Did Jesus Die on A Cross or A Stake?

Though the Bible does not specifically describe the instrument that Jesus died upon, tradition has it that he was put to death on a cross consisting of a stake and a crossbeam. The Greek stauros is sometimes used to describe a simple stake, and other times a more complex form such as the cross. To determine what appearance the stauros took in Jesus’ death, we need to consider what the Greek language tells us, what history tells us, and most importantly, what the Bible tells us.


Click here to read more:

29 comments to Did Jesus Die on A Cross or A Stake?

  • Ex Jw

    Hi all, do this test…..put both your arms above your head with hands in the position the WT shows Jesus was executed….now try breathing. Now put your arms out stretched as if they were on a cross beam,again try breathing. Which position was it easiest to breath in? Scientist say a person would suffocate within 15 or 20 min. in the “arms above head” position,however,they would last for hours in the “cross” position. How many hours does the Bible say Jesus hung their before he died?

  • Wild Olive

    Thank you Peter K & Jaqueline,and yes I did feel the Holy Spirit teaching me on that occasion,even though I didn’t want to accept what it was saying.
    @Jeff,I didn’t realise the significance of the blood sprinkling ritual,and I think your conclusion re the lack of detailed study on the subject is correct,isn’t it amazing that when you actually look closely at the detail and minutae that much of “the truth”turns out to be not so true.
    I find this evident in the latest revision of the NWT,more than half the cross references have been removed,making it harder to look at supporting scripture on something “controversial ”
    The worst thing I believe a Jw can do is to actually study the Bible without watchtower intervention,I think there was even an article that said one would go back to many ideas of traditional Christianity if they did,not much of a recommendation for “truth”

  • Wild Olive

    I came to the conclusion that Jesus died on a cross in a different way.
    I was out cutting firewood one day,I came across a tree that had a big branch split off the main trunk by a storm and the branch had fallen down a small bank next to the tree.
    I trimmed off all the small bits off the big branch and had to move it about 10 ft up the bank to saw it up safely into blocks.
    After about 45min of grunting ,heaving and sweating I finally could now safely chainsaw the remainder.
    I decided a coffee was in order to catch my breath ,I sat on the tailgate of my truck looking at this log I had just moved and I said to myself,boy Jesus had a hard job moving something like this,a wave of realisation swept over me,how did he move something this heavy?
    I did a quick calculation in my head,the stake needed to be about 16ft long and about 8 in at the butt,that would weigh about 300 pounds!
    The log I had just moved had about the same volume,it took me 45 min to move it 10 ft,how did Jesus move it through the streets of Jerusalem narrow and cramped and crowded?
    It just wasn’t adding up so when I got home I pulled out my trusty latest edition NWT lol which has a time line of the last week of Jesus life,I took particular note of all the tooing and froing that went on with Jesus on the day of his execution,I worked out that he had about one hour max to move his stake from Pilates judgement seat to Golgotha,a distance of about 500 yards,I had struggled to move the same size log 10 ft,clearly it’s not possible,but,I reasoned,he couldn’t carry a complete cross either for the same reasons,as is depicted in religious literature.So what happened?
    I started to research roman execution and sure enough they used stakes and crosses,quite by accident I stumbled on a picture of captives been led for execution,they had their arms tied to a timber that went behind the neck,a piece of timber about 8 ft long and weighing about 100 pounds or less,this could have been carried by Jesus along with help on that terrible day,so what Jesus carried was the crossbeam of a cross,called a patibellum in Latin, to the place of execution,the main part was already there in a socket,it was pulled out laid on the ground,the crossbeam was attached along with the victim,then stood back up in the socket.
    So this why the word stauros is used,Jesus did carry a single timber,but it was the crossbeam,he couldn’t have moved an entire stake that distance in the time frame.
    For a long time I was upset at what I had discovered,it’s the fault of false religion that the cross has become an idol,but too insist that he died on a stake is just as false

    • Peter K. (admin)

      Wild Olive – Thank you! Very interesting.

    • Jacqueline

      Wild olive what an encouraging experience to share.I think you demonstrated how holy spirit works. You went to the accounts in the bible, used your facilities of seeing the tree, thinking then drawing a conclusion. I don’t know if you felt God with you as you went about this but I could see it as I read it. Thank you for the uplift.

    • Jeff


      I have always found the objection that since the cross is a pagan symbol, Jesus would not have been crucified on a pagan symbol. But it was pagans that killed him wasn’t it?

      I find the Scriptures are pretty clear as well. Jesus spoke of the prints of the nails (plural) in his hands (John 20:25). If it were a stake, it would be a nail. There wouldn’t be room for nails in that way. I checked multiple Greek manuscripts, The NA27, Textus Receptus, Wesctcott-Hort, Tischendorft, and the Byzantine and found that the Greek word for “nails” there is plural in all cases.

      It is interesting to also note that in the tabernacle when the High Priest sprinkled blood on the mercy seat, he sprinkle it eastward and westward, and then in front of it (i.e. not eastward and westward, but northward and southward).

      Lev 16:14
      14 And he shall take some of the blood of the bull and sprinkle it with his finger on the front of the mercy seat on the east side, and in front of the mercy seat he shall sprinkle some of the blood with his finger seven times.

      Sprinkling the blood with the directions outlined in Leviticus would be in the form of a cross. The Lord prefigured how Jesus would die (pictured in the tabernacle). I wonder if this is one reason the tabernacle is not studied in detail any longer by the Jehovah’s Witnesses?

      • Wild Olive

        @jeff,just a few additional points,that also turned me around.
        Have a look how many times sacred poles are mentioned in the OT,upright poles were also pagan symbols,so the argument of the cross being a pagan symbol is invalid.
        Also the wording used describing Jesus moving the timber,in Greek the word is bastazo,meaning to bear,not drag,very specific,Jesus had to bear the timber,couldn’t do that with a 300 pound stake,but definitely the crossbeam.

  • Joseph Zarola

    Jesus was not hung on an up-right stake, as it would have been physically impossible for Him to survive more than 15 minutes with His hands over His head, as He would asphyxiate quickly, not being able to fill or expel His lungs to accommodate breathing, and the Bible makes it clear that He was hung for at least a few hours still alive. Many scholars consider 4 or 5 hours He hung alive, and suffering, because that’s why the Romans used a cross…to inflict long and terrible punishment.
    Some crucified men were recorded as having lived over 5 days on this cross.
    Notice the lack of blood or injury on the illustration of Jesus’ ravaged body…all meant to downplay His incredible suffering for us.

    I believe Jehovah’s Witnesses gravitated to the upright stake doctrine, to be different, and to “stake” thier claim to their own personal Jesus/angel.

    • Jacqueline

      Joseph welcome, you comment is so logical. Why they don’t want to give Glory to Jesus and what he suffered and sacrificed for mankind is beyond comprehension. It is big commercial business, not a religious entity. Thank you for commenting, very well put.

      • Joseph Zarola

        Thank you for your support Jacqueline.

        There are great truths in the minutia of God’s love, that can easily be over-looked, or even ignored if it fits the needs of big-business, or as you have eluded to, big religion.

        I reposted my initial post, and modified it to reflect the obvious logical truth.
        By any standards, for them to believe this story of the stake, and forsake the suffering of our Lord for the artfully illustrated picture from a publishing company, the members of this or any religious group that holds to the interpretations of men as superior to the logical teachings of the Holy Spirit, are themselves destined to lament and beat themselves over their great willingness to be deceived. Their day is fast approaching.

        There is truth in the details.

        • Jacqueline

          Joseph, could you share with us please your story? Hundreds visit this site daily and thousands by months end. Perhaps someone can relate to your journey and receive hope. In Christ, Jacqueline

          • Joseph Zarola

            Yes Jacqueline, if it will Glorify our Lord, yes…please direct me to a proper link..Thank you,
            In Christ,

            • Jacqueline

              Yes it will glorify God and Jesus as it helps his little sheep. http://Www.friendsofjehovahswitnesses.com/testimonials/. I am not home and on a tablet so if that does not work, it is the testimonials link at the top of the page. Br. Joseph I have witnessed, seen and heard brothers say “that’s my experience”. And to see you survived or reconciled it gives them hope. Sometimes all a person needs is a little string to hold on to as they gather their wits.
              Among the Bible Students we have testimony meetings, where we can hear help and edify each other. It is not like the experiences on conventions of witnesses where the CO,DO hear , delete and script what you say. Also theirs is about field ministry. Ours is about our brothers and how God has played in their life.
              We laughed as one young newly wed bride testimony was that her husband was almost perfect. And as she exclaimed his virtues we just patted him on head as he realized he had fooled her.(:). But that was how God had worked in her life and we could glory in that. Perhaps older couples were encouraged to look back and renew that glow of newness to glorify the Godly institution of marriage.
              I have learned love while crying and smiling during testimony Meeting. Br. Peter from time to time will post a link to a convention and you can see our programs. Also the general convention links are on here under conventions, you can see everyone. So waiting to here your testimony my friend. Jacqueline

              • Joseph Zarola

                Thank you Jacqueline…I will give this a look. I appreciate your candor and up-front portrayal of how Holy Spirit will work through individual experiences…the Bible is full of them!

                I will observe the format, and create a story-line that is not too long, and that holds the interest of the readers…I try to think before I speak, so my written words are scrutinized well before they are positioned!

                I have a few Bible Student friends…we are in agreement on much…

                Blessings my dear sister!

                Joseph A. Zarola

  • Joseph Zarola

    Thank you Jacqueline.

    I was a member for 40 years. In that time I was blessed by our Lord to observe, and analyze the many machinations of this man-organization, and after disassociating myself 4 years ago, I was also able to start my comparative Christian Bible research in earnest.

    Yes, in the same manner that the great satan is like a roaring lion, seeking to devour all whom he can, the Watchtower has become a counterfeit Lion of Judah, using fear of death, loss of security, and carefully hidden doctrinal lies to devour the masses of men and women, and little children in it’s printing-press steel metal jaws.

    I was angry at our Lord for allowing me to languish within the walls of that wicked tower for so long, until I discerned that He allowed me to suffer the indignant control and cognitive dissonance so aptly associated with this beast of a religious group, with the expressed purpose of exposing their lies and manipulations to God’s Glory.

    Such a blessing from our Lord!

    I never imagined He would direct so many of us to present His truth to the many after leaving them!.

    Deception at it’s greatest level is the mortar used to keep that Watchtower wall standing, but the weakness of the mortar has been it exposure to light, real light.

    Time is the enemy of this deception, and the victims will rise as eagles to the call of their shepherd, to dismantle and remove the works of the devil, brick by brick, stone by stone, until nothing is left standing of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, but the remnants of those in her that were saved by their faith in Jesus Christ.

    Thank you for your warm welcome Jacqueline.

    In the Glorious name of Jesus,

    Joseph Zarola

  • Joseph Zarola

    In addendum to the above views, it is imperative that we do not dismiss the significance of this debate, cross, or stake, for it is by truth that we make our statements known, and it is Jesus who will commend us, or condemn us in the judgement if we are making statements that are in opposition to any reference point of accuracy, we are also held accountable for same. If a Jehovah’s Witness makes the claim that he or she believes Jesus was hung on a cross, because of ample evidence and common sense, they will be disfellowshipped should they persist in their stand for even this small matter.

    Our Lord Jesus was put to death on a cruel, and simple device of torture, and He suffered greatly, and His cross is one of a lifetimes work for many Christians, who are also suffering a slow death at the hands of God’s enemy.

    The adversary is not a proponent of human rights….so that 15 minute quick-death by suffocation, is a lie.

    Adherence to falsehoods is not the earmark of a Christian.

    • Jacqueline

      Hello Joseph Zarola and welcome. Imagine being classed with the Jewish nation that are in disbelief. I never realized the significance of such a quick death by hands over head 15-20 minutes is not suffering as Satan intended. You make a good point.

      “A Symbol Of Victory
      In 1 Cor. 1:17,18 he tells us that Christ sent him to preach the message of the cross, and that people would stand or fall according to their response to such a simple message! He goes on to say that some (like the Jews and the JWs) would stumble over the cross (because of its shameful significance in their minds), while others would consider it foolishness (verses 21-23). But to Christians the cross meant the power and the wisdom of God!”

      I never thought about the consequences of accepting a cross as the manner of death, that one would get disfellowshiped, It seems so silly now those little rules.
      I wonder however what is their purpose in creating so much confusion? I often wonder if they are being used by the devil to deflect away from Christ. One of the reasons I left was the fact that they never mentioned Jesus in a meaningful way. But the governing body was second only to Jehovah and mentioned as if they were godlike.
      Now I realize why so many at the door would try to reason with me as a young person. I was so indoctrinated as many were that I just didn’t listen.
      To Deny the intense suffering on this instrument of torture is to deny the gravity and significance of what Jesus death meant. Thanks for commenting, Jacqueline

  • Jacqueline

    The reasoning from the scriptures book quotes from this article about the cross but here is what that article really says, just a point for reference on this subject.
    Citation: The Imperial Bible Dictionary – Sept 16, 1866 – Edited by Rev Patrick Fairrairn D.D.

  • doug

    was the cross not used as a sign of authority by the Romans and the Egyptians (diff types of crosses ) ??

    • Peter K. (admin)

      Doug – Roman emperor egos couldn’t resist expressing power and authority by imprinting their image on coins, a system that almost everyone under their rule participated in. Eventually the coins for the Roman empire featured small images of the Christogram, an image of the Chi-Rho cross that emperor Constantine proportedly saw in the sky before his battle at Milvian Bridge in ad 312. By the reign of Theodosius II in the fifth century, coins adopted an “overtly Christian character.” Over time, the cross supplanted longstanding pagan themes on the coins. The orb-and-cross images represented the emperor’s divine authority. Find more here: http://www.ivpress.com/cgi-ivpress/book.pl/code=3539

      In Egypt, the cross was shaped like the letter T surmounted by an oval or circle. Originally the ancient Egyptian symbol for “life”, it was adopted by the Copts (Egyptian Gnostic Christians). Also called a crux ansata, meaning “cross with a handle”. In ancient Egypt, The Ankh (cross with handle) represents the power of the Gods to unlock the door to immortality, and is thought to be the key to unlocking the mysteries of heaven and earth. It combines the symbolic cross of Osiris and the oval of Isis and also represents the unity of spirit and matter.

  • Keepha

    In my opinion the Messiah’s death was not on a cross, as generally believed, but on an upright pole with wrists nailed overhead. This is clear from the words translated “cross.” They are the Greek stauros and xulon, and denote a simple stake or pole without a crosspiece. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words says, “Stauros denotes, primarily, an upright pole or stake.” John 3:14 tells us He was lifted up at His impalement in the same way Moses lifted up the serpent on a pole in Numbers 21:9. Of course this is a trivial matter to me. The Scriptures encourage me to keep myself from idols, statues and images.

    • Dupin

      As a student of Greek I hope you know that Vine’s is to be taken with a grain of salt Keepha.

      It is true that in the classical period σταυρος primarily denoted an upright pole. However we’re dealing with the later dialect of Koine Greek where it was more commonly applied to various forms of crosses more so than in the classical era.

      Here is a post I did for the Bible Student forum on some, not all of the evidence:


      It is by no means comprehensive. I once watched a pair of linguists on an ex-JW forum, which is still quite popular, where they pulled in every source from antiquity they could find along with an impressive survey on the research out there on the subject which all led to the conclusion that Jesus probably died on a cross, not a post. That discussion would be a classic if they still have it easily accessible.

      However, I don’t think it is really critical if we believe he died on a cross or a stake, either would’ve fulfilled the requirement that the victim become a curse under the law. I just think the evidence swings toward a cross.

  • Joseph Zarola

    Jesus was not hung on an up-right stake, as it would have been physically impossible for Him to survive more than 15 minutes with His hands over His head, as He would asphyxiate quickly, and the Bible makes it clear that He was hung for at least a few hours still alive, and suffering, because that’s why the Romans used a cross…to inflict long and terrible punishment.

    I believe Jehovah’s Witnesses gravitated to the upright stake doctrine, to be different, and to “satke” thier claim to their own personal Jesus/angel.

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>