The question of where the nails were placed goes to the question of whether Jesus was crucified on a cross, pole, or stake. Some scientists have suggested that if He was crucified on a cross, as tradition states, the hands would not have been strong enough to hold His weight. Therefore, they suggest that the nails were actually in His wrists, which are considered stronger and more capable of holding His weight. Others have posited that the hands would have been strong enough, considering that His feet were also nailed and would have supported some of His weight. There is also some historical evidence that sometimes a cross would have sort of a seat to help support the crucified person’s weight.
While historical scholars are uncertain of the nail placement in Jesus’ crucifixion, or anyone else’s for that matter, the Bible simply says that Jesus had wounds in His hands (John 20:25-27). The Greek word translated “hands” is cheir, which means literally “hands.” There is no Greek word for “wrists” in the New Testament, even though some versions translate Acts 12:7 to say that the chains fell off Peter’s wrists. But the Greek word in this verse is also cheir.
It’s possible that the nails may have been angled to enter through the hand and exit through the wrist, but it’s just as likely that the nails were driven straight through the hand somewhere near the base of the thumb. Experiments have shown that both ways do work and either way could have been used in the crucifixion of Jesus.
Spiritually, the wounds of Christ hold infinite significance to us and are a part of His glory, but their exact location is a minor issue. We know that there are five wounds—the hands, the side, and the feet. Although we don’t know exactly where on the hands or the side or the feet, we do know that by His wounds, we are healed (Isaiah 53:5; 1 Peter 2:24). The wounds on His body brought about spiritual healing from sin to all who would ever believe in Him.