Wednesday: Taxes
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(Matt 17:24-27)

As last week’s lesson noted, the law of Moses had both civic and ceremonial components. The ceremonial aspect means that the temple was at the center of Jewish religious life. In fact, by the first century, the temple was probably the only remaining structure that gave the Jews any sense of national identity.

Image © Pacific Press from GoodSalt.com

Image © Pacific Press from GoodSalt.com

The temple that stood in Jerusalem was undergoing renovations during Jesus’ ministry. Herod the Great had started the grandiose project in about 20 B.C., and it would not be fully completed until A.D. 66. Recognizing how serious many Jews were about their faith, the Romans allowed the Jews to collect their own taxes in order to cover the costs involved with the maintenance of the temple. Every Jewish male over the age of twenty was to pay the half-shekel tax regardless of his economic status (Exod. 30:13, 38:26).

Read Matthew 17:24-27. What did Jesus mean when He said: Lest we should offend them? What principle do we find here that we should apply in our own lives, as well?

It seems that the temple tax collectors traveled throughout the provinces to ensure that every male fulfilled his legal obligation. Peter’s initial response to the tax collectors gives the impression that Jesus regularly paid His taxes (Matt. 17:24-25). However, as the Son of God, Jesus appears to question the appropriateness of having to pay taxes for the upkeep of His Father’s house.

If Jesus had paid the tribute without a protest, He would virtually have acknowledged the justice of the claim, and would thus have denied His divinity. But while He saw good to meet the demand, He denied the claim upon which it was based. In providing for the payment of the tribute He gave evidence of His divine character. It was made manifest that He was one with God, and therefore was not under tribute as a mere subject of the kingdom. -Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 434.

Notwithstanding, Jesus chose to comply with the authorities and directed Peter to retrieve the tax from the mouth of the first fish that he caught. The shekel in the fish’s mouth was enough to cover the tax for both Jesus and Peter.

Jesus paid His temple tax even though He knew that the magnificent structure would soon be destroyed (Matt. 24:1-2). What should this tell us about our obligations to be faithful in our tithes and offerings, regardless of whatever problems we believe exist?

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Wednesday: Taxes — 19 Comments

  1. "Peter’s initial response to the tax collectors gives the impression that Jesus regularly paid His taxes (Matt. 17:24-25)." I am inclined to believe that Peter was probably intimidated by authority as is shown several times in scripture (Jn 18; Gal 2) more than thinking that Jesus normally paid the temple tax.

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  2. From the New Testament account I don't get the impression that Peter was easily intimidated. Quite the opposite: I see him as bold and impulsive. He tended to speak first and think later.

    Thus I see his response to the temple tax collectors as an impulsive response. He didn't consider that persons directly connected to the temple service -- such as the Levites, priests, prophets or teachers -- were exempt from the temple tax. Thus, by paying the tax without question, Christ would have denied that He was a prophet or teacher or had any special connection to the temple. In His response to Peter, He implied that the temple belonged to Him, and that He was thus not required to pay taxes.

    It was a trap: No matter which way Christ responded, the priests would have something to use against Him. But, as He had done at other times, He responded in a way that they could not foresee. He paid the temple tax by working a miracle to obtain the money, thus giving evidence of His divinity.

    Like(23)
    • This gives me a better understanding.
      Before you explained this, I was a bit concerned about the idea that Jesus didn't pay taxes--especially since we had established before that we should obey the civil authorities.

      Like(2)
    • Taxes is one other way to open our conscience from the Land like tithe offering to give unto God What is of God, and give to Cesar What is of Cesar. Be careful of building too much project on your revenues just like you would be careful of not to give the Lord the right amount for your offering and Tithe.

      On the building of having a project of the internal revenue, I almost lost my eternal due to wrong filing amount. A so" called friend took me in for ride while putting me for a $5,555 taxed. I came home with my heart lumping and bumping out my stomach. It was like the alarm clock ticking out of my heart. I experienced such discomfort that I went to bed worrying about How much I would pay a tax professional to redo it for me.

      As I was sleeping, I saw Jesus asking me whom do I want to be my master is it that men over my head who just sat over throne of my head or is it Him. That was the tax guy sitting on a straw chair on my head. I was shocked In the dream. Though my heart was beating too fast, I did not think it would have meant so much for my salvation.

      The Lord said that is stilling what you are about to do. The tax is not that much. I had a white Shirt on and one enemy which I did not know I had through charcoal on it. And The Lord said by the way your shirt need to be dry clean again.

      I was reassured then He would help me out and I would be clean again and those tacit stealing can cause us our eternal paid salvation from the Lord. It "ain't" worth it those curves in our lives. The Lord is worth more. If you will He will save you.

      Like(0)
    • Thanks Inge!!

      Your response gives meaning to the event about taxes in Matthew.
      I will use your ideas for teaching Sabbath School. I didn't think about the aspects you brought up. Thanks very much!

      Like(0)
  3. From this lesson, especially when it our obligation to give tithe and offering, it is something we need to look at critically. Today people fail to give because of the people in office. This lesson teaches us to give despite of conditions in place. In Matt 17:24-27 Jesus recognised the conditions that were there but that did not hold him back to do what was required of him by law

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  4. Our master Jesus obey and paid the Temple tax,We also must pay tithe and offering to support the work of God.

    Like(4)
  5. Yes I agree that we should pay our dues I.e. Tithes and offerings faithfully without protesting even where we know there issues of mismanagement.

    But why did Christ seem to be protesting yet he went on to pay?

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  6. Jesus has left a good example for us to follow, we should pay our taxes even if it goes against our belief, in order not to offend or as some other translation states ''to scandalize'' the authorities. As the saying goes,'' you cannot fight city hall.''

    Like(2)
  7. Matt 17:24-27 shows our Lord's willingness to make concessions, rather than give offence. He might justly have claimed exemption from the payment of this tax-money. He, who was Son of God, might fairly have been excused from paying for the maintenance of His Father's house. He, who was "greater than the temple," might have shown good cause for declining to contribute to the support of the temple. But our Lord does not do so. He claims no exemption. He desires Peter to pay the money demanded. At the same time He declares His reasons. It was to be done, "so that we may not offend them." "A miracle is worked," "rather than offend even a tax-collector."

    Our Lord's example in this case deserves attention of all who profess and call themselves Adventists. There is deep wisdom in those seven words, "so that we may not offend them." They teach us plainly, that there are matters in which Christ's people ought to forego their own opinions, and submit to requirements which they may not thoroughly approve, rather than give offence and "hinder the Gospel of Christ." God's rights undoubtedly we ought never to give up; but we may sometimes safely give up our own. It may sound very fine and seem very heroic to be always standing out tenaciously for our rights. But it may well be doubted, with such a passage as this, whether such tenacity is always wise, and shows the mind of Christ. There are occasions, when it shows more grace in a Christian to submit than to resist.[

    Like(4)
    • Beloved brother, I do not know everything, therefore I like to read what others have to say about the topic. There is a lovely reading in the book Desire of Ages chapter 48 " Who is the Greatest". Let us read and have a clear understanding of things from others.

      Like(1)
  8. Regarding the Temple tax

    Jesus was the true Temple in him the glory of God resided and in him God tabernacled among His people. The earthly temple only was a shadow of the true Temple which was Christ.

    Yet so no person would misunderstand and think Jesus advocated breaking the law he instructed the disciples to pay the tax.

    Like(5)
    • If people "freely" gave then the offerings would be equal to or more than the tithe. Sadly this is not so.

      Like(1)
  9. taxes are obligatory acts of an income earning person to maintain the peace and order of the community he lives in and Jesus shows that it is a call of duty for every citizen and no exemption and so with the tithes the only difference is that people sometimes make it an exemption rather than an obligation too....they can't avoid not paying the tax for they afraid for the imprisonment as a consequences, they fear the consequences if they fail to give a share to the Lords part....remember we are just a stewards of Gods creation...God bless to those who give the tithes

    Like(2)
  10. the first fish that was caught in essences is the Lord,the first born of the dead REV.1:5,6.what is meant by then the sons being free,if they tax only the stranger?is this by freewill,or an offering of sacrifice,or tithe?it is written"let them render unto caesar what is his and give to the Lord what is His"by strict exactions to the law and traditions,we oppress the free by placing them in bondage as the pharisee of old and the scribes of the past?conservatism by placing our religion on the basis of works?are we still paying the price which Christ had paid for at the cross?its this regulating of laws that hold the people in confusion,to the conscience,instead of liberating them through the atonning blood of the lamb which is by justification by faith to salvation in Jesus Christ!ONE IN CHRIST

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  11. I read the page "About Our Blog" and it made me think a lot. For e.g. she stated “We are actively looking for bloggers who know the difference between tradition and biblical truth”.

    Personally I did not see the link between tithe and offering and taxes.

    It was last year a pastor come from the conference to encourage the church to be faithful. He gave an in-depth explanation about the “system” we used for the collection of tithe and offering. This system existed over 100 years. He stated the “system” is not biblical but the process of collection is biblical. If a few years down from now and another “system” should come into place, it will be good for us to know the difference between tradition and biblical truth. Because many oppose some things that is being done that is different from that of their fore parents.

    Like(1)
  12. Let us be faithful to our God and do what iz required from us. Let's faithfully pay our tithes and offerings with clean heart no matter the present situations we are facing through, for our God iz faithful and He will provide all our needs aboundantly according to His riches in glory, just as He did in His life time.

    Like(3)
  13. To answer the question: the reason why we must continue to give tithe despite our situation is faith. Tithe is a symbol that says that, regardless of the problems we may face, we still have faith that God will work things out in our favor. Jesus paid taxes to the temple renovation even though he knew that it would be destroyed in order to show his disciples that, although he would be crucified, they should remain faithful to the divine mission he wished for them.

    Like(1)

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