A majority of Christians have been taught
that our Lord Jesus Christ was crucified along with two others, and that
his cross was in between the other two. We have seen many displays,
pictures, monuments, bumper stickers, crosses along the roadside, crosses
in churchyards, and the like - all showing three crosses.
I chose this topic to be the first in a
series of examples of what it means to study God's Word and to rightly
divide it, because it very clearly demonstrates how God has protected His
Word over the centuries and how the truth is still available to those who
hunger and thirst after it. As I discuss on the opening page of
"Topics", we are exhorted by God to study His Word and to
rightly divide it. Although some topics may be difficult to work, and
some verses may be hard to understand, this particular topic and the
supporting verses are quite clear and easily understood. If you can grasp
what I present here, paying close attention to detail and staying your
mind on the fundamental truths we will cover, you will, of necessity,
begin to find yourself in a quandary. Do you continue to believe what you
have been taught, or do you change your mind to bring your believing into
alignment and harmony with God's Word? The choice is always up to you -
but I pray that you will consider the material presented here and that
you will ask God to help you as you study His wonderful, matchless Word.
God would not only have all men to be saved, but that they also know the
[1 Timothy 2:4] Who will have all men to be saved, and
to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
A major reason for so much confusion
regarding the "others" crucified with Jesus is that men have
divided the Word of God to suit themselves, their theology and their
traditions. Anyone who questions church theology becomes suspect. Instead
of going to God's Word and studying it for ourselves to determine if the
theology of the major religions and the traditions of men are correct, we
choose to believe those learned men and women with degrees from Bible
colleges and seminaries. We say that hundreds of years of tradition can't
be wrong - and yet I'll prove to you here that they can be wrong.
Jesus Christ challenged the religious
leaders of his time. One of my favorite sections of God's Word which
clearly puts this in perspective is in Matthew:
[Matthew 15:1] Then came to Jesus scribes and
Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying,  Why do thy disciples
transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands
when they eat bread.  But he [Jesus] answered and said unto them,
Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?
Once you see the error of even one
traditional teaching you may rightly question other teachings. If you
decide that God's Word is truth regarding those crucified with Jesus, and
not the teachings of men, you must also consider what else you have been
taught. Do you know if you are saved? Salvation is a very important
aspect of Christianity - it shouldn't be left to theologians and
traditional teachings. I personally want to know that I know that I know
that I'm saved - that I'm going to heaven and all hell can't stop me. I
want to know beyond a shadow of a doubt. As a matter of fact, I do know
and I have proof in the senses realm, because I have turned to God's Word
for the answers - and you can too! (Salvation, however, will be another
topic for another time...).
Before we get started in our study of the
four crucified with Jesus, making a total of five crucified, let's
discuss the problems created by traditional teachings. The two thieves
and the two malefactors described in God's Word have, by tradition and
the ignorance of Scripture on the part of medieval painters, been made to
be the same. In other words, only two were crucified with Jesus. If we
let this stand we would have a major discrepancy in the Word of God.
Matthew 27:38 and Mark 15:27 clearly state that there were "two
thieves" while Luke 23:32 says "two malefactors."
[Matthew 27:38] Then were there two thieves crucified
with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left.
[Mark 15:27] And with him they crucify two thieves; the
one on his right hand, and the other on his left.
[Luke 23:32] And there were also two other,
malefactors, led with him to be put to death.
Furthermore, both, thieves (or
robbers) reviled Jesus according to Matthew 27:44 and Mark 15:32, while
in Luke 23:39 and 40 only one of the malefactors "railed on
him [Jesus]" while the other malefactor defended Jesus.
[Matthew 27:44] The thieves also, which were crucified
with him, cast the same in his teeth.
[Mark 15:32] Let Christ the King of Israel descend now
from the cross, that we may see and believe. And they that were
crucified with him reviled him.
[Luke 23:39] And one of the malefactors which were
hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.
 But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear
God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?
Another discrepancy taught by tradition is
regarding the two malefactors who were "led with him to be put to
death" according to Luke 23. And when they had arrived at Calvary
they, then and there, "crucified him, and the malefactors, one on
the right hand and the other on the left."
[Luke 23:32] And there were also two other,
malefactors, led with him to be put to death.  And when they were
come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him,
and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.
Yet, Matthew 27 says that after a number of things had
already happened at Calvary, "Then were there two thieves [robbers]
crucified with him."
[Matthew 27:33] And when they were come unto a place called
Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull,  They gave him
vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof,
he would not drink.  And they crucified him, and parted his
garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by
the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture
did they cast lots.  And sitting down they watched him there; 
And set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING
OF THE JEWS.  Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one
on the right hand, and another on the left.
If all of this is synonymous and dealing with two
individuals only, then words have no meaning and language is useless for
the purpose of communication. The Bible then becomes just another book
written by men, full of error and misstatement and not what The Word says
of itself in II Peter 1:21, namely, "...holy men of God spake as
they were moved by the Holy Ghost."
[2 Peter 1:21] For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of
man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy
I am going to list a few Greek words here which are
used in the portion of God's Word we are studying. These words are a very
important preface to our study and are critical to understanding each
duo lestai means "two
robbers" - not thieves (duo meaning two and lestai
duo kakourgoi means "two
malefactors" (duo again meaning two and kakourgoi
allos means "the 'other' or second
of two when and where there may be more."
heteros means "the 'other' or
second of two when and where there are only two."
Another interesting note is that according to the
Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume I:
(If this direct link does not come up correctly, go to this site and search on "Five
Crosses" and/or search for the article entitled "The Cross and
Crucifix in Liturgy)
"The component parts of a fixed altar in the
liturgical sense are the table (mensa), the support (stipes)
and the sepulchrum. The table must be a single slab of stone
firmly joined by cement to the support, so that the table and support
together make one piece. The surface of this table should be perfectly
smooth and polished. Five Greek crosses are engraved on its surface,
one at each of the four corners, about six inches from both edges. but
directly above the support, and one in the centre. The support may be
either a solid mass or it may consist of four or more columns. These must
be of natural stone, firmly joined to the table. The substructure need
not, however, consist of one piece, but should in every case be built on
a solid foundation so as to make the structure permanent..." (Emphasis
This same reference accounts for these by saying
"...the five crosses engraved on it signify His five wounds"
I'm not aware of God's Word describing the specific number of wounds
received by Jesus. We do know that he suffered every physical hurt
imaginable without having any bones broken. The beatings with clenched
fists would have caused large bruises or contusions. The thorns beaten
into his head could cause penetration wounds pouring forth blood. The
flogging and whipping he underwent would cause tremendous lacerations.
There is also reason to believe he may have been raped by the Roman
soldiers. The nails driven into his hands and his feet would cause wounds
of perforation. Also, his side was pierced with a spear. These actions
over the course of the several days he was beaten, tortured, and
crucified would certainly have wounded him many more times than five.
Regardless, I believe God's Word more clearly explains the significance
of these five crosses, which we shall see, because as far as the Roman
Catholic Alter Table is concerned, "...the history of the
origin and development of this practice is not fully worked out" - a
phrase quoted from Appendix 164 of E. W. Bullinger's "The Companion
Bible", which references the Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th
(Cambridge) edition, Volume I, Pages 762, 763.
Continuing on with our study, we want to again note
[Matthew 27:35] And they crucified him, and parted his garments,
casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the
prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did
they cast lots.  And sitting down they watched him there;  And
set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF
THE JEWS.  Then were there two thieves [duo lestai]
crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left.
The King James says "two thieves;" the Greek
words are duo lestai of which duo is two, lestai is
robbers. The Greeks used an entirely different word for thieves, kleptes.
(The English word "kleptomaniac" comes from this Greek word kleptes.
Violence is not usually associated with a kleptomaniac). A thief is one
who acts stealthily while a robber is one who deliberately plans and
openly carries out his dirty work, using violence if necessary. In legal
terms robbery is a worse crime than thievery. Thieves would be punished,
but not by such an extreme sentence as crucifixion. Robbers would receive
a crucifixion sentence because of their more extreme actions. This
distinction is obscured in the King James Version. Duo lestai, two
robbers, were crucified with Jesus after an interim of time.
The Word of God says plainly that the soldiers
crucified Jesus, they parted his garments, sat down and "then [then
is concerned with time] were there two thieves [duo lestai]
crucified with him ..."
[Matthew 27:44] The thieves [duo lestai] also, which were
crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth.
As the bystanders mocked Jesus, the robbers, two of
them, not just one, joined in with the crowd.
The second account of the crucifixion is found in Mark
[Mark 15:24] And when they had crucified him, they parted his
garments, casting lots upon them, what every man should take.  And
it was the third hour, and they crucified him.  And the
superscription of his accusation was written over, THE KING OF THE
JEWS.  And with him they crucify two thieves [duo lestai];
the one on his right hand, and the other on his left.
The two robbers (duo lestai) were crucified after
the garments were parted. After Jesus had been nailed on the cross, the
crowd jeered Jesus.
[Mark 15:32] Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the
cross, that we may see and believe. And they [duo lestai, verse
27] that were crucified with him reviled him.
The Gospels of Matthew and Mark tell about the robbers,
not the malefactors.
[Luke 23:32] And there were also two other, malefactors [duo
kakourgoi], led with him to be put to death.
Luke tells us that there were two malefactors (duo
kakourgoi) led with Jesus when he was led forth to be put to death.
Matthew and Mark concur that there were two robbers (duo lestai)
crucified with him after the garments had been parted and the
soldiers had sat down and were watching what was going on.
The two malefactors (duo kakourgoi) were
crucified at the time Jesus was crucified, while the two robbers (duo
lestai) were crucified later. The malefactors (duo kakourgoi)
were led with him from Pilate's Hall and crucified at the time
Jesus was crucified.
[Luke 23:32] And there were also two other, malefactors [duo
kakourgoi], led with him to be put to death.  And when they
were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified
him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the
The two malefactors were then right next to our Lord
Jesus Christ, one on each side of him.
[Luke 23:39] And one of the malefactors [not both] which were hanged
railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.
Luke tells us that only one malefactor railed on
[Luke 23:40] But the other [the other malefactor] answering rebuked
him [the malefactor], saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art
in the same condemnation?  And we indeed justly; for we receive the
due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.  And
he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy
kingdom.  And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day
shalt thou be with me in paradise.
(NOTE: The comma in this last verse should be
after "To day." since the word paradise is never used to
refer to heaven, is always a place on earth, and is still future)
The Gospel of Matthew, as well as the Gospel of Mark,
record that the robbers both reviled Christ. The Gospel of Luke has only
one reviling Christ and that one is called a malefactor. In Matthew and
Mark the two robbers were not crucified until after Christ's
garments had been divided. In Luke two malefactors were led forth with
Christ from the presence of Pilate and were crucified at the same time as
There is an easy way to understand the Word of God:
read and think. I know this may be difficult in our high-tech age, but we
need to nonetheless give it a try. Instead of believing the mind pictures
we have been conditioned to of three crosses, we must believe what God
tells us in His Word. Two malefactors were crucified with Jesus at the
time he was crucified, and two robbers were crucified with him after the
garments were parted. Of the two malefactors, one was on his right and
the other was on his left; and similarly regarding the two robbers, one
was on his right and the other was on his left. The answer to this
non-problem is obvious. Four were crucified with Jesus.
Every robber is a malefactor (evil-doer), but not every
malefactor (evil-doer) is a robber. If I break the law, I am not
necessarily a robber; but I am a malefactor as defined here. The Word of
God does not tell us what the two malefactors did to deserve crucifixion,
but it does tell us what kind of law-breakers they were, i.e.
The Gospel of John, on the other hand, is not concerned
about the time element when describing the crucifixion account. It does
not provide the when, but instead gives us the where. John
summarizes this subject as follows:
[John 19:17] And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called
the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew
Golgotha:  Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on
either side one, and Jesus in the midst.
There is a little word in John 19:18 which should have
immediately caught our eye, and that is the word "midst". It
means middle. The word "midst" is an important
word here because grammatically one person cannot be crucified in the midst
of two. The use of the word "midst" tells us that four, six or
eight are indicated, as in the middle of the crowd or the thick of the
group. When someone is situated with another on either side, that person
would not be in the midst; he would be between. A person is
between two, but in the midst of four.
If you have an interlinear translation of the Stephens
Greek Text, from which the King James was translated, you can check the
following for yourself. However, to assist you I am including a scanned
image from The Interlinear Greek-English New Testament by George Ricker
Berry, Page 303:
Please note that immediately above the word "one" which
is in brackets, there is no corresponding Greek word. This
indicates that the translators added the word "one".
John 19:18 in the interlinear translation of the
Stephens Greek Text reads "where him they crucified, and with him
others two on this side and on that side [one] and in the middle
Jesus." The word "one" appears in the English, but no
corresponding Greek word is above it. To indicate that the translators
added the word "one" they put it in brackets. If the word
"one" is not in the critical Greek texts, why is it in the King
James? Because by 1611 the Western world had been so indoctrinated by
paintings showing Jesus on the center cross and one evil-doer on either
side of him that when the translators were translating this particular
verse of the nineteenth chapter of John, they inserted the word
"one.". Taking out the added word "one" we do not
touch the original, God-breathed Word and the verse would read in the
King James as follows: "
[John 19:18] Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on
either side, and Jesus in the midst.
Let's read on and see how silly it gets to think that
the soldiers would go to a cross on one side of Jesus, then run around
Jesus and go to the other cross and then come back to Jesus. That's what
they would have had to do if there were only two others crucified with
[John 19:32] Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the
first, and of the other which was crucified with him.  But when
they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not
To focus on how we have been taught about the way the
soldiers went about breaking the legs of the miscalled two thieves: the
soldiers broke the legs of the first; then they must have closed their
eyes so they could bypass Jesus and go around him to the second miscalled
thief; and finally these soldiers came back to Jesus, opened their eyes
and said, "My goodness, he's dead already." This is not logical
and is completely nonsensical.
When you let the Word of God speak to you, with its
inherent and inerrant accuracy, the soldiers came and they broke the legs
of the first and of the other. Going right down the line, the soldiers
came to Jesus in the third place and they found him dead already. When
Jesus was crucified, the two malefactors were next to him, one on each
side, and the robbers were one removed from Jesus, one on each side. So
the soldiers came; they broke the legs of the first, one of the two
robbers, and of the next, one of the two malefactors, and then Jesus was
next in line: "And coming to Jesus they found that he was dead
already." Then it fits perfectly and you don't have to close your
eyes and pretend to run around Jesus and sound foolish and stupid about
it. Here's a graphical representation of the five crosses to help you
replace the traditional, false mind picture, with the true one (I
apologize for showing "traditional" crosses instead of the
straight tree logs which I believe were used - but my graphical design
capabilities are a bit limited...):
Now let's take another look at John 19 and I'll explain
some of the other details contained in the graphic above. "Then came
the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first [a robber], and of the
other [a malefactor] which was crucified with him." The word
"with" in this verse does not indicate the same time. It is the
Greek word sun, meaning "in close proximity with." The
word "him" refers back to the word "first," a robber.
The malefactor was crucified in close proximity with a robber.
The word "other" in verse 32 - "and of
the other which was crucified with him" - is another key to further
substantiate our proof that four men were crucified with Jesus. There are
two words that are translated "other" in the Bible. One word is
the word heteros, and the other Greek word is allos. On
these two words hang all the difference between truth and error. Both heteros
and allos are translated into English as "other" but
their usage is for two different situations. The word "other"
in John 19:32 is allos. The word allos is used when more
than two may be involved. The two malefactors and the two thieves
(robbers) make four. Therefore the soldiers broke the legs of the first
and of the other (allos) of the four involved. This is why the
word allos is used for the word "other".
In Luke 23:32 the English word "other" is
[Luke 23:32] And there were also two other [heteros],
malefactors, led with him to be put to death.
The word for "other" here in this verse is
not the word allos, but it is the word heteros because
there were only two involved - two malefactors. This is the remarkable,
unbelievable accuracy of God's Word. They led the two malefactors with
him; later, after they had crucified Jesus, they parted his garments,
they cast lots, they sat down, they put up an accusation, then finally,
after they had done all of that, they brought the two robbers and they
crucified them. Two plus two make four. When the soldiers came, they
broke the legs of the first and of the other (the allos, of more
than two), but having come to Jesus they found that he was dead already.
Why? Because the prophets of old had prophesied that no bone would be
broken of the savior. The Passover lamb was not to have any broken bones
and Jesus was the Passover lamb that year.
[Psalms 34:20] He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken.
[Exodus 12:46] In one house shall it be eaten; thou shalt not carry
forth ought of the flesh abroad out of the house; neither shall ye
break a bone thereof.
[Numbers 9:12] They shall leave none of it unto the morning, nor
break any bone of it: according to all the ordinances of the passover
they shall keep it.
The Jews of that day and the Roman soldiers did not
take Jesus' life upon Calvary's cross; he laid it down. He, of his own
free will, gave up his life. He didn't die because they crucified him, he
died because he gave himself for you and for me. This is the tremendous
accuracy with which the Word of God fits, like a hand in a glove, and
this is the remarkable usage of the Word of Truth as it develops the
Scriptures by interpreting itself right where it is written.
Again, I ask you - who are you going to believe? Are
you going to believe the doctrines and traditions of men - humans who are
fallible and imperfect - or are you going to believe God and His rightly
divided Word, which is truth? You have to decide because God will never
violate your free will. He will gently and lovingly invite you to
consider the truth of His Word, but He will never make up your mind for
you. You have to make up your own mind that you are going to change your
mind - so that you can prove God. This is what He tells us in Romans:
[Romans 12:2] And be not conformed to this world: but be ye
transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is
that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
We're not doing a study of Romans here, but I can tell
you that the tense of the Greek word used for the word
"renewing", indicates a continuous action. We must be
continuously changing our mind to bring it into alignment and harmony
with God's Word so that we may prove the good, and acceptable, and
perfect will of God.
This study of the five crucified can be used as a
starting point for you because it clearly shows what I mean by working
God's Word from the inside to the outside instead of the traditional way
which is from the outside to the inside (See my Basis
for Bible Study page if you have not already read that). Once you
grasp the concept of working The Word from the inside out, you will begin
a journey into the all truth which will answer many, many questions for
you and you will begin to see why God put His Word above His name (in
other words He underwrote it...).
[Psalms 138:2] I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy
name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified
thy word above all thy name.
Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any
questions about this, or other topics. Click on my e-mail hyperlink here
and I'll get back to you as soon as possible.
Thank you for taking the time to study God's Word. I
pray that He will bless you richly with His bountiful grace and mercy in
the wonderful name of His beloved son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!