... Jerusalem ... 22 Just as the new earth and the new heavens will endure by my power, so your descendants and your name will endure ... Isaiah 66 (GNT), 18 ... Jerusalem will be rebuilt, and its PALACE restored. Jeremiah 30:18 (GNT)

16
September
2012

The cross: a God-given symbol to Christians?!

The most wide spread symbol of Christianity is the cross. Sincere Christians believe it to represent their faith. This symbol however didn't originate with and isn't in use exclusively to Christians. Is this a true symbol to the Christian faith at all?

How, why and when did the cross end up being a symbol to Christianity. Even more, what is the origin of this symbol apart from being attributed to the Romans as an instrument of crucifixion?

Christianity and the cross

Most religions of pagan origins, as well as several organizations and institutions uses a cross of varying shape as their symbol. These include for example the Celtic cross, the Knight Templars cross, the Swastika which is in use not only in orient religions but also by the Nazis as their symbol and that of their Nazi religion. Judaism however, and initially Christianity, doesn't have a symbol in the shape of a cross. This symbol of a cross wasn't originally nor exclusively in use by Christians!

To Christians however the cross - the two-beamed cross to be exact - with time became a true symbol to their faith. Many Christians in general are honest believers and followers of Jesus/Yeshua and they don't know any better then this. They are ignorant of the true origin and nature of this cross. To them the cross, as the Christian cross is depicted, stands for the instrument of crucifixion that the Romans applied to kill Jesus Christ and metaphorically it also refers to his voluntary suffering for their sins. These two should be seen as two different things. The believe in the sacrifice that Jesus/Yeshua made for humanity doesn't necessarily has to be remembered by the symbol of this cross. Nor should this symbol in itself be revered as something that is divine, as some tent to do. That would be against God's will. Remember the Ten Commandments, Exodus 20?

4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; 5 you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments. Exodus 20:4-6 (NKJV)

Though the crucifixion is mentioned in the Gospels, the first four books in the so called New Testament – name added much later to the Bible - there has been much debate about the instrument used at the time that this event took place. Still, the symbol of the cross became through ages the most wide spread symbol to Christianity ultimately to all its denominations. The reason, although subject to debate, is that this tow-beamed cross was the actual instrument of the crucifixion of Jesus / Yeshua. Several authors of some 19th-century reference works considered that the cross had no crossbar, while others had reason to believe it did.

The Anglican theologian E.W. Bullinger in The Companion Bible, published in 1922 commented that stauros never meant two pieces of timber placed at any angle across, “... but always of one piece alone … There is nothing [of the word stauros] in the Greek of the New Testament even to imply two pieces of timber.”
he went on stating that Christ was never depicted as “hanging on a cross”and that the cross was a pagan symbol from Egypt.

He also cited a letter from an English Dean John William Burger, who had questions about this symbol being used on any Christian monument of the first four centuries, “... The evidence is hens complete, that the Lord was put to death upon an upright stake, and not on two pieces of timber placed in any manner.”

W.E. Vine a Plymoth Brethren – conservative Evanglical Christian movement with a history dating back to the 1820s in Dublin Ireland – preacher in his Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, also states the stauros primary meant an upright pale or stake that was used for crucifixion. Further more he said that the two beamed cross originated in Chaldea and nearby lands including Egypt. It was used as the symbol of the god Tammuz, the mystic Tau, the initial of his name.

Was the word "cross" even mentioned in early biblical scripture? No, until the late 4th century with the introduction of the Latin Vulgate! If the word "cross" wasn't in use in the translations of the biblical scripture of those days, then which word or words were? And, what did they mean?  In Greek the noun "stauros" which means primarily in the literally original sense an "upright stake, pale or beam". The verb "stauroo" means "to impale". According to Greek dictionaries and lexicons, this should be the translation of the word used for the instrument of crucifixion and the crucifixion itself in the New Testament. But, there is another word used in certain versus in the New Testament.The word "xulon"was used, meaning "timber, stick, club, t r e e  or other wooden article or substance". This was the case in passages in the books of Acts, the letters to Galatians and of 1 Peter.

This debate on the instrument of crucifixion is still ongoing and much can be read about this subject of the cross but as Ecclesiastes 12:12 (NIV), 12 Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them. Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.

His advice written in verse 13,
13 Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the duty of all mankind.

So, what does the Almighty Father through his word in biblical scripture by his given witnesses has to say about this subject?

The biblical scripture of the Gospels don't have a detailed description of the crucifixion event on the subject of the instrument of the crucifixion. But, other passages in biblical scripture does speak of hanging on a tree as the (New) King James Version Bible makes clear in:
30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. Acts 5:30

29 Now when they had fulfilled all that was written concerning Him, they took Him down from the tree and laid Him in a tomb. Acts 13:29

39 And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree. Acts 10:39

13 Christ has 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 3:13

24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed. 1 Peter 2:24

Hanging on a pole, the New International Version Bible:
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.” Galatians 3:13

And, Deuteronomy 21:23 already spoke of the cursed one hanging on a tree / pole, not a cross!
22 If someone guilty of a capital offense is put to death and their body is exposed on a pole, 23 you must not leave the body hanging on the pole overnight. Be sure to bury it that same day, because anyone who is hung on a pole is under God’s curse. You must not desecrate the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance. (NIV)

22 “If a man has committed a sin deserving of death, and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, 23 his body shall not remain overnight on the tree, but you shall surely bury him that day, so that you do not defile the land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance; for he who is hanged is accursed of God. (NKJV)

To Christians this person would be Jesus /Yeshua, whom hanged on a tree. So, Jesus / Yeshua didn't have anything to do with a cross.

What does Jesus /Yeshua himself has to say on this matter?

Author: © Mrs A. vd Laan-LeitoPosted in: Opinion