Support and Resources For Pastors and
Christian Ministry Professionals
Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A., Editor
Twenty-Third Sunday After Pentecost
I. The obligation to our Caesar--1 Pet 2:13-17; Prov 24:21-22; Jer 29:7; Rom 13:1-7; 1 Tim 2:1-2; Titus 3:1
II.The obligation to our God--Matt 4:10, 22:37, 25:32-40
John MacArthur comments: Then He said to them, "Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s." And hearing this, they marveled, and leaving Him, they went away (22:21b-22). But instead, Jesus said to them, "Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s." The profundity of that statement is often missed because of its simplicity. Apodidoômi (render) means to pay or give back, implying a debt. It carries the idea of obligation and responsibility for something that is not optional. Jesus’ answer to the original question (v17) was therefore, "Yes, it is entirely lawful and right to pay the poll-tax to Caesar, because that tax is Caesar’s, belonging to the things in his domain."
Jesus did not use the word give, as had the disciples of the Pharisees in asking the question. For them, as for most Jews, paying any tax to Rome was not considered a legitimate duty and was done only with the greatest reluctance. Now Jesus declared that the payment not only was perfectly legal but morally obligatory. Jesus here declared the divinely ordained obligation of citizens to pay taxes to whatever government is over them. Paying taxes is a legitimate duty of every person, but is specially binding on believers because they are specially bound to God’s Word. Jesus made no qualifying exemptions or exceptions, even under rulers such as the blasphemous, pagan, idolatrous government that in a few days would nail Him to the cross. The government that executed the Son of God was to be paid taxes by God’s people. The state has the divine right to assess taxes that are within its sphere of responsibility, and its citizens have the divine obligation to pay them.
By God’s own decree, presidents, kings, prime ministers, governors, mayors, police, and all other governmental authorities stand in His place, as it were, for the preservation of society. To resist government is therefore to resist God. To refuse to pay taxes is to disobey God’s command. By God’s own declaration, to pay taxes to Caesar honors God.
If, in an age of pagan despotism and open persecution of the church, believers were obligated to pay taxes, how much more obligated are modern Christians who live in free and democratic societies? Regardless of the seemingly spiritual reasons that may be proposed for resisting the payment of taxes, there are none that the Lord recognizes. To argue that paying taxes to a worldly humanistic government is ungodly and unjustified is spurious and contradicts what God Himself says on the subject. His own Word commands unequivocally that taxes are to be paid because, by His divine ordination, they are a part of the things that are Caesar’s. All things belong to God, but He has decreed that a certain amount of that which He entrusts to each person is to be paid to human governments as taxes.
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An old friend of mine would often say: "If all else fails, read the directions." You and I have found that to be true when we’re putting a model airplane together or assembling a Christmas gift.
What my friend said also applies to this (hold up a coin). People often complain about paying taxes, and some don’t want to give to the Church, even though Jesus said: (Mat 22:21) "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's."
The enemies of Jesus were trying to get Him in trouble, so they asked Him whether it was right to pay taxes to Caesar, the Roman ruler. He told them to show Him a coin. "Whose engraving is on here?", he asked. "Caesar’s," they said. "Then give to Caesar what belongs to him, and to God what belongs to God."
We don’t use Roman coins anymore, but our coins say the same thing. What does it say here beginning with the letter "U"? UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. Caesar gave the people protection from thieves and murderers; our government does too. Caesar provided good roads; so do our Government leaders. "PAY BACK to them what belongs to them," Jesus said.
Now what else does it say on the coin? It starts with "IN GOD WE TRUST." It is God who gave us government. God gave us His Word. God sent His Son to be our Savior. God sends angels to give us protection. God promises a place in eternal life. PAY BACK to God what is God’s so that others may know of Him and His promises.
So if you ever hear of anyone complaining about taxes or giving money to the Church, give him one of these (a coin) and tell him to follow the directions.+ + +
1. What a shock that a non-Israelite, Cyrus, would be called “my shepherd” (44:28) and “anointed” (45:1) by God.
2. To take hold of the right hand is an expression of choosing and of intimate fellowship.
3. Cyrus’s conquests are not a matter of historical chance or of his own great qualities but, rather, are of God’s divine plan.
4. There are three reasons given for choosing Cyrus.
A. That Cyrus, himself, might know that the Yahweh, the God of Israel, has commissioned him. (verse 3) (See 2 Chronicles 36:22-23; Ezra 1:1-3)
B. For the sake of Israel, that they might know that Yahweh, their God, keeps His promises and will deliver them. (verse 4)
C. That people everywhere might know that Yahweh is the only God. (verse 6)
5. God is responsible for everything in nature and for everything in history. No other beings are responsible. (verse 7) If that is not the case, then God is powerless to save us.
6. God’s actions are governed by His righteousness. He desires to deliver every person from the consequences of his or her own sin. Whatever actions He takes to bring that about are righteous.
7. This is cause for song. As the heavens pour rain upon the earth so that it might bring forth plants so also Yahweh pours out His righteousness upon His people so that salvation and righteousness spring up.
8. It is because of Cyrus that Israel is preserved, through whom the Christ comes for the salvation of the world.
Point: To Convince God’s own people that He can deliver, and in His own way
Problem: Failure of God’s people to submit to and acknowledge God’s power and authority over all things causes them to be self-reliant, arrogant, needlessly depressed, apathetic, etc.
Promise: God has promised to deliver, has the power and authority to do it, and does carry out His promises even through people we wouldn’t expect. Therefore, His people, who submit to His plan, show forth His righteousness.
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This page was revised on: Monday, November 13, 2006 10:52:38 AM