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Paying Taxes to Caesar

15 Then the Pharisees[a] went out and planned together to entrap him with his own words.[b] 16 They sent to him their disciples along with the Herodians,[c] saying, “Teacher, we know that you are truthful, and teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.[d] You do not court anyone’s favor because you show no partiality.[e] 17 Tell us then, what do you think? Is it right[f] to pay taxes[g] to Caesar[h] or not?”

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  1. Matthew 22:15 sn See the note on Pharisees in 3:7.
  2. Matthew 22:15 tn Grk “trap him in word.”
  3. Matthew 22:16 sn The Herodians are mentioned in the NT only once in Matt (22:16 = Mark 12:13) and twice in Mark (3:6; 12:13; some mss also read “Herodians” instead of “Herod” in Mark 8:15). It is generally assumed that as a group the Herodians were Jewish supporters of the Herodian dynasty (or of Herod Antipas in particular). In every instance they are linked with the Pharisees. This probably reflects agreement regarding political objectives (nationalism as opposed to submission to the yoke of Roman oppression) rather than philosophy or religious beliefs.
  4. Matthew 22:16 sn Teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Very few comments are as deceitful as this one; they did not really believe this at all. The question of the Pharisees and Herodians was specifically designed to trap Jesus.
  5. Matthew 22:16 tn Grk “And it is not a concern to you about anyone because you do not see the face of men.”
  6. Matthew 22:17 tn Or “lawful,” that is, in accordance with God’s divine law. On the syntax of ἔξεστιν (exestin) with an infinitive and accusative, see BDF §409.3.
  7. Matthew 22:17 tn According to L&N 57.180 the term κῆνσος (kēnsos) was borrowed from Latin and referred to a poll tax, a tax paid by each adult male to the Roman This question concerning taxes was specifically designed to trap Jesus. If he answered yes, then his opponents could publicly discredit him as a sympathizer with Rome. If he answered no, then they could go to the Roman governor and accuse Jesus of rebellion.
  8. Matthew 22:17 tn Or “to the emperor” (“Caesar” is a title for the Roman emperor).

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