What is the scope of rendering to Caesar?

Ben Zartman

Puritan Board Sophomore
I was blown away recently by someone stating that our Lord's words in Matthew that we must render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's and unto God the things that are God's, applies ONLY to taxes, and not to any other part of life. He claimed that to apply it to anything else was to take it grossly out of context.
Looking for quotes from commentaries, as well as personal insight.
Thanks
 

RPEphesian

Puritan Board Junior
The central point is the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, not duties to government, though the latter is mentioned.

Christ is intentionally being unhelpful and saying less than more, since He knows it's a trap question. Kind of like I've jokingly said to an temp employee at work when helping him work through an issue, "The problem is that you're doing it wrong. You need to start doing it right." Yeah, like he didn't know that already.

Of course, the coin had Caesar's image on it, and even called him Pontifex. So if it's wrong to pay taxes to Caesar, why do they take the benefit of his currency anyway? Pretty cheap of them. So, let them stop paying taxes and see how well they can live with that. And if it's right to pay taxes, well, they have the benefit of his governance, so of course it's right to pay those taxes. The proof is that they have Caesar's money in their hand... and probably in the Temple as well. Either way, they are hypocrites for asking the question.

It's Christ the Lamb being tested, and springing the trap.
 
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Joshua

Administrator
Staff member
Definitely to wear masks by enforced by near-royal edict, and stop going to church, both guaranteed to eradicate a ubiquitously and universally lethal virus.
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Professor
The interpretation principle we should apply here is that we must interpret less clear passages of Scripture by using Scripture passages that are clearer. Jesus' teaching in Matthew 22:21 is just a few words that lack specifics and, as Jake has pointed out, may be intentionally murky in some ways. So to understand the principle more fully, we should go to passages like Romans 13:1-7 and 1 Peter 2:13-17, where it is explained directly and in greater detail. From those passages, I find it hard to support the idea that Jesus would think "give unto Caesar" applies only to taxes.
 

De Jager

Puritan Board Freshman
I was blown away recently by someone stating that our Lord's words in Matthew that we must render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's and unto God the things that are God's, applies ONLY to taxes, and not to any other part of life. He claimed that to apply it to anything else was to take it grossly out of context.
Looking for quotes from commentaries, as well as personal insight.
Thanks
My understanding is that it means to give honour, respect and obedience to the governing authorities in those matters that are in his sphere of authority. The words "the things that are Caesar's" cannot be interpreted to mean only taxes. It is a broad phrase of which taxes are a specific example. Jesus said "things" (plural) not "thing" (singular).

For example: the provincial government in Ontario own the provincial highways. They belong to "Caesar". Because I am using "Caesar's" highways, I abide by Caesar's rules for his highways.

The thing to remember is that Jesus does not say "render unto Caesar the things that are God's" or "render unto Caesar the things that are yours". So we must be careful that we understand the (God-given) limits of Caesar's authority. Even Caesar himself is to be in subject to the "higher powers" (Rom 13:1), which in the case of a state governor is the constitution (and ultimately God), or in the case of a monarch is God himself.
 

Ben Zartman

Puritan Board Sophomore
My understanding is that it means to give honour, respect and obedience to the governing authorities in those matters that are in his sphere of authority. The words "the things that are Caesar's" cannot be interpreted to mean only taxes. It is a broad phrase of which taxes are a specific example. Jesus said "things" (plural) not "thing" (singular).

For example: the provincial government in Ontario own the provincial highways. They belong to "Caesar". Because I am using "Caesar's" highways, I abide by Caesar's rules for his highways.

The thing to remember is that Jesus does not say "render unto Caesar the things that are God's" or "render unto Caesar the things that are yours". So we must be careful that we understand the (God-given) limits of Caesar's authority. Even Caesar himself is to be in subject to the "higher powers" (Rom 13:1), which in the case of a state governor is the constitution (and ultimately God), or in the case of a monarch is God himself.
Thank you; this was my thought as well. Glad to hear it from others.
 
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