Are believers exempt from paying taxes using Matt 17.24-27

These verses have been misunderstood by some with an anti-government agenda and trying to use this for not paying civil taxes. We already know that Yeshua said that we are to “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s” and he was talking about civil taxes, so that settles that issue. So what is going on in this verse. Exo 30.12 talks about the half-shekel tax that was given when Israel took a census for war. This shekel was paid as an atonement because a soldier was a potential life-taker. If this wasn’t done, there would be a plague among the people. They were not to count “heads” when mustering an army, feeling secure in their numbers. The word “plague” in Hebrew means “slaughter”, defeat or to fall. David did not do this in 1 Chr 21.14-17 and 2 Sam 24.25 and a plague broke out resulting in many deaths because he wanted to know the size of the army, forgetting that it was not the size of the army that wins wars, but the size of the Lord. This plague raged on until it was stopped at the threshing floor of Araunah, the future site of the Temple altar. This is very symbolic because the plague of sin was “atoned for” at this altar, and ultimately the plague of sin was dealt with at the altar called Golgotha. The word Golgotha is related to Gilgal which means “to roll away.” It was where Joshua circumcised Israel after crossing the Jordan and entering the land, thus “rolling back” their reproach. Another “Joshua” (Yeshua is basically the same name in Hebrew) came along and ratified the New Covenant (Brit Chadasha) that circumcised our hearts at Golgotha. Now, after the half-shekel was paid by the males who were going to war, the money was used for Tabernacle maintenance, it’s repairs, services, upkeep and needs. It was seen as a contribution to the Lord and to make atonement for themselves. Later, this tax was used for the Temple for the same reasons. This a religious tax, not civil, and in the first century it was collected right before Passover. Now, in Matthew, Peter was approached by collectors of this tax and they asked him if the Lord paid the half-shekel tax. Peter said “yes” and goes into a house there. Knowing this dialogue happened, Yeshua uses this opportunity to reveal to Peter who he was. He asked for his opinion and said “from who do the kings of the earth collect taxes, from their sons or from strangers?” Peter answers him by saying that they collect it from strangers or regular subjects. Then Yeshua says “so the sons are exempt, but lest we offend them, go to the sea and throw in a hook and the first fish that comes up, when you open its mouth, you will find a stater. Take that and give it to them for you and me.” There are some who say that this was a Hebrew idiom meaning that he should sell the fish for a stater and Peter was to use that to pay the tax, but others say this was a literal fish with money in its mouth. Whatever the case, here is what happened. Yeshua doesn’t need to pay the tax because he is the Son of God, the Lord of the Temple. Since this was for the Temple services, and he was Lord, he didn’t owe it (but Peter did). But, rather than exert his authority and right not to do so, he tells Peter to go fishing. He would pay it so that there would not be a problem. Far from being a mandate to refrain from paying civil taxes, this was saying that Yeshua was the Son of God and Lord of the Temple. Peter did not understand this concept of who Yeshua was (Lord of the Temple and God himself) at this present time, and Yeshua used this as a lesson to reveal to Peter who he really was.

Posted in Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, Prophecy/Eschatology, Questions, The Temple, Understanding the New Testament

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