Questions From Readers
● Where other Bible translations use “cross” the New World Translation usually uses “stake,” but in some places it uses “tree,” as at Acts 5:30 in the margin. Why is this?—W. M., United States.
In the Bibles of Christendom in general the Greek word that is translated “cross” is the word staurós. Originally this was used to mean simply a stake or a pole, that is, one without a crossbeam. That this is the proper meaning of the word when referring to the instrument that Jesus was hung upon is shown by the fact that the apostles Peter and Paul sometimes referred to it as a tree, namely, in Acts 5:30, Acts 10:39, Acts 13:29, Galatians 3:13 and; 1 Peter 2:24. The Greek word here translated “tree” is the word xylon, from which we get the word “xylophone,” an instrument of music made of wooden pieces. However, this Greek word xylon does not refer to a live tree growing in the ground and producing fruits. For a live, growing fruit-bearing tree the Greeks used another word, namely, dendron, from which we get the English word “dendrology,” meaning the science of trees. Dendron is the Greek word used in such verses as Matthew 3:10; 7:17, 18, 19; 12:33; 13:32; 21:8. Also Mark 8:24; 11:8; Luke 3:9; Jude 12; Revelation 7:1, 3; 8:7; 9:4.
So the Greek-speaking people of old did not refer to the torture stake of Jesus as a live tree or dendron, but as a xylon. So this xylon corresponds with a log or a staff. In fact, the word is translated “staff” or “staves” in Matthew 26:47, 55; Mark 14:43, 48; Luke 22:52. (AV) Certainly the xylon that the mob which came to take Jesus under arrest used was not a cross, nor was it a live tree rooted in the ground. Sometimes because of the wood of which a tree is composed, or which is taken from a tree, even a live tree may be called a xylon. In this case the reading matter around the word would indicate whether it is a dead tree or a live one, as for instance at Luke 23:31; Revelation 2:7; 22:2, 14.
As you can see, therefore, the above discussion bears out the fact that the torture stake or tree upon which Jesus was impaled was not a cross, or a log with a crossbeam, as Christendom teaches, but was a straight, erect pole or log or stick and did not correspond with the phallic symbol of the cross.
● I have been told that the New World Translation breaks rules of grammar when it translates Philippians 2:5, 6: “Keep this mental attitude in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although he was existing in God’s form, gave no consideration to a seizure, namely, that he should be equal to God.” A clergyman in Alaska told me this is mistranslated to hide the teaching of trinity. Does the New World Translation break rules of grammar in order to render these verses in this way, which indicates that, as a spirit creature in heaven, before coming to earth and living as a man, Christ Jesus was not equal to Jehovah God?—J. F., United States.
The rendering of Philippians 2:5, 6 found in the New World Translation does not violate any rules of grammar, and furthermore the rendering is in harmony with the teaching of the rest of the Scriptures that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and not God himself, not God Almighty. That Jesus Christ before his coming to earth did not possess equality with God we can prove by other translations of the Scriptures.
For instance, the Revised Standard Version published in 1952 reads: “Have this mind among yourselves, which you have in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped.”
The Emphatic Diaglott by Benjamin Wilson published about a hundred years ago reads: “Let this disposition be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus, who, though being in God’s form, yet did not meditate a usurpation to be like God.”
An American Translation published by Smith and Goodspeed reads: “Have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he possessed the nature of God, he did not grasp at equality with God.”
The New Testament in an Improved Version upon the basis of Archbishop Newcome’s new translation published in 1808 reads: “For let this mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus also: who, being in the form of God, did not eagerly grasp at the resemblance to God.”
The Emphasised Bible by J. Rotherham reads: “The same thing esteem in yourselves which also in Christ Jesus ye esteem, who in form of God subsisting, not a thing to be seized accounted the being equal with God.”
The Riverside New Testament translated by William G. Ballantine, D.D., reads: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not think that equality with God was some thing to be grasped.”
Note that none of these translations that are here quoted says that Jesus possessed equality with God in heaven before becoming a man. He did not imitate the Devil’s example, who tried to make himself like God, to be equal with God. Other modern translations can be found to support the foregoing presentation. The trouble with those translations that try to make it appear that Jesus possessed equality with God in heaven before becoming a man is that they insert the small pronoun “it” into their English translations, such as the King James Version: “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” The pronoun “it” is not in the original Greek.