Calvary

If you read the NAS or NIV or ESV, you will search in vain for the word “Calvary,” even though it has become such a part of Christian vernacular. In fact, this only time this word is ever found is in the King James Version of Luke 23:33, “And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.” The word “Calvary” comes from the Latin word Calvarius, which was used to translate the Greek Kranion. Both words are translations of the Aramaic “Golgotha,” and they all mean “skull” (cf. Matt. 27:33). Modern English translations of Luke 23:33 read like the NAS, “When they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left.”

It is debated as to why the place was called the Skull, whether because the hill looked like a skull, or because there were many skulls found there, or because it was a place of execution. In any event, Calvary has become a part of our vocabulary, a synonym for the place where Jesus died for our sins on the cross. As we prepare to take the Lord’s Supper this coming Lord’s Day, spend time reading again one of the gospel accounts of the death of Jesus.

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