New International Version
Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?"
King James Bible
Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?
Darby Bible Translation
tell us therefore what thou thinkest: Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not?
World English Bible
Tell us therefore, what do you think? Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?"
Young's Literal Translation
tell us, therefore, what dost thou think? is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar or not?'
Matthew 22:17 Parallel
CommentaryClarke's Commentary on the Bible
The Herodians - For an account of this sect, see the note on Matthew 16:1. The preceding parable had covered the Pharisees with confusion: when it was ended they went out, not to humble themselves before God, and deprecate the judgments with which they were threatened; but to plot afresh the destruction of their teacher. The depth of their malice appears,
1. In their mode of attack. They had often questioned our Lord on matters concerning religion; and his answers only served to increase his reputation, and their confusion. They now shift their ground, and question him concerning state affairs, and the question is such as must be answered; and yet the answer, to all human appearance, can be none other than what may be construed into a crime against the people, or against the Roman government.
2. Their profound malice appears farther in the choice of their companions in this business, viz. the Herodians. Herod was at this very time at Jerusalem, whither he had come to hold the passover. Jesus, being of Nazareth, which was in Herod's jurisdiction, was considered as his subject. Herod himself was extremely attached to the Roman emperor, and made a public profession of it: all these considerations engaged the Pharisees to unite the Herodians, who, as the Syriac intimates, were the domestics of Herod, in this infernal plot.
3. Their profound malice appears, farther, in the praises they gave our Lord. Teacher, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God. This was indeed the real character of our blessed Lord; and now they bear testimony to the truth, merely with the design to make it subserve their bloody purposes. Those whose hearts are influenced by the spirit of the wicked one never do good, but when they hope to accomplish evil by it. Men who praise you to your face are ever to be suspected. The Italians have a very expressive proverb on this subject: -
Che ti fa carezze piu che non suole, O t' ha ingannato, o ingannar ti vuole
He who caresses thee more than he was wont to do, has either Deceived thee, or is About To Do It.
I have never known the sentiment in this proverb to fail; and it was notoriously exemplified in the present instance. Flatterers, though they speak the truth, ever carry about with them a base or malicious soul.
4. Their malice appears still farther in the question they propose. Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not? - Matthew 22:17.
The constitution of the Jewish republic, the expectations which they had of future glory and excellence, and the diversity of opinions which divided the Jews on this subject, rendered an answer to this question extremely difficult: -
1. In the presence of the people, who professed to have no other king but God, and looked on their independence as an essential point of their religion.
2. In the presence of the Pharisees, who were ready to stir up the people against him, if his decision could be at all construed to be contrary to their prejudices, or to their religious rights.
3. In the presence of the Herodians, who, if the answer should appear to be against Caesar's rights, were ready to inflame their master to avenge, by the death of our Lord, the affront offered to his master the emperor.
4. The answer was difficult, because of the different sentiments of the Jews on this subject; some maintaining that they could not lawfully pay tribute to a heathen governor: while others held that as they were now under this strange government, and had no power to free themselves from it, it was lawful for them to pay what they had not power to refuse.
5. The answer was difficult, when it is considered that multitudes of the people had begun now to receive Jesus as the promised Messiah, who was to be the deliverer of their nation from spiritual and temporal oppression, and therefore had lately sung to him the Hosanna Rabba: see Matthew 21:9. If then he should decide the question in Caesar's favor, what idea must the people have of him, either as zealous for the law, or as the expected Messiah? If against Caesar, he is ruined. Who that loved Jesus, and was not convinced of his sovereign wisdom, could help trembling for him in these circumstances?
Treasury of Scripture Knowledge
LibrarySacrifice to Caesar or to God
Eversley, 1869. Chester Cathedral, 1872. Matthew xxii. 21. "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's." Many a sermon has been preached, and many a pamphlet written, on this text, and (as too often has happened to Holy Scripture), it has been made to mean the most opposite doctrines, and twisted in every direction, to suit men's opinions and superstitions. Some have found in it a command to obey tyrants, invaders, any and every government, …
Charles Kingsley—All Saints' Day and Other Sermons
On the Same Words of the Gospel, Matt. xxii. 42
The Heavenly Banquet.
Profession and Practice.
"Yes, he does," he replied. When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. "What do you think, Simon?" he asked. "From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes--from their own children or from others?"
But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, "You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me?
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.
In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar--when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene--
Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?"
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