is referred to by most of Christendom as a cross. The expression is drawn from the Latin crux If you refer to the shape, that's it's a straight Pole. The Greek word rendered “cross” in many modern Bible versions (“torture stake” in NW) is stau‧ros′. In classical Greek, this word meant merely an upright stake, or pale. Later it also came to be used for an execution stake having a crosspiece. The Imperial Bible-Dictionary acknowledges this, saying: “The Greek word for cross, [stau‧ros′], properly signified a stake, an upright pole, or piece of paling, on which anything might be hung, or which might be used in impaling [fencing in] a piece of ground. . . . Even amongst the Romans the crux (from which our cross is derived) appears to have been originally an upright pole.”—Edited by P. Fairbairn (London, 1874), Vol. I, p. 376. Was that the case in connection with the execution of God’s Son? It is noteworthy that the Bible also uses the word xy′lon to identify the device used. A Greek-English Lexicon, by Liddell and Scott, defines this as meaning: “Wood cut and ready for use, firewood, timber, etc. . . . piece of wood, log, beam, post . . . cudgel, club . . . stake on which criminals were impaled . . . of live wood, tree.” It also says “in NT, of the cross,” and cites Acts 5:30 and 10:39 as examples. (Oxford, 1968, pp. 1191, 1192) However, in those verses KJ, RS, JB, and Dy translate xy′lon as “tree.” (Compare this rendering with Galatians 3:13; Deuteronomy 21:22, 23.) The book The Non-Christian Cross, by J. D. Parsons (London, 1896), says: “There is not a single sentence in any of the numerous writings forming the New Testament, which, in the original Greek, bears even indirect evidence to the effect that the stauros used in the case of Jesus was other than an ordinary stauros; much less to the effect that it consisted, not of one piece of timber, but of two pieces nailed together in the form of a cross. . . . It is not a little misleading upon the part of our teachers to translate the word stauros as ‘cross’ when rendering the Greek documents of the Church into our native tongue, and to support that action by putting ‘cross’ in our lexicons as the meaning of stauros without carefully explaining that that was at any rate not the primary meaning of the word in the days of the Apostles, did not become its primary signification till long afterwards, and became so then, if at all, only because, despite the absence of corroborative evidence, it was for some reason or other assumed that the particular stauros upon which Jesus was executed had that particular shape.”—Pp. 23, 24; see also The Companion Bible (London, 1885), Appendix No. 162. Thus the weight of the evidence indicates that Jesus died on an upright stake and not on the traditional cross. KEEP ON SEEKING THE TRUTH...

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  • 1 decade ago

    As in Adam (Adam1 or Adam2) all die... extinction (not salvation),

    but in Christ shall all be made alive... salvation (not extinction)

    Pick one only:

    - by law all perish

    - by grace none perish

    For it's not both, but good or corrupt: Mt 12:30-37

    Note: de-fault goes to the law: condemned already,

    and notably by your own mouth, from your own heart.

    Job 15:6... Mt 15:11... Mk 7:18-23... Lk 6:45... Rom 2:1

    Eg: hump-ty dumb-ty had a great fall: Galatians 5:4

    It's "allegory" about good(grace) or corrupt(law);

    with lukewarm being both hot(grace) + cold(law),

    which is to allegory say life + death = dead end.

    As for sacrifice, it's what God & Son will "not" have:

    Ps 40:6; 51:16... Hos 6:6... Mt 9:13; 12:7... Heb 10

    The GRACE of our Lord JC with you all. Amen.

  • 1 decade ago

    I am not too excited about whether it was a cross or a tree.I totally

    believe the scriptures and specially that My Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ did die for me.

    John 14. 6 I am the way, the truth and the life, no man cometh unto the Father but by Me.

  • 1 decade ago

    I think the belief is that he was crucified on a "cross beam". The place where he was nailed may resemble a cross, but the entire structure reassembled a series of H's- HHHHHHH.

    It was constructed from wood, which may be referred to as a tree (where wood comes from).

    Yes- some people do attack some divine significance to the symbol of a cross. Of course this is idolatry and is most unfortunate.

    edit: oops! "attach"- not attack.

  • 1 decade ago

    Personally , I believe beleive that if my husband were shot by a gun , I would not wear a replica of a gun on my neck , however , as a Christian , Jesus , died on the cross for the sins of mankind , and then was risen from the dead 3 days later symbolises of the crossandwhat it represents....Jesus Christ suffered and died for our sins , and by wearing the cross or having some manufactured piece of it , ( though I do not have one) is merely recognizing , as a Christian , the importance of the life , death , Resurrection for mankind. There is a difference

    Source(s): I am a beleiver in the Trinity and a Covenant Christian who beleives the cross standing high over my head as I attend church touches my soul.
  • 1 decade ago

    The only misquotes of Biblical Scholars and misinterpretations of the word of God you are going to get such as these are form the Jehovah's Witnesses.

    Christ was crucified on a cross.

    It is not an object of worship but a symbol of the victory he won for us all.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    I like your last paragraph. We are not to worship the cross, but to keep it as a reminder of what Christ did for us.

    As for Jesus dying on a cross, he did. Remember doubting Thomas who wanted to see the nail prints. It is also well documented that Christ was crucified. That could only happen on a crucifix. And the Roman empire used the crucifix for capitol punishment.

  • 1 decade ago

    Jesus did die upon a cross. The Crucifixion is historical and Scriptural.

    Christians are forbidden to worship images--obviously, that would be idolatrous. The use of images in worship is not idolatry--the statues, crucifixes, etc., are visual reminders of to whom we pray. Idols are those people or objects we worship, or place in higher esteem than God. "I am the Lord thy God; Thou shalt have no other gods before me." Those gods can be sport heros, movie stars, money, and anything receiving undue attention.

    The holy cross upon which Jesus was hung, is to be seen as sanctified. Our Savior sanctified it with His blood, in the act of total submission to the will of God the Father. Christ suffered and died, so that God would look with favor upon the ultimate sacrifice and re-open the Gates of Heaven. It's another (the greatest) example of God's ability to bring good from evil (the evil was people desiring to kill Christ).

    The sight of Jesus Christ hanging on the cross should at least exite in our hearts, pity and sorrow for having sinned and helped cause Him so much pain and anguish.

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