Matthew 17:22-27 (The Temple Tax)

Mat 17:24-27   What was the two-drachma tax for that those who collected it were asking if Jesus had paid it?  See Exo 30:11-16, 38:25-26, and cf. the NIV “temple tax”.  What indication is there that this tax was perhaps voluntary or that some may have been considered exempt from paying it?  Considering that this was a religious tax and not a civil tax, why is it possible that there may have been some question about whether or not Jesus was required to pay?  Cf. Joh 3:1-2, Gen 47:20-26, and consider how even today churches receive a tax exemption.  In this light, why may those who collected the tax have asked Peter and not Jesus Himself?  From the way they asked, what was their expectation about whether or not Jesus should pay?  How is that perhaps like tax collectors today?  How did the way they ask put pressure upon Peter to answer a certain way, and how did he then respond?  What might this indicate about Peter’s weakness in regard to peer pressure?  Cf. Mat 26:35,69-74, Gal 2:11-12.  Do we have that same weakness?  How is Peter an example for us that although we often fail, the Lord does not cast us out, and is not only rich in mercy and forbearance to forgive us, but in spite of our human weaknesses and shortcomings even uses us for His kingdom glory to accomplish His purposes?  See Act 2:14f,37-38, 3:6,11f, etc…, Gal 4:13-14, 2Co 10:10,11:6.  Why is it this way?  See 1Co 1:26-29, 2:1-5.

Observe that although the half-shekel tax was instituted over 1400 years previously, the two-drachma tax that was collected in Jesus’ day was essentially equivalent: the amount charged had not risen as costs do in our culture due to inflation; how was that possible?  See Lev 19:35-36, Deut 25:13-16, Pro 11:1, 20:10,23, Eze 45:9-12, Amo 8:4-6, Mic 6:8-12 and consider how the fiat currencies that we have become accustomed to and that can be created at will are a “short measure that is cursed” and a “bag of deceptive weights”.

What is the significance in Mat 17:25 that Jesus anticipated what Peter was going to say and spoke first?  Are we ever like Peter in speaking for the Lord too quickly only to discover that we didn’t have full knowledge and should have taken the time to inquire of Him first?  What did Jesus ask Peter?  What is a poll-tax?  Note: the poll-tax used here does not refer to a tax at the poll to vote, but a tax per person; the Greek word used is kh/nsoj from which we get our word census, as poll-taxes were typically levied in conjunction with a census or registration of a person along with a valuation of his income and property; cf. Luk 2:1-3, Act 5:37 in both the NAS and KJV.  What did Peter answer?  See Mat 17:26, and cf. Mat 22:17,19 that makes clear that the poll-tax was tribute (cf. KJV) paid to the Romans by “strangers” and not by their “sons” or citizens.  (A major privilege of being a Roman citizen was exemption from such tribute paid by those who were not citizens but under Roman rule).  What conclusion did Jesus’ draw for Peter from his answer, and how did that apply to the matter of the two-drachma tax Peter had said Jesus would pay?  Why in light of the purpose of the tax given in Exo 30:12,15 was Jesus particularly exempt from it?

Why, especially after Peter’s conversation with those who collected the temple tax, would claiming to be exempt and refusing to pay have given offense to them?  What does this teach us about the power of our words, and the importance of guarding what we say and not speaking too quickly on matters about which we are not sure?  Cf. Pro 10:19, Mat 12:36-37.  What did Jesus command Peter to do so as to not give offense after he had already said Jesus would pay?  What does this teach us should be our response when we find ourselves in similar circumstances and have spoken too quickly but incorrectly?  Cf. Mat 5:41.  What does it teach us about the importance of being faithful to what we say, especially when not being faithful would cause offense and bring reproach?

Although Peter’s words in effect committed Jesus to something He did not have to pay, was He concerned about the temporal monetary loss?  Cf. Psa 104:24.  How did He provide both for Himself and Peter?  Although the event described is clearly miraculous in the timing and provision, why is it not entirely unbelievable to find a coin in a fish’s mouth?  Think: what do fishermen today use to lure fish to bite a hook?  What does this teach us about the manifold ways the Lord is able to provide for our needs?  What effect should such an understanding have upon our faith?  See Mat 17:20.  Should we ever be concerned about our temporal needs?  Cf. Mat 6:25-34.

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