Jesus Christ on Taxes


Well-Known Member
Apr 7, 2007
Jesus on Taxes: Nothing is (Rightly) Caesar's!

The story of Jesus commanding us to give unto Caesar that which is Caesar's (Matt. 22:15-22; Mark 12:13-17; Luke 20:20-26) is commonly misrepresented as His commanding us to give to Caesar the denari which he asks for (i.e., to pay taxes to government) as--it is assumed--the denari are Caesar's, being that they have Caesar's image and name on them. But Jesus never said that this was so! What Jesus did say though was an ingenious case of rhetorical misdirection to avoid being immediately arrested, which would have interfered with Old Testament prophecy of His betrayal as well as His own previous predictions of betrayal.

When the Pharisees asked Him whether or not it is lawful to pay taxes to Caesar they did so as a ruse in the hopes of being able to either have Him arrested as a rebel by the Roman authorities or to have Him discredited in the eyes of His followers. At this time in Israel's history it was an occupied territory of the Roman Empire, and taxes--which were being used to support this occupation--were much hated by the mass of the common Jews. Thus, this question was a clever Catch-22 posed to Jesus by the Pharisees: if Jesus answered that it is not lawful then the Pharisees would have Him put away, but if He answered that it is lawful then He would appear to be supporting the subjection of the Jewish people by a foreign power. Luke 20:20 makes the Pharisees' intent in asking this question quite clear:

So they watched Him, and sent spies who pretended to be righteous, that they might seize on His words, in order to deliver Him to the power and the authority of the governor.

Thus, Jesus was not free to answer in just any casual manner. Of the Scripture prophecies which would have gone unfulfilled had He answered that it was fine to decline paying taxes and been arrested because of it are the betrayal by Judas (Psalm 41:9; Zech. 11:12,13), and His betrayer replaced (Psalm 109:8--see Acts 1:20); see also Acts 1:15-26 and Psalm 69:25. Here is a quote from Peter on this matter from Acts 1:16:

"Men and brethren, this Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus."

In Matt. 26:54,56 and Mark 14:49 Jesus testifies to this exact same thing after He was betrayed by Judas. As well, Jesus Himself twice foretold of His betrayal before He was asked the question on taxes--see Matt. 17:22; 20:18; Mark 9:31; 10:33; and Luke 9:44; 19:31. See also John 13:18-30, which testifies to the necessity of the fulfillment of Psalm 41:9, as Jesus here foretells of His betrayal by Judas.

In addition, it appears that the only reason Jesus paid the temple tax (and by supernatural means at that) as told in Matt. 17:24-27 was so as not to stir up trouble which would have interfered with the fulfillment of Old Testament Scripture and Jesus's previous prediction of His betrayal as told in Matt. 17:22--neither of which would have been fulfilled had Jesus not paid the tax and been arrested because of it. Jesus Himself supports this view when He said of it "Nevertheless, lest we offend them . . ." (NKJV), which can also be translated "But we don't want to cause trouble" (CEV). He said this after in effect saying that those who pay customs and taxes are not free (v. 25,26)--yet one reason Jesus came was to call us to liberty (Luke 4:18; Gal. 4:7; 5:1,13,14; 1 Cor. 7:23; 2 Cor. 3:17; James 1:25; 2:12).

It should be remembered in all of this that it was Jesus Himself who told us "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves." (Matt. 10:16). Jesus was being wise as a serpent as He never told us to pay taxes to Caesar, of which He could have done and still fulfilled Scripture and His previous predictions of betrayal. But the one thing He couldn't have told people was that it was okay not to pay taxes as He would have been arrested on the spot, and Scripture and His predictions of betrayal would have gone unfulfilled. Yet the most important thing in all this is what Jesus did not say. Jesus never said that all or any of the denari were Caesar's! Jesus simply said "Give to Caesar that which is Caesar's." But this just begs the question, What is Caesar's? Simply because the denari have Caesar's name and image on them no more make them his than one carving their name into the back of a stolen TV set makes it theirs. Yet everything Caesar has has been taken by theft and extortion, therefore nothing is rightly his.

Tax Collectors are Sinners!

A further demonstration that Jesus considered the institution of taxation to be unjust is given in the below story:

Matthew 9:9-13: As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, "Follow Me." So he arose and followed Him. Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, "Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" When Jesus heard that, He said to them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice.' For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance." (See also Mark 2:14-17; Luke 5:27-32.)

It's important to point out here that Jesus actually made a stronger case against the unrighteousness of tax collectors than the Pharisees originally had in questioning Jesus's disciples about it: the Pharisees actually separated the tax collectors from the sinners when they asked "Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" Yet when Jesus heard this He answered the Pharisees by lumping the two groups together under the category of sinners--thus: "For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance."

Yet since this is the story of Matthew the tax collector being called to repentance by Jesus we will do well to ask how it was that Matthew obtained repentance. The answer: By first giving up tax collecting! And from this beginning Matthew would thus go on to become one of Jesus's twelve disciples.
I look forward to reading this the next time I come here.
For anyone who has not seen "Freedom to Fascism" by Aaron Russo, I will try to post it on this board soon.

It deals with the incredible fact that there is no law providing for the federal government to tax our income.
There is a couple right now taking a lot of heat for resisting; the lady is a dentist.
More later.
Matthew 22
15": Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk.

"16": And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men.

"17": Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?

"18": But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites?

"19": Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny.

"20": And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription?

"21": They say unto him, Caesar's. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's.

"22": When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way.
The Bible on taxes/government:

"For the Lord's sake accept the authority of every human institution, whether of the emperor as supreme, or of governors, as sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to praise those who do right." I Pet. 2:13,14

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except by God’s appointment, 1 and the authorities that exist have been instituted by God. 13:2 So the person who resists such authority 2 resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will incur judgment