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?

Zacchaeus defends himself (Lk 19:8-19:8)

“Zacchaeus stood there.

He said

To the Lord.

‘Look!

Lord!

I will give

To the poor

Half of my possessions.

If I have defrauded

Anyone of anything,

I will pay back

Four times as much.’”

 

σταθεὶς δὲ Ζακχαῖος εἶπεν πρὸς τὸν Κύριον Ἰδοὺ τὰ ἡμίσειά μου τῶν ὑπαρχόντων, Κύριε, τοῖς πτωχοῖς δίδωμι, καὶ εἴ τινός τι ἐσυκοφάντησα ἀποδίδωμι τετραπλοῦν.

 

Luke indicated that Zacchaeus stood there (σταθεὶς δὲ Ζακχαῖος).  He then said to the Lord Jesus (εἶπεν πρὸς τὸν Κύριον), calling him Lord (Κύριε) that he was willing to give to the poor (τοῖς πτωχοῖς δίδωμι) half of his possessions (Ἰδοὺ τὰ ἡμίσειά μου τῶν ὑπαρχόντων).  He said that if he had defrauded anyone of anything (καὶ εἴ τινός τι ἐσυκοφάντησα), he was willing to pay it back 4 times as much (ἀποδίδωμι τετραπλοῦν).  Once again, Luke used the Greek word ἐσυκοφάντησα, that means to accuse falsely or defraud people, that was not found in any of the other Greek biblical writers.  Zacchaeus made a big deal about how he was not like the other tax collectors.  Despite his wealth, he was willing to give half of it away to some unnamed poor people.  Anytime, he was accused of defrauding people, he would give them 4 times what they were claiming.  This restoration of 4 times goes back to Exodus, chapter 22:1, about stealing sheep.  The thief had to pay four sheep for any one stolen sheep.  Thus, Zacchaeus seemed like a very fair person, leaning over backwards to help people.  Yet he was still wealthy.  Luke was the only synoptic with this story of Zacchaeus.  How do you treat people who claim that you are defrauding them?

Eats with sinners (Lk 15:2-15:2)

“Both the Pharisees

And the Scribes

Were grumbling.

They said.

‘This Jesus fellow

Welcomes sinners.

He eats with them.’”

 

καὶ διεγόγγυζον οἵ τε Φαρισαῖοι καὶ οἱ γραμματεῖς λέγοντες ὅτι Οὗτος ἁμαρτωλοὺς προσδέχεται καὶ συνεσθίει αὐτοῖς

 

Luke uniquely talked about Jesus and his coziness with sinners that upset the Pharisees and the Scribes.  Luke said that both the Pharisees (οἵ τε Φαρισαῖοι) and the Scribes (καὶ οἱ γραμματεῖς) were grumbling (καὶ διεγόγγυζον), saying (λέγοντες), that this fellow, Jesus, welcomes sinners (ὅτι Οὗτος ἁμαρτωλοὺς προσδέχεται) and eats with them (καὶ συνεσθίει αὐτοῖς).  Eating with sinners and tax collectors was a form of fellowship.  Perhaps the Pharisees and Scribes were correct in indicating that Jesus was approving their lifestyle.  He was giving tacit acceptance to these sinners and their deeds, scandalizing the people of Israel.  Listening to sinners was one thing.  Eating with them was another thing.  Would you welcome and eat with a public sinner?

The Son of Man (Lk 7:34-7:34)

“The Son of Man

Has come

Eating

And drinking.

Yet you say.

‘Look!

A glutton!

Look!

A drunkard!

Look!

A friend

Of tax collectors

And sinners!’”

 

ἐλήλυθεν ὁ Υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐσθίων καὶ πίνων, καὶ λέγετε Ἰδοὺ ἄνθρωπος φάγος καὶ οἰνοπότης, φίλος τελωνῶν καὶ ἁμαρτωλῶν

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said that the Son of Man came (ἐλήλυθεν ὁ Υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου) eating (ἐσθίων) and drinking (καὶ πίνων).  However, they said that he was a glutton (καὶ λέγετε Ἰδοὺ ἄνθρωπος φάγος), a drunkard (καὶ οἰνοπότης), and a friend of tax collectors and sinners (φίλος τελωνῶν καὶ ἁμαρτωλῶν).  Matthew, chapter 11:19, had a similar statement, indicating a possible common Q source.  They called the Son of Man, Jesus, a glutton and a drunkard, because he was eating and drinking.  The Son of Man was also considered a friend or lover to tax collectors and sinners.  In other words, whether you ate or drank, it did not matter, they would find some fault in whatever John or Jesus did.  Do you like to eat and drink and hang out with sinners?

Baptized by John (Lk 7:29-7:29)

“All the people

Who heard this,

Including the tax collectors,

Acknowledged

The justice of God.

They had been baptized

With John’s baptism.”

 

καὶ πᾶς ὁ λαὸς ἀκούσας καὶ οἱ τελῶναι ἐδικαίωσαν τὸν Θεόν, βαπτισθέντες τὸ βάπτισμα Ἰωάνου·

 

Luke has a unique statement about everybody being baptized by John the Baptist.  He said that all the people who heard John (καὶ πᾶς ὁ λαὸς ἀκούσας), even including the tax collectors (καὶ οἱ τελῶναι), acknowledged the justice of God (ἐδικαίωσαν τὸν Θεόν).  They had been baptized with John’s baptism (βαπτισθέντες τὸ βάπτισμα Ἰωάνου).  Jesus noted that even the tax collectors listened to John the Baptist and recognized the justice or righteousness of God.  This saying of Luke indicated the importance and reach of John the Baptist and his baptism.  Do you as a sinner recognize the value of Baptism?

Tax collectors (Lk 3:12-3:12)

“Even tax collectors

Came to be baptized.

They asked him.

‘Teacher!

What shall we do?’”

 

ἦλθον δὲ καὶ τελῶναι βαπτισθῆναι καὶ εἶπαν πρὸς αὐτόν Διδάσκαλε, τί ποιήσωμεν;

 

This is another one of the unique sayings of Luke about John and his preaching that is not found elsewhere in the biblical writings.  Luke said that even tax collectors came to be baptized (ἦλθον δὲ καὶ τελῶναι βαπτισθῆναι).  They asked John (καὶ εἶπαν πρὸς αὐτόν), as their teacher (Διδάσκαλε), what they should do (τί ποιήσωμεν).  Tax collectors had a special role in the biblical writings as they were considered like traitors to the Jewish people, since these were Jewish people who collected the Roman tax from the local people.  However, they seemed capable of repentance, as here they were seeking baptism from John.

Scribes and Pharisees complained (Mk 2:16-2:16)

“When the Scribes

And the Pharisees,

Saw

That he was eating

With sinners

And tax collectors,

They said

To his disciples.

‘Why does he eat

With tax collectors

And sinners?’”

 

καὶ οἱ γραμματεῖς τῶν Φαρισαίων ἰδόντες ὅτι ἐσθίει μετὰ τῶν ἁμαρτωλῶν καὶ τελωνῶν, ἔλεγον τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ Ὅτι μετὰ τῶν τελωνῶν καὶ ἁμαρτωλῶν ἐσθίει;

 

Luke, chapter 5:30, and Matthew, chapter 9:11, are similar to Mark, so that Mark might be the source of this incident.  In Matthew, it is only the Pharisees and not the Scribes who are complaining.  These Pharisees and Scribes saw this dinner party (καὶ οἱ γραμματεῖς τῶν Φαρισαίων ἰδόντες) from the outside.  They saw that Jesus was eating with sinners and tax collectors (ὅτι ἐσθίει μετὰ τῶν ἁμαρτωλῶν καὶ τελωνῶν).  Then they asked the disciples of Jesus (ἔλεγον τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ), and not Jesus himself, why was Jesus eating with tax collectors and sinners (Ὅτι μετὰ τῶν τελωνῶν καὶ ἁμαρτωλῶν ἐσθίει)?  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 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.