Q & A - Did Jesus pay tithes?


By Craig Bluemel


----- Original Message -----

From: Jay

To: craig@bibleanswerstand.org

Sent: Friday, December 16, 2005 11:01 AM

Subject: tithing


Did Jesus pay tithes?  If so, what scripture supports this?  Does the
scripture which has Jesus saying, “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's...”
support Jesus tithing?




Craig’s Reply & Answers



December 19, 2005


Hi Jay,


It’s good to hear from you again.  Here’s my reply to your questions:


QUESTION #1 - Did Jesus pay tithes?  If so, what scripture supports this? 


ANSWER #1: The Scripture does not mention any specific incidence of Jesus paying tithes, and therefore, any hypothesis on my part concerning this question would be merely speculative. 


QUESTION #2 - Does the scripture which has Jesus saying "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's..." support Jesus tithing?

ANSWER #2: No, this passage in Matthew 22:15-23 is dealing with Roman poll  taxes that were levied on Jews during the reign of the Caesars, whose insignia and image was minted on Roman coinage currency.  The nature of your inquiry demonstrates you have yet to grasp the true meaning of the tithes as prescribed under the terms of the Law given by God to Moses, known as the old covenant.  Until you have a solid understanding of the purposes served in the statutes, which were given by the people of Israel to provide financial support for the Levitical tribes, you will be chasing for answers to individual verses without having a solid foundation.


For example, let me ask you a few rhetorical questions and answer each question on a factual basis:


L During the 3 ½ year ministry of Christ was the Levitical priesthood functioning in its proper capacity? 


L Were the people of the twelve other tribes of Israel concurrently fulfilling their individual and collective responsibilities to tithe at this same time period? 


The correct answer to both questions I posed is a resounding, “No.”  Do the research Jay, and then you’ll realize that the context of the scripture verse you inquired about concerning paying “tribute” (i.e. – poll tax) to Caesar, and that Jesus’ reply to the Pharisees was not alluding to his own giving of “tithes” to the Levites, but rather, an expose of these hypocrites who sought to entrap and snare him with trick questions.  First, read the Matthew account below:                                            


Matthew 22:15-23


15 Then the Pharisees went and consulted and plotted together how they might entangle Jesus in His talk.


16 And they sent their disciples to Him along with the Herodians, saying, Teacher, we know that You are sincere and what You profess to be and that You teach the way of God truthfully, regardless of consequences and being afraid of no man; for You are impartial and do not regard either the person or the position of anyone.


17 Tell us then what You think about this: Is it lawful to pay tribute [levied on individuals and to be paid yearly] to Caesar or not?


18 But Jesus, aware of their malicious plot, asked, Why do you put Me to the test and try to entrap Me, you pretenders (hypocrites)?


19 Show me the money used for the tribute. And they brought Him a denarius.


20 And Jesus said to them, Whose likeness and title are these?


21 They said, Caesar's. Then He said to them, Pay therefore to Caesar the things that are due to Caesar, and pay to God the things that are due to God.


22 When they heard it they were amazed and marveled; and they left Him and departed. Amplified Bible


In closing, I have pasted Barnes Commentary on this passage, and perhaps you will gain additional insight from this reading, and begin expanding your own individual research.


Matthew 22:15-22


Verse 17. [Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar?] Tribute was the tax paid to the Roman government.

[Caesar] The Roman emperor. The name Caesar, after the time of Julius Caesar, became common to all the emperors, as Pharaoh was the common name of all the kings of Egypt. The "Caesar" who reigned at this time was Tiberius-a man distinguished for the grossest vices and most disgusting and debasing sensuality.


Verse 18.  [Jesus perceived their wickedness]  This must have been done by his power of searching the heart, and proves that he was omniscient.  No more man has the power of discerning the motives of others.

[Tempt ye me] Try me, or endeavor to lead me into difficulty by an insidious question.

[Hypocrites] Dissemblers.  Professing to be candid inquirers, when their only object was to lead into difficulty. See the notes at Matthew 6:2.


Verse 19.  [The tribute-money] The money in which the tribute was paid. This was a Roman coin.  The tribute for the temple service was paid in the Jewish shekel; that for the Roman government in foreign coin. Their having that coin about them, and using it, was proof that they themselves held it lawful to pay the tribute; and their pretensions, therefore, were mere hypocrisy.

[A penny]  A Roman denarius, worth about 14 cents = 7 d (circa 1880's).


Verse 20.  [This image]  The likeness of the reigning prance was usually struck on the coins.

[Superscription]  The name and titles of the emperor.


Verse 21.  [Render, therefore, to Caesar...]  Caesar's image and name on the coin proved that it was his.  It was proper, therefore, to give it back to him when he called for it. But while this was done, Jesus took occasion to charge them, also, to give to God what he claimed.  This may mean either,


1. The annual tribute due to the temple service, implying that paying tribute to Caesar did not free them from the obligation to do that; or,


2. That they should give their hearts, lives, property, and influence all to God, as his due.


Verse 22.  [They marveled]  They had been foiled in their attempt.  Though he had apparently decided in favor of the Herodians, yet his answer confounded both parties, and wholly prevented the use which they intended to make of it.  It was so wise; it so clearly detected their wickedness and foiled their aim, that they were confounded, and retired covered with shame. 


(From Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database Copyright © 1997, 2003 by Biblesoft, Inc.  All rights reserved.)


As I have recommended to you in the past, I suggest that you read the links available on our website on the subject of tithing, which was strictly an old covenant requirement.  Here are the links:



Part 1: TITHING: New Testament Practice or Old Testament Bondage?

Part 2: TITHING: Giving God's Way

Part 3: TITHING: Supplemental Scriptures on New Testament Giving

Part 4: TITHING: Abraham's Tithe Prefigures Giving from the Heart

Part 5: TITHING: Q & A Series - Does Abraham’s tithe to Melchizedek justify church tithing?


I hope this information is beneficial to you Jay.


In God’s love thru Jesus Christ,


Craig Bluemel - The Bible Answer Stand Ministry

1 Peter 3:15 Always be ready to give a logical defense to anyone who asks you to account for the hope that is in you, but do it courteously and respectfully.    






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