Render to Caesar

3631575003_eb836ffe10In the inherited churches/congregations there is a very harmful and inaccurate interpretation of Render to Caesar the things that are Caesars. They explained that this means we are to pay our taxes IT DOES NOT! There are plenty of passages that have to do with paying taxes, this is just not one of them.

Both Mark and Luke record the incident in question.

3 And they sent to him some of the Pharisees and some of the Herodians, to entrap him in his talk.  14 And they came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are true, and care for no man; for you do not regard the position of men, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?  15 Should we pay them, or should we not?” But knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why put me to the test? Bring me a coin, and let me look at it.”  16 And they brought one. And he said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to him, “Caesars.”  17 Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesars, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were amazed at him. Mark 12:13 -17

19 The scribes and the chief priests tried to lay hands on him at that very hour, but they feared the people; for they perceived that he had told this parable against them.  20 So they watched him, and sent spies, who pretended to be sincere, that they might take hold of what he said, so as to deliver him up to the authority and jurisdiction of the governor.  21 They asked him, “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach rightly, and show no partiality, but truly teach the way of God.  22 Is it lawful for us to give tribute to Caesar, or not?”  23 But he perceived their craftiness, and said to them,  24 “Show me a coin. Whose likeness and inscription has it?” They said, “Caesars.”  25 He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesars, and to God the things that are God’s.”  26 And they were not able in the presence of the people to catch him by what he said; but marveling at his answer they were silent.  Luke 20:19 -26

Notice, that both Mark and Luke, say that the context of the conversation was that the spiritual leaders of the day were trying to entrap or trick Messiah. They start the conversation with flattery, then proceed to what they think will make Him look a fool, and possible get Him in trouble with the Roman authorities.

There was at the time, within the Jewish community those who felt that paying Roman taxes was not something a good Jew could do in good conscience. Very similar to the our current times where we also have people who believe that our Income Tax is illegal. But that is really beside the point. The point was to entrap Messiah.

julius-caesar-coinHe ask that they show Him the coin with which these taxes are paid. Now here is where you need to have been paying attention throughout the whole Bible, not just skipping around and reading only what you want or like. The word for “likeness” in Hebrew is “IMAGE”. So what He actually asked them Who’s IMAGE is this? The minute these words fell from His lips the spiritual leaders knew that they were the fools. The second commandment is

4 “You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth;  5 you shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me,  6 but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. Ex. 20:4-6

Caesar was a Roman god. They were so greedy that they had allowed this Roman coin with a Roman god on it, into their hearts. He was not telling them to pay taxes. He was telling them to put their God before their greed.

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