Did Jesus die on a stake or a cross?

by Matt Slick

Jesus died on a cross and not a stake. In particular, the non-Christian cult of the Jehovah's Witnesses teach that Jesus died on a stake, not a cross.1 It really does not matter on which one Jesus died. The issue is whether or not He shed His blood for our sins.

The Greek word used in many Bibles which is translated into "cross" is the Greek word "stauros" which means, "an upright stake, esp. a pointed one, a cross."2 If a stake were used, instead of a cross, then Jesus' hands would have been placed above His head with a nail driven through His wrists. Since the wrists would most likely overlap, only one nail is needed through both wrists. However, John 20:25 says,

"The other disciples therefore said unto him, 'We have seen the Lord. But he said to them, 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.'"

Notice the use of the word nails (plural) in reference to hands (plural). It makes far more sense to say that Jesus was crucified on a cross with outstretched hands and one nail in each hand placed above each other on a stake. That is why it says " . . . in his hands the print of the nails . . . "

Therefore, it is most logical to state that Jesus died on a cross with outstretched arms.

One last thing, the Jehovah's Witnesses will say that the cross is a pagan symbol but that is meaningless. The cross was one of the Roman Empire's methods of execution. It would be like saying that the electric chair is a pagan symbol. It isn't. It is just a means of execution.


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  • 1. Reasoning from the Scriptures, 1985, pp. 89-90
  • 2. Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon, Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, 1995.