Tribute to Caesar (Lk 20:22-20:22)

“Is it lawful

For us

To pay taxes

To Caesar,

The Roman Emperor,

Or not?”

 

ἔξεστιν ἡμᾶς Καίσαρι φόρον δοῦναι ἢ οὔ;

 

Luke indicated this group asked whether it was lawful for them (ἔξεστιν ἡμᾶς) to pay taxes (φόρον δοῦναι) to Caesar (Καίσαρι), the Roman Emperor, or not (ἢ οὔ)?  This is similar to Matthew, chapter 22:17, and Mark, chapter 12:14, but slightly different.  They wanted to know what Jesus thought about the Roman tax law.  Mark said that they asked him whether it was lawful to pay the poll tax to Caesar or not (ἔξεστιν δοῦναι κῆνσον Καίσαρι ἢ οὔ)?  They wanted to know the practical answer about whether they should pay this tax or not (δῶμεν ἢ μὴ δῶμεν)?  Matthew indicated that these Pharisee disciples and the Herodians tried to trick Jesus.  They wanted to know what Jesus thought about the Roman tax.  They asked him (εἰπὸν οὖν ἡμῖν) what did he think (τί σοι δοκεῖ).  Was it lawful to pay the poll tax to Caesar or not (ἔξεστιν δοῦναι κῆνσον Καίσαρι ἢ οὔ)?  Rome had an annual personal census tax of one denarius worth about $1.50 USA, not that much.  However, many of the Roman tax collectors were considered sinners.  Jesus, on the other hand, had a milder view of these tax collectors.  He appeared to accept the Roman rule and its taxing policies.  As the political party of the Romans, the Herodians were there.  The Israelites with the Pharisees were there also.  Thus, his answer might offend someone.  In fact, some Jewish zealots refused to pay any civil tax to the emperor.  Do you like to pay taxes?

The Pharisee dinner (Lk 11:37-11:37)

“While Jesus

Was speaking,

A Pharisee

Invited Jesus

To dine with him.

Thus,

Jesus went in.

He took his place

Reclining at the table.”

 

Ἐν δὲ τῷ λαλῆσαι ἐρωτᾷ αὐτὸν Φαρισαῖος ὅπως ἀριστήσῃ παρ’ αὐτῷ· εἰσελθὼν δὲ ἀνέπεσεν

 

Luke uniquely indicated that while Jesus was speaking (Ἐν δὲ τῷ λαλῆσαι), a Pharisee invited Jesus (ἐρωτᾷ αὐτὸν Φαρισαῖος) to dine with him (ὅπως ἀριστήσῃ παρ’ αὐτῷ).  Thus, Jesus went in and took his place reclining at the table (εἰσελθὼν δὲ ἀνέπεσεν).  This is the second of 3 times that Jesus will uniquely have a dinner with a Pharisee, earlier in chapter 7:36 and later in chapter 14:1.  Earlier Luke had said that one of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him.  Thus, Jesus went into the Pharisee’s house.  He took his place reclining at the table.  Then the sinful woman appeared.  In each case, the Pharisees were watching Jesus very closely.  However, he must have been on speaking terms with these Jewish leaders to get this invitation.  Thus, the hostility with the Pharisees did not seem to be personal but rather theological or philosophical over their interpretation of the divine role in Jewish life.  Matthew, chapter 15:1, and Mark, chapter 7:1, had a confrontation with the Pharisees and the Scribes who came to Jesus from Jerusalem.  The Pharisees were a political party, a social movement, and a religious school of thought that became the basis for later Rabbinic Judaism.  They had their own expert explanations of Jewish law that sometimes appeared to be hypocritical or arrogant, with the letter of the law above its spirit.  They had a form of Judaism that extended beyond the Temple.  These Pharisees in the New Testament continually engaged in conflicts with Jesus and his disciples.  However, here it will be personal confrontation at a dinner party.  Do you have dinner with people that you disagree with?

Tax collectors and sinners (Lk 5:30-5:30)

“The Pharisees

And their Scribes

Were complaining

To Jesus’ disciples.

They said.

‘Why do you eat

And drink

With tax collectors

And sinners?’”

 

καὶ ἐγόγγυζον οἱ Φαρισαῖοι καὶ οἱ γραμματεῖς αὐτῶν πρὸς τοὺς μαθητὰς αὐτοῦ λέγοντες Διὰ τί μετὰ τῶν τελωνῶν καὶ ἁμαρτωλῶν ἐσθίετε καὶ πίνετε;

 

Luke said that the Pharisees and their Scribes were complaining or grumbling (καὶ ἐγόγγυζον οἱ Φαρισαῖοι καὶ οἱ γραμματεῖς αὐτῶν) to Jesus’ disciples (πρὸς τοὺς μαθητὰς αὐτοῦ).  They wondered (λέγοντες) why they were with Jesus eating and drinking (ἐσθίετε καὶ πίνετε) with tax collectors and sinners (Διὰ τί μετὰ τῶν τελωνῶν καὶ ἁμαρτωλῶν).  Mark, chapter 2:16, and Matthew, chapter 9:11, are similar to Luke, so that Mark might be the source of this incident.  In Matthew, it was only the Pharisees and not the Scribes who are complaining.  Mark and Luke have both these Pharisees and their Scribes grumble about this dinner party.  They saw that Jesus and his disciples was eating and drinking with these sinners and tax collectors.  Then they asked the disciples of Jesus, and not Jesus himself, why was Jesus eating with these tax collectors and sinners?  These Pharisees were a political party, a social movement, and a religious school of thought that became the basis for later Rabbinic Judaism.  They had they own expert explanations of Jewish law that sometimes appeared to be hypocritical or arrogant, with the letter of the law above its spirit.  They had a form of Judaism that extended beyond the Temple.  The Pharisees in the New Testament engaged in conflicts with Jesus and his disciples, as here.  However, Paul the Apostle may have been a Pharisee before his conversion.  Maybe Jesus and some of his followers were Pharisees, so that these arguments with the Pharisees may have been internal arguments.  Or is this portrait of the Pharisees in the New Testament a caricature, since the late first century Christians were fighting with the emerging Rabbinic Pharisees?  Their position towards the Scribes was a mixed bag.  These Scribes were religious experts who determined the traditions to be followed, as professional copiers of manuscript documents, although they had a wider role in Jewish society.

Lawful to pay taxes (Mk 12:14-12:14)

“‘Is it lawful

To pay taxes

To the emperor Caesar?

Or not?

Should we pay them?

Or should we not?’”

 

ἔξεστιν δοῦναι κῆνσον Καίσαρι ἢ οὔ; δῶμεν ἢ μὴ δῶμεν;

 

This is similar to Matthew, chapter 22:17, and Luke, chapter 20:22, but slightly different.  These Pharisees and these Herodians tried to trick Jesus.  They wanted to know what Jesus thought about the Roman tax law.  Mark said that they asked him whether it was lawful to pay the poll tax to Caesar or not (ἔξεστιν δοῦναι κῆνσον Καίσαρι ἢ οὔ)?  They wanted to know the practical answer about whether they should pay this tax or not (δῶμεν ἢ μὴ δῶμεν)?  Rome had an annual personal census tax of one denarius, worth about $1.50 USA, not that much.  However, many of the Roman tax collectors were considered sinners.  As the political party of the Romans, the Herodians, and the religious Israelite Pharisees were both there.  Thus, his answer might offend someone.  In fact, some Jewish zealots refused to pay any civil tax to the emperor.

They try to trap Jesus (Mk 12:13-12:13)

“They sent

To Jesus,

Some Pharisees

And some Herodians,

To trap him

In what he said.”

 

Καὶ ἀποστέλλουσιν πρὸς αὐτόν τινας τῶν Φαρισαίων καὶ τῶν Ἡρῳδιανῶν ἵνα αὐτὸν ἀγρεύσωσιν λόγῳ

 

There is something similar in Matthew, chapter 22:15-16, and in Luke, chapter 20:20, as the Pharisees plotted to entrap or entangle Jesus in what he had said.  Mark said that the Pharisees sent some of their own people to Jesus (Καὶ ἀποστέλλουσιν πρὸς αὐτόν τινας τῶν Φαρισαίων).  The Pharisees were a political party, a social movement, and a religious school of thought that followed the Law of Moses, but with a number of oral traditions.  They had they own expert explanations of Jewish law that sometimes appeared to be hypocritical or arrogant, with a form of Judaism that extended beyond the Temple.  They were always testing or tempting Jesus and his disciples.  They also sent along some Herodians (καὶ τῶν Ἡρῳδιανῶν).  Who are these people?  They were the followers or political supporters of King Herod Antipas, the Roman client tetrarch king of Galilee, the one who had John the Baptist beheaded.  Both these groups were out to trap Jesus or catch him by using his own words against him (ἵνα αὐτὸν ἀγρεύσωσιν λόγῳ).

The test about divorce (Mk 10:2-10:2)

“Some Pharisees

Came to test him.

They asked.

‘Is it lawful

For a man

To divorce

His wife?’”

Καὶ προσελθόντες Φαρισαῖοι ἐπηρώτων αὐτὸν εἰ ἔξεστιν ἀνδρὶ γυναῖκα ἀπολῦσαι, πειράζοντες αὐτόν

 

This questioning of the Pharisees about divorce can also be found in Matthew, chapter 19:3, with some minor changes.  Once again, some Pharisees approached Jesus (Καὶ προσελθόντες Φαρισαῖοι).  They wanted to interrogate, test, or question him (ἐπηρώτων αὐτὸν).  The Pharisees were a political party, a social movement, and a religious school of thought that followed the Law of Moses, but with a number of oral traditions.  They had they own expert explanations of Jewish law that sometimes appeared to be hypocritical or arrogant, with a form of Judaism that extended beyond the Temple.  They were testing or tempting Jesus (πειράζοντες αὐτόν).  They wanted to know if it was lawful for a man to divorce his wife (εἰ ἔξεστιν ἀνδρὶ γυναῖκα ἀπολῦσαι), since this was a disputed question among many Jewish rabbis.

The Pharisees seek a sign from heaven (Mk 8:11-8:11)

“The Pharisees came.

They began

To argue

With Jesus.

They were asking him

For a sign

From heaven.

They wanted

To test him.”

 

Καὶ ἐξῆλθον οἱ Φαρισαῖοι καὶ ἤρξαντο συνζητεῖν αὐτῷ, ζητοῦντες παρ’ αὐτοῦ σημεῖον ἀπὸ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ, πειράζοντες αὐτόν.

 

This seeking of signs was common among the gospel writers, in Luke, chapter 11:16, and especially in Matthew, chapters 12:38 and 16:1-4.  The Pharisees wanted a sign.  There was no mention of the Scribes here, as in Matthew.  These Pharisees were a political party, a social movement, and a religious school of thought that became the basis for later Rabbinic Judaism.  They had they own expert explanations of Jewish law that sometimes appeared to be hypocritical or arrogant, with the letter of the law above its spirit.  They had a form of Judaism that extended beyond the Temple.  The Pharisees in the New Testament, often engaged in discussion and disputes with Jesus and his disciples, as here.  Mark said that some of these Pharisees came to Jesus (Καὶ ἐξῆλθον οἱ Φαρισαῖοι).  They began to argue, dispute, or discuss with Jesus (καὶ ἤρξαντο συνζητεῖν αὐτῷ).  They asked him to show them a sign from heaven or a heavenly validation of his work (ζητοῦντες παρ’ αὐτοῦ σημεῖον ἀπὸ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ).  They wanted to test or tempt Jesus (πειράζοντες αὐτόν).  Heavenly signs had been common among the prophets to prove their authenticity.