© 2005 by John and Ruth Greene and Bible Vision
In the eyes of some, the purist idea of the Greek word “stauros” demands the use of a torture stake or pole. Before the time of Yahshua [Jesus] the Messiah, various crosses were used as religious symbols to represent the sun god or Babylonian Tammuz, which would seem to indicate that Christianity somehow derived the Christian cross from paganism. I could go to great lengths to reveal the tangled history of the pagan cross from all over the globe, but this would belie the point and the truth of the matter. Satan counterfeits everything including Elohim’s [‘God’, YHWH] truth and seeks distraction and deception. (“Filling Your Life with Truth Instead of Deception“) Satan would have you distracted from virtually everything of value, including your own idolatry. (Exodus 7:8-12; “The Idolatry Factor“)
The cross did not become a permanent symbol of redemption until the time of the Edict of Milan in 313. The edict of Milan removed the need for secrecy among Christians by restoring their property rights and confirming tolerance of Christians by the Roman Empire. The Romans adopted the further use of their pagan cross of Mithra and the conversion of other pagan legends to symbolize the new Christianity as the Roman State Religion. The original first century disciples did not revere or respect the cross, but rather the sacrifice of their Savior and His current role of Authority in Heaven. (“Delusion & the Tightening Noose of the Beast System“; “Disciple: The Bible & Higher Authority“; “Third Century Corruption of Christianity“)
According to Bible language, Yahshua [Jesus] the Messiah was crucified or pierced on a tree or stake (Psalm 22:16; Zechariah 12:10), a common practice by Romans of the age (Acts 5:30, 10:39; Galatians 3:13; 1 Peter 2:24) and predicted by the prophet Isaiah. (Isaiah 53) According to Josephus, crucifixion was designed by the Romans for non-Romans and later for criminals of the State. Romans perfected the the use of crucifixion as a form of torture and capital punishment. Most of the time, Romans were not interested in making extra work for themselves. Crucifixion was designed to instill terror of the hearts of men by its’ sheer abomination. Often times, thousands of rebels were crucified over a period of days. Using anything more than a stake or tree was not only a waste of materials, but a waste of the soldier’s collective time as well. Posting the rebels on a cross did not increase the terror or speed the process. Romans were not known to waste materials on criminals and would reuse materials wherever possible, including the nails. However, later secular sources indicate that the Roman soldiers often did attach a cross piece to a stake or pole for crucifixion in an assembly line type process. How is it possible to know?
John 20:25 reveals that nails were driven through the wrists of Yahshua [Jesus] at the time of His execution. Two nails, one through each wrist or hand were indicated instead of a single nail. There is recent physical evidence that two nails could be used for the feet, driven through the heels of both feet from each side of the stake and using two nails. The reality is that any assumption is simply an assumption or an educated guess based on the whimsy and cruelty of the Roman soldiers and the presence of available materials. Written evidence from the time indicates that the crucified criminals often lived for many days on the instrument of torture and death that they were posted on. In later times, the terror was compounded by lengthening the time that the criminal would spend alive on the stake, hence the enhanced use of a cross-member to lengthen the throes of death.
Another possibility, in the case of Yahshua [Jesus], was that the Romans were making a religious statement based on Jewish objections, so a departure from the norm was a distinct possibility. Matthew 27:37 indicates that the Romans placed a sign over the head of Yahshua [Jesus] after his erection on the instrument of torture, indicating some means of support for a sign. Could the Jews purposefully have designed the Messiah’s demise using known structures of past pagan legends as a basis for His crucifixion and why would they bother? Perhaps the Romans have played a tongue in cheek mockery of what they perceived as His kingship where the Jews were concerned by posting Him on the cross of their sun god. The possibility exists that the Romans crucified Him in the manner of their sun god legend in the manner of ancient pagan religion. Based on the later written evidence of Barnabas, Justin, Irenaeus, Lukianos, Josephus and Turtullian, persecuting Romans in later times seemed to take particular delight in forcing Jews and Christians to die in the form of their pagan mythology as the ultimate symbol of humiliation.
Again, only assumption and guesswork are truly possible where the physical sacrifice of our Savior is concerned. The cross is without question a pagan symbol used by Romans, who selected the device of the death of Yahshua [Jesus], along with every disciple of Messiah and common criminal crucified thereafter. It would not be surprising that Romans would use such an instrument of torture, whether stake or cross. The cruelty and baseness of the Roman punishment is the main persistent fact in evidence. (“Consenting to Fables of Men“)
From the time of the second century, many writers declared that the devil plaguerized elements of Christianity in advance to lead the world astray. Advance notice wasn’t required. Pagan religious teaching of the time had already incorporated piercing into the use of the cross. Justin indicated the shape of the instrument used to crucify Messiah was a T with a lowered crossbeam. This does not mean that all Roman prisoners or condemned criminals were crucified in such a way because there was little value for doing so. However, the use of the cross in some form when crucifying disciples of ‘the Way’ became symbolic of Roman persecution or terror. Constantine changed all that with his new belief system. When the Council of Nicea took place, the Emperor Constantine declared the Roman sun day to be the new Sabbath, adopted the traditional birthday of the sun god as the birthday of Yahshua [Jesus], borrowed the emblem of the sun god as the emblem of Christianity and incorporated the pagan ceremonies of celebrations into Christian theology. The continued devotion of true disciples of faith to either the stake or the cross is idolatry and should be cast aside. The ultimate victory of Yahshua [Jesus] Messiah and the power He holds for personal renewal is more representative of Truth than any cross from the past. (“What is the Sabbath?“; “What is Evil? The Jealousy of Nations & Skeptics“)
The reality is that the third century Roman Catholic Church through Emperor Constantine elevated the instrument of Messiah’s death to the status of an idol and the emblem of their new Roman religion. Regretfully, many ‘mainstream’ Christians have continued to do so through the ages because of the original adoption and corruption of ‘the Way’ by the very Roman Empire that originally exacted the crucifixion of the Messiah and other disciples thereafter. Superstition and pagan influence was profound in culture then and continues to this day. Roman Catholics came to idealize the cross as if it were a living being as an object of worship, much in the same ways of adopted pagan cultures. Clearly, this “universal church” adopted the cross, much like the Romans did from mystery cults of the past.
YHWH alone is to be worshiped. However, man often fails to take this seriously while embedding his own ideas. Idolatry has been the result. (Luke 4:8; John 4:23; Revelation 19:10, 22:9) Yahshua [Jesus] was quite specific as to how disciples should pray and why. The elevation of the cross, saints and other images, especially as an object of worship, veneration and prayer is a violation of the second commandment as the Catholic Church became determined to put a universal thumbprint of man on the Bible, a reflection of its’ divine power in the view of the time.
Evidence exists that Yahshua [Jesus] was hung on a cross of some nature by pagan Romans, if for no other reason than for humiliation to their own religious legends. However, there is no firm proof of crucifixion on an individual basis. Yet, the worship of the cross based in paganism and the promotion by the Roman Catholic Church and continued by Protestant Christianity is not encouraging. Modern Christianity’s continued use of the cross has only muddied the connection between paganism and the reality of religious idolatry in the past as it continues today. It is the firm belief of this writer in combination with what Scripture dictates, that the disciple should distance himself or herself from the cross in whatever way possible. Since the cross is simply the instrument of death, it needs nor deserves no veneration, exaltation or representation as a tradition of men.
Messiah’s sacrifice is certain. His death on a specific kind of torture stake or cross is not entirely certain, but the links of both the stake as an Asherah Pole and the cross to Mystery cults certainly are. The Catholic Church and the Protestant Reformation simply have compounded the error in the eyes of many. We have adopted paganism into Christianity and condoned that action, largely through willful ignorance. Modern Christianity has done little better in most religious circles. Rather, our Messiah is the One that was exalted upon His death by an abominable form of torture and a most painful form of sacrifice. Extensive use and misrepresentation of the cross is counter to scripture and should be avoided. Yahshua [Jesus] came to free mankind from idolatry, philosophies and traditions of man, including releasing the Jews from the continuation of sacrificing living animals and continued slavery to both the law covenant and their own self-imposed religious extensions of that covenant. Commonly, we imprison ourselves with our own thinking and traditions. The Jews didn’t recognize the degree of their own idolatry, continuing to exercise the law covenant in their own way until the destruction of their Temple in 70 A.D. “Tribulation of Israel: The Great Escape“; “The Importance of Practical Repentance“)
Jewish leaders and many that followed them idolized the law covenant above the Elohim they claimed to serve by elevating their own copious religious writings and manifesting their own ritualistic practices as they closed their hearts to the Messiah they claimed to seek. The instrument of Messiah’s death does not set a disciple apart from the world. The spiritual fruit of a disciple does. In modern Christianity, the ultimate deception is not simply in a torture stake or a cross. That reality has been blurred and muddied by man. The idolatry of those objects as emblems of worship along with the continued argument and distraction from the real message of Elohim’s Kingdom, the importance of discipleship and relationship to YHWH through Yahshua [Jesus] Messiah is the deception of ages. Christians also risk closing our hearts to the very Messiah that we claim to seek. May that not be the case where you are concerned. You need to be able to discern between good and evil through accurate Bible knowledge. Only then can you hope to abide with YHWH for eternity. (“Leaven of the Pharisees; Leaven of the World“; “YHWH’s Prayer Shawl of Protection“; “YHWH’s Track of Righteousness“)
You could argue that the cross is the ultimate poetic irony as the instrument of cruelty is elevated to the ultimate symbol of death and life. You can also argue that the cross is one of the greatest deceptions of the philosophy and traditions of man. What does the Bible indicate? That truth of scripture rather than the religion of man is the dictate of the true disciple of Messiah. The reality today is that the deceptive thinking and the influence of Rome continues today in state practices, religion and even in the world of finance in more ways than we can fully appreciate or deal with in this summary. It fully attempts to permeate your life. That is the deception that Satan has wrought on the world today in the effort that not one single person might be saved. (“Disciple: Deceptions of Generations“; “Road of Truth“; “The Journey of Life through Scripture“; “Building a Counterfeit Kingdom“)
originally presented from our original website, Deception of Ages
See the other articles in this series: