Luke 23:38
And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.
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(38) And a superscription.—See Note on Matthew 27:38.

Luke 23:38. A superscription also was written over him, &c. — THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS — No transposition is necessary here: for Luke does not tell us when the superscription was written, so far is he from saying that it was written after Jesus was mocked. He only observes in general that there was a title placed over him, and by mentioning it together with the insults, insinuates that it was one of them. The Evangelist John has marked the particular time when the title was written and affixed, Luke 19:9. See notes on Matthew 27:37-38.23:32-43 As soon as Christ was fastened to the cross, he prayed for those who crucified him. The great thing he died to purchase and procure for us, is the forgiveness of sin. This he prays for. Jesus was crucified between two thieves; in them were shown the different effects the cross of Christ would have upon the children of men in the preaching the gospel. One malefactor was hardened to the last. No troubles of themselves will change a wicked heart. The other was softened at the last: he was snatched as a brand out of the burning, and made a monument of Divine mercy. This gives no encouragement to any to put off repentance to their death-beds, or to hope that they shall then find mercy. It is certain that true repentance is never too late; but it is as certain that late repentance is seldom true. None can be sure they shall have time to repent at death, but every man may be sure he cannot have the advantages this penitent thief had. We shall see the case to be singular, if we observe the uncommon effects of God's grace upon this man. He reproved the other for railing on Christ. He owned that he deserved what was done to him. He believed Jesus to have suffered wrongfully. Observe his faith in this prayer. Christ was in the depth of disgrace, suffering as a deceiver, and not delivered by his Father. He made this profession before the wonders were displayed which put honour on Christ's sufferings, and startled the centurion. He believed in a life to come, and desired to be happy in that life; not like the other thief, to be only saved from the cross. Observe his humility in this prayer. All his request is, Lord, remember me; quite referring it to Jesus in what way to remember him. Thus he was humbled in true repentance, and he brought forth all the fruits for repentance his circumstances would admit. Christ upon the cross, is gracious like Christ upon the throne. Though he was in the greatest struggle and agony, yet he had pity for a poor penitent. By this act of grace we are to understand that Jesus Christ died to open the kingdom of heaven to all penitent, obedient believers. It is a single instance in Scripture; it should teach us to despair of none, and that none should despair of themselves; but lest it should be abused, it is contrasted with the awful state of the other thief, who died hardened in unbelief, though a crucified Saviour was so near him. Be sure that in general men die as they live.In letters of Greek ... - See the notes at Matthew 27:37.Lu 23:32-38, 44-46. Crucifixion and Death of the Lord Jesus.

(See on [1738]Joh 19:17-30).

See Poole on "Luke 23:34" And a superscription also was written,.... Containing the crime he was charged with, and accused of; See Gill on Matthew 27:37; See Gill on John 19:19; See Gill on John 19:20. {11} And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.

(11) Pilate is unknowingly made a preacher of the kingdom of Christ.

Luke 23:38. ἐπʼ αὐτῷ, over Him, i.e., above His head; or in reference to Him (Bleek). The ἐπιγραφὴ is viewed by Lk. as also an insult, crowning the others (ἦν δὲ καὶ), to which answers its form as in W. and H[199]: ὁ βασιλεὺς τ. . οὗτος= the King of the Jews this (crucified person).

[199] Westcott and Hort.38. a superscription] A tilulus written in black letters on a board smeared with white gypsum, and therefore very conspicuous. To put such a board over the head of a crucified person was the ordinary custom. The jeers of the soldiers were aimed at the Jews in general quite as much as at the Divine Sufferer; and these jeers probably first opened the eyes of the priests to the way in which Pilate had managed to insult them.

in letters of Greeks and Latin, and Hebrew] This is omitted in א, B, L, and some ancient versions, though the fact is undoubted from John 19:20. Thus the three great languages of the ancient world—the languages of Culture, of Empire, and of Religion—bore involuntary witness to Christ.

This is the King of the Jews] The superscription is given differently by each Evangelist. St Luke perhaps gives the peculiarly scornful Latin form. “Rex Judaeorum hie est.” The other Evangelists give

This is Jesus the King of the Jews. Matthew 27:37.

The King of the Jews. Mark 15:26.

Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews. John 19:19.

Although no serious and sensible writer would dream of talking about ‘a discrepancy’ here, it is very probable that the differences arise from the different forms assumed by the Title in the three languages. We may then assume that the Title over the Cross was as follows:

ישו הנצרי מלך היהודים: John.

Ὁ βασιλεὺς τῶν Ἰουδαίων.: Mark.

Rex Judaeorum hic est.: Luke.

It will be seen that St Matthew’s is an accurate combination of the three, not one of which was an accusation.

It was only while the Priests were deriding Christ that it began to dawn on them that Pilate, even in angrily yielding to their violent persistence, had avenged himself in a way which they could not resent, by a deadly insult against them and their nation. This was their King, and this was how they had treated Him. Thus our Lord reigned even on His Cross, according to the curious old reading of Psalm 96:10, ἐβασίλευσεν ἀπὸ τοῦ ξύλου (LXX.), Regnavit a ligno. (See Life of Christ, 1.12, n.) For the attempt of the Priests to get the superscription altered

In refusing it Pilate shewed the insolence and obstinacy which Philo attributes to him. The actual title was a glorious testimony to Jesus and an awful reproach to the Jews. Psalm 2:6. Thus His Cross becomes, as St Ambrose says, His trophy; the gibbet of the Malefactor becomes the feretrum—the spoil-bearing sign of triumph—of the Victor. See this alluded to in Colossians 2:14-15. (Life of St Paul, II. 461.)Luke 23:38. Ἦν δὲ καὶ, now there wets also) The mention of His Kingship joins the 37th and 38th verses.—γράμμασιν, in letters) There are still, to the present day, three languages in particular, to which they who learn and preach Christ are bound to devote their attention—Hebrew, Greek, and Latin.—Ἑβραϊκοῖς, Hebraic, of Hebrew) In John 19:20, the Hebrew is placed first in order. Luke enumerates the languages in the order in which Pilate had arranged them.[261] That order was [if one is disposed to admit of conjecture.—Harm., p. 567] Greek, Latin, Hebrew. John arranges them according to the custom of the Hebrews, in the order of their nature and dignity. Both however adopt that order, in which Christ and His cross and kingdom were subsequently preached. The beginning was made in the Hebrew tongue: in the last times the Hebrews shall have the first place (the most prominent part to fill). The Roman tongue never occupied the first place; nor is it destined, after the destruction of Rome, to remain in great vigour.

[261] Townson, in his Harmony of the Gospels, shows the probability that Matthew gave the Hebrew inscription, as in other particulars his Gospel has most of an Hebraic character, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS. Mark, in accordance with the Latin or Roman aspect of his Gospel, probably gave the Latin inscription, THE KING OF THE JEWS; and so no foreign word is found in this, supposing that this is the Latin. Pilate would scorn to introduce any word from another tongue in the inscription written in the language of dominant Rome. The brevity, too, accords with the genius both of the Latin and of the Evangelist’s own style. Luke follows Mark with This is (οὖτός ἐστιν, verse 35), brought down from above, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. Thus the Greek is left for John, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS. But Bengel’s view, given in the note, John 19:19, that the words were the same in the three languages, is perhaps more probable. See his note.—E. and T.Verse 38. - And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. The older authorities omit "in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew," but the fact is indisputable, for we read the same statement in John 19:20, where in the older authorities the order of the titles is, "in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek." Such multilingual inscriptions were common in the great provincial cities of the empire, where so many nationalities were wont to congregate. The four reports of the inscriptions slightly differ verbally, not substantially. Pilate probably (see note on ver. 33, on effect of accurate rendering of John 19:19, "and Pilate wrote a title also") wrote a rough draft with his own hand, "Rex Ju-daeorum hic est." One of the officials translated freely into Hebrew and Greek the Roman governor's Latin memorandum of what he desired to have written in black on the white gypsum-smeared board to be affixed to the upper arm of the cross. ישו הנצרי מלך היהודים (John).
Ὁ βασιλεὺς τῶν Ιουδαίων (Mark).
Rex Judaeorum hic est (Luke). Dr. Farrar suggests that the title over the cross was as above. St. Matthew's is an accurate combination of the three, and was not improbably, as a combination of the three inscriptions, the common form reproduced in the first oral Gospel. Superscription

See on Mark 15:26.

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