Comparing Texts: What Was Written on the Cross?
A good example of how to compare texts that complement rather than contradict each other is found in the words that Pilate, the Roman governor, wrote and placed on the stake of Jesus' crucifixion.
Matthew 27:37 reads, "THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS."
At first glance it might appear none of the authors copied the words on the sign properly. But, when we read each account, we find every one adds a bit more information to the rest. From John we find that Pilate did the writing. From Luke we have additional information as to why these words are different: The inscription was originally written in three languages, Greek, Latin and Hebrew (Luke 23:38). So the variation of the wordings logically would have to do with the three languages used as well as the different point of view of each biographer, stressing slightly different aspects of Christ's life and ministry.
Adding up the wording of the different accounts, we see that the complete message recorded by the signs was "This is Jesus of Nazareth, the king of the Jews."
None of the Gospel accounts contradicts the others; they complement each other to provide increased understanding. A helpful tool for studying Christ's life and ministry is A.T. Robertson's A Harmony of the Gospels, which provides all four Gospel accounts side by side in chronological order.
Careful use of and comparisons between commentaries and other Bible helps can usually resolve such difficulties with a little research.
In addition, should you have questions about the Bible or information published by the United Church of God, please feel free to write to us. Some of your queries may be answered by booklets such as those mentioned in this booklet or other literature. We also have personal correspondents who would be glad to help you as well. Our editorial staff is always happy to serve our readers.
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