Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Often, in churches you will see the acronym INRI used on hangings, stained glass, wood carvings and other forms of art.  One of the recourses I use for preparing sermons suggested that I explain what INRI means.  So, I looked it up and here’s what I found out:

It is an acronym of the Latin phrase, Iesus Nazarenus, Rex Iudaeorum, which means "Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews". This phrase appears in John’s Gospel (19:19).  

Each of the Gospels differ slightly about what is written on the cross: Matthew, "This is Jesus, the King of the Jews"(27:37); Mark, "The King of the Jews"(15:26); and Luke, "This is the King of the Jews" (23:38). Both John and Luke say it was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, but Matthew and Mark say it was the charge brought against Jesus. In John’s Gospel (19:19-20), the inscription is written by Pilate, and put on the cross. And many of the Jews could read it because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city. 

According to all four Gospels, Pilate asked Jesus to deny that he was the "King of the Jews" but he refused to deny the accusation. According to John, the chief priests asked Pilate to change the inscription so that it did not say "the King of the Jews", but rather, "This man said he was the King of the Jews." Pilate refused to make the change. (John 19:20-22)

Many crucifixes and other depictions of the crucifixion of Jesus include a stylized plaque or parchment, called a titulus, bearing the Latin letters INRI.  In the East (both Eastern Catholics and Eastern Orthodox) use the Greek letters INBI.

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