Cross, Crucify - Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words

Cross, Crucify

[ A-1,Noun,G4716, stauros ]
denotes, primarily, an upright pale or stake." On such malefactors were nailed for execution. Both the noun and the verb stauroo, "to fasten to a stake or pale," are originally to be distinguished from the ecclesiastical form of a two beamed "cross." The shape of the latter had its origin in ancient Chaldea, and was used as the symbol of the god Tammuz (being in the shape of the mystic Tau, the initial of his name) in that country and in adjacent lands, including Egypt. By the middle of the 3rd cent. A.D. the churches had either departed from, or had travestied, certain doctrines of the Christian faith. In order to increase the prestige of the apostate ecclesiastical system pagans were received into the churches apart from regeneration by faith, and were permitted largely to retain their pagan signs and symbols. Hence the Tau or T, in its most frequent form, with the cross-piece lowered, was adopted to stand for the "cross" of Christ.

As for the Chi, or X, which Constantine declared he had seen in a vision leading him to champion the Christian faith, that letter was the initial of the word "Christ" and had nothing to do with "the Cross" (for xulon, "a timber beam, a tree," as used for the stauros, See under TREE).

The method of execution was borrowed by the Greeks and Romans from the Phoenicians. The stauros denotes
(a) "the cross, or stake itself," e.g., Matthew 27:32;
(b) "the crucifixion suffered," e.g., 1 Corinthians 1:17-18, where "the word of the cross," RV, stands for the Gospel; Galatians 5:11, where crucifixion is metaphorically used of the renunciation of the world, that characterizes the true Christian life; Galatians 6:12, Galatians 6:14; Ephesians 2:16; Philippians 3:18.

The judicial custom by which the condemned person carried his stake to the place of execution, was applied by the Lord to those sufferings by which His faithful followers were to express their fellowship with Him, e.g., Matthew 10:38.

[ B-1,Verb,G4717, stauroo ]
(a) "the act of crucifixion," e.g., Matthew 20:19;
(b) metaphorically, "the putting off of the flesh with its passions and lusts," a condition fulfilled in the case of those who are "of Christ Jesus," Galatians 5:24, RV; so of the relationship between the believer and the world, Galatians 6:14.

[ B-2,Verb,G4957, sustauroo ]
"to crucify with" (su, "for," sun, "with"), is used
(a) of actual "crucifixion" in company with another, Matthew 27:44; Mark 15:32; John 19:32
(b) metaphorically, of spiritual identification with Christ in His death, Romans 6:6; Galatians 2:20.

[ B-3,Verb,G388, anastauroo ]
(ana, again) is used in Hebrews 6:6 of Hebrew apostates, who as merely nominal Christians, in turning back to Judaism, were thereby virtually guilty of "crucifying" Christ again.

[ B-4,Verb,G4362, prospegnumi ]
"to fix or fasten to anything" (pros, "to," pegnumi, "to fix"), is used of the "crucifixion" of Christ, Acts 2:23.

Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words