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?

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Love (Lk 6:32-6:32)

“If you love

Those who love you,

What credit is that

To you?

Even sinners

Love those

Who love them.”

 

καὶ εἰ ἀγαπᾶτε τοὺς ἀγαπῶντας ὑμᾶς, ποία ὑμῖν χάρις ἐστίν; καὶ γὰρ οἱ ἁμαρτωλοὶ τοὺς ἀγαπῶντας αὐτοὺς ἀγαπῶσιν.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said that if you love those who love you (καὶ εἰ ἀγαπᾶτε τοὺς ἀγαπῶντας ὑμᾶς), what credit or gift is that to you (ποία ὑμῖν χάρις ἐστίν)?  Even sinners love those who love them (καὶ γὰρ οἱ ἁμαρτωλοὶ τοὺς ἀγαπῶντας αὐτοὺς ἀγαπῶσιν).  Once again Matthew, chapter 5:46, and Luke, are almost the same.  Matthew had Jesus say that if you only loved those who loved you (ἐὰν γὰρ ἀγαπήσητε τοὺς ἀγαπῶντας ὑμᾶς), what kind of reward would you get (τίνα μισθὸν ἔχετε)?  However, Matthew compared them to the Roman tax collectors (οὐχὶ καὶ οἱ τελῶναι τὸ αὐτὸ ποιοῦσιν) rather than sinners as here in Luke.  However, quite often tax collectors were compared to sinners.  If you love only those who love you, what kind of lover are you?

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.

The question about taxes (Mt 22:17-22:17)

“Tell us!

Then,

What do you think?

Is it lawful

To pay taxes

To Caesar

Or not?”

 

εἰπὸν οὖν ἡμῖν, τί σοι δοκεῖ; ἔξεστιν δοῦναι κῆνσον Καίσαρι ἢ οὔ;

 

This is similar to Mark, chapter 12:14, and Luke, chapter 20:22, but slightly different.  Then 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, and the Israelites, the Pharisees, were there.  Thus, his answer might offend someone.

They did not believe John the Baptist (Mt 21:32-21:32)

“John came to you

In the way of righteousness.

You did not believe him.

But the tax collectors

And the prostitutes

Believed him.

Even after you saw it,

You did not change your mind.

You did not believe him.”

 

ἦλθεν γὰρ Ἰωάνης πρὸς ὑμᾶς ἐν ὁδῷ δικαιοσύνης, καὶ οὐκ ἐπιστεύσατε αὐτῷ· οἱ δὲ τελῶναι καὶ αἱ πόρναι ἐπίστευσαν αὐτῷ· ὑμεῖς δὲ ἰδόντες οὐδὲ μετεμελήθητε ὕστερον τοῦ πιστεῦσαι αὐτῷ.

 

This saying about John the Baptist is unique to Matthew, based on his continual emphasis on the role of John the Baptist.  However, there is something similar to this in Luke, chapter 7:29-30, but within another context.  Jesus used the example of John the Baptist who had come to them in his righteousness way (ἦλθεν γὰρ Ἰωάνης πρὸς ὑμᾶς ἐν ὁδῷ δικαιοσύνης).  They had not believed him (καὶ οὐκ ἐπιστεύσατε αὐτῷ), but the Roman tax collectors and the prostitutes had believed him (οἱ δὲ τελῶναι καὶ αἱ πόρναι ἐπίστευσαν αὐτῷ).  Even after they saw John (ὑμεῖς δὲ ἰδόντες), they did not change their minds, or repent (οὐδὲ μετεμελήθητε ὕστερον), or believe in him (πιστεῦσαι αὐτῷ).  Jesus chided them for their rejection of John the Baptist.

Perfect love (Mt 5:46-5:48)

“If you love those

Who love you,

What reward do you have?

Do not even the tax collectors

Do the same?

If you greet only

Your brothers and sisters,

What more are you doing

Than others?

Do not even the gentiles

Do the same?

Therefore,

Be perfect,

As your heavenly Father

Is perfect.”

 

ἐὰν γὰρ ἀγαπήσητε τοὺς ἀγαπῶντας ὑμᾶς, τίνα μισθὸν ἔχετε; οὐχὶ καὶ οἱ τελῶναι τὸ αὐτὸ ποιοῦσιν;

καὶ ἐὰν ἀσπάσησθε τοὺς ἀδελφοὺς ὑμῶν μόνον, τί περισσὸν ποιεῖτε; οὐχὶ καὶ οἱ ἐθνικοὶ τὸ αὐτὸ ποιοῦσιν;

Ἔσεσθε οὖν ὑμεῖς τέλειοι ὡς ὁ Πατὴρ ὑμῶν ὁ οὐράνιος τέλειός ἐστιν.

 

Once again Matthew and Luke, chapter 6:32-34, are almost the same, perhaps a slightly different use of the Q source.  If you only loved those who loved you (ἐὰν γὰρ ἀγαπήσητε τοὺς ἀγαπῶντας ὑμᾶς), what kind of reward would you get (τίνα μισθὸν ἔχετε)?  Even the Roman tax collectors (οὐχὶ καὶ οἱ τελῶναι τὸ αὐτὸ ποιοῦσιν) love those who love them.  If you only just greet your brothers (καὶ ἐὰν ἀσπάσησθε τοὺς ἀδελφοὺς ὑμῶν μόνον), the members of your own family, what is the big deal or so extraordinary (τί περισσὸν ποιεῖτε)?  Even the gentiles or non-Jewish people (οἱ ἐθνικοὶ), since almost all the followers of Jesus were Jewish, did that (οὐχὶ καὶ οἱ ἐθνικοὶ τὸ αὐτὸ ποιοῦσιν).  If they wanted to be perfect (Ἔσεσθε οὖν ὑμεῖς τέλειοι), like their heavenly Father (ὡς ὁ Πατὴρ ὑμῶν ὁ οὐράνιος τέλειός ἐστιν), they had to love and greet everyone.  Only Matthew has this emphasis on perfection, completeness, or maturity (τέλειός).