XXX. The Second Day in Jerusalem
123. The Attempt to Entrap Jesus
13And they sent to him some of the Phariseesa and some of the Herodians,b to entrap him in his talk.
14And they came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are true, and care for no man; for you do not regard the position of men, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?
15Should we pay them, or should we not?”c
But knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why put me to the test? Bring me a coin, and let me look at it.” 16And they brought one. And he said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?"
They said to him, “Caesar's.”
17Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.”
And they were amazed at him. 26And they were not able in the presence of the people to catch him by what he said; but marveling at his answer they were silent.
(Mk. 12:13–17; Lk. 20:26)
a “Pharisees”—The Pharisees consisted of the scribes and rabbis taken together.
b “Herodians”—The Herodians were a political party that sought emancipation from direct Roman rule through the restoration of the Herodian dynasty.
c “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?”—Jesus' enemies probably reasoned something like this: If he advised against paying taxes, he could be brought before the Roman authorities for sedition. On the other hand, if he affirmed the payment of tribute to Rome, he would lose favor with the Jewish people who hated the Roman overrule.