The Cross of Jesus * Real or Fiction?
Sozo Short Studies – Category #3 – Church History
This Short Study will look at the “concept” of the Cross, the significance of its design and how that relates to us today; in the process we will also look at the concept of “Apologetics,” which defines our faith without the using a spirit of debate. This area will also be an introduction to the concept of Apologetics, yet we’re not apologizing; rather it’s a matter of defending the faith without debating. Paul tells us debate is a sin: a debate is an argument based on what each person thinks are the facts concerning their viewpoint. Arguing then, is far different from presenting Truth; and although the natural mind considers its opinion to be truth, we find that Truth is found in Jesus, not opinion. Paul’s Letter to the Romans is a typical example of an Apologist format as he was defending the faith. Strange or perhaps sad, is how we find Paul defending the Faith to those who were already in the Body.
By Pastor G. E. Newmyer
Winds of Doctrine concerning The Cross: Rome was an area full of idols and mystery religions; and from there came some unsound remarks concerning the Cross of Jesus. Over the years we know there are those who desire to be more special than the rest of the Body of Christ; so they pick up “winds of doctrine” or make their own doctrine, perhaps in order to feel superior. Yet, if they elevate themselves, they have actually lowered themselves. In some cases we find someone who is termed a scholar, yet becomes so centered on a subject that they tend to go completely the other way, falling into error in their fight against heresy. We can also find a scholar, who wants to force their view to the point they remove, or ignore Scriptures.
Theology is a study and it is not supposed to be unyielding; rather it has to yield, even if it means rewriting everything we’ve written. Only the Holy Ghost can interpret the Bible, yet the Bible will define itself; thus all mysteries are defined for us in the Bible and thus, all mysteries point to Jesus, since the Bible testifies of Him.
Things are things and the thing is neither good nor evil; rather it’s what man does with them that defines or exposes the good or evil. A pencil can be a tool to help us in our communication; but if we worship it, it becomes an idol. So, would this be the fault of the pencil? No, of course not, it’s the fault of the person misusing it. Even if we remove the pencil, that worshiper will find something else to worship. So, the problem is within the person, not the thing; thus, we are being cleaned by the Word in us. Paul said the idol is nothing. So, it’s not the idol that is the problem or even the social evils; but, it’s what people make of them.
Some of the attacks against the Cross are based in misunderstandings of the Cross. The Cross in and of itself never saved anyone; it’s He who was on the Cross becoming the issue. Thus Jesus on the Cross made the Cross a doorway or place of separation. It was Jesus on the Cross sanctifying the Cross, not the other way around. However, there are elements of the Old Covenant nailed to the Cross; and there is where they must stay.
We know that Jesus isn’t on the Cross, since today, He sits at the Right hand side of Majesty. The same is true with “The Cup”; it was the Blood of Jesus giving the cup importance and not the other way around. At times man misses the point, ending exalting things far above measure.
Alexander Hislop’s book “Two Babylons,” attempts to depict what he considered to be the misuse of the word Crucifix by saying it was connected to the idol Tammuz or other pagan rites. His purpose was to point out how anyone can do as the children in the Old Testament did with the Brass Serpent and end up giving Crucifix is likeness of Jesus on the Cross; yet giving worship to either is error.
Worshipping God rather than just the things of God: There is always a danger in giving worship to the “things of God.” One can worship the anointing, the office, the person who is anointed, rather than Jesus. “Winds of doctrine” make much to do about things meaning little; but the type of Cross that Jesus was on, is important. It had to represent “a Door,” a place of separation between Life and Death. Unless it held the symbols to identify the purpose, then it failed in the process. Thus “knowing” the type is important; but to worship it would be error.
There are some who attack the shape of the Cross. For instance, some point to the “T” shape as a symbol going back to the time of the idol Tammuz …” Then he brought me to the door of the gate of the Lord’s house which was toward the north; and, behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz. Ezek 8:14 KJV. Like any idol, in and of itself, it was nothing. But, it was the evil in the heart of man, making it something (I Cor 8:4).
“As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one. (5) For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) (6) But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.” – KJV
Where is the evil? Years ago we were told that television was the “mark of the beast”; then those who said it, were all of a sudden appearing on television themselves. Then, they said credit cards were the mark of the beast; but later, they began to take credit card donations. Then the focus went to computers; but the critics also found themselves using computers in their ministry. From there, this same negative presumption was applied to the World Wide Web; but in the end, it did not stop any of those sending out the “warning,” from eventually obtaining a web address to their own websites.
Were any of “those things” evil? No, they were things, nothing more, nothing less. James says that every man is drawn away by his own lust (James 1:14):
“But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.” – KJV
Thus it was the lust in the person causing the evil, not “the thing.” In Acts, the people burned their own books; but those books were manuals instructing them in the black arts which would have been much different from “books” in general (Acts 19:19):
“Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.” (KJV)
Clarity is always the Pureness of God’s Wisdom; it keeps us from destroying the Wheat while thinking we are killing Tares.
Counterfeit vs. authentic: Tammuz has a history and it was picked up by the Greeks and he was renamed Thaumas. Mythology said he was the father of Iris and the Harpys. The Harpys were the idol counterfeit of the Trinity named Okypete, Aello and Podarge. Should we then reject the Trinity because the pagans copied it? The sign of Tammuz was not a Cross, but a plus sign; and the name Tammuz means Sprout of Life and hence, the priests of Tammuz had plus signs along the rims of their headgear to identify them with the idol. The same sign was picked up by the Romans; thus some misguided Christians assumed that the plus sign inside a circle inscribed on the coins of Julius Caesar in 100-44 BC became the Tammuz symbol; however, there are many things to consider with that premise. The worship of Tammuz was done many years before Rome was Rome. Next, Jesus commanded Peter to obtain a fish; and in the mouth of the fish would be a silver coin, which Peter was to use to pay taxes with. The taxes collected by Rome from the Jews were used to build temples for idols. Didn’t Jesus know it? Yes, but what someone does with the product in hand, is no reflection on the one who gave it. The heart of the giver is the issue; while, what the receiver does, the receiver is responsible for.
Obsession vs. purposeful application: Long before Caesar was in power, far back to the third dynasty of Ur we find the Tammuz symbol; thus, it was not invented by Caesar. All this shows that “the item” is not evil, just as the “love of money” is the root of all evil, not the money. If we are obsessed with money, then the obsession is evil, not the money. The circle on Caesar’s coins is reported by historians to have represented eternity as found in the Delphic temple; therefore, if we take that representation to its extreme, we end tossing out Proverbs 3:18: “She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her.” What of Proverbs 11:30? “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise,” or Proverbs 13:12: “Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.” And Proverbs 15:4: “A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit.” Then we see Revelation 22:2: “In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” (KJV)
Dealing with a lust: This in no way condones idol worship; but in our haste to toss out the idol, we may toss out the good with the bad. The same is true in dealing with any lust, we can mistakenly toss out some picture or icon, thinking we have become free in the process, yet we haven’t really begun to deal with the lust.
In Romans, Paul deals with many misconceptions, lusts, and problems which any Babe in Christ can fall into. So, if we toss out the Book of Romans, do we also remove the conviction? No; and neither does tossing out the icon free us of the lust. We must turn our backs on the passions of the world.
Jesus was not afraid of idols and neither was Paul. We know that Paul preached to Mars’ Hill and looked right at an idol marked “for the unknown god” and then used the symbol to preach Jesus. Was the man crazy? How could he use an idol to preach Jesus? Today, some in the Body would not only condemn Paul for this, but toss him to the wolves. Others would say that he left his “eye gate open,” when in fact he simply had awareness of what an idol is, no more than a thing without power or authority. So, it’s not what goes into a person which defiles them; it’s what comes out of the mouth (corrupt words from a corrupt tree) which makes the person corrupt.
All of this still has to do the “lust to worship things” or “to elevate them (the thing or the misguided persons) above what God has. Jesus was on the Cross and He was in the Grave; but are we to worship either the Cross or the Grave? Of course not, since we know that all things are under the feet of Jesus. We are supposed to be Christ-Minded; yet if we become paranoid or fearful regarding the things of darkness, we are no longer above them, but in them.
The fourth month of the Jewish religious year, which is also the tenth month of the civil year is Tammuz, which means First Grapes in Hebrew. The Jews still observe the 17th of Tammuz when the breach of the walls of Jerusalem took place (Fast Of Tishah Be-Av). The Jewish use of the term Tammuz doesn’t mean that they worship Tammuz; they merely have a month by the name. We also have a month by the name of August, named after a Roman emperor. So, that being said, should we shut ourselves up in a cave during August so we don’t become “evil”? Hardly, because we know this is just a name for a month; it doesn’t have life and it can neither offend, nor edify.
Keeping the balance: One should never confuse veneration with respect; we must determine what is exalting “above measure” as compared to “exalting within measure.” For instance, we respect the people of God; and yes, there are people whom God has exalted. Yet, we are warned not to exalt them above the measure. Icons, images, and such are not people and God doesn’t exalt “things”; thus there is no measure. God exalts His Word; but His Word is Jesus. The word “Image” means “a Likeness”; thus, we are to be the Image of God’s Son. Yet man can make an Image of an animal and then worship it.
We pray to the Lord, not the picture: The word “Icon” means a “Representation, picture or religious image used for veneration.” Thus, “veneration” becomes the problem, not “the thing.” Pictures of Jesus are Icons, since no one past 130 AD knows what Jesus looked like. Statues of little angels are a likeness of the Greek god Eros; thus, they are Icons. Some of the most used pictures of Jesus are not likenesses of Jesus, but likenesses of models used by the artists. Does this mean that we should run in fear or destroy the pictures of Jesus? Not at all, since it’s the “veneration of icons” becoming the problem, not the icon. We pray to the Lord, not to a picture.
Some think that Jesus would never allow a T shaped Cross because of the association made between the Cross and Tammuz; but to assume that Jesus would be afraid of the T shaped element, rejects faith; it also removes the purpose of the Cross.
Jesus defeated the devil by death; yet God is the God of living. Could Jesus be placed on a symbol of Life, to defeat death? No, Hebrews tells us it was through death that Jesus destroyed (made ineffective) him who had the power of death, that is the devil (Heb 2:14): “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.” (KJV)
The shape of the Cross was important; therefore, to assume the T shaped Cross would not be used because of similarity in appearance to Tammuz, would also denote the “ I type” couldn’t be used either. It so happens that at the same time in which the Romans were worshipping Tammus, they were also worshipping Isis. The temple of Isis became the cause of the Jewish rebellion, which caused the destruction of the temple in 70AD. The “I” was used in the court of Caesar and it was also found in many temples of idol worship. The seven mountains surrounding Athens were used for idol worship during the earthly ministry of Jesus and beyond; does this mean that we should reject the number Seven as well? Of course not, since there is a freedom in understanding that it’s not the things, but the lust in the person making the things evil.
Counterfeits are around; even in Paul’s day there were counterfeits. Paul was faced with the counterfeit of spiritual matters when talking to the Corinthians. He warned them about attempting to use carnal means to arrive at spiritual conclusions. The Corinthians had their treasury in Delphi, a city across the bay from Corinth, which also happen to be a center of divination. This would be the same location where the “damsel” in Acts 16 would have obtained her training (Acts 16:16-18): “And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: (17) The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. (18) And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.”
In that day, the Delphic priestess chewed on a laurel leaf, drinking water until her speech was incoherent; and then she would answer questions from the priest. Thus the priest interpreted the tongue. Does it mean we should reject all manifestations of the Spirit? Of course not, the enemy displays counterfeits to scare us away from the real (Steven Rossiter, Greece; London: Ernest Benn, Ltd, p 400).
Keeping things in order: It’s true that the devil has symbols of power; but those symbols which the devil uses have no power. Crystals are a prime example; the Book of Revelation shows that the Crystal as a metaphor for the Bride of Christ (Rev 4:6 & 21:11). Is it therefore any wonder why the devil would counterfeit the purpose of the Crystal? Should we then deny being the Bride because the devil uses some Crystal? Should we burn our Bibles because some Satan worshiper owns one? On the same note should we make our Bible a god? No, there is a spiritual attitude wherein we keep things in Order.
What then gives these elements power? Our fear of them does; thus, as faith has a power, so does fear. The New Age is not new, our fear of it may be and in this regard, what would the enemy desire…for a Christian to fear his counterfeits? If so, why?
Could it be for Authority? Once we fear the enemy or his doings, we are giving him authority over us. Conversely, once we determine that “things are just things” and remember that, “all things are under the feet of Jesus,” we can then retain our faith, refusing to give place to the enemy.
Cult Systems: Cult systems are motivated by “the lust of being the special among the special” via: a hidden book, a special revelation, a certain act of self-righteousness, all of which are pride-based; but this focus centers on placing fear on people. Cults thus driven, want us to fear the world, fear icons, fear most anything, even the shape of the Cross; and once we allow fear to reign, our faith is set aside or we become susceptible to their deception. Then from there, these cults will typically introduce us to another cross and likely one where the Law or the curse is not nailed or one where pride and deception rule.
Three types of Stakes used by Rome: This is clearer when we find how Rome used three types of stakes (crosses) such as the” I-type,” which was originally designated as punishment for all violations of Roman law. However, the method used, was to bind the victim, not nail them; and so the “I” was termed “the Pole” and not the Stake. This method included hanging a sign on the person, denoting the violation as well as placing them just outside the city to warn others of the punishment for violating the law.
Needless to say, this practice on the part of the Romans was more of a deterrent than a posted speed limit sign; and since this type of cross was used upon clear evidence of a violation of civil law, it had nothing to do with religion, Jesus or Moses, thereby showing it would not hold victory for us. Rather, if we accept this type of cross, it would be the wrong cross, for the wrong reasons. If this type was used, it would show that there was evidence to prove thatJesus was a malefactor, which we know is not the case at all.
The next shape was “X shaped,” later to be known as “Saint Andrew’s Cross,” since the victim would hang upside down on the cross for days until death came as the blood rushing downward burst in the brain. The Catacombs in Rome show many various shapes of crosses, most of which were not used to crucify people; rather they were used for identification. They included the Pope Cross, the Alpha and Omega and many others. They represented different things, but not the Roman elements of bringing death.
Why does the devil want us to run from one type of cross, or use another? How about, due to a lustful desire to be the special of the special, or greater than the brethren? The lust to be superior is based in pride which is the mother of all cult systems. In most cases, we tend to attack the cultist person; but clarity points us the cause. Therein we find the place of ministry; and the “manifestation of the Spirit” will bring the cultist to a place of decision.
Our subject is the Cross and why it had to be T shaped. The Cross, being the very “Door of Passover,” and the place of division between the world and the kingdom, seems to come under attack; yet, we can retort by making the Cross an icon and be none the better. The devil’s purpose in any counterfeit is many-fold. First, he preys on the lust in the person. Next, he wants us who have accepted the Cross, to make some mockery out of it by exalting the Cross above measure.
Even wanting the “the correct name for God” has been an issue used by cults; but it too is based in the same lustful desire to be greater than the rest of the Body. Often we go through all these Names of God to determine what we should call God; but God has told us the Name for us to use during our Season.
It’s one thing to tell God what name we will call Him and it is another when He tells us which Name He wants us to use. The same is true with the Cross; the Cross without Jesus is big piece of wood, but the second we introduce Jesus into the equation, the Cross takes on importance. Therefore, the shape or type of Cross without Jesus, really doesn’t matter; but when we find Jesus and His disciples speaking of the type, then it does matter.
Authority in the Names of God: The same is true with the Name of God. The word “Name” means “Authority”; thus, it depends on the Authority used to determine which Name is used. God doesn’t need a passport to identify Himself; and thus, He told Moses, “I Am That I Am.” When God walks into a room, He doesn’t have to say, “Hi, I’m God who are you?” We know who He is; so, surely He knows who we are.
In our Season, the Authority of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost are in the one Name (Authority) of Jesus. We are in the Body of Christ, not the Body of El or Jehovah. The Head of the Body is Jesus; thus, we could use the title, “Jehovah,” but in so doing we would be using the wrong Authority for our Season. When Jesus told us to go in His Name; it’s what He desired. The “winds of doctrine” are areas drawing us away from the Truth of Grace, usually pulling us into areas of self-righteousness. When we engage in acts of self-righteousness, we blind ourselves to the Righteousness of God.
Both the “X” and “I” types of crosses were Phoenician in nature; however, the Phoenicians didn’t worship Tammuz, nor were they subject to the promises of God. The Phoenicians were in the location we know as Tyre, coming from the people noted in the Hebrew as Arvad (Gen 10:18 & Ezek 27:8-11). They didn’t call themselves Phoenicians, they called themselves Canaanites and they worshipped many gods and goddesses, including their god named El, but not the same El (God) as the Hebrews. The Phoenician El was supposed to be married to Asherah the goddess of the sea. Does it mean the El the Hebrews worshipped was an idol? No, of course not, keeping things in order keeps us from becoming fearful over things which matter little.
Sign of the Cross: The shapes of the crosses give us symbols; the Romans had no idea of the importance of the symbol, but God did. When we take the “I or X shaped pole,” over the T shaped, we are missing the Passover by miles. Both the I and X were used regarding civil matters, not religious. The Passover is religious in nature; thus, the Cross had to have some significant connection to the Passover. What could it be? How about, the Blood on the door and it was in three places. The top and both sides about two thirds up, giving us the perfect sign of the Cross. Jesus is our Passover. He went to the Cross on the Passover; thus, the shape of the Cross had to correspond to the Door of the Passover.
The Holy Place had the furniture arranged to match the same figure, with the Menorah to the left, the Shewbread to the right, and the Golden Altar of Incense at the top just before the entrance into the Holy of Holies.
If God saw the sign of the Cross when Moses held the first Passover, surely He knew the type of Cross to be used. If it was an X, then Moses would have placed the blood at the top left, top right, bottom left, bottom right; if it was the I shaped, then the blood would have been at the very top and very bottom. But Moses followed the instructions of God, indicating the Cross which was seen in Passover.
Render unto Caesar the things of Caesar and the things of God to God: Simply because some idol worshiper or witch uses a symbol of God doesn’t make the symbol evil. We as Christians must discern between good and evil or we will fall into the evil in thinking we are doing good, when all we’re doing is working for the enemy. Allowing a carnal theology of fear to run to its extreme would cause one to remove the use of the name of God (El) based on a reason such as the Phoenicians use of the name. For that matter, the Phoenician god El was seen on many Roman coins at the time of Christ; especially the silver ones. When Peter took the money out of the mouth of the fish it was Roman money which was paid to the Romans. Jesus told us to render to Caesar the things of Caesar and to God the things of God, separation and division, yet still rendering.
The Romans took from many sources, including the Phoenician. The Phoenician language was mixed with Egyptian, found in Cuneiform or wedge shaped letters and figures. Astarte was the main Phoenician goddess and Nimrud (Nimrod) the main god; both were seen throughout history. We know Nimrod was related to Noah, so do we say that Noah was a witchdoctor? No; God saved Noah and Noah’s family, knowing full well that Nimrod would begin Babel. If God knows all things, then He knows all things. It doesn’t mean He ordains or causes them; but it does mean He has full knowledge of them.
The T shaped Cross used by the Romans came from the Chaldees. During the third dynasty of Ur in the Chaldees, the worship of Tammuz was common, so common that it’s believed by Jewish scholars that Terah, the natural father of Abram, may have been engaged in the making of Tammuz figures. Joshua 24:2 shows that Terah did worship idols; and some Jewish historians show that Terah was also an idol maker. Abram left his father’s house of idol worship; yet as Abraham, he was the first person God imputed righteousness to. The history of Abram didn’t stop God from making Covenant with the man, yet we also know that God loved Jacob but hated Esau. If God knows all things, why even allow Esau to be born? God intervenes, He doesn’t interfere.
The T shaped cross used by the Romans could always be determined by how the victim had to carry the cross piece, which had a weight near one hundred pounds, rather than the upright Pole which had a weight near seven hundred pounds. One hundred pounds would be a chore for any person to drag; but to think anyone would be able to pull seven hundred pounds, is out of the question. The use of Nails (plural) on the Victim removed the concept of the “I” shaped, but left the “X” and “T” shaped. The T shaped called for Three Nails to be used, one in each wrist, with one through the feet. There are historical notes showing, the victim was more than likely bound with leather straps to the X shaped, eliminating the use of nails. The T shape used bindings to lift the victim, but they were then removed leaving the victim nailed to the cross piece by their carpals, then the upright piece held the feet one over the other with a nail through the top of the feet.
Thomas said, “Except I shall see in His Hands the print of the NAILS, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe” (Jn 20:25). This verse was quoted by Polycarp, who was a disciple of John the Apostle; thus it’s correct in language and tense. With this we know “blessed is he who doesn’t see, yet believes.” We find that some must see before they believe. It is interesting how man proves the point; and those who believe, believe, those who don’t, don’t.
The standard or upright stake was always in place before the victim arrived later with the cross piece. Usually there was a hole in the ground; thus, the upright piece was placed in the hole indicating that Jesus carried His Cross or better, He carried the Cross Piece. The victim would be tied to the Cross Piece after nailing their wrists at the carpal joints to the cross piece; however, the palms of their hands would be turned and placed against the wood, rather than pointing outwardly. We get our English word Carpal from the Greek word Karpos which refers to the location where the wrist meets the base of the hand. To the translators and early Greeks, the word “hand” included the carpal joints to the point where the lower arm joined. We know the palm of the hand couldn’t support the body weight, but carpal area could. (We can become a legalist on the issue, missing the importance of the Cross.) Making an issue of the “hand” or “wrist” is no different than making an issue out of the type of wood the Cross was made of, rather than what it represented.
The victim and cross piece would be raised by ropes going over the top of the cross and then tied to the cross piece behind the neck of the victim. The cross piece would be lifted until it was about two-thirds or higher up from the ground, but not at the top, since it couldn’t be tied off if it was too high. The cross piece was not nailed to the upright pole, rather ropes held it in place. Then the legs were slightly bent, with one foot placed over the other, with the bottom of the feet against the upright pole. Then, the final nail would be driven through the top of the feet into the pole. This nail was often referred to as the “sure nail” or the securing nail, keeping the victim on the upright piece. This nail would keep the victim from twisting and turning, causing the ropes to lose grip.
With the palms of the hands turned and placed against the cross piece the victim’s shoulder’s would begin to come out of the sockets, the victim would push up with their legs to relieve the pressure, but as they did the nail through the feet would begin to break the many bones in the feet. The pain would cause them to relax their legs; but in so doing the shoulders would again begin to disjoint. When the shoulders did disjoint, the bones would slam together in the neck area causing the victim to choke to death. The T shaped Cross was the only one wherein the victim’s legs would be broke. It did no good to break their legs on the X, or the I shaped. As horrid as this type of death was, God saw it before the Romans used it.
David the king and prophet wrote “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint, my heart is like wax, it is melted in the midst of my bowels” (Ps 22:14). The Septuagint shows Psalm 22 reading, “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are loosened; my heart in the midst of my belly is become like a melting wax” and “they pierced my hands and feet.” This is important since the Septuagint is not a Christian document, rather it’s Jewish. Psalm 22 shows the dislocation of the bones; thus, if we claim that the Cross was “I” shaped, the prophetic Psalm would show we were in error.
The Record in Heaven & The Witness on Earth: John said that he saw both blood and water flow from the side of Jesus. There is a sack covering the heart of a person and in the sack is fluid-like water. When the spear entered the heart of Jesus, both water (mercy) and blood (grace) came out, showing that He was physically dead, but hardly soul dead. When a person is under pressure to the point that their heart bursts, the sack around their heart also breaks; but John saw the water and blood flow from the wound, indicating that the spear passed between the third and fourth rib, puncturing the heart. However we also find both Mercy and Grace were in Jesus; they flowed out making the Water and Blood two elements of the Witness, the Spirit as a result of being Born Again as well as being the third element to the Witness (I Jn 5:7-8):
(7) “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. (8) And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.” (KJV)
“The Record in Heaven” consists of: Father, Word and Holy Ghost. The Witness connects the Water for the Mercy of the Father, the Blood for the New Covenant of the Word, then the Spirit as the Gift of the Holy Ghost:
Water – Mercy of the Father
Blood – New Covenant of the Word
Spirit – Gift of the Holy Ghost
“The Report” sees things complete; and thus, it makes Declarations. But the Witness carries out the Declarations. Therefore, God can say that something is complete as far as the Report is concerned; but the performance of the matter must be completed by the Witness to bring them into Unity.
To Believe or not to Believe: It all begins at the Cross; and the Law and Commandments which we’re against, are nailed to the Cross. So, it might be important to know which one (cross) we should claim. The T shaped cross being the only one of the three wherein the victims legs were broken, gives us an undisputed clue as to the type of cross Jesus was on (Jn 19:32-33). Adding the comments of Thomas, it becomes clear; it was a T shaped Cross.
Like Mark 16:16-18, we have choice before us:
(16) “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. (17) And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; (18) They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” (KJV)
The evidence shows that the verses are proper and needed as presented in the various Manuscripts (codex) and supportive materials, including other verses. Thus we can believe or find reasons not to. There are 2,800 different manuscripts, all dated prior to 1500 AD, excluding the Wycliff, Bishops, and other texts.
We can search the Scriptures in order to support our thinking or search the Scriptures to have our thinking conform to the Word; or we can search and find some reason not to believe and all avenues have some support, but only the Believer who is in the Body can claim “shall be saved” if they continue to believe.
Comparing Spiritual to Spiritual: We can use the words of man to override the Bible or allow the Bible to define the Bible. Both use the words with the scholarly endeavors of man; and both use the Bible. But only one of those allows the Bible to reign supreme over the words of man. When we elevate the intellect of man above the Bible, we have made an idol of flesh and blood. If we have to trust in the intellect of man, we are in sad shape. “The Teacher” who teaches the teachers, is still the Holy Ghost; He still teaches by comparing spiritual to spiritual (Jn 14:26 & I Cor 2:13-14).
Three Pillars of Cult Systems: All cult systems have three pillars: self-righteousness, corrupt end time thinking, and something (practice, object, view-point, etc.) which they assume elevates them above the rest of the Body. The attempt to make the Cross of Jesus something it wasn’t is a prime example. If we hold to the” I-type” of cross, we are saying that Jesus failed at the Cross; thus, we are yet lost.
Which Cross? History does help in this matter; we find that Constantine was a heathen Roman who had a vision, which was so moving that he converted to the faith. Some tell us that Constantine used the sign of the T-shaped Cross on his armor; but history shows that he used the Greek CHI or X as a sign of Christ, rather than the sign of the Cross, thus giving us” X” for Christ (and also explaining the phrase “XMAS” or Mass for Christ.) Before Constantine converted he was a sun worshipper; so does this now mean that we should never use the name of Christ, since a sun worshiper like Constantine used the symbol of Christ? Jesus told us to follow Him, not men; thus following the concerns or religious fears of man, is still following men.
There is another argument on this topic, where some point out that the Greek word used for Cross means “an Upright stake,” which it does, but they don’t remember this stake as just being part of the Cross; and since Jesus wasn’t hanging in midair, the upright piece was also there.
Moving along, the sign hung on the Cross was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, giving us the authority to use the Latin and the early church used the Latin word for the “Cross.” In examining this, the six panels of forty seven translators of the King James used several texts, including Jerome’s Latin Vulgate in their determinations; and the Latin word for Cross denotes two pieces of wood, not one. Jerome used Polycarp along with other persons as witnesses as well as his own personal evidence of the Persecution. The scriptures show that Jesus hung on the Cross from the ninth hour until sunset, thereby providing more Scriptural evidence regarding the type of Cross.
The Wood can be one piece, as a tree with branches is one piece and this doesn’t mean,” one upright piece,” but a connection of the pieces to form One Cross; and the Cross-piece represents the Branches of the Tree.
Freedom to choose: Some tend to use Acts 19:19 as a support to denounce the T shaped Cross as some symbol of witchcraft; however, Acts 19:19 shows that the items were Books of Curious Arts. The wording “Curious Arts” means books used to practice something. So, does this mean now, that all of our books used to gain the knowledge of God must be burned? Hardly, the books noted in Acts 19:19 had to do with the actual practice of witchcraft, including formulas and chants; thus, they were working witchcraft manuals. The people burned their own books based on their own will; they were not ordered to. If Paul would have told these people to burn their books, he would have entered legalism. We can’t force our congregation to burn books or tear down icons; it has to become the desire of the person(s) to do what is right. Knowledge is the key; and once knowledge is introduced, choice follows. But knowledge never allows us to force someone to do something. Liberty means Free; yet we have the choice to do what is right or not. The choice is ours and the result is in God’s hand.
Worship of Icons & Simony: Two sins of the Body noted between 300 AD & 1500 AD are: the worship of Icons and the practice of “Simony” and both came from Simon Magus (Acts 8). Simon Magus was noted by John (and others in the early church) to be the “father of all heretics.” Although he was rejected from obtaining the baptism with the Holy Ghost, the man did believe “the signs”; and he was baptized in water showing that he was a member of the Body. He remained “natural,” walking away from the Faith; but he was nonetheless, water-baptized. Is water baptism evil then? Of course not; so, is the baptism with the Holy Ghost evil? No; and since Simon wanted to buy the power of the Holy Ghost (and we know he was baptized in water,) do we now reject water-baptism?
Change comes from our relationship to the New Man: The heart of Simon was not right before God; thus, water baptism didn’t change his heart, it’s not supposed to. The New Man changes our character and nature based on being our New Heart. Simon Magus is an example of someone who believed the signs, engaged in water baptism, yet failed to look at his own heart. Then he attempted to get other people to do his prayer of repentance for him.
Greek & Hebrew words & explanations for “Tree”: Now we allow Brother Paul to put the finishing touches on this. The Greek word for Wood is “Xulon” meaning “Fuel”; but the Greek has many words for the English word “Tree,” depending on the type of tree. One of those is the Greek, “Dendron” used in Revelation 7:1; then, another word is used for the Fig Tree, another compound word for Olive Tree, with two separate words denoting which type of Olive Tree, one meaning a “Wild Olive Tree” and the other meaning a “Good Olive Tree,” yet all words used by Paul.
The Hebrew helps explain the types; Josephus uses the Hebrew, “Ets” translated as Cross, telling that there were many Jews crucified before Jesus came. Josephus records how the type of element for religious death was a Tree with Branches or the sign of Tammuz. The Hebrew word, “Ets” means “Tree” or “Timber”; but it’s always a plural or more than the trunk itself. It comes from the Hebrew Atsah, meaning “to fasten.” It was used in Deut 21:22-23 in the phrase, “Cursed is anyone who is hung on a tree.” Therefore, in order to complete this Scripture, the Tree has to be more than a trunk and it had to have at least one branch. The Vine without the Branches is not a Vine. This takes us to Galatians 3:13 where Paul used the Greek word Xulon for Tree, explaining, Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree.
This connects to Deuteronomy 21:22, showing the concept of the Cross which Paul knew had a “branch.” Why did Paul use the word Xulon rather than Stauros? The Greek word for Cross is often Stauros, which comes from the Greek Stao meaning to Stand, from which we get the Greek Stauroo for Crucify. Again we know Jesus was on an upright piece, but his arms were held by the cross piece; thus, Paul used a word conducive to the Scriptures, as Josephus concurred.
Water and Blood: The word Cross then denotes the method of being Crucified, not the actual element upon which one is crucified. Paul’s use of Xulon shows it had to be more than one piece of wood in order to fit the Scripture. Taking us back to the Hebrew Ets, then to the Hebrew word Paraq (Crossway), as the intersecting of two things. The Cross represented the placement of the Street, the element joining two things. The kingdom of heaven is based in Mercy, metaphorically seen as water. The kingdom of heaven was operational before the Cross, but not the Kingdom of God. Thus, the Kingdom of God is based in the Blood of Jesus. As the Son of Man, Jesus introduced the direct Mercy of the Father and as the Son of God He granted us Grace; and so we see both Water and Blood. Therefore, if it was not a Tree with braches we are still under the curse of the Law, without hope.
Saved by Grace through faith: The Jews related Ets with Paraq; thus, the Cross also represented the Crossway or the Street joining us to heaven. The root word for Paraq means to deliver; but in Daniel 9:24-25 it is, “Rechowb,” meaning an Avenue, but the concept is the same. The Street is a place between places, linking places. In this case, it shows how the Cross of Jesus is not only able to deliver both Jew and Gentile from the snare of the enemy, but deliver them from the second death as well. The Cross of Jesus is the place where the Mercy of the Father meets the repentant heart of man, bringing mankind into the place of safety, where they can be sprinkled by the Blood of Jesus as they are saved by Grace through Faith.
Discerning respect from worship: Granted, after 300 AD, the Body began many traditions and held many things, (not Christ in nature), even changing some traditions into doctrine. Prior to 300 AD, the sign of the Cross was common, even among the Apostles. Also common were the three forms of Baptism, Water (Mercy), Holy Ghost (Grace, Spirit), and Fire. In the First Century a noted saint and church leader known as Tertullian found it necessary to defend the Christians against the heathen charge of worshipping the Cross. This false charge came about when John the Apostle, the disciple whom Jesus loved was seen with a wooden cross. John did not have a Crucifix, but a cross. However, John used it as a teaching tool; he was never seen worshipping it. Tertullian explained how the Christian didn’t worship the Cross; rather they respected it, thereby giving us the difference between respect and worship.
In the First Century it was common to use olive oil on a subject by making the sign of the Cross on their forehead; however, in all this, the Cross or the Oil were not subjects of worship, but symbols. Records show that the making of the sign of the cross was done by many in the first century (Apol. c. 16 et al); the same records show that the “sign of the cross” was used when anointing someone with olive oil on the forehead in the shape of a T. This act was done at water baptism after the person made their declaration of belief in the Cross, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus.
The Crucifix was not introduced until much later, being thought of by some as an Icon, since it has a likeness of Jesus on it; however, it only becomes an Icon when it’s worshiped, prayed to, or used it as a source of power.
The early church held small wooden Crosses with a cross piece near the top. Later, they added the A for Alpha, then a W or O for Omega, an X or P for Christ, as well as introducing the Pope Cross which had three cross-pieces. The three pieces of the Pope Cross referred to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. In Justin’s Dialogue with Trypho, (110-165 AD) the description of Jesus on the Cross is compared with Moses holding his hands out to the side in the battle with Amalek. Justin notes how it took both Hur and Aaron to hold the hands of Moses out to the side during the battle, rather than holding them together in an upright position, thus Justin in the First Century equates the position of the arms of Jesus on the Cross as out stretched.
Avoiding Heresy: If all things were created by Jesus, then we should look to Him, not the item created. All those who have had experiences with symbols of Satanism, tell us that there is one key to witchcraft which is the “worship of the symbol” not the mere possession of one (World Harvest School Of Continuous Learning, pp 60-64). If we can’t discern these things, we will form our own heresy attempting to avoid what we presume is heresy. We don’t need magic water, or an icon when we have the Name of Jesus. Making things into a god is a direct violation of Faith; we can even worship our theology or knowledge, forgetting that if God had not made Himself known to us, we would never have known that there was a God. Our theology can be more god than God, causing us to make our own translations to support our theology, rather than change our theology to fit God.
The Cross, the place of imputed death: All this brings us down to the point: the Cross is the place of the imputed death of the flesh, as we are commanded to pick up our cross. It may sound like a small thing; after all, if someone wants to change the type of Cross, so what? If we can alter the type of Cross that Jesus was on, we can also alter our cross, ending in a self-crucified state while missing the purpose.
Presenting the choice: We must submit to the Cross, not make up fables about its type. Rather than a Cross, we can use a tooth pick or a pencil; and then make ourselves “special among the special. “Or, rather than deny the self, we could end up exalting it. The issue is, really accepting the conditions of the Cross, rather than change the Cross to fit our religious opinions.
The Cross can be one piece or fifty; but, if we haven’t accepted it fully, by imputing the flesh dead, we have missed “deny yourself and pick up your cross.” We can see how the Romans missed the point, because they confused one element for another. In Romans, Paul instructs them regarding what “being justified” consists of as well as why we shouldn’t attempt to mix the Law of Moses into the Law of the Spirit which includes the importance of never imputing sins on people or judging them, (rather than discerning). We should not judge the cultist; the cult yes, but not the cultist. We present the cultist choice, just the same as we do anyone. What they do with it is up to them, but at least they will have the Truth, and not a fable. Selah.
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King James Version – KJV: For greater understanding of these commentaries, please use the Authorized Version of the King James Bible for confirming the Scripture passages mentioned. Please see the article, “Why KJV” by Ann M. Wolf for information regarding why we use KJV. Thank you for visiting our Sozo Short Bible Studies area.