Political Question About Paying Taxes

Many years ago we decided to build a house and pay for it by renting out the two mobile homes we had joined together and were living in. Since we didn’t want to rent to people who were not married and just living together I would always ask if they were married. Once we rented to … More

Political Question

The crowd was very deceptive. The day was still Tuesday. The scene was still the temple. The Lord’s enemies were smarting from the series of parables Jesus had given. They decided to try to trap Him through a series of “loaded” questions (v. 15). The Herodians (v. 16) were a party that favored the dynasty of Herod and stood for the Roman connection. They didn’t care much for religion and were normally bitterly opposed by the Pharisees. They hoped to trap Him into saying something that would permit them to arrest Him. There are four questions in this chapter:

1.A political question about taxes (v. 15-22). - Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar?

2.A doctrinal question about resurrection (v. 23-33). - Whose wife will she be?

3.An ethical question about law (v. 34-40). - Which is the great commandment in the law?

4.A personal question about the Messiah (v. 41-46). - Whose son is Christ?

Before asking Him their first political question these enemies said several nice things about Him (v. 16). Then they asked, “Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not” (v. 17)? They thought they had trapped Him. If He opposed the tax He would be in trouble with Rome. If He approved the tax, He would be in trouble with the Jews. Jesus immediately saw through their hypocrisy and scheme (v. 18). He responded by asking them to bring him a coin with which the poll tax was paid (v. 19). Then He asked whose image was on it and they answered, “Caesar’s” (vv. 20-21). He said, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” In this simple but profound reply Jesus was actually saying that Caesar has a right to mint coins, levy taxes and govern, and these things do not infringe on the right of God. When they heard this they were amazed and went their way (vv. 22).

Application

What belongs to Caesar in my life today and what belongs to God is basically the same as then.

Matthew 22:15-22 (English Standard Version)

Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle him in his words. And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, "Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone's opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?" But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, "Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin for the tax." And they brought him a denarius. And Jesus said to them, "Whose likeness and inscription is this?" They said, "Caesar's." Then he said to them, "Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away.

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