Question: "Was Jesus crucified on a cross, pole, or stake?"

The Bible clearly and undeniably teaches that Jesus died on a cross (Matthew 27:32,40,42; Mark 15:21,30,32; Luke 23:26; John 19:17,19,25; Acts 2:23; 1 Corinthians 1:17-18; Colossians 1:20; 2:14-15). The Greek words in those Scriptures specifically identify a cross, not a pole or stake. The most common method of execution by the Romans in Jesus’ time was crucifying a person on a cross, with nails through their hands/wrists and feet/ankles. Sometimes people were tied to the cross in addition to being nailed to it. There were instances where people were crucified to poles, stakes, trees, x-shaped crosses, etc. But this was not the case with Jesus – He was crucified on a cross.

Crucifixion was a form of punishment that had been passed down to the Romans from the Persians, Phoenicians, and Carthaginians. It was designed to be a lingering death. Roman executioners had perfected the art of slow torture while keeping the victim alive. Some victims even lingered until they were eaten alive by birds of prey or wild beasts. Most hung on the cross for days before dying of exhaustion, dehydration, or, most likely, suffocation. When the legs would no longer support the weight of the body, the diaphragm was constricted in a way that made breathing impossible. That is why breaking the legs would hasten death (John 19:31–33), but this was unnecessary in Jesus’ case. The hands were usually nailed through the wrists, and the feet through the instep or the Achilles tendon (sometimes using one nail for both feet). None of these wounds would be fatal, but their pain would become unbearable as the hours dragged on.

The most notable feature of crucifixion was the stigma of disgrace that was attached to it (Galatians 3:13; 5:11; Hebrews 12:2). One indignity was the humiliation of carrying one’s own cross, which might weigh as much as 200 pounds. The soldiers would escort the prisoner through the crowds to the place of crucifixion. A placard bearing the indictment would be hung around the person’s neck. Ultimately, it does not matter what Jesus was crucified on. At the same time, the Bible specifically states that Jesus was crucified on a cross.