The dinner with the tax collectors (Lk 5:29-5:29)

“Then Levi

Gave

A great banquet

For Jesus

In his house.

There was a large crowd

Of tax collectors

And others

Sitting at the table

With them.”

 

Καὶ ἐποίησεν δοχὴν μεγάλην Λευεὶς αὐτῷ ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ αὐτοῦ· καὶ ἦν ὄχλος πολὺς τελωνῶν καὶ ἄλλων οἳ ἦσαν μετ’ αὐτῶν κατακείμενοι.

 

Luke said that Levi gave a great banquet for Jesus (Καὶ ἐποίησεν δοχὴν μεγάλην Λευεὶς αὐτῷ) in his house (ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ αὐτοῦ).  There was a large crowd of tax collectors (καὶ ἦν ὄχλος πολὺς τελωνῶν) and others (καὶ ἄλλων οἳ ἦσαν) sitting or reclining at the table with them (μετ’ αὐτῶν κατακείμενοι).  Mark, chapter 2:15, and Matthew, chapter 9:10, are similar to Luke, so that Mark might be the source of this event.  Mark and Luke explicitly mentioned that Jesus was having a meal in the house of Levi.  Perhaps Levi was wealthy enough to have a house big enough for a large banquet.  As Levi was a tax collector, other tax collectors were there also.  Was this a farewell meal for Levi as he was about to set out as a disciple of Jesus?  Jesus sat or reclined at the dining table in Levi’s house.  However, besides the tax collectors, Mark and Matthew said that a lot of sinners came to sit down or recline with Jesus and his disciples.  However, Luke simply called them “others.”  These tax collectors were collecting money or tolls for the Roman Empire, so that they could hardly be called model Jewish citizens.  The others or sinners, on the other hand, could either be non-Jewish gentiles or other public immoral unclean Jewish men.  In general, tax collectors and sinners were lumped together, since neither cared much for following the Jewish law, unlike the Pharisees.  Matthew said some of the disciples of Jesus were there.  He also said that this meal was in a house without indicating whose house.  Would it have been the house of Jesus in Capernaum?  Presumably, it was the house of Matthew, the tax collector, since other tax collectors were there also.

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The meal with the tax collectors (Mk 2:15-2:15)

“And as he sat

At dinner

In Levi’s house,

Many tax collectors

And sinners

Were also sitting

With Jesus

And his disciples.

There were many

Who followed him.”

 

Καὶ γίνεται κατακεῖσθαι αὐτὸν ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ αὐτοῦ, καὶ πολλοὶ τελῶναι καὶ ἁμαρτωλοὶ συνανέκειντο τῷ Ἰησοῦ καὶ τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ, ἦσαν γὰρ πολλοὶ καὶ ἠκολούθουν αὐτῷ.

 

Luke, chapter 5:29, and Matthew, chapter 9:10, are similar to Mark, so that Mark might be the source of this event.  Here and in Luke, it was explicitly mentioned that Jesus was having a meal in the house of Levi (Καὶ γίνεται κατακεῖσθαι αὐτὸν ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ αὐτοῦ).  As Levi was a tax collector, other tax collectors (καὶ πολλοὶ τελῶναι) were there also.  Was this a farewell meal for Levi as he was about to set out as a disciple of Jesus?  Jesus sat or reclined at the dining table in this house.  However, besides the tax collectors, a lot of sinners came to sit down or recline (καὶ ἁμαρτωλοὶ συνανέκειντο) with Jesus and his disciples (τῷ Ἰησοῦ καὶ τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ).  The tax collectors were collecting money or tolls for the Roman Empire, so that they could hardly be called model Jewish citizens.  The sinners (ἁμαρτωλοὶ), on the other hand, could either be non-Jewish gentiles or other public immoral Jewish men, who were unclean.  In general, tax collectors and sinners were lumped together, since neither cared much for following the Jewish law, unlike the Pharisees.  However, many people were already followers of Jesus (ἦσαν γὰρ πολλοὶ καὶ ἠκολούθουν αὐτῷ).  How were these followers different from his disciples?

Do the sons of the king pay the tax? (Mt 17:25-17:26)

“When Peter came home,

Jesus anticipated

What Peter was going to say.

He asked him.

‘What do you think?

Simon!

From whom do kings

Of the earth

Take taxes

Or tributes?

Do they demand that

From their children

Or from other strangers?’

When Peter said.

‘From other strangers.’

Jesus said to him.

‘Then indeed

The children

Are free.’”

 

καὶ ἐλθόντα εἰς τὴν οἰκίαν προέφθασεν αὐτὸν ὁ Ἰησοῦς λέγων Τί σοι δοκεῖ, Σίμων; οἱ βασιλεῖς τῆς γῆς ἀπὸ τίνων λαμβάνουσιν τέλη ἢ κῆνσον; ἀπὸ τῶν υἱῶν αὐτῶν ἢ ἀπὸ τῶν ἀλλοτρίων;

εἰπόντος δέ Ἀπὸ τῶν ἀλλοτρίων, ἔφη αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς Ἄραγε ἐλεύθεροί εἰσιν οἱ υἱοί.

 

This section about the temple tax is unique to Matthew.  When Peter came home (καὶ ἐλθόντα εἰς τὴν οἰκίαν), after talking to the collectors of the Temple tax, Jesus anticipated that Peter (προέφθασεν αὐτὸν ὁ Ἰησοῦς) was going to ask him about this tax.  He spoke to him, addressing him as Simon, and not Peter, as he asked him what did he think (λέγων Τί σοι δοκεῖ, Σίμων) about paying this tax?  Jesus wanted to know if the kings of the earth take taxes (οἱ βασιλεῖς τῆς γῆς ἀπὸ τίνων λαμβάνουσιν τέλη ἢ κῆνσον) from their own sons or children or rather from other strangers (ἀπὸ τῶν υἱῶν αὐτῶν ἢ ἀπὸ τῶν ἀλλοτρίων).  Peter responded that kings take their taxes and tolls from other strangers (εἰπόντος δέ Ἀπὸ τῶν ἀλλοτρίων), not their children.  Then Jesus said to him that indeed the sons or the children are free from this obligation to pay taxes (ἔφη αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς Ἄραγε ἐλεύθεροί εἰσιν οἱ υἱοί).  Jesus implied that they were the sons or children of God.