Christianity Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for committed Christians, experts in Christianity and those interested in learning more. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

From John 19 (KJV):

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

20 This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin.

21 Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews.

22 Pilate answered, What I have written I have written.

The chief priests appear to be protesting at what Pilate has written, presumably because it appears to be affirming what they wish to deny. They ask him write instead that 'he said, I am King of the Jews' - notably they do not ask him to remove the title altogether, or to write a denial.

Why does Pilate affirm what he has written?

share|improve this question
    
My opinion ("opinion" is why this is a comment and not an answer) is that Pilate had pretty much had it with the chief priests. They made him come out to them in the courtyard because entering his house would defile them. They riled up the crowd to get him to execute Jesus after he had acquitted Him. Now they're complaining about the sign Pilate put at the top of the cross. So Pilate is telling them to get lost. (Is it possible that he used stronger language but the Holy Ghost cleaned it up for the gospel?) – Andreas Blass Apr 5 '14 at 15:34
    
If I remember correctly, Pilate also had his hand slapped a couple of times by Caesar at the request of the Jews and was forced to back down on some administrative issues. It may be that the memory of that also motivated Pilate to leave the sign unchanged. – timf Apr 7 '15 at 18:04
up vote 7 down vote accepted

Crucifixion was more than a method of execution; it was a public execution, and a long, slow, exceptionally painful one at that. Half the point was to make an example of the condemned so they could act as a deterrent.

Part of the process was to identify the person and their crime, which was done by putting a sign on the cross. Thing is, Pilate couldn't actually identify any crime that Jesus had committed. But the Jewish leaders were adamant about sending him to the cross, and when they threatened to raise complaints with Caesar--which they could have done, successfully, as he was not the best of governors--he backed down. Writing "The King of the Jews" on his sign as the reason he was being executed appears to be one last, somewhat passive-aggressive, act of protest against their unfair execution they were forcing him into.

share|improve this answer
    
Thats how I read it too. Why couldn't Pilates just ignore the chief priests and release him though? – Mozibur Ullah Apr 5 '14 at 17:43
    
@MoziburUllah: Their threat to report him to Caesar wasn't just an idle expression of annoyance. He had not governed according to Roman policy, being harsh in his rule and failing to respect the Jewish religion, and they could have gotten him in a lot of trouble. (And his misrule did, in fact, catch up with him not long afterwards, when he was ordered back to Rome after his harsh suppression of a Samaritan rebellion. The Romans preferred to treat their subjugated nations in a more civilized fashion.) – Mason Wheeler Apr 5 '14 at 18:05

Pilate knew he was in front of someone extraordinary. He knew Jesus was innocent but succumbed to the wishes of the crowd out of fear of being reported to Caesar. What he wrote (he personally did, not his secretary) was his statement for history. Pilate's conscience was invaded by doubts and fear. That fear that men have when facing the truth. "Is this man really sent by the Heavens or he is just a lunatic? What do I do? My wife is having dreams about him... what can I do?" Pilate acted like a coward but he was forgiven by God. The people who took Jesus to him (Jews) had greater sin. We don't know for sure if Pilate changed his ways after his encounter with Jesus. Some traditions say he did.

share|improve this answer
4  
What evidence do you have for this interpretation? – curiousdannii Apr 7 '15 at 0:30
1  
Yes, I believe you need to expand on these claims here and support them with logic, scripture, and sources. – fredsbend Apr 7 '15 at 0:44

I concur with the above opinion Pilate knew he was in the presence of someone extraordinary. In vs 10 Pilate reminds Jesus of his power to crucify Him. In vs 11 Jesus tells Pilate "You could have no power at all against Me, except it were given you from above;therefore he that delivered Me to you has the greater sin. At that point I believe Pilate developed ears that hear. Something resonated with Pilate when he heard what Jesus said right then. He already told the Jews he had no issue with Him. In vs 7 the Jews were ranting about their law saying He ought to die because He made Himself the Son of God. vs 8 When Pilate heard that saying, he was more afraid. I don't think it was Caesar that Pilate feared. Pilate's concerns were regarding this Man.

share|improve this answer
2  
Welcome! This answer would be stronger if you focused more on the specific question (why Pilate wrote what he did) and, if possible, included sources showing that this is more than your own analysis. I hope you'll take a minute to take the tour and learn how this site is different from others. – Nathaniel Jan 20 at 16:25

It was what Jesus was charged with - at least the complain the Jewish priests took to the Romans. The Romans usually placed the charge - in this case, claiming to be "King of the Jews" and thus challenging the Roman Emperor and Roman rule - on the top of the cross, to show the people why a person was crusified... probably to discourage other from the same crime.

share|improve this answer

He wrote that to identify the criminal, and in a way, to insult the Jews... It was just a way of saying "here is your king... this is what happens to people who proclaim themselves Jewish kings" hence "The king of the Jews".

share|improve this answer
1  
Welcome! We're glad you are here, but this answer would be much stronger if you showed, with sources, that it doesn't merely reflect your opinion. I hope you'll take a minute to review how this site is different from others, and better understand how your answer can be supported. – Nathaniel Feb 25 at 17:10

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.