Should Christians Revere the Cross?
Written by Dr Les Aron Gosling, Rebbe
May 22, 2008 at 10:53 AM
The symbol of the cross is today the symbol of Christianity in all its forms -- Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox (and the subdivisions of all three sections of the Christian community). This was not always the case.
Not only so, but on what implement did Our Lord Yeshua die? Was it actually a cross, or perhaps a stake (or pole), as some sectarians insist? Get ready for a surprise!
In the early centuries history records that Christians freely used other symbols (including the fish) to identify themselves as Christians to others, especially during the severe persecutions against them by the Roman State. But in the early days of the Emperor Constantine (who was a worshiper of the sun god Helios to the day he died) he experienced a vision of a red cross in the sky on a Roman shield, and heard the words "By this you shall conquer." A man given to dreams and demonic visions, Constantine introduced the symbol of the accursed cross to be the emblem of Christianity, which religion he finally caused to be the religion of the Roman State. So, today, we Christians are almost universally expected to celebrate our religious identification by means of a pagan symbol!
I would like our readership to consider the following facts of history for our reader’s prayerful consideration. I do understand that sentimental feelings can be a major hurdle for anyone to "cross." We just want God to reign supreme in our lives.
1. The cross was considered an accursed object by the original Jewish Christian church of the apostolic period, and this view continued for at least 250 years following the ascension of the Lord. The church never considered the symbol of the cross as being worthy to appear in worship assemblies. On this certain sectarians are quite correct in their interpretation of ecclesiastical history. They claim, rightly so, that the Christians did not start to venerate the cross, or have crosses displayed in their meetings, until the apostasy of the 4th century CE, during the Constantinian overthrow of genuine, authentic Christianity. I concur with them on this factor. Indeed, any encyclopedia will record these historical occurrences. Alexander Hislop’s classic work "The Two Babylons" heavily documents the significance of the cross in the ancient world, and its connection to Nimrod (the world’s first recorded apostate after the Flood), and the illegal intrusion of the cross into Christian assemblies.
2. The cross is nothing more than the symbol of the ancient sun-god Tammuz (Nimrod) who usurped the ancient praise, worship and teaching of Noah and his three sons who had survived the Deluge. The cross became the symbol of ancient apostasy, the very sign that is at the forefront of the last days apostasy.
3. The cross became the symbol of the Christian church when the pagan sun-worshiper, Constantine, adopted it as a result of a demonic vision. This man, who became the emperor of the Roman Empire and amalgamated the fragmented pagan religions under the banner of a brand "new" Christianity, received a vision which stated "By This Sign You Will Conquer" and he most certainly did as any student of history well knows. In actual fact he had well over 20,000 demonic visions in his lifetime. He worried the "soul-case" out of his chief historian and librarian Eusebius, who kept a secret record of his rule. Not only is this the case but a review of the biblical revelation tells us a very different story about the instrument upon which Our Lord died than that which has been popularly accepted.
1. Jn 19.41 Please note that Yeshua met his death in a garden (Greek, orchard).
2. On the route to Golgoleth (Golgotha, or Calvary) Yeshua carried a "cross" (Greek, stauros). The Latin translation calls it a "patibulum" i.e. the "crosspiece" upon which, during crucifixion, the hands were eventually nailed. History records that the "patibulum" was indeed carried by criminals to the place of execution where the "patibulum" was nailed by a huge spike (almost a foot long) to the upraised pole or stake (while lying on the ground near to the hole into which it was later dropped). More often than not, it was a handy, nearby TREE that was utilised by the Romans for crucifying their victims (Hastings, Christ and the Gospels, Vol.11, 749).
3. Peter referred to the cross in the original Greek as a TREE in the following texts: Acts 5.30 (tree = Gk, xylon); Acts 10.39 (tree = Gk, xylon); 1 Pet 2.24 (tree = Gk, xylon);
4. Paul refers to the crucifixion object as a TREE in the following texts: Acts 13.29 (tree = xylon); Gal 3.13 (tree = xylon)
5. No less an authority than Our Lord Yeshua himself refers to the object upon which he would later die as a "green tree" -- i.e., a living TREE! (see Lk 23.31). Note that in this text the word "in" (which occurs twice) should be replaced by "with" as it is dative case in the Greek. "If they do these things with a green [living] tree....[etc]."
6. "Stauros" in the first century came to have a variety of meanings. The JW’s (Jehovah’s Witnesses) have a hostility toward the symbol of the cross (which I quite understand) but they are in error when they say that the word carries only ONE meaning -- "stake" or "pole." True, the original meaning of stauros was a stake or upright pole, but (as already stated) by the first century CE it came to be applied to
[i] a crossbeam (stauros) which supported the arms of the crucifixion victim (hence Lk 23.26)
[ii] the object (stauros) upon which the patibulum was nailed (hence Jn 19.19) -- be it a cross, stake, pole, or tree
[iii] The entire complex (stauros) -- patibulum on the cross, stake, pole, or tree -- upon which the victim was crucified (hence Jn 19.25).
Extra Biblical Sources:
(1). The epistle of Barnabas -- late first century CE. called the "stauros" of Mashiach a TREE (5.13; 7.5; 8.1; 8.5; 11.1,8; 12.1,2,5) on a number of occasions as these references indicate. In the last reference of Barnabas quoted above, he makes the pole upon which Moses nailed the serpent in the wilderness a TREE, not a stake, and Yeshua himself stated that this incident was analagous to his own crucifixion (Jn 3.14).
(2). Ignatius (Church Father, early 2nd century CE) said the "TREE of crucifixion" was "so alive" it bore "FRUIT" (Smyr.1.2) and had "branches" (Trall.11). He further claimed the TREE represented "the TREE of life" in Paradise.
(3). Early paintings of the crucifixion show the "stauros" as a TREE which is alive and bearing twigs and branches and leaves (Kittel, Theological Dictionary of the NT, Vol.V, 40,41).
(4). Melito of Sardis (Church Father, middle 2nd century CE) said "Just as from a TREE came sin, so also from a TREE came salvation" (New Fragment 111,4).
(5). The Arabic Infancy Gospel (Hennecke-Schneemelcher, The NT Apocrypha, Vol.I, 408) informs us that all three were crucified on ONE stauros WITH Yeshua (more on this below).
(6). Christ’s Descent Into Hell, another NT apocryphal work also mentions the crucifixion of the thieves and Yeshua on one stauros.
Further Evidence From the NT:
1. Jn 19.31-33 John tells us that the two revolutionaries who died with Mashiach were crucified to the ONE TREE -- the ONE stauros. Needless to say this would be rather difficult if it was ONE "cross" or "pole" to which all three were nailed! (Gk, sunstaurothentos). They weren’t just "with him" but were crucified "together with him."
2. Please note that Mt 27.38 mentions that one was crucified on Yeshua’s left, and the other on his right. Therefore when the Romans came to break the legs of the victims they went to the one on the left, and the right, and then came to Yeshua. This is difficult to explain if we accept three crosses, with Yeshua in the midst, instead of ONE TREE (upon which all were impaled) which John tells us was the actual case!
Modern Admissions By Catholic Scholars:
Danielou, one of the most advanced of Catholic theologians and scholars, admits that the MANY early 2nd and 3rd century CE writings of the early Fathers of the Church favour a literal TREE on which Yeshua met his death (Danielou, The Theology of Jewish Christianity, 275-288).
Based on the overwhelming evidence before us (and there is much more that could have been cited) there can only be one conclusion. The cross is a pagan symbol that discredits the manner in which Our Lord died. The implement was a tree, not a "stake," "pole" or "cross."
The cross only made its impact felt in popularity in the churches of the fourth century -- apostate churches of the pagan sun-worshiper Constantine, the first pagan Roman emperor of the "faith." It was his reign which introduced idols, Sunday worship meetings, the outlawing of the Sabbath, the "new" Messiah in the garb of the homosexual philosophers, Xmas, Easter, and other pagan celebration days.
True, it is not so much the implement upon which Yeshua the Messiah died that is important. Rather it is the fact itself that Yeshua died for our sins. Needless to say, however, whatever detracts from the TRUTH of the Gospel of Yeshua should be jettisoned from our praise, worship and educational environment