Matthew 17:26 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Matthew 17:26, NIV: "From others,' Peter answered. 'Then the children are exempt,' Jesus said to him."

Matthew 17:26, ESV: "And when he said, “From others,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free."

Matthew 17:26, KJV: "Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free."

Matthew 17:26, NASB: "When Peter said, 'From strangers,' Jesus said to him, 'Then the sons are exempt."

Matthew 17:26, NLT: "'They tax the people they have conquered,' Peter replied. 'Well, then,' Jesus said, 'the citizens are free!"

Matthew 17:26, CSB: ""From strangers," he said. "Then the sons are free," Jesus told him."

What does Matthew 17:26 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Every Jewish man, 20 years and older, is required by the law of Moses to contribute two drachmas, or half a shekel, to the temple every year (Exodus 30:13–16). Collectors have come to ask if Jesus will pay this temple tax. Peter has told them yes, but now Jesus has asked Peter a question about it: Does the king collect tax from His sons or from others (Matthew 17:24–25)?

Peter gives the obvious answer in this verse. The king does not collect tax from his sons; he collects it from others, from the people. Now Jesus says that the sons are free. Jesus' point should be obvious. The two-drachma temple tax is meant to be given to God, who is the king over all. Jesus is God's Son. The temple tax is not required of the Son of God any more than a regular tax is intended for the son of the king. Jesus should not be required to pay this tax.

Jesus will not demand this right, however. He seems more interested in using the opportunity to help Peter to see, once again, exactly what it means that Jesus is the Son of the living God. It's not just a title. It is the reality with serious implications for Him and for those who follow Him. However, to avoid giving offense or giving the religious leaders anything to hold against Him, Jesus will pay the tax. He will do so in a surprising way.

Scholars and commentators over the years have attempted to use this passage to make points about whether Christians should or should not pay taxes demanded by their own governments. This tax, though, is a religious tax instituted by God for the people of Israel and doesn't seem to speak to the issue of believers paying government taxes, one way or the other. A better passage for that issue is found in Matthew 22:15–22.