Give to Caesar; Give to God
"Give to Caesar
what is Caesar's and to God what is God's."
Many of my
readers have asked me to explain what Jesus said in this verse.
They want to know if Jesus meant to say to pay taxes or not.
In order to
explain this verse, I need to quote several other parts of the Bible,
The first Biblical
Principle to understand is that Jesus spoke in parables, on purpose,
to hide understanding.
Mat 13:10 And
the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them
Mat 13:11 He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto
you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to
them it is not given.
that for every parable, there are at least two meanings. There is
the misleading meaning for the foolish world (the popular interpretation),
and then there is the true meaning that would be understood only
by true believers.
Thus, if there
are two meanings, at least, both seemingly valid on the surface,
then, in order to know which is which, we need to see what God has
already said on this matter. Furthermore, it gets even harder, because
some verses might be used by false Biblical teachers (false prophets)
to justify the wrong view! Thus, discernment is needed. And what
is discernment? I had one Christian man email me recently to say
that discernment is not even a word!
1 : the quality
of being able to grasp and comprehend what is obscure
: showing insight
: to see or
understand the difference
is the ability to know what is true, and what is not true! And it
is gained by experience. Just like muscles get stronger with use,
so does your own discernment.
But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those
who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern
both good and evil.
I take pains
to explain this, because today, discernment is a skill that is greatly
So, first of
all, before we ask if God approves giving money to kings, we ought
to consider what God thinks of Kings in general.
When the Israelites
wanted a King, God said that was because the people were rejecting
God, and thus, the King itself was a form of God's punishment upon
them. Kings are thieves.
1 Samuel 8:6-18
But when they said, "Give us a king to lead us," this displeased
Samuel; so he prayed to the LORD. 7 And the LORD told him: "Listen
to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you
they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king.
8 As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt
until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are
doing to you. 9 Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let
them know what the king who will reign over them will do."
10 Samuel told
all the words of the LORD to the people who were asking him for
a king. 11 He said, "This is what the king who will reign over you
will do: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots
and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. 12 Some
he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties,
and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others
to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13 He will
take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He
will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves
and give them to his attendants. 15 He will take a tenth of your
grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants.
16 Your menservants and maidservants and the best of your cattle
and donkeys he will take for his own use. 17 He will take a tenth
of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. 18 When
that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king
you have chosen, and the LORD will not answer you in that day."
Why won't the
Lord answer prayers for deliverance? Because God is the one sending
the punishment upon the people in the first place, a punishment
they deserve! God raises up Kings to punish God's people. Kings
are used by God to oppress and punish rebellious people.
this while in exile in Babylon:
Daniel 9 "Therefore
the curses and sworn judgments written in the Law of Moses, the
servant of God, have been poured out on us, because we have sinned
What Law was
Daniel recognizing? This one if they disobey the commandments: Leviticus
And I will bring a sword upon you, that shall avenge
the quarrel of my covenant: and when ye are gathered together within
your cities, I will send the pestilence among you; and ye shall
be delivered into the hand of the enemy.
all the Israelites were delivered into the hand of the Babylonian
King, as a punishment.
support a doctrine called "the divine right of Kings". They teach
this to preach obedience to tyrants.
They use Daniel
4, that says that God raises up all Kings, to teach submission to
tyrants. They forget that God uses kings to punish God's people
when they disobey God!
" 'The decision is announced by messengers, the holy ones declare
the verdict, so that the living may know that the Most High is sovereign
over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes and
sets over them the lowliest of men.'
that Daniel himself, in obedience to God, refused to obey
orders of the King to worship the king, and Daniel himself
was thrown into the Lion's den for disobedience, and the man who
wished Daniel to worship the King were thrown in, instead. Rightly,
then, those who teach total submission to tyrants ought to be thrown
to the Lions!
always resisted by God's people.
were commanded to worship a golden statue. They didn't and were
saved from fire.
The book of
Esther is about a King who allowed those who hated the Jews to attack
them, but later, Esther revealed that she was a Jew, and the King
then issued another order allowing the Jews to resist their attackers.
Egypt issued the order to kill babies. Moses was placed into a basket,
and was saved.
issued the order to kill babies. Jesus was saved; his family fled
God will punish
And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall punish
the host of the high ones that are on high, and the kings of the
earth upon the earth.
God is the
King of Kings!
These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome
them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that
are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.
I also teach
the "divine right of Kings". But only if it is understood that WE
1 Peter 2:9
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood,
an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the
praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous
5 and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from
the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who
loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, 6 and has
made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him
be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
And have made us kings and priests to our God;
And we shall reign on the earth.
In actual fact,
the USA was founded by people who understood their Biblical sovereign
rights, that is, the rights of Kings!
This is why
there were no taxes for the first 200 years there were colonists
in the USA, and why there was rebellion at the idea of 1% tax on
tea by the King of England. It was not the amount they were battling,
and they did not fight for the right to "be represented" while paying
55% tax rates; they were battling the idea of any taxes at all!
book of Judges is all about God raising up Judges to free his people
from having to pay tribute, or taxes, to foreign powers. After the
period of Judges, and after the age of Kings began, that kind of
Godly deliverance stopped, and the nature of the Kings grew worse
and worse, particularly after the first three kings, Saul, David,
and Solomon. Solomon's child was a tyrant who raised oppressive
So, yes, God
sets up Kings, but that does not mean that submitting to them in
all cases is the same as submission to God; rather God sets up kings
as a punishment for people who will not submit to God, Kings are
of nuances are often lost on many people who read the Bible.
fools cry out that God sanctions slavery. The reality is that God
calls his people out to freedom.
fools cry out that God sanctions usury. The reality is that the
prophets described usurers as extortioners, murderers, thieves,
& slave owners, etc.
So, to understand
Jesus's answer, we need to understand the nature of the question,
and who was asking it and why.
asked the question. They hated Jesus, they wanted to kill him, and
they eventually succeeded. This question was a trap. It damned Jesus
if Jesus said to pay taxes, and it damned Jesus if Jesus said to
not pay taxes. How so?
If Jesus said
to pay taxes, Jesus would be violating all the Biblical laws, principles,
and stories of Godly deliverance, and could have been condemned
by the laws of the "self-righteous" Pharisees.
If Jesus said
to not pay taxes, then Caesar would have reason to kill him. Just
like today in our world if you don't pay taxes, there is tribulation
This is why
the question was a trap, it was a classic "Catch 22", damned by
God if you say to pay, damned by Caesar if you say to not pay taxes.
This is why
they marveled at the answer. Jesus was wise. He gave an answer that
would be interpreted as "pay taxes" by unrighteous people, and only
those who know the Bible would understand that Jesus was saying
"of course you have no obligation to pay taxes".
Paying Taxes to Caesar
15 Then the
Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in
his words. 16 They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians.
"Teacher," they said, "we know you are a man of integrity and that
you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren't
swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are. 17
Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay taxes to
Caesar or not?"
18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, "You hypocrites,
why are you trying to trap me? 19 Show me the coin used for paying
the tax." They brought him a denarius, 20 and he asked them, "Whose
portrait is this? And whose inscription?"
Then he said to them, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God
what is God's."
22 When they
heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.
It does not
take a scholarly understanding to know how to interpret the words
of Jesus. It's simple. But the wicked will slander even the simple
Thou shalt not steal.
to all men, as the Pharisees admitted that it did, and, of course
that applies even to Caesar. But the foolish will say that Caesar
has a right to steal, or that compulsory taxes are somehow not stealing,
or that it's not stealing if we have a right to vote, despite the
clear warnings in Samuel 8:6-18 that the king will take, take, take,
and that Kings are a punishment on people who will not obey the
King of Kings.
to follow the second part of what Jesus said, to pay "To God, what
is God's", you have to know what belongs to God.
All silver and gold belong to me, [says the Lord God]
The earth is the LORD's, and the fulness thereof; the world, and
they that dwell therein.
10:26 For the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof.
So, if everything
belongs to God, and if you give everything to God, then what is
left over for Caesar? Pause and think.
Some will say
that Jesus implied that the coin belonged to Caesar, because the
coin had Caesar's image on it. Really? Our money today has the images
of dead presidents on them. Does that mean it belongs to them? Nobody
ever makes that claim!
Some say that
all US paper money belongs to the Federal Reserve. Not so.
In truth, Federal
Reserve Notes are not the "property" or "assets" of the Federal
Reserve who issues them, they are the LIABILITIES of the Federal
Reserve who issues them! Our money today used to be based on promissory
notes, or promises to pay.
If you have
a $5 bill, it does not mean that you owe the Fed $5, it means that
the Fed owes you $5, and it should have been five silver dollars,
It is amazing
to me that fools can get that basic understanding so wrong, in their
twisted attempts to mis-apply the words of Jesus!
Money is money
because it belongs to the one holding it, not the one who issued
There is a
risk in explaining the words of Jesus. Especially today. I will
be viscously attacked for this article, primarily by Christians
whose government approved, tax-exempt, 501(c)3 Churches teach them,
in full hypocrisy, that the people attending their Church need to
pay taxes that the Church need not pay.
will quote Romans 13.
But if you
understand that WE THE PEOPLE are sovereigns, kings, the power,
then the passage reads entirely differently!
Here it is,
Romans 13 (NIV)
1 Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for
there is no authority except that which God has established. The
authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently,
he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God
has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.
3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those
who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority?
Then do what is right and he will commend you. 4 For he is God's
servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does
not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of
wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary
to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment
but also because of conscience. 6 This is also why you pay taxes,
for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time
to governing. 7 Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes,
pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if
honor, then honor.
Here it is,
more properly translated, if you know that WE, Christians, are KINGS
Romans 13 (NIV)
1 Everyone must submit himself to WE THE PEOPLE UNDER GOD, for there
is no authority except that which God has established. THE PEOPLE
THAT exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, he who
rebels against THE PEOPLE is rebelling against what God has instituted,
and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For THE
PEOPLE hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who
do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of THE PEOPLE WHO ARE
SOVEREIGN AUTHORITIES UNDER GOD? Then do what is right and THE PEOPLE
will commend you. 4 For THE PEOPLE ARE God's servant to do you good.
But if you do wrong, be afraid, for THE PEOPLE do not HAVE THE RIGHT
TO BEAR ARMS FOR nothing. THE PEOPLE ARE God's servant, an agent
of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is
necessary to submit to THE PEOPLE UNDER GOD, not only because of
possible punishment but also because of conscience. 6 This is also
why THE STATES are to pay THE CONSTITUTIONAL CAPITATION TAX, for
WE THE PEOPLE are God's servants, AND THE PROPERLY DELEGATED CONSTITUTIONAL
AUTHORITIES give their full time to governing. 7 Give everyone what
you owe him: If you LEGALLY AND LAWFULLY owe taxes, pay those taxes;
if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then
I have hesitated
to preach this in full, for the many years I have known all of this,
because persecution upon me is a likely result. But I have been
encouraged today by my wife, who said, "you must preach that", God
22 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that
endureth to the end shall be saved.
23 But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another:
for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities
of Israel, till the Son of man be come.
24 The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his
25 It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the
servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house
Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?
26 Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall
not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known.
27 What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what
ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops.
ought to think carefully if you decide to defy Kings on this earth.
They will likely bring punishments due by God, and you may need
a miracle to be delivered, as Daniel and his three friends were
2 Timothy 3:12
In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus
will be persecuted,
1 Chronicles 16:22 "Do not touch my anointed ones; do my prophets
Hommel [send him mail]
is editor of the Silver Stock
© 2010 Jason Hommel