Matthew 17: 24-27
When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax went up to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the tax?” He said, “Yes.” And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tax? From their sons or from others?” And when he said, “From others,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free. However, not to give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook and take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for me and for yourself.”
When Peter was approached and asked by collectors of the temple tax whether or not Jesus paid the tax, he replied yes. However, as Peter usually did then, he quickly replied the affirmative without really knowing the truth. (The temple tax was for the maintenance of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem by order of Julius Caesar and required for all Jews throughout the Roman empire).
So, when Jesus and Peter went into the house (scripture is unclear whose house – possible Jesus own a house?), Jesus took the initiative and raised a tax question to Peter (another teaching moment). Instead of focusing on the religious institution, He emphasized royal taxation by a king over his subjects. “Does the king collect taxes from his sons or from others?”
Peter replied correctly “from others.” Jesus point was the sons don’t pay taxes. And being the Son of the Owner of everything, He is not required to pay taxes. Yet, He didn’t want to offend anyone and again took the moment to demonstrate to Peter who He IS.
He told Peter to go fishing. The first fish he caught would have enough money in its mouth to pay the tax for Peter and Jesus.
The apostle Paul later writes in Romans 13:6-7 instructing believers to pay their taxes to the government. The government is an institution established by God for the benefit of mankind and believers need to monetarily support its operations. No where in the Bible does it say to withhold the payment of taxes.
Even Jesus who didn’t have to pay the tax because of His status as the Son of God, did so as an example for others to follow. So be it.
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