Truth, Understanding, Insight

For the Sake of the Stake the Crux of the Matter

25th January 2020, hej


1) For the Sake of the Stake the Crux of the Matter

The Cross

For the sake of the stake:

the crux of the matter

The Bible was not written in Latin or English. It was written in Hebrew and Greek (by Hebrews). Many of the words we have are loaded with post-Biblical meaning, which may not correctly convey the intent of the writer.

A case in point is “crucifixion.” The word is from Latin and means 'fixed on a cross'. Related words are the 'crux' meaning decisive point and 'crucial' showing that the word 'crux' or 'cross' means two things coming together at a point. By contrast the Hebrews who wrote about our Lord's death used Greek and the word stauros (stow-ros') a post, or pole or something set upright.

The Greek used by Paul and the Apostles has a depth lost in translation. Not only does stauros mean upright, the word it is from means from Strongs “to stand (transitively or intransitively), used in various applications (literally or figuratively): - abide, appoint, bring, continue, covenant, establish, hold up, lay, present, set (up), staunch, stand.” Thus the stauros was appointed and set up, and our Lord 'held up'.

Curiously there are very few references to the stauros beyond the gospel record account. There are only 10. There are no references in Acts or Romans. The first 2 references are in Paul's letter to the Corinthians.

For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the stauros (post, pole, stake) of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the stauros (post, pole, stake) is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. (1Cor 1:17-18).

The power of God was evidenced in how the Scripture foresaw and anticipated human actions and overcame them. Paul is not so much making a doctrinal point, as one about his observation of behaviour.

But we preach Christ stauroō impaled, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. (1Cor 1:23-24)

The Jews he spoke of did not accept their Messiah who was a king was prophesied to die, and the Greeks saw no point in sacrifice.

The letter to the Galations was dealing with a specific point.

And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the stake ceased. (Gal 5:11)

He re-iterates and clarifies this rather obscure comment,

As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the stake of Christ. For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh. But God forbid that I should glory, save in the stake of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is impaled unto me, and I unto the world. (Gal 6:12-14)

Paul having persecuted the Way was zealous. In the context Paul was not having any part with those who sought an easy acceptance into the Jewish worship of that era. He was persecuted because he preached that circumcision was not required by Gentiles, and therefore fully identified with his Lord's suffering at the hands of the pedantic lawyer mentality of the Jewish leaders. They sound grand words but come down to Paul's declaration of his willingness to accept suffering and shame due to non-conformity to the world. In context the stake was about suffering and shame. In this case Paul's suffering and shame. As he said later “all those in Asia” had turned against him (2 Tim. 1:15).

In the letter to the Ephesians there is a different point.

But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the stake, having slain the enmity thereby: (Eph 2:13-16)

Paul's thinking is layered, equating the blood of Christ (a principle of Jewish sacrifice) to the means of that blood being shed, the death on the stake. We are made nigh and one body by baptism into the death and resurrection (Romans 6). In this state we are not condemned by the ordinances of the Law of Moses. Therefore figuratively the enmity is destroyed.

The next 3 instances in Philipians speak more of Paul's experiences. The first instance equates the low status of a death on the stake, which was always reserved for criminals or enemies.

And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the stake. Wherefore God also has highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: (Php 2:8-9).

The next instance is an equation of his mission to the stake of Christ,

Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the stake of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.) (Php 3:17-19)

These enemies at that time were Jews who preached circumcision as necessary to salvation.

“Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. (Php 3:2-3)

Paul saw the keeping of the jots of laws and ordinances that our Lord condemned 'as heavy burdens' as “confidence in the flesh.”

Paul's letter in Colossians mentions the blood of the sacrifice shed on the stake,

For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of his stake, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. (Col 1:19-20)

He then clarifies the process of reconciliation,

Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his stake; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it. (Col 2:12-15)

In fact the triumph was the resurrection, and as yet the final triumph and spoiling of all human powers has not been completed as Paul, the writer to the Hebrews makes clear.

But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. (Hebrews 10:12-13)

The 10th and last reference to the stake is in Hebrews.

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the stake, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. (Hebrews 12:2-3).

The death on the stake was a very powerful symbol of shame, as it was written in the Law.

Paul considered it an open shame, “Seeing they impale to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.” (Hebrews 6:1,6).
All crucified and hung on a pole or tree were cursed of God (Deut. 21:23).

The shame of the stake:

There is no doubt whatsoever that the Chief Priests knew their laws, as they called for a death that cursed a man they saw their enemy.

And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. 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: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. (Galation 3:12-14).

The death on the stake shows the hate of the leading classes who knew the law and wished a curse on our Lord who criticised them. The stowros: stake/pole, in effect, due to the events represents “the power of darkness”. Our Lord cried with a loud voice, saying, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34) and he said, “this is your hour, and the power of darkness.” (Luke 22:53), indicating where the responsibility lay.

Peter also makes reference to the shame of the tree,

For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: 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. (1Pet 2:21-24).

There is no way he could literally bear our sins. He could only bear them figuratively. The point again is the condemnation of the type of death. Peter is quoting Isaiah 53.

Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isa 53:4-6)

These points underline the curse, as the death on the stake was about being smitten and afflicted. The sin and transgression of the leaders of the nation led to the death of a righteous man.

He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. (Isa 53:8)

The transgression of Isaiah's people, especially the leaders, was clear.

It was the nation's leaders' transgression to number an innocent man as a transgressor. The Law required just judgement.

Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he has poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. (Isa 53:12)

Numbered with transgressors equals cursed.

Because all sons of Adam are cursed being appointed to death, and in addition none is righteous, the sin of all required a sacrifice 'once and for all' for sin. The righteous son in obedience (as opposed to disobedience of sin) submitted to death and being numbered with sinners. Because judgement is given into his hand, he could make intercession for sinners.

The words are 'pictures' to convey the events. Now the death and resurrection have passed as written, the great and important facts are our obedience to the Lord's commands and his future return and judgment.

The Sign of the Cross

Historically it was a common practice for slaves, soldiers and devotees, to bear the imprint of those who claimed absolute control over them. The mark was generally on the forehead or hand, in token of servitude. Slaves were branded with marks of letters often on the forehead. Soldiers were marked in the hand by the name of the emperor. By contrast Leviticus 19:28 states, “The Israelites were forbidden to imprint any marks upon themselves; for it was an idolatrous practice.”

It is in this light we might consider

(Revelation 13:16,18) And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:..Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six. .

In verse 18, the ‘600’ is not the word hexakosioi but actually a number.

χ (600) ξ (60) ς (6).

In verse 16, the “mark” is chi χ which was used by Constantine I and became the cross. The middle xi ξ is the letter used for ideas of soul that led to the trinity. The last gave us the Latin English 'stigma' ς meaning a mark, cross or scar of service.

There is no doubt that the signs of the cross in various forms are very ancient indeed, and appeared long before the Christian era. Constantine 1 used the cross to appease the pagans of his day uniting his Empire and persecuting non-conformists.

There are some comments translated from Latin, including,

Boniface VIII: “It is essential to the salvation of every human being that he be subject to the Roman Pontiff...Both the priests and those of the monastic orders, took on themselves the vow of obedience, and received the Romish Sign upon their hands, in public token thereof.”

Pontificale Romanum on Ordination of Priests: “The Bishop anoints both the hands of each catechumens, joined together in the form of a cross...he makes with the right hand the sign of the cross upon the hand of him who he ordains.”

The soldiers of the papacy to remove 'Heretics', were required to wear upon their clothes the Latin Cross, from which sign they acquired the name of 'crusaders'. At the 4th Lateran Council, the sign of this order was imposed upon all other classes of subjects. All those without exception were compelled to receive it through episcopal confirmation and the clerical ordinance of infant sprinkling. in which ordinances of the Apostasy, the sign of the cross is impressed upon the 'forehead'....[and if] the mark should not be impressed upon a soul he was to considered accursed. Heretics who renounced their convictions to save their lives had to wear two crosses on their breast and to establish themselves zealous.

Irenaeus explained the number 666 as the word “Lateinos” due to the sum of its letters. It is from Latin that the English translations of the Bible have 'crux'/'cross' rather than 'stake'.

For more here Count the Number

The danger of the symbol of the pole & the lesson of the ark.

Israel fell into the mistake of giving power to objects. They took the ark into battle, hoping it would give success, yet lost it to the Philistines. But the most compelling example is how Hezekiah destroyed the brazen serpent on the pole.

He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brasen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan. (2Kings 18:4)

How did the serpent on the pole, a good thing given by God, cause such sin of idolatry? We can see how its history led to reverence, yet God was not pleased with what it became. There were items God asked the people make, to be lessons. Israelites were to make no others, and were not to make replicas of them, or any image of any sort (Exodus 20:4).

Our symbols are actions: baptism, eating bread and drinking wine. There are no others given. In baptism we associate with both the death and resurrection of our Lord.

Our hope is the resurrection. (Php 3:10)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, (1Peter 1:3).