We read in Jn 19:19(KJV):

Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was Jesus Of Nazareth The King Of The Jews.

In some other versions like LSB, it reads as JESUS THE NAZARENE.

In the New Testament, Nazarene was a title applied to Jesus and, later, to those who followed his teachings (Acts 24:5). In the Greek text there appear two forms of the word: the simple form, Nazarēnos, meaning “of Nazareth,” and the peculiar form, Nazōraios. Before its association with the locality, this latter term may have referred to a Jewish sect of “observants,” or “devotees,” and was later transferred to the Christians(Courtesy: britannica.com)

A doubt arises as to why the locality of Nazareth by which Jesus was popularly known,was of significance to the Roman Governor. But in case Pilate had in mind the term Nazoraios, he intended to project Jesus as a devotee and observant of Jewish Law, and not as someone who took up arms and revolted like the Zealots. That possibility is evident where Pilate advocates for release of Jesus as the crowd shouts for the release of Barabbas who had been in prison for armed revolt ( Lk 23:22-25) My question therefore, is: What does 'N' in INRI actually stand for?

  • Does this answer your question? Is there any connection between the words "Nazarene" and "Nazarite"?
    – Michael16
    Dec 10, 2023 at 7:11
  • Thanks , Michael 16. By tradition, we are taught to believe that Pilate referred to Nazarath from which Jesus hailed. But it is quite possible that he did intend the pun, and stood by what he had been saying: that Jesus was an innocent man. My question therefore is on the subtle nuances of the term Nazarene, as was used by Pilate. Dec 10, 2023 at 7:43
  • Pun is a modern rhetoric joke. Jesus was indeed Nazarene.
    – Michael16
    Dec 10, 2023 at 8:12
  • Thanks, Michael16. Pun, in the capacity of a Figure of Speech, refers to words and phrases that can have more than one, sometimes contradicting, meaning. Dec 10, 2023 at 8:44
  • Yes, it is a very modern kind of figure of speech.
    – Michael16
    Dec 10, 2023 at 9:29

1 Answer 1


INRI is the abbreviation for the Latin part of the title on the Pilate's cross titulus which reads (John 19:19 in the Latin Vulgate of both the Clementine text and Jerome's text)

Iesus Nazarenus, Rex Iudæorum = INRI (Jesus of Nazareth King of Jews)

That is, N stands for Nazarenus

The original Greek reads:

Ἰησοῦς ὁ Ναζωραῖος ὁ βασιλεὺς τῶν Ἰουδαίων

In this case, Ναζωραῖος is Nominative masculine singular - the same as the Latin word "Nazarenus".

Other declensions in the NT include:

  • Ναζωραίου = genitive masc. singular (eg, Matt 26:71)
  • Ναζωραῖον = accusative masc. singular (eg, John 18:5, 7)

It is also true that Ναζωραῖος (nominative masc. singular) could also be translated "Nazarene" or "Nazareth", eg, Matt 2:23.

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