Questions from Readers
? In view of Thomas? statement in John 20:25, was Jesus impaled with a nail through each hand??J. B., Taiwan (Republic of China).
After Jesus? resurrection he appeared to some of the disciples, but the apostle Thomas was not present. When told what had occurred, Thomas responded: "Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails and stick my finger into the print of the nails and stick my hand into his side, I will certainly not believe." (John 20:25) Since Thomas mentioned nails (plural), some have wondered whether a nail was hammered through each of Christ?s hands.
If we read just the Bible accounts of the actual impalement, we would know very little about how Jesus was impaled. The Gospel writers state only that he was impaled or fastened to the stake. They do not say in their accounts of the impaling how this was accomplished, whether by Christ?s being transfixed with the stake forced through part of the body, by being tied to the pole or by being nailed to it.?Matt. 27:35; Mark 15:25; Luke 23:33; John 19:18.
However, following Jesus? resurrection, Thomas? comment in John 20:25 indicates clearly that Jesus? hands were nailed to the stake. But in what way? We do not know. The Bible does not say whether his hands were nailed one on top of the other with a single nail through them both, or side by side with a separate nail through each. If the latter was the case, Thomas? remark could be understood as applying only to Jesus? hands.
There is, though, another possibility that cannot be ruled out. Many scholars believe that a nail or nails pierced Jesus? feet, fixing them to the post directly or to a small platform attached to the stake. Jesus himself may have referred to wounds in his hands and his feet on another occasion when he appeared to the disciples. So as to convince them that he really was the resurrected Jesus, he said: "See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself." (Luke 24:39) Thomas did not specifically mention Jesus? feet. But his comment about "the print of the nails" may have included Christ?s hands and feet, though only the hands were named. (LOL)
Often in the Watch Tower Society?s publications Jesus has been illustrated as being impaled with a single nail through his two hands and another nail piercing his two feet. This is only an artist?s conception, but it is quite possible that this is how Jesus was impaled.
While such technical matters are of some interest, the major thing to keep in mind about Jesus? death is what it accomplished. (But the stake vs. cross is not a minor technical matter!) One point is that it ended the obligation to keep the Mosaic law, for God took "it out of the way by nailing it to the torture stake." (Col. 2:14) By his integrity to God even during the agony and death on the stake, Jesus proved that out of love humans can serve Jehovah faithfully no matter what temptations and pressures Satan brings. And Jesus? death on the stake provided the ransom, the price to release believing mankind from bondage to sin and death.?1 Tim. 2:5, 6; 2 Cor. 5:14, 15.
(Bold are mine, and my comments in red: first time in many years I highlight a WT article!)