Was Jesus crucified on a cross? Part 1


Part 1 of 2 crucified on a cross or hanged on a tree

Part 2 of 2 Cross v stake

There are many arguments made against the Bible, one being that it contains contradictions and thus proving that it cannot be the word of God. The word of God would not have contradictions.

One such “contradiction” is that Christians claim that Jesus died on a cross. However the Bible has 2 apparently contradictory recorded accounts of the death of Jesus. He was crucified on a cross but also the Bible states he was hanged on a tree. So which is it? Was Jesus crucified on a cross or hanged on a tree?  Is this really a contradiction?

When understood properly this “contradiction” simply disappears.

So lets apply some understanding.


There  are clear scriptures to support the fact that Jesus was crucified on a cross by the Romans.

Matthew 27-  40 And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest itin three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.

Matthew 27-  42He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him

Mark 15-  30 Save thyself, and come down from the cross.

Mark 15- 32 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.

John 19- 18 Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst.19 And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS.

John 19- 31 The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.

The cross of Christ and the death on the cross is also referenced many times

1 corinthians 1-17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.

Philippians 2-8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Thomas stated that he wanted to see and put his finger in the print of the nails meaning to place his finger in the holes where the nails had been.

John 20-25 The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.

When Jesus appeared to Thomas he told him to behold his hands, showing him the holes of the nails as Thomas had wanted to see.

John 20- 27 Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. 28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God


However in the Book of Acts Peter and the other apostles stated that the Jews had slew Jesus and hanged him on a tree

Acts 5-30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree.

This is also repeated twice more in the book of Acts

Acts 10-39 And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree:

Acts 13-29 And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre.

Also in 1 Peter 2

1 Peter   2- 24 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.

Paul also stated that Jesus was cursed because anyone that is hanged on a tree is cursed.

Galatians 3-13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:

So we have very clear verses that state Jesus was indeed hanged on a tree.

So was Jesus crucified on a cross or hanged on a tree? The Bible very clearly states BOTH.  Does this show that there is a contradiction in the Bible?

The answer is NO. Jesus was in fact crucified on a cross and hanged on a Tree.


But surely that IS a contradiction……again NO this is not a contradiction…but how?

The Simple fact is that both crucified on a cross and hanged on a tree mean the EXACT same thing.They are synonymous. They both mean to be crucified on a cross which is exactly what Jesus was, crucified on a cross.

The Greek word translated as hanged in Acts, 1 Peter and Galatians when referring to Jesus is  κρεμάννυμι kremannumi which means to suspend or HANG UP

To hang something while can mean to suspend with the lower parts dangling as in hanging washing or a person hanging by the neck, does not necessarily mean this as there are other definitions of the word.  

The 1611 dictionary definition of the word hanged has MANY different definitions

One such definition being


“To hang up, to suspend; to place on something fixed on high.” av1611.com


When we look at the dictionary definition of the word hang even today  we see that it can mean to attach to a hook as in to hang a picture.


suspend or be suspended from above with the lower part dangling free.

“that’s where people are supposed to hang their washing”

synonyms: be suspended, hang down, be pendent, dangle, swing, sway;


“lanterns hung from the ridgepole of the tent”


antonyms: rise
  • attach or be attached to a hook on a wall.
  • “we could just hang the pictures on the walls”


So you can use a nail to hang up a picture on the wall

Judas killed himself after he betrayed Jesus

Matthew 27-5 And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.

We see that Judas hanged himself. However the word hanged here is a totally different Greek word with a different meaning than that used of Jesus

Hanged in this verse is the Greek Ἀπάγχω apagchó to choke strangle hang

Judas died through hanging. This is NOT the same hanging as how Jesus died as shown by the different Greek words used.

So we come to the cross or tree

The Greek word for cross is σταυρός stauros

The Greek word for crucified is σταυρόω stauroó

Jesus was crucified on a cross

The Greek word translated as tree is ξύλον xulon and it means something that is made from wood.

It is often translated as STAVES

Matthew 26- 47 And while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords andstaves, from the chief priests and elders of the people.

Matthew 26- 55 In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and stavesfor to take me?

So the word means ANYTHING made of wood. The cross was made of wood. It does not mean a literal tree.

The Greek word for an actual literal tree is δένδρον dendron

It is used 25 times in the NT as we see in verses such as

Matthew 3-10 And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

Jude 1-12 These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots;

Luke 23-39 And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.

The exact same thing is also used for the thieves who were crucified next to Jesus.

In the gospel of Luke it is stated that they were hanged

Luke 23-39 And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.

Hanged being the same Greek word as used for Jesus κρεμάννυμι kremannumi

But we know that they were also crucified alongside Jesus as recorded in both Mark and Matthew

Mark 15-32 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.

Matthew 27- 38 Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left.

Matthew 27-44 The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth.

The thieves, just as Jesus, were crucified on a cross.

There is no contradiction here just different terminology for the same thing which is clearly shown when we don’t assume a contradiction and actually apply some understanding. Jesus was crucified on a Cross by the Romans.

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