Give to God what is God’s
Translated by Allan Liang
The Lord Jesus at the beginning of the chapter, with the parable of the evil tenants, directly pointed to the painful sores of the chief priests, teachers of the law and elders, who then looked for a way to arrest him, but having no opportunity to do this, they left the crowd and went away. Under such a background the dialogue of verses 13-17 unfolded, where the Pharisees and Herodians used well-crafted words of flattery to set a trap, which moreover, was a very difficult knot to untie, yet our Lord Jesus gave a refined and flawless answer, which taught the people to know that he could not be caught in any trap, for he is the very source of truth and wisdom, and the perfectly good and holy God. We know that the Pharisees and Herodians conspired together and afterwards thought of this deceitful question, for the purpose of catching him in his words and harming him. They were fairly certain that the Lord Jesus would be caught in their schemes, for both answering yes and no would result in falling into the trap they had set. They likely rejoiced in their hearts, thinking that this was a perfect scheme, through which they would be able to catch Jesus in his words and report him to the Roman governor Pilate and have him sentenced severely. This was a very cunning question. On the outside they acted out a facade of goodwill and respect, asking: Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not? If the Lord Jesus said yes, the Pharisees would announce to the Jews that he was disloyal to the Jewish people; if he said no, the Herodians would report him to the Roman authorities. We know that a government has the authority to issue their own currency, which is the same in the ancient times as well as the modern day, and the authority to issue currency implies that a government has as well, the authority to collect the currency in the form of taxes. Consequently, Jesus answered very wisely. His meaning was: “Since you accept and use Caesar's currency, you acknowledge that Caesar has the authority to collect taxes.” But the Lord Jesus did not stop at this point, he further said: “Give...to God what is God’s.” What does this mean? Whether Jews or Christians, because we enjoy the many rights given to us by the country, we are to obey the country’s laws, and be good citizens, doing our part in fulfilling our proper duties. Moreover, in the spiritual kingdom, the kingdom of God, we are to fear God and be a faithful servant, doing all things for the purpose of glorifying God, and we know deeply that God is above all authorities. Yes, Christians are both citizens of earthly countries and people of God’s kingdom above. The Bible teaches us in this way: We are to pray for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. (see 1 Timothy 2:1-2) Please meditate and pray and then think: In our real lives, how do give to God what is God’s?