Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

John 19:19

Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It was written, "JESUS THE NAZARENE, THE KING OF THE JEWS."
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Death;   Indictments;   Inscriptions;   Irony;   Jesus, the Christ;   Jesus Continued;   Superscription (Inscription);   Thompson Chain Reference - Jesus Christ;   Nazareth, Jesus of;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Christ, the King;   Roman Empire, the;  
Dictionaries:
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Crucifixion;   King;   Nazareth;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Persecution;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Christianity;   Humiliation of Christ;   Jesus Christ;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Nazareth;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Cross, Crucifixion;   Jesus, Life and Ministry of;   John, the Gospel of;   Superscription;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Crucifixion;   Nazarene;   Title;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Caesar ;   King (2);   Names and Titles of Christ;   Nazarene (2);   Nazareth ;   Title on the Cross;   Writing (2);   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Nazarene;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Pilate;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Latin;   Nazarene;   Pilate, Pontius;   Superscription;   Title;   Writing;  
Devotionals:
Every Day Light - Devotion for March 5;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Pilate wrote a title - See on Matthew 27:37; (note).

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on John 19:19". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/john-19.html. 1832.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

And Pilate wrote a title also, and put it on the cross. And there was written, JESUS OF NAZARETH; THE KING OF THE JEWS.

The full inscription actually had ten words, thus: THIS IS JESUS OF NAZARETH; THE KING OF THE JEWS, as indicated by a composite of all four Gospel accounts. Matthew recorded eight of the ten, omitting "of Nazareth." Mark gave the last five words, which appear in all four Gospels. Luke omitted "Jesus of Nazareth," giving the other seven; and John gives us eight of the ten words, omitting only the words "this is." This is a perfect example of the type of reporting found in the sacred Gospels. Not one of them gave a word that was not in the inscription; not one of them omitted the final five words; each writer gave it as he remembered it; and no two are exactly the same. A composite of what they all said gives the perfect and complete inscription.

In the light of the above, one can only be astounded and disgusted at the allegations of scholars pontificating about "discrepancies," "contradictions," etc., in the Gospel accounts of the inscription. Even Alfred Plummer complained that "No two Gospels agree as to the wording of the title on the cross."[13] Against such a view, we would present the undeniable truth that all four accounts are in perfect harmony. For full discussion of this, see my Commentary on Matthew (Matthew 27:37).

ENDNOTE:

[13] Alfred Plummer, Commentary on Matthew (London: Elliot Stock, 1909), p. 396.

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
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Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on John 19:19". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/john-19.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And Pilate wrote a title,.... Luke calls it a superscription, Mark, the superscription of his accusation, and Matthew, the accusation itself; it contained the substance of the charge against him, and was written upon a table or board, and nailed to the cross, as Nonnus suggests; to this is the allusion, Colossians 2:14. The form of it was drawn up by Pilate, his judge, who ordered it to be transcribed upon a proper instrument, and placed over him:

and put it on the cross; not with his own hands, but by his servants, who did it at his command; for others are said to do it, Matthew 27:37. It was put upon "the top of the cross", as the Persic version reads it; "over him", or "over his head", as the other evangelists say; and may denote the rise of his kingdom, which is from above, the visibility of it, and the enlargement of it, through the cross:

and the writing was; the words written in the title were,

Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews: Jesus was his name, by which he was commonly called and known, and signifies a Saviour, as he is of all the elect of God; whom he saves from all their sins, by bearing them in his own body on the cross, and of whom he is the able and willing, the perfect and complete, the only and everlasting Saviour: he is said to be of Nazareth; this was the place of which he was an inhabitant; here Joseph and Mary lived before his conception; here he was conceived, though born in Bethlehem; where he did not abide long, but constantly in this place, till he was about thirty years of age; this title was sometimes given him as a term of reproach, though not always: "the King of the Jews"; which both expresses his accusation, and asserts him to be so.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Gill, John. "Commentary on John 19:19". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/john-19.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

6 And Pilate wrote a title, and put [it] on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS.

(6) Christ, sitting upon the throne of the cross, is publicly proclaimed everlasting King of all people by the hand of him who condemned him for usurping a kingdom.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on John 19:19". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/john-19.html. 1599-1645.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Pilate wrote a title also (εγραπσεν και τιτλον ο Πειλατοςegrapsen kai titlon ho Peilatos). Only John tells us that Pilate himself wrote it and John alone uses the technical Latin word titlon (several times in inscriptions), for the board with the name of the criminal and the crime in which he is condemned; Mark (Mark 15:26) and Luke (Luke 23:28) use επιγραπηepigraphē (superscription). Matthew (Matthew 27:37) has simply αιτιανaitian (accusation). The inscription in John is the fullest of the four and has all in any of them save the words “this is” (ουτος εστινhoutos estin) in Matthew 27:37.

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The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
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Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on John 19:19". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/john-19.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Vincent's Word Studies

Title ( τίτλον )

Only here and John 19:20, in the New Testament. John uses the technical Roman term titulus, a placard or notice. Used for a bill or notice of sale affixed to a house. Thus Ovid, of a heartless creditor: “She sent our household goods under the placard (sub-titulum )i.e., put the house and furniture up for sale (“Remedia Amoris,” 302). Meaning also the title of a book; an epitaph. Matthew has αἰτίαν , accusation; Mark, ἐπιγραφὴ τῆς αἰτίας superscriptionof the accusation; Luke, ἐπιγραφὴ superscriptionJohn alone mentions the fact that Pilate wrote the inscription.

Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews

The wording of the title is differently given by each Evangelist.

Matthew: This is Jesus the King of the Jews.

Mark: The King of the Jews.

Luke: This is the King of the Jews.

John: Jesus the Nazarene the King of the Jews.

The essential element of the superscription, King of the Jews, is common to all. It expressed, on its face, the main intent of Pilate, which was to cast contempt on the Jews. “In the sense of the man Pilate, it meant: Jesus, the King of the Jewish fanatics, crucified in the midst of Jews, who should all be thus executed. In the sense of the Jews: Jesus, the seditionary, the King of the rebels. In the sense of the political judge: Jesus, for whose accusation the Jews, with their ambiguous accusation, may answer. In the sense of the divine irony which ruled over the expression: Jesus, the Messiah, by the crucifixion become in very truth the King of the people of God” (Lange).

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Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on John 19:19". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/vnt/john-19.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS.

Jesus of Nazareth, the king of the Jews — Undoubtedly these were the very words, although the other evangelists do not express them at large.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on John 19:19". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/john-19.html. 1765.

The Fourfold Gospel

And Pilate wrote a title also, and put it on the cross1. And there was written, JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS.

  1. And Pilate wrote a title also, and put it on the cross See .

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website. These files were made available by Mr. Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.
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J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton. "Commentary on John 19:19". "The Fourfold Gospel". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tfg/john-19.html. Standard Publishing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio. 1914.

Abbott's Illustrated New Testament

This inscription is recorded by the evangelists in the following forms:--

"This is Jesus the King of the Jews," . . . . . . . .

Matthew 27:37

"The King of the Jews," . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Mark 15:26

"This is the King of the Jews," . . . . . . . . . .

Luke 23:38

"Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews," . . . . . .

John 19:19

A very important principle is illustrated by this diversity, viz., that it is the custom of the sacred writers to use the form of a quotation of words from others, when, in fact, the words are their own, used only to express in a more distinct and vivid manner the general ideas of their own minds. This was their mode of relating events,--clothing their own conceptions of the facts in language attributed to the actors. Even where they are recording real dialogue, they give the substance of what is said, in their own words. A comparison of the different accounts of the same conversation, recorded by the different evangelists, as, for example, the institution of the Lord's supper, the dialogue with Pilate, and any other case where the same dialogue is given by more than one evangelist, places this principle beyond question. It is a principle of fundamental importance, satisfactorily disposing of, as it does, a very large portion of the verbal discrepancies in the New Testament.

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Abbott, John S. C. & Abbott, Jacob. "Commentary on John 19:19". "Abbott's Illustrated New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ain/john-19.html. 1878.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

Написал и надпись. Евангелист упоминает о достопамятном поступке Пилата, совершенном после вынесения приговора. Общепринятым было прилагать надписи на месте казни преступников, дабы причина их кары была известна всем. Однако в случае со Христом необычно то, что надпись не содержит в Себе чего-то позорящего. Пилат намеревался осудить этим в лице Христа весь иудейский народ. Так он хотел косвенно отомстить иудеям, которые своей настойчивостью заставили его казнить невиновного. Посему он и не указал, в чем конкретно был виновен Христос. Однако провидение Божие, управлявшее пером Пилата, смотрело гораздо выше. Пилату не приходила мысль прославлять Христа как автора спасения, как Назорея Божия и Царя избранного народа, но Бог продиктовал ему, не знавшему, что пишет, эту Евангельскую весть. По тому же тайному внушению от Духа вышло так, что Пилат написал сразу на трех языках. Маловероятно, чтобы так было принято, но Господь показал этой сценой, что настало время повсюду возвестить имя Своего Сына.

 

 

 

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on John 19:19". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/john-19.html. 1840-57.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

19 And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS.

Ver. 19. Jesus of Nazareth, &c.] To persuade the people to bow superstitiously at the name of Jesus, Papists commonly (but ridiculously) teach in their pulpits, that Christ himself on the cross bowed his head on the right side, to reverence his own name, which was written over it; as Sir Edwin Sands relates from his own experience.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on John 19:19". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/john-19.html. 1865-1868.

Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

Observe here, 1. The inscription wrote by Pilate over our suffering Saviour: This is Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews. It was the manner of the Romans, when they crucified a malefactor, to publish the cause of his death in capital letters over his head, that so the equity of their proceedings might more clearly appear to the people.

Now it is observable how wonderfully the wisdom of God overruled the heart and pen of Pilate to draw this title, which was truly honourable, and fix it to his cross. Pilate, who before was his judge, and pronounced him innocent, is now his herald to proclaim his glory.

Learn hence, that the regal dignity of Christ was openly proclaimed by an enemy, and that in the time of his greatest reproaches and sufferings. Pilate, without his own knowledge, did our Saviour an eminent piece of service; he did that for Christ, which none of his own disciples durst do: not designedly, but from the special overruling providence of God. No thanks to Pilate for all this; because the highest services performed to Christ undesignedly, shall neither be accepted nor rewarded by God.

Observe, 2. How the Jews endeavour to alter this: Write not, the king of the Jews: but that he said, I am the King of the Jews. The Jews thought it would be a disgrace to them, that Christ should be reported abroad to have been their king, therefore they desire an alteration of the writing. But Pilate, that wrote in honour of Christ, stiffly defends what he had done: to all their importunity he returns this resolute answer, what I have written, I have written.

Surely the constancy of Pilate, at this time, must be attributed to special divine providence. How wonderful was it, that he who before was as inconstant as a reed, should now be fixed as a pillar of brass!

Whence is this, but from the God of spirits moving upon his spirit to write, and to defend what was written! The providence of God hath a prospect beyond the understanding of all creatures.

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Burkitt, William. "Commentary on John 19:19". Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wbc/john-19.html. 1700-1703.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

19.] Matthew 27:37.

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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on John 19:19". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/john-19.html. 1863-1878.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

John 19:19. ἔγραψε, wrote) not caring what would he likely to please the Jews.— ἰησοῦς ναζωραῖος βασιλεὺς τῶν ἰουδαίων, Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews) Mark expressed the predicate alone, the King of the Jews; Luke also the same, prefixing, This is [See my note, Luke 23:38]; Matthew, This is Jesus the King of the Jews. John expresses the actual words of Pilate, which without doubt were the same in the three tongues.

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on John 19:19". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/john-19.html. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

See Poole on "Matthew 27:37".

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on John 19:19". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/john-19.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

19.Pilate wrote a title—Pilate (doubtless by the hand of a writer) prepared this title, with the careful purpose of another and final sarcasm upon the Jews. It was probably borne upon the person of Jesus while going to execution, and then fastened upon the cross.

 

 

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on John 19:19". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/john-19.html. 1874-1909.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

John 19:19. And Pilate also wrote a title, and put it on the cross; and there was written, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS. The object, as before, was to do despite to the Jews, not to Jesus. To the last moment their terrible crime must, under the overruling providence of God, be brought home to them.

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on John 19:19". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/john-19.html. 1879-90.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

John 19:19. . “And Pilate wrote a ‘title,’ also, and set it on the cross.” The “title,” , was a board whitened with gypsum ( , ) such as were commonly used for public notices. Pilate himself, meaning to insult the Jews, ordered the precise terms of the inscription. , “a title also,” in addition to all the other insults he had heaped on them during the trial.

 

 

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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on John 19:19". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/john-19.html. 1897-1910.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

is the king, not of the Jews only, but of the Gentiles also. But it is not without reason, that he is called king of the Jews. For they were the true olive (Romans xi.); and we, the wild olive, have been ingrafted, and made partakers of the virtue of the true olive. Christ, therefore, is the king of the Jews, circumcised, not in the flesh, but in the heart, not according to the letter, but the spirit. (St. Augustine, tract. 118. in Joan.)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on John 19:19". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/john-19.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

And = Moreover.

wrote. John alone mentions that Pilate wrote it himself. See App-163.

on. Greek. epi. App-104.

the writing was = it was written.

OF NAZARETH = the Nazarene. See John 18:5.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on John 19:19". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/john-19.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS.

And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on John 19:19". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/john-19.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(19) Comp. Notes on Matthew 27:37; Mark 15:26; Luke 23:38. St. John speaks of the title placed over the cross. This was the common Roman name for an inscription of the kind, which was meant to give information of the crime for which the sentence of crucifixion had been given. St. Matthew calls it the “accusation;” St. Mark, “the superscription of the accusation;” St. Luke, “the superscription.” (Comp. Luke 23:38.) The inscription varies in word, though not in sense, in each of the narratives; i.e., the Evangelists, in dealing with a written inscription, in which there could have been neither doubt nor difficulty, have not been careful to give us the exact words. The fact is significant, as bearing upon the literary characteristics of the Gospels, and upon the value which the writers set upon exact accuracy in unimportant details. The reason of the variations may, of course, be traced to the fact that one or more of the accounts may be a translation from the Hebrew inscription.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on John 19:19". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/john-19.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS.
wrote
Matthew 27:37; Mark 15:26; Luke 23:38
And the
The apparent discrepancy between the accounts of this title given by the Evangelists, which has been urged as an objection against their inspiration and veracity, has been most satisfactorily accounted for by Dr. Townson; who supposes that, as it was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, it might have slightly varied in each language; and that, as Luke and John wrote for the Gentiles, they would prefer the Greek inscription, that Matthew, addressing the Jews, would use the Hebrew, and that Mark, writing to the Romans, would naturally give the Latin.
JESUS
3,12; 1:45,46,49; 18:33; Acts 3:6; 26:9
Reciprocal: Psalm 149:2 - let the;  Jeremiah 30:21 - governor;  Zephaniah 3:15 - the king;  Matthew 2:2 - born;  Matthew 2:23 - Nazareth;  Matthew 25:34 - the King;  Mark 10:47 - Jesus;  Mark 14:67 - Jesus;  Mark 16:6 - Jesus;  Luke 18:37 - Jesus;  John 12:13 - the King;  John 18:5 - Jesus;  John 19:14 - Behold;  Acts 2:22 - Jesus

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on John 19:19". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/john-19.html.

Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms

Ver. 19. "And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS."— τίτλος, titulus, was the judicial name of the superscription. That St John gives the technical term, is in harmony with the significance which he attached to the whole matter. Naturally, the superscription was written and placed on the cross only at Pilate's order. "The King of the Jews:" a voice in Pilate's heart spoke in favour of His being so in reality. He had already done enough at the bidding of the Jews. In the consciousness of his injustice to Christ, he would not further afflict Him by charging Him in His death with making a presumptuous claim. Yet the determinations of men, especially of such men as Pilate, in whom diversified motives and impulses cross each other, are not to be reckoned upon. That this resolution, however, was held firmly, in spite of the counter influence of the Jews, was regarded by St John as resulting from the influence of God, who holds the hearts of men in His hands. Lampe: We believe that Pilate piously wrote this title under a certain Divine impulse.

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Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on John 19:19". Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/heg/john-19.html.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

19.And Pilate wrote also a title. The Evangelist relates a memorable action of Pilate, after having pronounced the sentence. It is perhaps true that it was customary to affix titles, when malefactors were executed, that the cause of the punishment might be known to all, and might serve the purpose of an example. But in Christ there is this extraordinary circumstance, that the title which is affixed to him implies no disgrace; for Pilate’s intention was, to avenge himself indirectly on the Jews, (who, by their obstinacy, had extorted from him an unjust sentence of death on an innocent man,) and, in the person of Christ, to throw blame on the whole nation. Thus he does not brand Christ with the commission of any crime.

But the providence of God, which guided the pen of Pilate, had a higher object in view. It did not, indeed, occur to Pilate to celebrate Christ as the Author of salvation, and the Nazarene of God, and the King of a chosen people; but God dictated to him this commendation of the Gospel, though he knew not the meaning of what he wrote. It. was the same secret guidance of the Spirit that caused the title to be published in three languages; for it is not probable that this was an ordinary practice, but the Lord showed, by this preparatory arrangement, that the time was now at hand, when the name of his Son should be made known throughout the whole earth.

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on John 19:19". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/john-19.html. 1840-57.