We were visited by some Jehovah’s Witnesses and they quickly tried to convince us that Jesus Christ was not crucified on the cross but on a pole. Is this a fact?
No, this is not a true statement delivered by these Jehovah’s witnesses and neither are the other false teachings and heresies that they proclaim. Jesus was crucified on the cross. The Greek work that is translated in English as “cross” is σταυρός and it means a vertical wooden block used for torture and execution. The meaning that the Jehovah’s witnesses have in mind is the Greek word στύλος.
I would like to draw your attention to two biblical arguments that you can use to show any Jehovah’s Witnesses the truth and you do not have to know Greek in order to do this. In Matthew’s Gospel, the story of Jesus’ crucifixion is described:
37 And above His head they put up the charge against Him which read, “THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.” (Matthew 27)
If Christ were crucified on a pole as Jehovah’s Witnesses say then it would be impossible for the inscription to be placed above His head and instead would have had to have been placed above His hands.
Another proof is found in the Gospel of John. After the other apostles had told Thomas that they had seen the risen Savior, he replied:
25 So the other disciples were saying to him, “We have seen the Lord !” But he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” (John 20)
As you can see, Thomas, who witnessed the crucifixion refers nails twice in the plural, which means that there was more than one. If Jesus was to be crucified on a pole, it would take only one bolt, but used it took two because Jesus was crucified on a cross.
Wishing to assert their heretical teachings, Jehovah’s Witnesses try to offer Paul’s epistle to the Galatians as a proof text:
13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us-for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE ” (Galatians 3)
In this text, we have the Greek word ξύλος which is translated as wood. This word is not used to describe the shape of the torture instrument. Instead, is just refers to the type of material used.
In fact, this argument used by Jehovah’s Witnesses is an nonessential. Even if Jesus had been crucified on a pole (which He was not) the important aspect of the crucifixion is that His sacrifice opened the doorway to salvation to everyone who believes. My opinion is that Jehovah’s Witnesses use this “argument” without any evidence just to cause division and to discredit the true Church and the Word of God. I want to close with the words of the Apostle Paul to Timothy. Words that can be applied to all Christians:
9 But they will not make further progress ; for their folly will be obvious to all, just as Jannes’s and Jambres’s folly was also. 10 Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, 11 persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra ; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me! (II Timothy 3)
Translation by: Erik Brewer