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Two Takes on the Torture Stake:

A Perspective on the Death of Jesus

[Quotes from Watchtower publications, including their New World Translation, are in blue.]


The Watchtower[1] considers the torture stake (cross) repulsive[2].  How does the WT’s attitude compare with the Apostle Paul’s attitude?  What is behind the WT’s attitude?  What  is behind Paul’s attitude?  What will be the outcome for each?


The Watchtower’s perspective on the torture stake (cross)

The instrument on which Jesus was impaled should be viewed with revulsion,” says the WT.[3]

The WT considers it “a hated thing[4], and an “abominable thing[5].

The WT argues, “If your mother was killed by a revolver would you carry a revolver on a chain around your neck?”


Paul’s perspective on the torture stake (cross)

We will let Paul speak for himself:

 “Never may it occur that I should boast, except in the torture stake of our Lord Jesus Christ..”

Galations  6:14[6].

For I decided not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ, and him impaled.”  

I Corinthians 2:2.

For the speech about the torture stake is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is God’s power.”  I Corinthians 1:18.   


Why does Paul boast in the torture stake (cross)?

There is no question that a profound stigma is attached to the Roman method of execution. Even Scripture states, “’accursed is every man hanged upon a stake.’ Galations 3:13.”  However, we are also told, “Christ by purchase released us from the curse of the Law by becoming a curse instead of us" (same verse).  Obviously, the Apostle was not glorifying the wooden instrument itself but what it stood for.  The torture stake (cross) is a symbol of what Christ did for condemned sinners.  Paul recognizes that what he could not pull off with all his learning, legal credentials and hard work, Christ accomplished for him, and for the whole human race by his death on the torture stake (cross).  “[God] made you alive together with [Christ].  He kindly forgave us all our trespasses and blotted out the handwritten document against us, which consisted of decrees and which was in opposition to us; and He has taken it out of the way by nailing it to the torture stake.”  Colossians 2:13b,14.

Once Paul recognized his sinfulness and helplessness, the message of the torture stake (cross) came as Good News!  When Jesus died on the torture stake (cross) he declared, “It is accomplished!” John 19:30.  He is the “Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.  (John 1:29).”  The message of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the “Gospel,” was of first importance to Paul.  He says in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, “For I handed on to you, among the first things, that which I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and that he was buried, yes, that he has been raised up the third day according to the Scriptures”.  This is the message of the torture stake (cross) that Christians, like the Apostle Paul, glory in!


Why does the WT’s consider the torture stake (cross) repulsive?

Is the WT unique in this attitude or is this an attitude shared by the whole fallen human race?  The fact is that all of mankind, in the natural state, is repulsed by the torture stake (cross). Human beings cannot stomach the truth that their fallen condition is so serious that the Son of God had to pay the penalty for them!   Rebellious human beings would rather save themselves.  They loathe the torture stake (cross) because it cuts across human pride and self-sufficiency, cancels reasoning and merit as a means to eternal life. The message of the cross (torture stake) is an insult, an offense, “foolishness”, as Paul says!  With this in mind it is not surprising that the WT loathes the torture stake (cross).


What will be the outcome for those who scorn this message of the (torture stake) cross?

“For there are many, I used to mention them often but now I mention them also with weeping, who are walking as the enemies of the torture stake of the Christ, and their finish is destruction…”  Philippians 3:18.


What will be the outcome for those who, with Paul, boast in the torture stake (cross)?

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”  2 Corinthians. 5:21 

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  John 3:16

Righteousness of God!  Eternal life!  This is the possession of those who believe, and rejoice in,  the substitutionary death of Christ on the cross!

The cross, hated instrument of death as it was, means deliverance for sinners.   Paul boasted in it.  What is your attitude towards it?


Written by Greta Olsoe

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[1] The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society; hereafter WT.  It’s adherents are known as Jehovah’s Witnesses.

[2] The WT uses the words “torture stake” instead of “cross”.  That issue is not our subject here.  Later articles will deal with it.

[3] WT, May 15, 1995, p 20

[4] WT, Feb. 15, 1960, p 127

[5] WT, Nov. 1, 1950, p 427

[6] We use the New World Translation only because it is the WT’s approved version and not because we endorse it.  This translation has many serious errors and lacks the support of reputable Greek scholars.