August 28, 2005 Q & A

Letters on the Cross


What are the letters printed on top of the cross?


I believe the letters to which you are referring are "INRI." This comes from John 19:19-22:

Pilate wrote a title also, and put it on the cross. There was written, "JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS." Therefore many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek. The chief priests of the Jews therefore said to Pilate, "Don't write, 'The King of the Jews,' but, 'he said, I am King of the Jews.'" Pilate answered, "What I have written, I have written."

This title in Latin is "Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum." That is,

Iesus: Jesus

Nazarenus: of Nazareth

Rex: King

Iudaeorum: of the Jews

This title recognizes who Jesus truly was and is at the very moment he finally fulfilled all that the King of the Jews was to do for his people. He died for the sins of all who place their faith in him so that they would be covered over by his perfect righteousness and sinlessness and not have to be judged by God on their own good behavior (which they do not have). By this work, he made the people of God to be far more than those who are Jews by birth. Rather, the true Jews, the true people of God, are all who believe in Christ for salvation:

If you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Gal. 3:29)

I pray this faith is yours as well, for it makes the Cross of Jesus Christ the source of everlasting hope.



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