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Lesson # Matt. 17:24-25
Study Material - Matt. 17:24-25
You must be in fellowship prior to your Bible study, so that the spiritual information you receive can become a source, of blessing to your soul and produce spiritual growth.
24 And [de] when they [autos] were come [erchomai] to [eis] Capernaum [Kapernaoum] , they that received [lambano] tribute [didrachmon] money came [proserchomai] to Peter [Petros] , and [kai] said [epo] , Doth [teleo] not [ou] your [humon] master [didaskalos] pay [teleo] tribute [didrachmon] ?
25 He saith [lego] , Yes [nai] . And [kai] when [hote] he was come [eiserchomai] into [eis] the house [oikia] , Jesus [Iesous] prevented [prophthano] him [autos] , saying [lego] , What [tis] thinkest [dokeo] thou [soi] , Simon [Simon] ? of [apo] whom [tis] do [lambano] the kings [basileus] of the earth [ge] take [lambano] custom [telos] or [e] tribute [kensos] ? of [apo] their own [autos] children [huios] , or [e] of [apo] strangers [allotrios] ? KJV-Interlinear
24 And when they had come to Capernaum, those who collected the two-drachma tax came to Peter, and said, 'Does your teacher not pay the two-drachma tax?' 25 He said, 'Yes.' And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, 'What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth collect customs or poll-tax, from their sons or from strangers?' NAS
There are two kinds of taxes in Judea as it applies to Rome. The first is a customs tax, which is a tax on products (grain, livestock and such). Think of it as an income tax. The second tax is a poll tax, which is a tax on people.
In Moses' day, a poll tax was assessed on the adult men of Israel (age 20 years and older), for the purpose of maintenance and service of the Tabernacle. That fee was a half shekel or two drachma per person, Ex. 30:11+. This is equivalent to two days pay. The tax was assessed against the poor and the rich alike. All paid the same amount. The rich did not pay more, the poor did not pay less. This fee was a 'contribution' to the Lord to make atonement for ones self. Freedom comes with a price, and though freedom from sin was not purchased by man - it was purchased by Christ on the Cross - this fee was mans recognition that man has an obligation to give back to God through their own support of the Word. When the temple was constructed, the assessment continued, and remained until the time of Nehemiah who reduced the fee to 1/3 of a shekel because everyone was so poor having recently returned from Babylon.
This is the tax which was assessed against Peter and Jesus when they returned to Capernaum. The tax was collected once per year, prior to Passover. Jesus has always paid the tax, but the collectors again tried to catch Him in a confrontation. They were hoping that Jesus would refuse to pay the tax, and therefore they would have yet another argument against Him.
But Peter responded 'yes' Jesus does pay the tax. He is not claiming an exemption although He was certainly entitled to the exemption. After all the Temple was His house - at least in the eyes of the Israelites. But then we know that His house is not of this world but is of the spiritual world. So the Temple of stone is irrelevant in the grand picture. Convincing the Pharisees of that would be really difficult though. They love their building. They love the collection of a tax for 'their' benefit, and after all God did order it. Who can argue with that?
And such would be the position of the Pharisees. They always look at the words and never the principle taught.
Who pays the taxes? Common citizens pay them. In the past the families and friends of the King always received exemptions of sorts. Taxes were collected for the maintenance of the 'state' and therefore for the benefit of all citizens (roads, legal system, military, police and such), or at least that is the intention of a tax. But we all know that taxation gets twisted and turned into a huge bureaucracy. The King and his family and friends received benefits far beyond that which they were entitled. Taxation was turned into a mechanism for keeping ones position and power. Then for suppressing those who might stand in opposition, and such is the history of nations and tyrants.
The taxes authorized by God had three purposes - First to support local government which was to protect the interests of the citizens and the nation. Second a tax was assessed against the Israelites for the support of the Levitical Priesthood. This was for the support and perpetuation of the teaching of scripture. Third, every third year a tax was assessed for the purpose of helping the poor. This was a charity tax. These second two taxes were assessed primarily because people just did not give to the church nor to the poor. The nature of folks is to be a bit greedy and to ignore their personal responsibilities to God and others.
Inevitably all tax laws become corrupt. Governments misuse the funds. Charities misuse their funds. Churches misuse their funds. People get frustrated with the misuse and it is normal for one to become skeptical or even cynical with regard to giving. Why give, after all the money will just go into someone's pocket and not for its intended use?
So Jesus is going to address this issue. Who controls the Temple? The Sadducees. Who controls the synagogues? The Pharisees. Are they doing Gods will? No. They do not even believe in the scriptures they read and promote. So why would God (Jesus Christ) pay a tax for something that is in opposition to Himself? The tax in view here is for the support of the church or any organization teaching Gods Word, but the principles herein apply to government taxation as well as charitable giving.
So I'll let you ponder that point until tomorrow. Do you have an obligation to give? Do you have an exemption? Do you have a choice as to whom you will give to or not give to? Who is held responsible for the gift - the giver or the recipient?
How does this relate to Matt. 6:1? Do you even know what that verse is all about?
Now is the time to post a prayer.
End Of Lesson
Study to show thyself approved (mature) unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing (studying/discerning), the Word of truth.
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