Rendering to Caesar and to God

Happy Independence Day! The birthday of our nation would be a good time to contemplate that great text on church and state, Matthew 22:21, in which our Lord charges us to “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

What “things” are Caesar’s, and how do we render them to him? And what “things” are God’s, and how do we render them to Him?

Obviously, all things are God’s, but Jesus must have had a particular sense of this in mind. A pastor I heard on Sunday–I’m on the road, so it wasn’t our pastor–said that the Greek implies that we are giving back what we have received. So we might think of this in terms of “what do we receive from the state” and so what are we obliged to a giving back. Jesus’s example of money works here. What else? And how does this apply to the gifts of God?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

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  • James Sarver

    The question of whether to pay taxes is not what Jesus wants to talk about. It is brought up as a way (the Pharisees believe) to trap Jesus into provoking the Roman authorities. He quickly finds a way to turn the focus and defeat the trap.

    This is a simple question of ownership. To whom does the coin shown belong? That’s easy. In whose image is it made? Whose words are inscribed on it? Caesar’s.

    So the teaching is to acknowledge the owner of something by those two criteria, whether Caesar or God. What specifically does God own? What is made in His image? On what has he written His words? The Pharisees know the answer (and so should we).

    I think we would do well to emphasize the point Jesus makes rather than the focus the Pharisees preferred.

  • James Sarver

    The question of whether to pay taxes is not what Jesus wants to talk about. It is brought up as a way (the Pharisees believe) to trap Jesus into provoking the Roman authorities. He quickly finds a way to turn the focus and defeat the trap.

    This is a simple question of ownership. To whom does the coin shown belong? That’s easy. In whose image is it made? Whose words are inscribed on it? Caesar’s.

    So the teaching is to acknowledge the owner of something by those two criteria, whether Caesar or God. What specifically does God own? What is made in His image? On what has he written His words? The Pharisees know the answer (and so should we).

    I think we would do well to emphasize the point Jesus makes rather than the focus the Pharisees preferred.

  • Helen

    I have been reading some of Dr. Veith’s blogs and commentaries and have purchased one of his books. I hope I’m not out of line here by inquiring how to send him a personal email?

    In going through the website I haven’t see a link. If anyone could help me I’d surely appreciate it.

    I am a non-Lutheran but interested in learing more about the Lutheran Church and faith. I found his book very helpful.
    Thanks,
    Helen

  • Helen

    I have been reading some of Dr. Veith’s blogs and commentaries and have purchased one of his books. I hope I’m not out of line here by inquiring how to send him a personal email?

    In going through the website I haven’t see a link. If anyone could help me I’d surely appreciate it.

    I am a non-Lutheran but interested in learing more about the Lutheran Church and faith. I found his book very helpful.
    Thanks,
    Helen

  • fws

    what james sarver says @ 2

  • fws

    what james sarver says @ 2

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Helen, I’ll write you.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Helen, I’ll write you.

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ Carol-Christian Soldier

    ditto-James-# 1
    C-CS

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ Carol-Christian Soldier

    ditto-James-# 1
    C-CS

  • Steve P.

    Honor your rulers, pray for them, obey their laws. That’s for anybody.

    Citizens of a republic have a far more difficult task, since we share in rule. So we share in the responsibilities demanded of a god-fearing Christian king.

  • Steve P.

    Honor your rulers, pray for them, obey their laws. That’s for anybody.

    Citizens of a republic have a far more difficult task, since we share in rule. So we share in the responsibilities demanded of a god-fearing Christian king.

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ Carol-Christian Soldier

    we in the US do not have “kings”-
    there are some in govt who believe they are “royal” -
    They are not-
    No King But King Jesus>>>
    C-CS

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ Carol-Christian Soldier

    we in the US do not have “kings”-
    there are some in govt who believe they are “royal” -
    They are not-
    No King But King Jesus>>>
    C-CS


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