Matthew 17:27 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Matthew 17:27, NIV: But so that we may not cause offense, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.'

Matthew 17:27, ESV: However, not to give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook and take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for me and for yourself.”

Matthew 17:27, KJV: Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.

Matthew 17:27, NASB: However, so that we do not offend them, go to the sea and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find astater. Take that and give it to them for you and Me.'

Matthew 17:27, NLT: However, we don't want to offend them, so go down to the lake and throw in a line. Open the mouth of the first fish you catch, and you will find a large silver coin. Take it and pay the tax for both of us.'

Matthew 17:27, CSB: "But, so we won't offend them, go to the sea, cast in a fishhook, and take the first fish that you catch. When you open its mouth you'll find a coin. Take it and give it to them for me and you."

What does Matthew 17:27 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Peter told the collectors of the tax for the temple, set up by God in Exodus 30:13–16, that Jesus would pay the tax. Jesus, though, has declared He is exempt from the tax since He is the Son of the "king"—God—who is collecting it (Matthew 17:24–26). From a spiritual or moral standpoint, there's no reason Jesus needs to pay this toll.

Despite being free from that obligation, on technical grounds, Jesus agrees to pay the tax. He does this to avoid causing unnecessary offense over this issue (Matthew 5:9; Romans 12:18). Jesus is also aware that the religious leaders are looking for anything they can use to discredit Him or to have Him arrested. He is not willing to make this issue a point of conflict.

This passage does not have much to say about whether Christians should pay taxes to governments (Matthew 22:15–22). Still, it may have provided important teaching for Jewish Christians. These early believers had to decide whether to pay this tax after the church was established in Acts 2, and before the temple was destroyed in AD 70.

Jesus commands Peter to find the money for the tax in a surprising way. He tells the former fisherman to go to the nearby Sea of Galilee, cast a hook, and catch a fish. In the mouth of that fish, Jesus says, Peter will find a shekel—this is described as a statēr in the original Greek. A statēr coin was worth four drachmas. Peter was to use that coin to pay the two-drachma, half-shekel tax for both himself and for Jesus.

We're not told that Jesus and the disciples did not have the money to pay the tax otherwise. It was not a large amount. Instead, it seems Jesus gave Peter one more confirmation that God was fully capable of providing for him all that was needed at any time. More such examples would follow in the difficult days to come.