Basileia, the word for ‘kingdom’, when used in the phrase ‘kingdom of God’ – basileia tou theou – occurs more than 130 times in the New Testament and is especially important in Matthew’s Gospel, where it occurs some 50 times. The word for ‘royal’ in its feminine form, basilike, gave its name to the king’s audience chamber – the basilika – and the characteristic design of this chamber was subsequently adopted by early builders of large churches – known as basilican churches. They were distinguished by a nave that rose higher than the aisles on either side, which might be separated from the nave by a single or double colonnade.
The herb basil, the ‘royal herb’, takes its name from basilike, while basileus gives us the (male) Christian name, ‘Basil’.
The words, ‘This is the King of the Jews’ were placed on the cross in three languages, Hebrew, Greek and Latin – the three sacred languages, according to Isidore of Seville (early 7th century AD).