Bible Study Lessons: Matthew 22:15-22
I’m not fond of paying taxes, and my candid guess is that you’re not either. This question, as with any asks; What did Jesus say about paying taxes and are we ready for His answer?
Yes, I know that tax is one of those necessary evils to keep our government running.
I guess we will have to be content to grumble and move on.
In this Bible study lesson from the New Testament, the Pharisees wanted to know what Jesus would say about paying taxes – or did they really? Read His answer.
What Did Jesus Say about Paying Taxes? “.. render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s”
Then the Pharisees went and plotted together how they might trap Him in what He said.
And they *sent their disciples to Him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that You are truthful and teach the way of God in truth, and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any.
Tell us then, what do You think? Is it lawful to give a poll-tax to Caesar, or not?”
But Jesus perceived their malice, and said, “Why are you testing Me, you hypocrites?
Show Me the coin used for the poll-tax.” And they brought Him a denarius.
And He *said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?”
They *said to Him, “Caesar’s.” Then He *said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.”
And hearing this, they were amazed, and leaving Him, they went away. – Matthew 22:15-22 NASB
Paying Taxes to Caesar ( and to our Government )
During the time of Jesus’ ministry, the Jews were living under Roman rule.
Rome had a unique way of ruling it’s people. They pretty much left the people alone as long as they obeyed Roman law, paid their taxes to Caesar, and did not cause problems.
In turn, there was a period of relative peace in the Roman Empire called Pax Romana.
Wikipedia describes this era in Rome as:
“.. the long period of relative peacefulness and minimal expansion by the Roman military force experienced by the Roman Empire after the end of the Final War of the Roman Republic and before the beginning of the Crisis of the Third Century.
During this time, the Roman empire reached its peak land mass area and its population grew up to 70 million people. Since it was established by Augustus, it is sometimes called Pax Augusta. Its span was approximately 206 years (27 BC to 180 AD).”
The two simple rules about Roman obedience were …
1. Obey the Roman law or die
2. Pay your tax or die
This didn’t leave much to the imagination but it worked for them.
Roman Occupation over the Jews
The Pharisees and other religious groups opposed the occupation of the Romans and their strict policies, as did the rest of the Jewish community.
Most times the Pharisees and the Roman rulers were mortal enemies but they were sometimes in sync when it came to this man Jesus who was turning the world upside down with radical teachings.
Going back to the subject of Roman taxes, in their (the Pharisees) mind, they had a plan that could not fail. They were about to catch Jesus in a no-win situation.
But, as always, Christ knew exactly what they were up to.
Outsmart God? I Don’t Think So
Jesus chose not to answer the question directly because if He said the money belonged to Caesar He would be speaking against the religious aspects of the tax. This was because some of the money went to support Roman temples and to people who worshiped idols.
On the other hand, if He answered that the tax money belonged to God He would be turned over to the Romans for justice.
There’s a good chance Christ would be be given option number two (above) by the Roman courts.
Paying Tribute to Two Kingdoms
In reality, what this story from the New Testament tells us is that we belong to two nations …
1. The nation of God in which we give obedience to His word. In return, we receive God’s blessing, forgiveness and eternal life.
2. The nation in which we are citizens. This nation requires us to pay taxes to support civil programs, defense and the everyday workings of our government.
So, be sure and pledge allegiance to both “nations” but our foremost duty is to remain a citizen of heaven.
Love in Christ
If you would like to learn more about how to receive the love and life-changing experience of Jesus Christ, please take a moment to read John 3:16 .
Filed under: Matthew