Responses to Bismikaallahuma

Where was Jesus put on when he was crucified?

Mohd Elfie Nieshaem Juferi (MENJ) has invested his creativity into creating the following little problem:

In Mark 15: 32, we are told that Jesus was put on a "cross" to be crucified:

Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe. And they that were crucified with him reviled him.

The word for "cross" here in Greek is "stauros", which James Strong defined as:

(4716) from the base of 2476; a stake or post (as set upright), i.e. (specifically) a pole or cross (as an instrument of capital punishment); figuratively, exposure to death, i.e. self-denial; by implication, the atonement of Christ: --cross.[1]

Yet in I Peter 2:24, we are told that Jesus was crucified on the "tree":

Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

The word for "tree" in Greek is "xulon", and is defined by Strong as:

(3586)from another form of the base of 3582; timber (as fuel or material); by implication a stick, club or tree or other wooden article or substance: --staff, stocks, tree, wood.[2]

The error here is obvious. The Greek word "stauros" means definitively a "cross". There is no double meaning employed to the word. Whereas the word xulon can be translated interchangeably as "wood", "staff", "tree", etc. but in the case of I Peter 2:24, it is translated as "tree". Now we need to ask why would the word xulon was used in the first place when there is a more definitive word for it, "stauros", if the verse really intends to mean the "cross"?

It is therefore obvious that the word xulon is indeed used for "tree" in I Peter 2:24, and therefore there is a contradiction with Mark 15: 32.


The only obvious error is Menj's misreading and manhandling of both the biblical texts and his own lexical sources. He claims that "stauros" definitely means "cross", all the while ignoring the very own lexicon he quotes which states:

(4716) from the base of 2476; A STAKE OR POST (as set upright), i.e. (specifically) A POLE or cross (as an instrument of capital punishment); figuratively, exposure to death, i.e. self-denial; by implication, the atonement of Christ: --cross.[1]

Furthermore, do notice the different meanings given by Thayer's Lexicon for "xulon":

3586 xulon {xoo'-lon}

1) wood

a) THAT WHICH IS MADE OF WOOD 1) AS A BEAM from which any one is suspended, a gibbet, A CROSS
2) a log or timber with holes in which the feet, hands, neck of prisoners were inserted and fastened with thongs
3) a fetter, or shackle for the feet
4) a cudgel, stick, staff
2) a tree

AV - tree 10, staff 5, wood 3, stocks 1; 19    (Source: Blueletter Bible)

Notice how this same word is used elsewhere in the NT:

"‘Am I leading a rebellion,’ said Jesus, ‘that you have come out with swords and CLUBS (xulon) to capture me?’" Mark 14:48

No one assumes that "xulon" here means tree, that is unless of course one wants to claim that the soldiers were armed with actual trees! And:

"Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the STOCKS (xulon)." Acts 16:24

"If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, WOOD (xula), hay or straw." 1 Corinthians 3:12

This demonstrates that "xulon" means different things in different contexts and doesn't always refer to an actual tree. Since Strong's lists "cross" as a plausible meaning of "xulon", this in itself refutes Menj's alleged contradiction.

Second, 1 Peter 2:24 is not the only place where Peter refers to Christ being crucified on ‘a tree’:

"The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead - whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree (epi xulou)." Acts 5:30

"We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree (epi xulou)." Acts 10:39

Interestingly, Luke who recorded Peter's speeches in Acts also wrote that Jesus was crucified on a cross (stauros):

"But they kept shouting, ‘Crucify him (staurou)! Crucify him (staurou auton)!’ ... As they led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross (ton stauron) on him and made him carry it behind Jesus ... When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him (estaurosan auton), along with the criminals - one on his right, the other on his left." Luke 23:21,26,33

That Luke could mention Jesus being crucified on a cross while recording Peter's statements that Jesus was hanged on a "tree" demonstrates that these Christians saw no problem with these statements. Unlike Menj, they realized that both "stauros" and "xulon" could be used interchangeably in referring to Christ's crucifixion. This is further seen from the Apostle Paul:

"When they had carried out all that was written about him, they took him down from the tree (tou xulou) and laid him in a tomb." Acts 13:29

Paul says that Christ was brought down from the tree. Yet the same Paul speaks of Jesus being crucified on a cross:

"For the message of the cross (tou staurou) is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." 1 Corinthians 1:18

quot;Brothers, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross (to skandalon tou staurou) has been abolished." Galatians 5:11

"May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ (en to stauro tou Kuriou hemon 'Iesou Christou ), through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." Galatians 6:14

Paul clues us in as to why both Peter and he could speak of Christ hanging on a tree:

"All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.’ Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, ‘The righteous will live by faith.’ The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, ‘The man who does these things will live by them.’ 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 tree (epi xulou).’ He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit." Galatians 3:10-14

The phrase refers to one who is accursed of God for failing to obey the commands. Christ being crucified on a cross was a sign that Christ had become a curse for us since he had become our sin bearer, taking upon himself the punishment that we deserved in order that we who believe may be forgiven by God. In the words of the Apostle Peter:

"To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. ‘He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.’ When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree (to xulon), so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls." 1 Peter 2:21-25

Messianic Jewish believer, Dr. David H. Stern sums it up best. In his comments on Acts 5:30, Stern writes:

Stake. Greek xulon, which KJV renders "tree" here and four other places (10:39, 13:29; Ga. 3:13; I Ke [Sam- Peter] 2:24), all referring to what Yeshua was hanged on until he died. Yeshua was not hanged on a tree, but on a stavros, usually translated "cross" and in the JNT translated "execution-stake," as explained in Mt 10:38N. The word "xulon" is used instead of stavros in these five places because all of them quote or allude to Deuteronomy 21:22-23, where the Hebrew word is "'etz," normally rendered into Septuagint Greek as "xulon." Both Hebrew 'etz and Greek xulon can mean "tree, wood, stake, stick" depending on context. In Deuteronomy 21:22-23, where the subject is hanging, an 'etz is any piece of wood which a person can be hanged, i.e. a stake (perhaps if metal gallows had existed, a different word would have been used). If Luke had meant a tree and not a stake, the Greeks had a word for it, "dendron," which he could have used but didn't. Therefore, while at Mt 26:47 and Mk 14:48 xulon means "stick," at Lk 23:31 and Rv 18:12 it means "wood," and at Rv 2:7 it has to mean "tree," here it means "stake"... (Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary [Jewish New Testament Publications, Inc., Clarksville Maryland, 1996], p. 237; bold emphasis ours)

In light of the preceding considerations, we once again see that Menj has failed to prove a real bonafide contradiction in the Scriptures. His criticisms only expose his lack of understanding regarding the historical and cultural context in which the New Testament was written.

In the service of King Jesus forever, the crucified and risen Lord of eternal glory. Amen.

Sam Shamoun

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