Matthew 22:21

21 “Caesar’s,” they replied. Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

Read Matthew 22:21 Using Other Translations

They say unto him, Caesar's. Then saith he unto them,Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's.
They said, "Caesar's." Then he said to them, "Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's."
“Caesar’s,” they replied. “Well, then,” he said, “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.”

What does Matthew 22:21 mean?

John Gill's Exposition of the Bible
Matthew 22:21

They say unto him, Caesar's
Either Augustus Caesar's; for there was a coin of that emperor's, as Dr. Hammond reports, from Occo, which had his image or picture on it, and in it these words written, Augustus Caesar, such a year, "after the taking of Judaea"; which if this was the coin, was a standing testimony of the subjection of the Jews to the Romans; and this being current with them, was an acknowledgment of it by them, and carried in it an argument of their obligation to pay tribute to them; or it might be Tiberius Caesar's, the then reigning emperor, in the nineteenth year of whose reign, Christ was crucified; and seeing he had reigned so long, it is reasonable to suppose, his money was very common, and most in use: we read in the Talmud F19, of (hnaroyq arnyd) , "a Caesarean penny", or "Caesar's penny", the same sort with this: now this penny having Caesar's image and inscription on it, our Lord tacitly suggests, that they ought to pay tribute to him; since his money was allowed of as current among them, which was in effect owning him to be their king; and which perfectly agrees with a rule of their own, which runs thus F20:

``A king whose "coin" is "current" in any country, the inhabitants of that country agree about him, and it is their joint opinion, (Mydbe wl Mhw Mhynwda awhv) "that he is their Lord, and they are his servants".''

This being the case now with the Jews, Christ's advice is,

render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's, and unto
God, the things that are God's:
give Caesar the tribute and custom, and fear, and honour, and obedience, which are due to him; which may be done without interfering with the honour of God, and prejudicing his interest and glory, when care is taken, that all the worship and obedience due to God are given to him: subjection to civil magistrates is not inconsistent with the reverence and fear of God; all are to have their dues rendered unto them, without entrenching upon one another. And the Jews themselves allow, that a king ought to have his dues, whether he be a king of Israel, or of the Gentiles:

``a publican, or tax gatherer, (they say F21,) that is appointed by the king, whether a king of Israel, or of the Gentiles, and takes what is fixed by the order of the government; it is forbidden to refuse payment of the tax to him, for (anyd twklmd anyd) , "the right of a king is right".''

Just and equitable, and he ought to have his right.


F19 T. Bab. Avoda Zara, fol. 6. 2.
F20 Maimon. Hilch. Gerala, c. 5. sect. 18.
F21 Maimon. & Bartenora in Misn. Nedarim. c. 3. sect. 4. & Maimon. Hilch. Gezala, c. 5. sect. 11.
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