What did Jesus say about Paying Taxes

Bible Study Lesson on Matthew 22: 15-22

It is that time of a year. Do you know what is this season for? You might wonder it’s a ‘Spring’ season. Well, you are right, but it is also a time of ‘Tax Season’!s Around March-April of each year, most people in America file their taxes, many even waiting till the last moment! It is the time when many of us ask the question, why should I pay taxes? Why should I give my hard earned money to the government? Have you ever wondered what would be Jesus’ opinion about paying taxes? Did he actually pay taxes (Matthew 17:24-27) ? Did he ever talk about paying taxes, money issues? The answer is off course emphatic YES. He often preached about the money matters and financial decisions that we make every day. Today, we are going to look at a passage about Jesus’ view on Taxes.

Historical Background

In the first century Israel, the Jews were required to pay taxes to the Roman government. They hated this taxes because the money went to the treasury of Caesar and it was a constant reminder of their subjection to the Roman rule. There had been revolts against the Romans, but the Romans were ruthless in suppressing even the smallest of uprisings and rebellions. In times such as these, Jesus was asked the question about the taxes to Caesar. The Jewish religious party (the Pharisees) and the political party (the Herodians) did not like Jesus, they wanted to trap Jesus so that they can find a way to arrest him. So they came up with this foolproof question to catch Jesus off guard. They came to Jesus with flattery, flowery (but empty) words of praise (Matthew 22:16-17). Then they asked the real trick question.

“Tell us, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” (v17)

How was it a trap?

If Jesus would say ‘Yes’ to pay taxes, it would make the Jewish people unhappy and out of favor with people. And if Jesus would say ‘No’ to pay taxes, he would be in trouble with the Roman authority. Jesus however, knew their evil intent. He asked for the coin used for paying the tax. They brought him a denarius. Denarius was a day worth of wage. Jesus then asked,

Whose image is this? And whose inscription? (v20)

They replied, “Caesar’s.” Jesus said,

“So, give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

Jesus did not deny that people should not pay tax to Caesar. But he asked to offer more to God. What according to Jesus, do we owe to God? The answer lies in the image. The image of Caesar on the coin reflects his ownership. In the same way, we also carry the image of God.

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. (Gen 1:26-27)

God has created us in His image. Off course, it does not mean the physical appearance, for God is the Spirit. But our heart, soul, mind, reason, creativity, character, all reflects God’s image. However, there lies a problem. This image is broken due to the Sin.

For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. (Rom 3:23)

But God offers a free gift of restoring this image through His Son, Jesus Christ.

For the wages of sin is death. But the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Rom 6:23)

Have you ever found an old, rugged, dirty, muddy coin (a quarter or a dime) in the dirt? You can take that coin, clean it up, wash it, remove the impurities and the coin would still hold its value, it is still worth its image. In the same way, God values us so much that He gave us His Son for us.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

So, as Jesus said, “Give to God what is God’s”, we need to give our heart to Jesus, we need to receive Him in our heart. He will restore us, cleanse us from our sins. He will give us the eternal fellowship with God, an eternal life.

Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. (John 1:12)


• Have you given you life to Jesus, Have you received him as your personal Savior and Lord? • What aspects of your life do you need to give to Him?


  1. Beth says

    This is very enlightening. Can I get materials on “Personal Quiet Time”. thanks and God bless you

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