What does Mark 12:16 mean?
ESV: And they brought one. And he said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to him, “Caesar’s.”
NIV: They brought the coin, and he asked them, 'Whose image is this? And whose inscription?' 'Caesar's,' they replied.
NASB: And they brought one. And He *said to them, 'Whose image and inscription is this?' And they said to Him, 'Caesar’s.'
CSB: They brought a coin. "Whose image and inscription is this? " he asked them."Caesar's," they replied.
NLT: When they handed it to him, he asked, 'Whose picture and title are stamped on it?' 'Caesar’s,' they replied.
KJV: And they brought it. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? And they said unto him, Caesar's.
Verse Commentary:
A denarius is a coin that represents a day's wage for a laborer. In the parable of the laborers in the vineyard (Matthew 20:1–16), the land owner offers to pay laborers one denarius no matter when in the day they started working. The design of coin itself is scandalous to the Jews. The image of Emperor Tiberius is pressed into one side with the words "Tiberius Caesar Augustus, Son of the Divine Augustus." Meaning, the coin claims Tiberius is a demigod and his parents are gods of the emperor cult.

More to Jesus' point, the image on the coins also infers that Emperor Tiberius is the legal owner of the coins. They are distributed under Caesar's authority, and he is responsible for their value. Any time the coins are used, Tiberius' authority is acknowledged. Jesus asserts that this is okay. It is well within the rights of a government to issue coins and collect taxes. It is within a private person's rights to use those coins and pay taxes.

This comment by Jesus is greatly enhanced by what He says next (Mark 12:17). If "bearing the image" of someone implies obligation, then coins bearing the image of Caesar are legitimately owed to Caesar. A life bearing the image of God, therefore, is rightfully owed to God (Genesis 1:27).

Paul reiterates Jesus' words to the Christians in Rome. He explains that secular rulers are servants of God, commissioned by God to enforce justice. As such, they are owed their taxes, and we are to pay what is owed (Romans 13:1–7). It is possible to give due respect to a God-established but ungodly civil government and worship God at the same time.
Verse Context:
Mark 12:13–17 is clarified by insight into the Pharisees' complex attitudes. They have very strong religious beliefs, which go beyond God's inspired Scriptures. They hate that Israel is subjugated to Rome, but unlike the violence-minded Zealots, they aren't a political threat. In contrast to Pharisees, the Herodians support Rome's rule and all the benefits that go with it. These unlikely bedfellows join to trap Jesus with a question about taxes. If His answer supports the Pharisees, the Herodians can claim Jesus is rebelling against the emperor. If His answer supports the Herodians, the Pharisees can assert He doesn't support Israel. This account is also in Matthew 22:15–22 and Luke 20:20–26.
Chapter Summary:
This chapter contains lessons taught by Jesus in various circumstances. He explains the eventual destruction of traditional Judaism, the relationship between secular and sacred obligations, the nature of the resurrection, and the most important of God's commandments. Jesus also expounds on Messianic statements in the Old Testament. Jesus also condemns the glory-seeking shallowness of the scribes, and extolls the virtues of sincere, faith-based giving.
Chapter Context:
Days before, Jesus has entered Jerusalem, hailed as a hero by the people (Mark 11:1–11). While teaching in the temple courtyard, Jesus shows superior understanding of Scripture over the chief priests, scribes, and elders (Mark 12:27–33), the Pharisees and Herodians (Mark 12:13), the Sadducees (Mark 12:18), and the scribes again (Mark 12:35, 38). Sadly, even in the instance where a scribe does understand Scripture, that is no guarantee he will follow it to its logical conclusion: Jesus (Mark 12:28–34). In contrast, a humble widow exemplifies the faithfulness and piety the leaders lack (Mark 12:41–44). Jesus leaves the temple for the last time to teach the disciples on the Mount of Olives (Mark 13). In Mark 14, He prepares for the crucifixion.
Book Summary:
The Gospel of Mark emphasizes both Jesus' servanthood and His role as the promised Messiah: the Son of God. This is done through a concise, action-packed style. Mark provides relatively few details, instead focusing on actions and simple statements. This relates to the Gospel's authorship, which is believed to be based on the memories of the apostle Peter. These include many of Jesus' miracles, in contrast to other Gospels which include many more of Jesus' teachings and parables. Mark also makes frequent mention of Jesus' ministry being misunderstood by others.
Accessed 3/1/2024 2:17:56 AM
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