In an article called The Crucifixion, F. W. Krummacher (1796 – 1868), gave the following vivid description of the death of our Lord Jesus Christ, and a reminder of its purpose —
“Look what a spectacle now presents itself. The moment the cross is elevated to its height, a crimson stream falls from the wounds of the crucified Jesus. This is His legacy to His Church. We render Him thanks for such a bequest. It falls upon spiritual deserts, and they blossom as the rose. We sprinkle it upon the doorposts of our hearts, and are secure against destroyers and avenging angels. Where this rain falls, the gardens of God spring up, lilies bloom, and what was black becomes white in the purifying stream, and what was polluted becomes pure as the light of the sun. There is no possibility of flourishing without it, no growth nor verdure, but everywhere desolation, barrenness, and death.
There stands the mysterious cross—a rock against which the very waves of the curse break. He who so mercifully engaged to direct this judgment against Himself hangs yonder in profound darkness. Still He remains the Morning Star, announcing an eternal Sabbath to the world. Though rejected by Heaven and earth, yet He forms the connecting link between them both and the Mediator of their eternal and renewed amity.
Ah, see! His bleeding arms are extended wide; He stretches them out to every sinner. His hands point to the east and west; for He shall gather His children from the ends of the earth. The top of the cross is directed toward the sky; far above the world will its effects extend. Its foot is fixed in the earth; the cross becomes a wondrous tree, from which we reap the fruit of an eternal reconciliation.”
— F. W. Krummacher, “The Crucifixion“
Hello Dave, it is my understanding that the inspired writers of the Christian Greek Scriptures wrote in the common (koi·ne′) Greek and used the word stau·ros′ to mean the same thing as in the classical Greek, namely, a simple stake, or pale, without a crossbeam of any kind at any angle. There is no proof to the contrary. The apostles Peter and Paul also use the word xy′lon to refer to the torture instrument upon which Jesus was nailed, and this shows that it was an upright stake without a crossbeam, for that is what xy′lon in this special sense means. (Ac 5:30; 10:39; 13:29; Ga 3:13; 1Pe 2:24).
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.
This makes perfect sense as Paul Wilhelm Schmidt, who was a professor at the University of Basel, in his work Die Geschichte Jesu (The History of Jesus), Vol. 2, Tübingen and Leipzig, 1904, pp. 386-394, made a detailed study of the Greek word stau·ros′. On p. 386 of his work he said: “σταυρός [stau·ros′] means every upright standing pale or tree trunk.” Concerning the execution of punishment upon Jesus, P. W. Schmidt wrote on pp. 387-389: “Beside scourging, according to the gospel accounts, only the simplest form of Roman crucifixion comes into consideration for the infliction of punishment upon Jesus, the hanging of the unclad body on a stake, which, by the way, Jesus had to carry or drag to the execution place to intensify the disgraceful punishment. . . . Anything other than a simple hanging is ruled out by the wholesale manner in which this execution was often carried out: 2000 at once by Varus (Jos. Ant. XVII 10. 10), by Quadratus (Jewish Wars II 12. 6), by the Procurator Felix (Jewish Wars II 15. 2), by Titus (Jewish Wars VII. 1).”
Please correct me if I am wrong in this regard
Zen – How sad to see you miss the salvific emphasis in this brief quote, only to go on and on about your view of the Greek terms used. Why?
The very simple Greek term used by the Apostles (xylon) refers to ‘wood’ and can refer to a tree or something made of wood. It is a non-technical term used to tie in the OT references to the NT events. It certainly does point to a cross (upright and – particularly THE BEAM as we typically envision it), and church history amply bears this out — in word and in art!
As for the Greek term STAUROS, it does come from the term for ‘staff’ or stake’ but its NT use is usually wider than that – especially when referring to how Jesus was executed. Thayer’s lexicon treats it as something special (more significant than a “stake”) saying it refers to that “well known instrument of most cruel and ignominious punishment, borrowed by the Greeks and Romans from the Phoenicians [used] down to the time of Constantine the Great…” The Romans regularly used stakes, T-shaped crosses and + shaped crosses in their executions. This is pretty indisputable.
Why you force partial truth about these terms to be the ONLY view is the real question. You seem intent on distracting us from the message of the cross — is it folly to you?
Not at all Dave, I take Jesus’ sacrafice most seriously but the tradition followed by most of Christendom regarding objects like the cross are what I dislike. To me it smacks of idolitry. I cannot see how if one believes that Jesus is Almighty God, how one cannot take scripture such as Ex 20:4, Deut 4:16, 23,24 ,28, Isaiah 44:17 into account is beyond me.
In the book of Acts, we’re admonished at Ch 15:19 & 20 to abstain from things polluted by idols and at 1Cor 12:1-2 not to be led away to these voiceless idols. The last time I was kneeling and praying in front of the cross with the life like image of Jesus nailed to it (at the church of my upbringing) the words in Psalms 115 kept coming to the forfront of my mind. Through many specific prayers to our heavenly Father about this in perticular, I was drawn to the scriptures such as Isaiah 44:9 & 13 and I was truely moved to understand.
I believe that what God said thru his prophet Isaiah at chapter 40 in verses 18-20 and then at 44:17 where God says that we bow before it and pray for deliverance. Yes, that it is somehow representing God. And this is what Christendom has been doing since about the 3rd century AD because of a melding of Christian beliefs with the pagan beliefs of the Roman empire to make it an easier transition for the pagans to become Christians. It’s historical fact that the cross has been used by them (pagans) in one form or another since the days of Nimrod. This influence by the nations of Christianity to me is no different than when the Jews were influenced by the nations back in the day and we know how God felt about that. Again, I feel that by following Jesus request found at 1Cor 11:24 we will be better served than to think about the instrument of our savior’s death. Jesus said at John 4:24 that God is a spirit and must be worshiped in spirit and truth.
If I am wrong, please show me (from the Bible) where I need to readjust my understanding.