Join my Facebook Group
See also Symbology & Ancient Symbolism - 100 Books on DVDrom and Is the Cross a Pagan Symbol? 70 PDF Books on DVDROM
STAUROS KAI XULON, stauros and xulon, are the only words in the Greek Testament descriptive of the wooden cross of Christ. Neither of them admit of the radical idea of a cross in English, or in any other modern language. In all the languages of Christendom, across consists of one line drawn through another. Two sticks, one crossing the other, are essential to constitute, and to present the universal idea of, a material, visible cross.
No such idea is conveyed by the Scripture words stauros and zulon. Stauros means "an upright pale," a strong stake, such as farmers drive into the ground to make their fences or palisades—no more, no less. To the stauros the Roman soldiers nailed the hands and the feet of the King of glory, and lifted Him up to the mockery of the chief priests and elders of the people. Over Him, on the stauros, Pilate put His title: "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." And no mortal is at liberty to affirm any other form of stauros on which our Saviour was lifted up than is implied in the meaning of that word, which alone the four Evangelists in the four Gospels use to describe the wood on which Jesus was lifted up.
Zulon, which I write for the easier pronunciation zulon, means "wood cut ready for use, a stick, cudgel, or beam; any timber; a live tree." This is, as I have said, the only word besides stauros employed in the New Testament to signify the cross of Christ The Evangelists use this word to signify the clubs or staves with which the company were armed when they arrested Jesus by night in Gethsemane. In the Acts, and rarely in the Epistles, it signifies the wood or timber on which Jesus was impaled, alive.
Zulon, then, no more than stauros, conveys the English sense of a cross. Zulon and stauros are alike the single stick, the pale, or the stake, neither more nor less, on which Jesus was impaled, or crucified. Stauros, however, is the exclusive name given by all the Evangelists to the wood of Christ's cross. The stauros Jesus bore, on it He was hanged, from it He was taken down dead. The Evangelists use this word also in a figurative sense: "Come, take up thy stauros, and follow me" (Mark x. 21). "Let him take up his stauros and follow me" (Matt. xvi. 24, Mark viii. 34, Luke ix. 23). "He that taketh not his stauros and followeth after me, is not worthy of me" (Matt. x. 38). Neither stauros nor zulon ever mean two sticks joining each other at an angle, either in the New Testament or in any other book.
THE BRAZEN SERPENT
When Israel in the wilderness murmured against God, the Lord sent fiery serpents among them, and much people of Israel died. The penitent people besought Moses to pray the Lord to take away the serpents. Moses's prayer was answered, not by removing the serpents, but by providing a remedy against their bite. By command of the Lord, "Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole. And it came to pass that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass he lived" (Numb. xxi. 9). The healing power was not in the "pole," neither was it in the brazen serpent, but in the word of the living God. The healing virtue resided not in these lifeless forms singly or jointly, but in the faith of the word which turned the eyes of the wounded to look that they might live. After the lapse of eight centuries, Judah came to believe there was miraculous power in that image, and they worshiped it. They did not make an image; they worshiped with incense, the same which Moses, by divine command, had made, and had elevated in the healing sight of the congregation. They worshiped it, not as the work of their hands, but as an instrument of salvation, set up by their great lawgiver. Notwithstanding, that good King Hezekiah, such as "after him was none like him, nor any that were before him," when he removed the high places and brake the images, and cut down the groves, brake in pieces also "the brazen serpent that Moses had made; and he culled it Nehushtan," i.e., brass (2 Kings xviii. 4). So, were the veritable wood of Christ's cross now before our eyes, it should sooner be cut in pieces, and burned for wood, than be adored with incense, and reverence, and love. Is it any holier and better to reverence and love an image ot that wood, to kiss it, to wreathe it with laurel, to bow down and worship before the image, which, whether of wood or stone, is man's device, wrought into shape by the hands of man?
Not an instance of exalting or of honoring the visible form of the cross occurs in the New Testament. On the contrary, it is the emblem of our humiliation and sorrow, which being endured in the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, through Jesus and the resurrection, "when our captivity will be turned again, as the streams in the south, our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing;" for we shall not only see Him as He is, but be like Him, having our vile body changed into the likeness of His glorious body, and our joint inheritance of all things with Christ Jesus in eternal life.
THE PUNISHMENT OF THE CROSS
This was inflicted on hardened criminals, and on resolute enemies, and on vile murderers and slaves, among all the renowned nations of antiquity. The manner and circumstances of the execution do not concern us now, so much as the instrument, respecting which Smith's "Dictionary of the Bible" gives large information. "In Livy," says Smith, "even crux means a mere stake. More generally, the cross is called arbor infelix—Livy, Seneca; or lignum infelix-—Cicero. The very name of the cross was abhorrent not only to the flesh, but even to the eyes, ears, and thoughts of Roman citizens—Cicero pro Rab. 5."
Crosses must have been commonly of the simplest form, "because they were used in such marvelous numbers. Of Jews alone, Alexander Jannanis crucified 800, Varus, 2000, Hadrian, 500 a day; and the gentle Titus so many that there was no room for the crosses, nor crosses for the bodies."—Smith's Dict, of the Bible. Alexander the Great crucified 2000 Tyrians, and both the Sogdian king and people, for their brave defense of their several countries. And Augustus crucified 600 Sicilians. Under such circumstances, men could not he particular about the form of the stauros, or the manner of applying it. Some were nailed, others were tied hand and foot and lifted up on the stauros; others on the tree. Others, also, were spiked to the earth with the stauros driven through their body, and others were spitted on it. Thus the crucifying or impaling was executed in the crudest manner, and the sufferers were left to rot unburied, or to be devoured by the birds and beasts. In deference to the Mosaic law, the bodies were in Judea removed and buried, and the crosses were burned, to avoid legal defilement by the accursed thing, as it is written: "His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but in any wise thou shalt bury him that day (for he that is hanged is accursed of God); that the land be not defiled" (Deut. xxi. 23).