The Unspeakable Horror and Disgust of the Cross – FF Bruce

It is difficult for us, after so many Christian centuries during which the cross has been venerated as a sacred symbol, to realize the unspeakable horror and disgust that the mention or indeed the very thought of the cross provoked.  By the Jewish law anyone who was crucified died under the curse of God (Gal 3:13, quoting Deut 21:23).  In polite Roman society the word “cross” was an obscenity, not to be uttered in conversation.  Even when a man was being sentenced to death by crucifixion, an archaic formula was used that avoided the pronouncing of this four-letter word – as it was in Latin (crux).  This utterly vile form of punishment was that which Jesus endured, and by enduring it he turned that shameful instrument of torture into the object of his followers’ proudest boast.  “May I never boast,” said Paul (by contrast with other people’s grounds of boasting), “except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Gal 6:14)…

FF Bruce, Philippians


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