Render to Caesar (Lk 20:25-20:25)

“Jesus said to them.

‘Then give

To the Emperor Caesar

The things

That are the Emperor Caesar’s!

Give to God

The things

That are God’s.’”

 

ὁ δὲ εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτούς Τοίνυν ἀπόδοτε τὰ Καίσαρος Καίσαρι καὶ τὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ τῷ Θεῷ.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said to them (ὁ δὲ εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτούς) to give back to the Emperor Caesar (Τοίνυν ἀπόδοτε τὰ Καίσαρος), the things that are of the Emperor Caesar’s (Καίσαρι)!  However, give to God the things that are God’s (καὶ τὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ τῷ Θεῷ).  There is something similar in Matthew, chapter 22:21, and in Mark, chapter 12:17, almost word for word.  Mark said that Jesus responded to them (ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς) by telling them to give to the Roman emperor Caesar the things that belonged to the emperor (Τὰ Καίσαρος ἀπόδοτε Καίσαρι).  At the same time, they should give to God the things that belong to God (καὶ τὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ τῷ Θεῷ).  Matthew said that Jesus responded to them (τότε λέγει αὐτοῖς) by telling them to give to the Roman emperor Caesar the things that belonged to the emperor (Ἀπόδοτε οὖν τὰ Καίσαρος Καίσαρι).  At the same time, they should give to God the things that belong to God (καὶ τὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ τῷ Θεῷ).  Jesus appeared to accept the Roman rule and its taxing policies.  He also had a milder view of their tax collectors.  With this ambiguous answer, Jesus avoided offending Jewish nationalists and the Roman Empire party and its officials.  Thus, the Roman and Jewish parties were both satisfied and unsatisfied at the same time.  If everything belonged to God, do not pay this tax.  If everything belonged to the Roman Empire, pay the tax.  The choice was theirs.  He was not going to tell them what to do.  This statement of Jesus has become the basic Christian understanding of the relationship between religious churches and civilian states.  Do you see a difference between Church regulations and civic state regulations?

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They were righteous (Lk 1:6-1:6)

“Both of them

Were righteous

Before God.

They lived

Blamelessly

According to

All the commandments

And regulations

Of the Lord.”

 

ἦσαν δὲ δίκαιοι ἀμφότεροι ἐναντίον τοῦ Θεοῦ, πορευόμενοι ἐν πάσαις ταῖς ἐντολαῖς καὶ δικαιώμασιν τοῦ Κυρίου ἄμεμπτοι

 

Luke continued his unique portrayal of Zechariah and Elizabeth as righteous people (ἦσαν δὲ δίκαιοι ἀμφότεροι) before God (ἐναντίον τοῦ Θεοῦ).  As they were descendants of Aaron, the expectations for their behavior were higher than other Israelites.  They were blameless (ἄμεμπτοι).  They walked or followed all the commandments, statutes, ordinances and regulations of the Lord (πορευόμενοι ἐν πάσαις ταῖς ἐντολαῖς καὶ δικαιώμασιν τοῦ Κυρίου).  They were upright people, pillars of the community.  They were faithful followers of the Jewish Law.  Who could ask for anything more?

Let your brother become a gentile (Mt 18:16-18:17)

“But if you are not listened to,

Take one

Or two others

Along with you.

Thus,

Every word may be confirmed

By the evidence

Of two

Or three witnesses.

If he refuses to listen

To them,

Tell it to the church.

If he refuses

To listen even to the church,

Let him be to you

As a gentile

And a tax collector.”

 

ἐὰν δὲ μὴ ἀκούσῃ, παράλαβε μετὰ σοῦ ἔτι ἕνα ἢ δύο, ἵνα ἐπὶ στόματος δύο μαρτύρων ἢ τριῶν σταθῇ πᾶν ῥῆμα·

ἐὰν δὲ παρακούσῃ αὐτῶν, εἰπὸν τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ· ἐὰν δὲ καὶ τῆς ἐκκλησίας παρακούσῃ, ἔστω σοι ὥσπερ ὁ ἐθνικὸς καὶ ὁ τελώνης.

 

This saying about the brother who would not listen to reprimands is unique to Matthew.  This exchange seems to imply a solid structure with specific rules and regulations, not a band of itinerant healing preachers.  If you were not successful with reprimanding your brother, because he would not listen to you (ἐὰν δὲ μὴ ἀκούσῃ), you were to take one or two others with you (παράλαβε μετὰ σοῦ ἔτι ἕνα ἢ δύο).  This is almost like a Jewish religious court case based on Deuteronomy, chapter 19:15, where a single witness would not be enough to convict a person of any crime or wrong-doing.  They needed the evidence of two or three witnesses, since one person was not sufficient enough to convict anyone of any crime.  There had to be at least 2 or 3 witnesses to sustain a charge.  Thus, the testimony of 2 or 3 witnesses might strengthen or confirm every word (ἵνα ἐπὶ στόματος δύο μαρτύρων ἢ τριῶν σταθῇ πᾶν ῥῆμα).  If your brother still refused to listen to them (ἐὰν δὲ παρακούσῃ αὐτῶν), then you should bring him to the church or the congregation (εἰπὸν τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ).  Along with chapter 16:18, where Peter was the rock of the new church, this indicates a church structure at the time that Matthew was writing this gospel.  If your brother still refused to listen to the church congregation (ἐὰν δὲ καὶ τῆς ἐκκλησίας παρακούσῃ), he should become like a gentile or a tax collector (ἔστω σοι ὥσπερ ὁ ἐθνικὸς καὶ ὁ τελώνης), an outcast from the community.  This indicates that the disciples of Jesus still thought like Jewish people with no room for gentiles and foreign Roman tax collectors.

The Law

The Law, the Torah, or the Pentateuch, consisted of first five books that were developed over a number of years, but firmly established around 400 BCE.  The five books of the Pentateuch include Genesis, a 10th-5th century BCE writing about the pre-existence of the Israelites, and the particular stories of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph.  The Exodus, finished around 450 BCE, recalls the story of Moses and how he led the Israelites out of Egypt for years in the desert.  Leviticus and Numbers, worked on between 550-400 BCE, lay out the particular codes, rules and regulations for the Israelites, as well the numbers of people that were involved in the exodus from Egypt.  Deuteronomy, developed in the 7th-6th century BCE, told the story of Moses in the wilderness with emphasis on the laws of the heart.  This Law or Torah explained the early or pre-history of the Israelites before they entered the promised land.  These books also contained all the commands, statutes, or rules for the Israelites after they entered the promised land.  All further Jewish developments were based on the Torah or the Law.

The king’s audition (Esth 2:12-2:14)

“The turn came for each girl to go in to King Artaxerxes. This took place after being twelve months under the regulations for the women. The regular period of their beautifying treatment was six months with oil of myrrh and six months with perfumes and cosmetics for women. When the girl went in to the king, she was given whatever she desired to take with her from the harem to the king’s palace. In the evening she went in. Then in the morning, she came back to the second harem in the custody of Shaashgaz the king’s eunuch who was in charge of the concubines. She did not go in to the king again, unless the king delighted in her and she was summoned by name.”

The audition with the king was pretty simple. Each girl had to wait a year in the harem in order to be beautiful enough for the king. These girls would spend 6 months with myrrh massage treatments and another 6 months with perfume and cosmetics massage treatments. When the girl went in to visit the king, she could bring whatever she wanted with her. She would then spend the evening with the king. Then in the morning, she would be part of the concubine harem that was under the custody of another eunuch, where she stayed until and if she was called again to be with the king.