Did Jesus Die on a Stake or a Cross?
(4 Questions for JW’s)
The Watchtower teaches that Jesus did not die on the cross, but an upright stake. The watchtower even goes as far to say that no “Biblical evidence even intimates that Jesus died on a cross” (Awake!, November 8, 1972, page 28).
Questions for Jehovah’s Witnesses…
#1. If Jesus died on a stake, why aren’t any skeptics bringing this up? Why is it just the watchtower?
Christianity is constantly criticized by critics. Theses critics include atheists, skeptics, other religions and especially the media. The media has made a constant effort to attack Christianity and the Bible whenever they see a chance whether that’s attacking the resurrection, bringing up so-called contradictions in the Bible, evolution, historical errors in the Bible, etc. Simply put, Christianity has a number of enemies who will go out of their way to criticize the Bible with every imaginable opportunity. With this in mind, why is it that everyone who has dedicated their lives to disprove the Bible and even bring up the worst arguments available never mention a stake? If the evidence led to a stake, critics everywhere would never let Christians hear the end of such a historical error. If the watchtower is right, this would mean no historian, atheist, or skeptic has caught this yet. It’s just too difficult to imagine that such an enormous error could get past so many critics.
#2. If Jesus died on a stake, why did the Watchtower originally teach Jesus died on the cross?
The watchtower first taught that Jesus died on the traditional cross, not a stake. In Creation, the watchtower describes Jesus’ death on the cross (Creation, 1927, 209). The watchtower even has a picture of Jesus’ death on a cross in The Harp of God. (114, 1921). It seems, therefore, that the watchtower has not always held the view that Jesus died on an upright stake.
#3. If Jesus died on a stake, why is a cross described in the Bible?
While the watchtower teaches all the evidence brings us to the stake as the instrument for Jesus’ death, the Bible does not support this view. The watchtower did change the word cross to stake in the NWT, but there are descriptions of a cross they didn’t know needed to be changed:
Matthew 27:37 – And over his head [not hands] they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.”
If Jesus died on an upright stake, they would have put the sign above his hands.
John 20:25 – So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, [plural] and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe."
Thomas mentioned there was more than one nail, which is required for the cross. The stake, on the other hand, would only require one nail. Some Jehovah’s Witnesses try to say Thomas was referring to his hands and his feet, but Thomas mentioned “in his hands the mark of the nails.” No mention of his feet.
#4. If Jesus died on a stake, how could an upright stake be carried by one man?
When one got crucified in biblical times, they had to carry the beam to the place where they would be crucified. David A. Reed explains how carrying an upright stake is not be a believable option. He writes, “A man could not carry the massive cross that illustrations sometimes show Christ nailed to. Nor could a man carry the Watchtower’s ‘torture stake’ –any more than a man could carry a telephone pole. But a man could, with great difficulty, carry a crosspiece that he would be nailed to and that would be hoisted by ropes onto an upright piece that was permanently set in the ground. This, according to scripture and archeological evidence, is the sort of instrument on which Christ died.” (Reed, subject by subject, 1996).
If we add all this up, the stake is only a man-made belief rather than a historical fact.