--A. Ralph Johnson


The Watchtower presently denies Jesus was crucified on a cross. 


The Watchtower Kingdom Interlinear (page 1156), under “Torture Stake” pictures Jesus on a pole with his hands nailed above his head. Likewise, the book, “Paradise Lost,”  (p.141), pictures Jesus on an upright pole with one nail through his hands above his head.


However, in “Life,” (p.198) J. F. Rutherford, President of the Watchtower, has a picture of Jesus carrying a cross. 

See also, the book, “Creation” (1927, pp.  161, 265, 336); “The Watchtower” magazine (Jan 1, 1891, p.1277); “The Harp of God” (1921) and “Reconciliation” (1928)




Thayer: 4716 stauros {stow-ros'}

¤ from the base of 2476; TDNT - 7:572,1071; noun masculine

¤ Authorized Version – “cross” 28; 28 times

1) an upright stake, esp. a pointed one

2) a cross 

2a) a well known instrument of most cruel and  ignominious punishment, borrowed by the Greeks and  Romans from the Phoenicians; to it were affixed  among the Romans, down to the time of Constantine  the Great, the guiltiest criminals, particularly the  basest slaves, robbers, the authors and abetters of  insurrections, and occasionally in the provinces, at the  arbitrary pleasure of the governors, upright and  peaceable men also, and even Roman citizens  themselves

2b) the crucifixion which Christ  underwent 


The Watchtower Kingdom Interlinear (page 1156) cited Justis Lipsius (“de Cruce Liber Primus”) as authority for the cross being a stake with no crossbeam.  However, Justis gave 16 different types of crosses, only two with no crossbeam.  The Watchtower arbitrarily chose the picture he made of a stake, while in fact he also included pictures of crosses with crossbeams, including one commonly recognized by Christians.  Concerning the common cross, he is translated from Latin, “In the Lord’s cross there were four pieces of wood, the upright beam, the cross bar, a piece of wood placed below, and the title (inscription) placed above.”




1.      Jesus had “nails” (plural) driven into his hands (John 20:25).  This suggests a nail through each hand, as when outspread as on a cross.  The Watchtower pictures him with his hands over his head and a single nail driven through them.


2.      The inscription above the “head” of Jesus in three languages makes it unlikely that his hands were extended above his head.


Matthew 27:37 And they set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.


Luke 23:38 And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.


3.      Jesus pictured Peter’s death as having his hands outstretched.  Historians indicate Peter was also crucified.


John 21:18 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. 19 This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.


4.      The description of Jesus as crucified on a “tree” (Greek: “xulon” 3586) (Acts 5:30; 10:39; 13:29; Gal. 3:13; 1Pet. 2:24) shows that “cross” cannot be limited to an upright stake (cf. Rev. 2:7; 22:2; Luke 23:31). “Zulon” is used in reference to a “rod,” prisoner “stocks,” or simply, “wood,” all of which are made from a tree and might have a crosspiece, but unquestionably it also often means an ordinary “tree” with branches and leaves (Lk. 23:31; Rev.2:7; 22:2,14).




Barnabus [100 A.D.]

Epistle of Barnabus [100 A.D.], Chap. 9, The Spiritual Meaning of Circumcision.

And because the cross was to express the grace [of our redemption] by the letter T, he says also, “Three Hundred.” He signifies, therefore, Jesus by two letters, and the cross by one.

--Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 1, p.143     (Ages Digital Library, Vol. 1, p.265)


Justin Martyr [110-165 A.D.], Part 1, Apology, Chap. 55, SYMBOLS OF THE CROSS

But in no instance, not even in any of those called sons of Jupiter, did they imitate the being crucified; for it was not understood by them, all the things said of it having been put symbolically. And this, as the prophet foretold, is the greatest symbol of His power and role; as is also proved by the things which fall under our observation. For consider all the things in the world, whether without this form they could be administered or have any community. For the sea is not traversed except that trophy which is called a sail abide safe in the ship; and the earth is not ploughed without it: diggers and mechanics do not their work, except with tools which have this shape. And the human form differs from that of the irrational animals in nothing else than in its being erect and having the hands extended, and having on the face extending from the forehead what is called the nose, through which there is respiration for the living creature; and this shows no other form than that of the cross. And so it was said by the prophet, “The breath before our face is the Lord Christ.” And the power of this form is shown by your own symbols on what are called “vexilla” [banners] and trophies, with which all your state possessions are made, using these as the insignia of your power and government, even though you do so unwittingly. And with this form you consecrate the images of your emperors when they die, and you name them gods by inscriptions. Since, therefore, we have urged you both by reason and by an evident form, and to the utmost of our ability, we know that now we are blameless even though you disbelieve; for our part is done and finished.

--Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 1, p.181 (Ages Digital Library, p. 334)


Justin Martyr [110-165 A.D.], Apology, Chap. 60, PLATO’S DOCTRINE OF THE CROSS

And the physiological discussion concerning the Son of God in the Timaeus of Plato, where he says, “He placed him crosswise[1] in the universe,” he borrowed in like manner from Moses; for in the writings of Moses it is related how at that time, when the Israelites went out of Egypt and were in the wilderness, they fell in with poisonous beasts, both vipers and asps, and every kind of serpent, which slew the people; and that Moses, by the inspiration and influence of God, took brass, and made it into the figure of a cross, and set it in the holy tabernacle, and said to the people, “If ye look to this figure, and believe, ye shall be saved thereby.” And when this was done, it is recorded that the serpents died, and it is handed down that the people thus escaped death. Which things Plato reading, and not accurately understanding, and not apprehending that it was the figure of the cross, but taking it to be a placing crosswise, he said that the power next to the first God was placed crosswise in the universe. And as to his speaking of a third, he did this because he read, as we said above, that which was spoken by Moses, “that the Spirit of God moved over the waters.” For he gives the second place to the Logos which is with God, who he said was placed crosswise in the universe; and the third place to the Spirit who was said to be borne upon the water, saying, “And the third around the third.” And hear how the Spirit of prophecy signified through Moses that there should be a conflagration. He spoke thus: “Everlasting fire shall descend, and shall devour to the pit beneath.” It is not, then, that we hold the same opinions as others, but that all speak in imitation of ours. Among us these things can be heard and learned from persons who do not even know the forms of the letters, who are uneducated and barbarous in speech, though wise and believing in mind; some, indeed, even maimed and deprived of eyesight; so that you may understand that these things are not the effect of human wisdom, but are uttered by the power of God.

--Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 1, p.183 (Ages Digital Library, p.337-338)


Justin Martyr [110-165 A.D.], Dialogue With Trypho, a Jew, Chapter 40

God does not permit the lamb of the passover to be sacrificed in any other place than where His name was named; knowing that the days will come, after the suffering of Christ, when even the place in Jerusalem shall be given over to your enemies, and all the offerings, in short, shall cease; and that lamb which was commanded to be wholly roasted was a symbol of the suffering of the cross which Christ would undergo. For the lamb, which is roasted, is roasted and dressed up in the form of the cross. For one spit is transfixed right through from the lower parts up to the head, and one across the back, to which are attached the legs of the lamb.

--Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 1, p.215 (col. 1)    (Ages Digital Library, p.409)


Justin Martyr [110-165 A.D.], Dialogue With Trypho, a Jew, Chapter 90

“When the people,” replied I, “waged war with Amalek, and the son of Nave (Nun) by name Jesus (Joshua), led the fight, Moses himself prayed to God, stretching out both hands, and Hur with Aaron supported them during the whole day, so that they might not hang down when he got wearied. For if he gave up any part of this sign, which was an imitation of the cross, the people were beaten, as is recorded in the writings of Moses; but if he remained in this form, Amalek was proportionally defeated, and he who prevailed prevailed by the cross. For it was not because Moses so prayed that the people were stronger, but because, while one who bore the name of Jesus (Joshua) was in the forefront of the battle, he himself made the sign of the cross. For who of you knows not that the prayer of one who accompanies it with lamentation and tears, with the body prostrate, or with bended knees, propitiates God most of all? But in such a manner neither he nor any other one, while sitting on a stone, prayed. Nor even the stone symbolized Christ, as I have shown. 

--Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 1, p.244     (Ages Digital Library, p.474)


Justin Martyr [110-165 A.D.], Dialogue With Trypho, a Jew, Chapter 91

Let him be glorified among his brethren; his beauty is [like] the firstling of a bullock; his horns the horns of an unicorn: with these shall he push the nations from one end of the earth to another.’ Now, no one could say or prove that the horns of an unicorn represent any other fact or figure than the type which portrays the cross. For the one beam is placed upright, from which the highest extremity is raised up into a horn, when the other beam is fitted on to it, and the ends appear on both sides as horns joined on to the one horn. And the part which is fixed in the center, on which are suspended those who are crucified, also stands out like a horn; and it also looks like a horn conjoined and fixed with the other horns. And the expression, ‘With these shall he push as with horns the nations from one end of the earth to another,  --Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 1, p.245     (Ages Digital Library, p.475)


Irenaeus [120-202 A.D.], Book 2, Chapter 24, #4 “Folly of the Arguments Derrived by Heretics”

The very form of the cross, too, has five extremities, two in length, two in breadth, and one in the middle, on which [last] the person rests who is fixed by the nails.

Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 1, p.395, (col. 1);   (Ages Digital Library, p.787)


Tertulian [145-220 A.D.], Part First, Apology

You put Christians on crosses and stakes: what image is not formed from the clay in the first instance, set on cross and stake? 

--Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 3, p.28 (col. 2)     (Ages Digital Library, Vol. 3, p.48)

Note this distinguishes crosses from stakes.


Tertulian [145-220 A.D.], Part First, Apology, Chap. 16

Then, if any of you think we render superstitious adoration to the cross, in that adoration he is sharer with us. If you offer homage to a piece of wood at all, it matters little what it is like when the substance is the same: it is of no consequence the form, if you have the very body of the god. And yet how far does the Athenian Pallas differ from the stock of the cross, or the Pharian Ceres as she is put up uncarved to sale, a mere rough stake and piece of shapeless wood? Every stake fixed in an upright position is a portion of the cross; we render our adoration, if you will have it so, to a god entire and complete. We have shown before that your deities are derived from shapes modeled from the cross. But you also worship victories, for in your trophies the cross is the heart of the trophy. The camp religion of the Romans is all through a worship of the standards, a setting the standards above all gods. Well, as those images decking out the standards are ornaments of crosses. All those hangings of your standards and banners are robes of crosses. I praise your zeal: you would not consecrate crosses unclothed and unadorned.

--Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 3, p.31   (Ages Digital Library, Vol. 3, p.53)


Tertulian [145-220 A.D.],  Part First, #6.  Ad Nationes, Book 1, Chapter 16


As for him who affirms that we are “the priesthood of a cross,” we shall claim him as our co-religionist. A cross is, in its material, a sign of wood; amongst yourselves also the object of worship is a wooden figure. Only, whilst with you the figure is a human one, with us the wood is its own figure. Never mind for the present what is the shape, provided the material is the same: the form, too, is of no importance, if so be it be the actual body of a god. If, however, there arises a question of difference on this point what, (let me ask,) is the difference between the Athenian Pallas, or the Pharian Ceres, and wood formed into a cross, when each is represented by a rough stock, without form, and by the merest rudiment of a statue of unformed wood? Every piece of timber which is fixed in the ground in an erect position is a part of a cross, and indeed the greater portion of its mass. But an entire cross is attributed to us, with its transverse beam, of course, and its projecting seat. Now you have the less to excuse you, for you dedicate to religion only a mutilated imperfect piece of wood, while others consecrate to the sacred purpose a complete structure. The truth, however, after all is, that your religion is all cross, as I shall show. You are indeed unaware that your gods in their origin have proceeded from this hated cross. Now, every image, whether carved out of wood or stone, or molten in metal, or produced out of any other richer material, must needs have had plastic hands engaged in its formation. Well, then, this modeller, before he did anything else, hit upon the form of a wooden cross, because even our own body assumes as its natural position the latent and concealed outline of a cross. Since the head rises upwards, and the back takes a straight direction, and the shoulders project laterally, if you simply place a man with his arms and hands outstretched, you will make the general outline of a cross. Starting, then, from this rudimental form and prop, as it were, he applies a covering of clay, and so gradually completes the limbs, and forms the body, and covers the cross within with the shape which he meant to impress upon the clay; then from this design, with the help of compasses and leaden molds, he has got all ready for his image which is to be brought out into marble, or clay, or whatever the material be of which he has determined to make his god. (This, then, is the process:) after the cross-shaped frame, the clay; after the clay, the god. In a well-understood routine, the cross passes into a god through the clayey medium. The cross then you consecrate, and from it the consecrated (deity) begins to derive his origin. By way of example, let us take the case of a tree which grows up into a system of branches and foliage, and is a reproduction of its own kind, whether it springs from the kernel of an olive, or the stone of a peach, or a grain of pepper which has been duly tempered under ground. Now, if you transplant it, or take a cutting off its branches for another plant, to what will you attribute what is produced by the propagation? Will it not be to the grain, or the stone, or the kernel? Because, as the third stage is attributable to the second, and the second in like manner to the first, so the third will have to be referred to the first, through the second as the mean. We need not stay any longer in the discussion of this point, since by a natural law every kind of produce throughout nature refers back its growth to its original source; and just as the product is comprised in its primal cause, so does that cause agree in character with the thing produced. Since, then, in the production of your gods, you worship the cross which originates them, here will be the original kernel and grain, from which are propagated the wooden materials of your idolatrous images. Examples are not far to seek. Your victories you celebrate with religious ceremony as deities; and they are the more august in proportion to the joy they bring you. The frames on which you hang up your trophies must be crosses: these are, as it were, the very core of your pageants. Thus, in your victories, the religion of your camp makes even crosses objects of worship; your standards it adores, your standards are the sanction of its oaths; your standards it prefers before Jupiter himself, But all that parade of images, and that display of pure gold, are (as so many) necklaces of the crosses. in like manner also, in the banners and ensigns, which your soldiers guard with no less sacred care, you have the streamers (and) vestments of your crosses. You are ashamed, I suppose, to worship unadorned and simple crosses.

--Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 3, p.121-122     (Ages Digital Library, Vol. 3, p.222-224)


Tertulian [145-220 A.D.],  part First, #7.  An Answer To The Jews, Chapter 10, Concerning the Passion of Christ.

Joseph, again, himself was made a figure of Christ in this point alone (to name no more, not to delay my own course), that he suffered persecution at the hands of his brethren, and was sold into Egypt, on account of the favor of God; just as Christ was sold by Israel — (and therefore,) “according to the flesh,” by His “brethren” — when He is betrayed by Judas. For Joseph is withal blest by his father after this form: “His glory (is that) of a bull; his horns, the horns of an unicorn; on them shall he toss nations alike unto the very extremity of the earth.” Of course no one-horned rhinoceros was there pointed to, nor any two-horned minotaur. But Christ was therein signified: “bull,” by reason of each of His two characters, — to some fierce, as Judge; to others gentle, as Savior; whose horns” were to be the extremities of the cross. For even in a ship’s yard — which is part of a cross — this is the name by which the extremities are called; while the central pole of the mast is a “unicorn.” By this power, in fact, of the cross, and in this manner horned, He does now, on the one hand, “toss” universal nations through faith, wafting them away from earth to heaven; and will one day, on the other, “toss” them through judgment, casting them down from heaven to earth.

--Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 3, p.165   (Ages Digital Library, Vol. 3, p.297)


Tertulian [145-220 A.D.], Part Second, #2, The Five Books Against Marcion, Book 3, wherein Christ is shown to be the son of God., Chapter 22

Ezekiel spake: “The Lord said unto me, Go through the gate, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set the mark Tau upon the foreheads of the men.” Now the Greek letter Tau and our own letter T is the very form of the cross, which He predicted would be the sign on our foreheads in the true Catholic Jerusalem, in which, according to the twenty-first Psalm, the brethren of Christ or children of God would ascribe glory to God the Father, in the person of Christ Himself addressing His Father; “I will declare Thy name unto my brethren; in the midst of the congregation will I sing praise unto Thee.” For that which had to come to pass in our day in His name, and by His Spirit, He rightly foretold would be of Him.

--Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 3, p.340, (end of col. 2)   (Ages Digital Library, Vol. 3, p.616)


Minucius Felix [210 A.D.], Chapter 29

Crosses, moreover, we neither worship nor wish for. You, indeed, who consecrate gods of wood, adore wooden crosses perhaps as parts of your gods. For your very standards, as well as your banners; and flags of your camp, what else are they but crosses gilded and adorned? Your victorious trophies not only imitate the appearance of a simple cross, but also that of a man affixed to it. We assuredly see the sign of a cross, naturally, in the ship when it is carried along with swelling sails, when it glides forward with expanded oars; and when the military yoke is lifted up, it is the sign of a cross; and when a man adores God with a pure mind, with hands outstretched. Thus the sign of the cross either is sustained by a natural reason, or your own religion is formed with respect to it.

--Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 4, p.191, col. 2. (Ages Digital Library, Vol. 3, p.378)


Methodius. [260-312 A.D.] Three Fragments, #1.

Hence it is that our kings, perceiving that the figure of the cross is used for the dissipating of every evil, have made vexillas, as they are called in the Latin language. Hence the sea, yielding to this figure, makes itself navigable to men. For every creature, so to speak, has, for the sake of liberty, been marked with this sign; for the birds which fly aloft, form the figure of the cross by the expansion of their wings; and man himself, also, with his hands outstretched, represents the same. Hence, when the Lord had fashioned him in this form, in which He had from the beginning flamed him, He joined on his body to the Deity, in order that it might be henceforth an instrument consecrated to God, freed from all discord and want of harmony.

--Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 6, p.399, col. 2. (Ages Digital Library, Vol. 3, p.760)



[1] Footnote #2 in the A.N.S.V.: “He impressed him as a Xiasma, i.e., in the form of the letter X upon the universe.” Plato speaking of the soul of the universe. [Timaeus, Opp., vol. ix. p. 314.  And see note of Langus (p.37 on speaking after the fashion of his contemporaries, perhaps to conciliate his sovereign,  See Professor Jowett’s Introduction to the Timaeus, which will aid the students.]