Matthew 17:24-27

Matthew17: 24-27 And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? {tribute: called in the original, didrachma, being in value fifteen pence sterling; about thirty seven cents} He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee. {a piece…: or, a stater: it is half an ounce of silver, in value two shillings and six pence, sterling; about fifty five cents}

One must be very careful when reading other translations because some say that this was temple tax, which it was not. It was called tribute money. Tribute in the Greek is didrachmon, pronounced did’-rakh-mon.

From just a little research one can find in scripture that all Jewish males paid a tax to support the temple upkeep according to the law found at Exodus 30:13. Although there is no mention in Exodus of an annual levy. But most Jewish men paid the tax each year, including Jews who lived outside of Palestine. Each man paid this tax as a ransom for their soul because they had been redeemed from Egyptian slavery. ( A symbolic gesture in recognition of what they owed God) I think this tax may have been rendered at Passover.

But this tax was not that tax. How do we know? Remember, this took place at Capernaum, in His home district of Galilee. Note that the tax, which He was called upon to pay, the didrachma, was a head tax levied by the Romans on all strangers. This tax of a didrachma, a Greek silver coin, was not the Jewish temple tax of a half shekel, paid by all who were of the Jewish religion.

To even ask if Jesus paid the temple tax would have been an insult as doubting His citizenship. If this tax had been the temple tax, this was not levied on any alien, only on the Judeans. If this were the case Jesus could not have said that this tax was levied on the aliens and the sons are exempt.

Therefore it was clearly the Roman didrachma head tax, levied only on strangers. Also notice how Jesus said to pay it. A fish would be caught, having in its mouth a stater, which was another Greek coin. The Jewish temple tax could only be paid with a Jewish half-shekel coin, not a coin issued by pagans. Evidently Jesus had not been in Capernaum for some time because they did not recognize Him as a local resident.

“Strangers” here does not necessarily refer to foreigners. The Greek word (allotrios) can simply mean, “belonging to another; not of one’s own family.” So Jesus stated the obvious conclusion, “Then the sons are free.” Keep in mind that Jesus was exempt from owing this or any tax because His soul did not need to be ransomed; it did not need atonement. But as usual and humble like manner, Jesus did not just think of Himself. He thought of others. He didn’t want to be a stumbling block to those He was trying to reach.

Jesus spoke of the kings of the earth collecting the tax. I think He was making a reference to the tax collector not being a priest because the temple tax was collected by the priests, not by a king. This is also a note from the Holy Spirit that this was not temple tax.

There are other times when Christ did things that were not really required of Him. He submitted Himself for baptism, not because He had sins to repent of, but to partake of baptism with us, and to set an example. Jesus also showed us this example at the cross, when He laid down His life and paid the ransom for our souls.

It might be that Matthew (Matthityahu) mentions this because he was a tax collector before he was called to be a fisher of men. Tax collectors set up booths to collect this tax. Did you notice that Petros (Peter) answered the tax collector with out knowing the true answer? But Jesus used this situation to emphasize His kingly role. Just as kings pay no taxes and collect none from their family, Jesus owed no taxes. But those who were asking did not recognize Jesus as their coming King, or even as a resident of Palestine for that matter, so rather than offend those who did not understand, Jesus supplied the tax money. They were still called to be obedient to the authorities, as we know that Jesus taught the disciples this principle. We like ambassadors of Jesus must keep the local laws as long as they do not call us to be disobedient to the One who sends us. We are to remain loyal to our coming King because we are His ambassadors. The disciples were to do no less.

Also notice that Jesus knew what Peter was thinking before he even had a chance to speak. The omniscience of God is a concern for the sinner, and a comfort for the saint. Jesus being the word in the flesh… knows the problems we all face. He knows the mounting obligations we all face. Nothing takes Him by surprise.

Another thing to take notice of is that Peter does not have to cast any net; he was told to use a mere hook. The first fish that was caught on that hook had the exact amount needed to pay the tax thus showing us Jesus’s Lordship over His creation.

Another thing is this: We really can ask the Lord to help us come up with the monies needed to pay tribute to those who teach us the word of God, the ways that He made known unto Moses. (Moshe) If we do not have the money, we need only mention to Jesus and He can send us to perform work to collect the monies needed.

I have a testimony of this in my own life. I wanted to make a pledge and did not have a job. In faith, I made the pledge anyway, trusting that my prayer to be moved into the position of a job, long enough to keep that pledge fulfilled. A week later, I was in a short-term job and collected over and above what I had pledged. He is faithful to those that are faithful to Him. We owe God all our love, all our heart, all our will and strength. even to the point of fishing for a coin.

I tend to think that like Jesus supplied the need to cover the cost that the authorities were asking for, that He is showing us another example that He provides for us in our need, which He does every day by His sufficient grace.

One thing about Peter is that Jesus tends to use Peter (who represents the band of disciples) as an opportunity to teach His disciples a lesson in faith and life. We can always relate to Peter can’t we?

Matthew doesn’t tell us that Peter actually went and caught this fish. Some could argue that it may have been just a story way of telling Peter to go fishing and earn the money.

Personally, I just believe this fish story as it is written. Everyone has a fish story. This one I believe belongs to Peter because he was the one sent to go fishing and the Lord provided for his need. But the lesson is ours for the taking.


About eudoranachand

A Spirit filled disciple who continually seeks His kingdom and His righteousness.
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