What Did Jesus Mean When He Said We Should Give to God the Things that Are God’s?

Having been created in the image of God, we bear the imprint of God, but we must still offer ourselves back to God if we are to be aligned with God.

The creation of Adam – Vatican Sistine Chapel in Rome, Italy. Created by Michelangelo Buonarroti.

I took some interest in a Facebook post at Bible Archaeology[1] about the image of Tiberius Caesar on a Roman coin like the one Jesus referenced in Matthew 22:15-22.[2] Some scriptural references and back ground facts are the subject of my writing today.

The story is well-known. Some Jewish leaders challenged Jesus with the question, “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?”

It was a ruse. They were trying put Jesus into the impossible position of aligning either with the Jews (against the Romans, losing credibility with them) or with the Romans (against the Jews, risking punishment for opposing Rome) on the issue of paying taxes.

Jesus famously asked for a coin, and then he asked whose image was imprinted on the coin. It was Caesar’s image, of course. Then Jesus said, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

Perhaps, my interest was piqued because I have written about the story before. I talk about rendering unto Caesar in the context of how Christians should respond to secular authority.[3] I wrote about Jordan Peterson’s comment, crediting the words of Jesus to the creation of the modern principal of the separation of church and state.[4] But I haven’t focused on what it is we are to “render” to God.

I am always excited to learn something new, and the Bible Archaeology post added some details I didn’t know. The first details provide the backstory to the story, which involves Judas the Galilean. The interrelationship of the two stories shows how intertwined, complex, nuanced and harmonious Scripture is within itself and with external facts discovered through historical and archaeological sources, among other things.

I appreciate the historians and archaeologists, like Bible Archaeology, that dig up corroborating details. In the Facebook post, they cite additional scriptural passages on Judas the Galilean that give us insight into why the Pharisees in Galilee challenged Jesus on the issue of paying taxes.

Continue reading “What Did Jesus Mean When He Said We Should Give to God the Things that Are God’s?”