WHY DOES THE BIBLE SAY THAT JESUS WAS “SLAIN AND HANGED ON A TREE?”
by Shawn Brasseaux
When reading, the diligent Bible student will ask questions. Questions prompt a deeper and more involved reading. Acts 5:30 and Acts 10:39 have unusual language, but they convey a precious truth. The Scriptures say that Jesus died on the cross (Matthew 27:50; Mark 15:37; Luke 23:46; John 19:30), so why did the Holy Ghost through the Apostles indicate that Israel killed Jesus and then crucified Him (Acts 5:30; Acts 10:39)?
Notice, when preaching to the nation Israel’s religious leaders, the Apostle Peter and other apostles said in Acts 5:30, “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree.” When preaching to Cornelius the Roman centurion in Acts 10:39, Peter declared, “And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree:” Why does Scripture twice say that Jesus was slain and then hanged on the cross? Why did these verses not say, “They hanged Jesus on a tree and slew him?” (Which would seem to be more accurate.) Moses provided clues for this strange wording, some 1,500 years earlier.
Deuteronomy 21:18-23 says, “ If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them:  Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place;  And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard.  And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.  And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree:  His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;) that thy land be not defiled, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.”
Israel’s method of execution was stoning, but because she involved the Roman government, Jesus was put to death by crucifixion on a Roman cross. Just as a rebellious son was to be stoned and then hanged on a tree in ancient Israel, Israel treated Jesus as a rebellious son, a heretic and imposter, a blasphemer, and hung Him on a tree (Galatians 3:13, “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:”). Simply put, in their minds, they had “killed” Him long before they hung Him on Calvary. They were just displaying Him for all to see and humiliate Him, to signify that He was cursed of God.
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