On the crucifix there is sometimes a plate above Jesus' head that has the letters INRI. What does INRI mean or stand for? Why is it there?


3 Answers 3


According to John 19:19-20,

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 (KJV, 1769)

The phrase "Jesus the Nazarene, the king of the Jews" was written in three languages: Hebrew (likely Aramaic), Greek, and Latin.

In Aramaic: ישוע נצריא מלכא דיהודיא (see Peshitta)

John 19:20, Syriac Peshitta

In Greek: Ἰησοῦς ὁ Ναζωραῖος ὁ βασιλεὺς τῶν Ἰουδαίων (See Textus Receptus)

John 19:20, Textus Receptus, 1550

In Latin: Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum (See Latin Vulgate)

John 19:20, Latin Vulgate

INRI is an acronym meaning Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum, or "Jesus the Nazarene, the King of the Jews."


The actual inscription on the Cross was written in three languages, Latin, Greek and Aramaic. We know from Scripture that what was actually written was "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews".

The Latin rendering of this has initials I.N.R.I. I know in Greek there is no "J", so "Jesus" and "Jews" is rendered with an "I". The "R" stands for King. The word in French for King is "roi", I believe, which is likely based on Latin.

So, this is the meaning:

  • I = Jesus
  • N = Nazareth
  • R = King
  • I = Jews

There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. 19 Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” 20 Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek. John 19:18-20 ESV

From Elendia: Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum

  • 2
    The second paragraph is extremely speculatory. (And also partly wrong.)
    – Timwi
    Dec 7, 2012 at 8:39

It's the initial letters of the Latin inscription Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews" which Pilate wrote at the Crucifixion.

Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews. John 19:19 NIV

  • 3
    His name is pronounced ee-shoe. There was no letter J in any Bible before the 16th. cent. because it was not in the alphabet. All early Bibles (Vaticanus, Sinaiticus for example) have the nomina sacra of IC. The name "Jesus" did not appear in any Bible until the Protestant groups began printing of Bibles in America. The word Jew was created in the middle ages and used as a pejorative. On the cross it would have been "King of Judea" - the messianic title of a son of David. It is important to be accurate when instructing beginners. Otherwise we may introduce prejudice.
    – Waeshael
    Aug 10, 2013 at 4:18
  • 1
    @Waeshael is there a reason that you chose not to post an answer that you deem to be correct? Jun 23, 2017 at 16:22

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