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John 19:19

ESV Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.”
NIV Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: jesus of nazareth, the king of the jews.
NASB Now Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It was written: 'JESUS THE NAZARENE, THE KING OF THE JEWS.'
CSB Pilate also had a sign made and put on the cross. It said: Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.
NLT And Pilate posted a sign on the cross that read, 'Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.'
KJV And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS.

What does John 19:19 mean?

Crucifixion was an act of violation and terror. Victims were subjected to humiliation, their nude, mutilated bodies hung in public, as they slowly died in unimaginable pain. Most often, bodies were left to decay and scavengers. All of this sent a message about Rome's power and dominance. Along with those purposes, crucifixion victims would often be labeled with the crimes, so passers-by would connect those acts with their consequences (John 19:20).

Pilate is the Roman governor who ordered Jesus' execution. He knew Jesus was the innocent victim of a personal feud (John 18:36–38; Matthew 27:24). However, Pilate was also successfully bullied by a mob. His constant references to Jesus as "King of the Jews" (John 19:14–15) have two purposes. One is to preserve Pilate's ego; the crucifixion becomes a powerful Roman leader destroying the king of a lesser nation, instead of a cowardly politician executing the innocent to preserve his own power. The other purpose is more direct: the "crime" for which Rome is executing Christ is insurrection.

The religious leaders who conspired to have Jesus executed (John 11:48–53) will be offended at this label (John 19:21). They don't acknowledge Jesus as King, in any sense (John 5:39–40; Matthew 23:37). Irritating them is probably an extra benefit for Pilate, who will refuse to change the inscription (John 19:22).

Artwork depicting the crucifixion often shortens the inscription. In Latin, the phrase "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews" is Iēsus Nazarēnus Rēx Iūdaeōrum, initialized as I.N.R.I.
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