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Saturday, August 10, 2013

Jehovah Witnesses: Why Does it Say The Plural "Nails" John 20:25?

Some have tried to use the plural "nails" in Jn 20:25 as evidence that Jesus was hung on a cross is to force their own presupposition onto the text. Yet to do this they must completely ignore all logical alternatives and more importantly they must ignore the explicit statements of Scripture.

First, the Bible explicitly states that Jesus was hung on a STAUROS or XYLON. According to Greek dictionaries these words ALWAYS denote a stake or pole:

"Both words disagree with the modern idea of a cross...The stauros was simply an upright pale or stake...Stauroo never means two pieces of wood joining each other at any angle. Even the Latin word crux means a mere stake." --A Critical Lexicon, E.W.Bullinger

"There is not a single sentence in the New testament, which, in the original Greek, bears even indirect evidence to the effect that the stauros used in the case of Jesus was other than one piece of timber. It is not a little misleading upon the part of our teachers to translate the word stauros as "cross"...honesty demands that we should no longer translate as "cross" a word which at the time our Gospels were written did not necessarily signify something cross-shaped. And it is equally incumbent upon us, from a moral point of view, that we should cease to render as "crucify" or "crucified" words which never bore any such meaning."

W.E.Vines Expository Dictionary says: "STAUROS....denotes, primarily, an upright pale or stake. ...originally to be distinguished from the ecclesiastical form of a two beamed cross...By the middle of the 3rd cent. A.D. the churches had either DEPARTED FROM, OR HAD TRAVESTIED, certain doctrines of the Christian faith...pagans were permitted largely to retain their pagan signs and symbols."

So, using the plural "nails" to claim that Jesus was hung on a cross would be to contradict the explicit teaching of the bible. Witnesses teach the explicit biblical statements that Jesus was hung on a "stake." Teaching that he was hung on a cross is absolutely unbiblical.

Also, Witnesses are not dogmatic about how many nails were used in the arms. Two could have been used. In fact, there is actually archeological evidence that four nails could have been used, two in the hands placed on both sides of a stake and two similarly in the feet. This was pointed out in a WT article: w87 8/15 (The archaeological evidence was of an leg bone with one nail stuck *sideways* into the ankle. Israel Exploration Journal 1985, Volume 35, pages 22-7). Historical facts show that the Romans often put individuals to death on posts having no crossbars.

Further, grammatically the plural "nails" could have meant a nail through each hand, or might have simply included both nail prints in ‘his hands and his feet.' Thomas' use of the plural “nails” does not have to be understood as a precise description indicating that each of Jesus' hands was pierced by a separate nail. In Luke 24:39 Jesus said: "See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself." This suggests that Christ's feet also were nailed. Since Thomas made no mention of nail prints in Jesus' feet, his use of the plural "nail's" could have been a general reference to multiple nails used in impaling Jesus.

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia says: “The exact number of nails used . . . has been the subject of considerable speculation. In the earliest depictions of the crucifixion Jesus’ feet are shown separately nailed, but in later ones they are crossed and affixed to the upright with one nail.”

The Cyclopaedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature, by M’Clintock and Strong, comments: “Much time and trouble have been wasted in disputing as to whether three or four nails were used in fastening the Lord. “—Volume II, page 580.

Claiming that two nails in the arms MUST mean crucifixion on a cross is to illogically force our favored interpretation while ignoring the evidence for other conclusions. This is a fallacious form of reasoning and eisogesis.

So, Thomas' statement cannot be used to show the Jesus was executed upon a cross, since it is just as reasonable to believe Christ was impaled to a stake with a separate nail in each arm.

What is the most important thing for Christians is how the Cross was introduced into Christianity. Notice again that the above quote from Vine’s Dictionary says that the cross was adopted after the church had “either DEPARTED FROM, OR HAD TRAVESTIED, certain doctrines of the Christian faith...pagans were permitted largely to retain their pagan signs and symbols."

The cross had been used in Babylonian, Egyptian, Greek and Roman paganism for centuries. It was a common emblem in sun worship. The adoption of the cross into Christianity can be traced directly to the Roman Emperor Constantine three hundred years after Christ. Constantine was not a “Christian” when he saw a vision of a cross which he adopted as his victory sign. Rather he was still a Sun-God worshiper at the head of an army of Sun-God worshipers. Although he later mandated this corrupted form of "Christianity" as the national religion, he was not converted until his death.

So the use of the cross was a not a tradition from God, but a corruption of true Christianity. This is proven by solid evidence from history and archaeology:

"The universal use of the sign of the cross makes more poignant the striking lack of crosses in early Christian remains. Most scholars now agree that the cross, as an artistic reference to the passion event, cannot be found prior to the time of Constantine."--Evidence of Church Life Before Constantine (1985), by Professor Graydon F. Snyder

Two hundred years after Christ the Christian writer Minucius Felix wrote to the pagans in Octavius and revealed the attitude that early Christians had toward the cross up to that time: "Crosses, moreover, we neither worship nor wish for. You, indeed, who consecrate gods of wood, adore wooden crosses perhaps as parts of your gods. . . . Your victorious trophies not only imitate the appearance of a simple cross, but also that of a man affixed to it." (The Ante- Nicene Fathers, Vol. 4, p. 191)

Notice, that this early church father said that Christians did not have crosses and never thought of having one. Only pagans at that time used it.

The apostate Christianity that arose several hundred years after Christ decided to adopt the pagan symbol for the god Tammuz and use it for worship in their religion. When the Bible was translated into modern languages the mistranslation of "cross" was inserted because of Roman Catholic tradition.

Should Christians venerate such a symbol as pagans have in the past? The Scriptures are clear as to what True worshipers are to do with sacred objects from false religion. Does it say: "Adopt them and change their meaning"?

2 Cor.6:14-18: "Do not link up with unbelievers and try to work with them...What business can a believer have with an unbeliever? What agreement can we have with idols? That is why the Lord has said, ‘Leave them; separate yourselves from them; DON'T TOUCH THEIR FILTHY THINGS, and I will welcome you, and you shall be my sons and daughters.'"–NLT (Cf. Deut. 12:30,31, Ex. 20:4,5, 1 Cor.10:14; Ex.20:4,5.)

God does not tolerate mixing of idolatrous practices with true worship, as is illustrated by his condemnation of calf worship, even though the Israelites said they were still worshiping the True God. (Ex 32:3-10)

Source: This is the chosen Best Answer by Bar_Anerges to a question from Yahoo! Answers.

For more concerning the Cross, see:

CROSS - Links to Information (INDEX; Watchtower Online Library)

Cross (Search Results From the Watchtower Online Library)

What does the original Greek reveal as to the shape of the instrument on which Jesus was put to death? (Insight-1 pp. 1190-1192; Watchtower Online Library)

TORTURE STAKE  (Insight-2 pp. 1116-1117; Watchtower Online Library)

Why Don't Jehovah's Witnesses Believe that Jesus Died Upon A Cross? (Defend Jehovah's Witnesses)

STAUROS - "Cross" or "Torture Stake"? (Search For Bible Truths)

Stauros / Torture Stake (Response to accusations made by Robert H. Countess) (Defending the New World Translation)


The STAUROS of the New Testament: Cross or Stake? (In Defense of the New World Translation)

Cross or Stake (Stauros) (Pastor Russel)

What does the original Greek reveal as to the shape of the instrument on which Jesus was put to death? (Jehovah's Witnesses Question and Answers)

Advantages of the New World Translation: Did Jesus Die on a Cross? (Jehovah's Witnesses United)

If Jesus was nailed to a tree with his hands above his head then why does John 20:25 say nailS? (Y/A; Esp. Bar Anerges' response);

"Jesus did not die on cross, says scholar" (News article from

NWT - Criticism by Zondervan's So Many Versions? - "Torture Stake" vs. "Cross" (Defending the NWT)

Quotes concerning the pagan history of the Cross (Search For Bible Truths)

Should the Cross be venerated? (Jehovah's Witnesses Question and Answers)

Does it matter if Jesus died on a cross? (Search For Bible Truths)

The Sign of the Cross (Pastor Russel)

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