What does Matthew 17:27 mean?
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.”
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.'
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 a stater. Take that and give it to them for you and Me.'
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."
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.'
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.
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.
Matthew 17:22–27 begins with Jesus once again predicting His death at the hands of religious enemies in Jerusalem (Matthew 16:21). Collectors of the annual two-drachma temple tax approach Peter and ask if Jesus will pay. Jesus explains to Peter why He is exempt from the tax, but He says that He will pay it to avoid giving offense over the issue. He commands Peter to pay the tax for them both: by catching a fish in which he will find a coin sufficient for the task.
Jesus takes Peter, James, and John up on a high mountain. There, they see Him "transfigured" into a shining, divine form. They also see Christ speaking with Moses and Elijah but are commanded not to speak of this event until later. Jesus heals a demon-afflicted boy after the disciples cannot cast the demon out. Jesus very clearly tells the disciples He will be delivered into the hands of men, killed, and raised on the third day. After explaining why He is exempt from a temple tax, Jesus agrees to pay it and tells Peter to find the money in the mouth of a fish.
Matthew 17 begins with the fulfillment of Jesus' prediction at the end of the previous chapter: that some of those present would not die before seeing Him coming in His kingdom. Jesus casts out a demon, predicts His death, and commands Peter to pay a temple tax with a coin from the mouth of a fish. This leads Matthew back to extensive records of Jesus' teachings, continuing through chapter 20.
The Gospel of Matthew clearly shows the influence of its writer's background, and his effort to reach a specific audience. Matthew was one of Jesus' twelve disciples, a Jewish man, and a former tax collector. This profession would have required literacy, and Matthew may have transcribed some of Jesus' words as they were spoken. This book is filled with references to the Old Testament, demonstrating to Israel that Jesus is the Promised One. Matthew also includes many references to coins, likely due to his former profession. Matthew records extensive accounts of Jesus' teaching, more than the other three Gospels.
Accessed 3/1/2024 9:09:57 PM
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