The Temple Tax

The capture of Christ (detail)

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  When they reached Kfar Nahum the collectors of the half-shekel tax came to Peter and said, “Does not your Rabbi pay the tax?” He replied, “Yes.” When he went into the house Jesus spoke to him first, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do the rulers of the world collect duties and taxes? From their own people, or from others?” He replied, “From others.” Jesus said, “Then their own people are exempt. But rather than give offense to them, go down to the sea and throw in your hook. Take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth you will find a shekel in it. Take that and give it to them for both of us.” (Matthew 17: 24-27)

Jesus had Peter his follower take a coin out of a fish’s mouth to give to the collectors of the half-shekel tax  for one reason: so as not to offend them. Why? Because as Jesus said to Peter that those who collect taxes do not pay them themselves, but take the money from others. It was unfair, yet Jesus said as did Paul later to submit to them for the Lord’s sake.

Jesus was himself exempt from the temple tax because he was descended from David. And he is the only king there is, from then, to now, to forever.

We see here a clear distinction made by Jesus between rulers and others. If the Lord had not said this to Peter we would not know how he saw it. He would have simply given the money and said nothing. But Jesus made it clear to us here that there are two groups: the rulers of the world and others. The rulers are not the others. The others are not the rulers. Two different groups.

It records here that Jesus did not pay the tax he gave it to them.

The fish is food. That is the type of business Peter was in. So when he took the coin from the fish; he took it from his livelihood: his business and his food.

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