Podium III

Christ tells the hypocrites, "Render therefore unto Caesar"

(Revised 12-19-07)

           The following scriptures all have three things in common.  First, they were all spoken by our Lord; second, they are all quoted from the book of Matthew; and third... well, before I tell you, read them for yourself and see if you can figure out the third thing they share in common. 
"Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This 
people draw nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me
 with their lips; but their heart is far from me.  But in vain 
they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the 
commandments of men."   (15:7-9)

"Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be 
taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits
 (first fruits) thereof."   (21:43)

"...Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites?"  (22:18)

“...Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; 
and unto God the things which are God's."  (22:21)

"...Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God."

        The third thing in common here is that these scriptures were all spoken in rebuke by Christ to the Pharisees …not to His disciples!   Take note that He called these respected religious leaders "hypocrites" for pretending to be in obedience to the Law of Moses while bowing to the powers of a pagan Roman Government.  This being the case, our Lord told them to "render therefore unto Caesar".  Had they been serving the Father “in spirit and in truth”, He would have told them to render their first fruits to the Father as those under the Law of Moses were required to do.  But He didn't.  The simple truth is, based solely upon their allegiance to Caesar, He gave them the only advice that was fitting under the circumstances - be faithful to your master!  While this truth may not square with conventional religious thinking, it does however become clear in the light of Scripture.  Scripture such as Romans 6:16 which tells us plainly, "Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey...".  And of course Luke 16:13, "no servant can serve two masters" - about the most “idiot proof” statement Jesus ever made!    
      In deference to God’s Higher Law, the Framers of the Constitution wrote, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof".  Although we find no evidence from Scripture to support the belief held by many that the Constitution is a Christian document, nevertheless, those who authored it understood that the church and state were two separate venues of jurisdictions and that the secular Government had a stern "hands off" warning from God not to touch His bride.  Therefore, to this day she is not merely exempt, but immune from the tax man and all others who would come in the name of a stranger to claim any portion of her dowry.   

        And concerning taxation of the church, Christ had to rebuke the impetuous Peter after speaking out of turn and creating a false obligation for both of them to pay a tax which neither of them owed!  He told Peter, "then are the children free"- meaning “children of the Kingdom of God” free from Roman taxation (Matthew 17:24-27).  Try as you may, you will not be able to find any other example from the Word of God where Christ paid taxes or tribute in any form to another kingdom.  And remember, it took a miracle to pay that one (not much different from today)!  Think about it.  How many times have you found money in the mouth of a fish to pay your taxes with?  

        Still the question remains: Why are so many people so quick to pull "...Render therefore unto Caesar..." out of context as they do?  Why do so many so enthusiastically embrace Christ’s rebuke to the hypocrites as if it were John 3:16?  Perhaps the answer is that many christians, especially those in America, seem to have an unscriptural false sense of duty to blindly obey anyone in authority... just because they're there!  How is it that these naive and trusting souls could be so blind to the fact that it is the same anti-Christ spirit of Caesar lurking deep within the nature of every human government on earth today, which also crucified their Lord two thousand years ago?  Indeed, the very same spirit of Caesar which today tortures and kills their brothers and sisters in Christ in China, Africa, North Korea and other secret places nobody knows about!  How sad indeed, that they have forgotten how Peter risked life and limb to oppose the puppets of Caesar, who forbade him to preach the Lordship of Christ, but instead, boldly declared, "We ought to obey God rather than man" - Acts 5:29. 

        And there are a few other things about rendering unto Caesar that nobody ever seems to think about.  For instance; how much should be rendered?  And who gets to make that determination, the "Christ in you", or the "devil in Caesar"?   In fact, if you really believe, despite what the Scriptures plainly say, that Christ instructed the church to render unto Caesar, then she would be obligated to render every dollar she possess to him since his image and superscription is on every dollar bill and every other form of currency in circulation.  The simple truth is, those who tell you they believe the church should render unto Caesar are telling you something  they  really  don't  believe  or  practice  themselves!  

         Lets put some things in perspective.  Consider the fact that God owns all the gold, silver, precious stone and everything else that every dollar is said to represent.  Also consider that even Federal Reserve Notes (the paper dollars in your pocket) in reality, posses whatever value a man will accept by his agreement to exchange an hours worth of his labor for.  The point is that God alone owns all the tangible substance which Caesar possesses only the image or likeness of.  Christ and His Kingdom are real and eternal, while Caesar and his kingdom are only a temporary illusion in this earth time.  Whose picture is on the dollar bill or the coins in your pocket has nothing to do with rendering unto Caesar.  It is, rather, whose image is impressed upon your heart: Christ’s or Caesar’s?  I am convinced that this is the deeper truth the Spirit of God is trying to teach us here at Matthew 22:21... if we will only hear it.
      And so, as an honest reexamination of this verse reveals, “...Render therefore unto Caesar..”  are not words of pleasant instruction to the church, but rather words of admonishment spoken by Christ to those who, just moments before, He called hypocrites.    

       So... the next time someone pulls Matthew 22:21 out of context and tells you the body of Christ should pay homage to Caesar, just politely remind them that they are missing a few facts.  Tell them to read all of what our Lord said to the hypocrites here in these three chapter, especially  Matthew 22:29...

"Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God".

William Raymond: