Redemption Money (2 of 5)

Matthew 17 24-27 b

(Continued from yesterday)

(2) Evidently Peter had to pay this temple tax too (otherwise there was no need for Jesus to pay it for him), but why didn’t the tax collectors also chase Peter for payment? Some commentator said their primary target was Jesus not Peter, so they didn’t bother chasing him. Again my question is the same as above. Would this constitute eisegesis?

The “temple tax” was tribute money started by Moses for the upkeep of the tabernacle, and collected from every male 20 years old and over:

Ex 30:13-14 This is what everyone who is numbered shall give: half a shekel according to the shekel of the sanctuary (the shekel is twenty gerahs), half a shekel as a contribution to the LORD. Everyone who is numbered, from twenty years old and over, shall give the contribution to the LORD.
• Ex 38:26 a beka a head (that is, half a shekel according to the shekel of the sanctuary), for each one who passed over to those who were numbered, from twenty years old and upward, for 603,550 men.
• 2 Chron 24:9 They made a proclamation in Judah and Jerusalem to bring to the LORD the levy fixed by Moses the servant of God on Israel in the wilderness.

To outsiders, both Jesus and Peter would fall under this law and have to pay the tax. The commentator’s assertion that they may be after Jesus and not Peter is remotely possible, but highly unlikely given the background. Again, I do not see this as eisegesis. He does not seem to be pushing his own preconceived ideas. It is just one not carefully thought out explanation without a systematic bias behind it.

(3) There are different interpretations on Jesus paying the tax. These include:-
a) The temple belonged to God, so as Son of God, Jesus need not pay temple tax. On the other hand, as Son of Man He had to pay it as it was universal for men aged over 20, so it’s a case of struggle within His duality. Other disagreed saying that apart from being used to maintain the temple, this tax has the inherent meaning of redemption of sin and since Jesus did not sin, so even though He was Son of Man, He still need not pay.

The key turns on Jesus’ question and answer:
Mt 17:25b, 26b From whom do the kings of the earth collect customs or poll-tax, from their sons or from strangers?” … Then the sons are exempt.

Jesus asked “sons”, not “Son”. He was not referring to Himself as the Son of God, and the Son of Man was never in the picture. So this is not a struggle within His duality, especially when Jesus knew sons are exempt.

Regarding redemption of sins, it is true that when Moses levied this tax, it carried the meaning of atonement:

Ex 30:12 When you take a census of the sons of Israel to number them, then each one of them shall give a ransom for himself to the LORD, when you number them, so that there will be no plague among them when you number them
• Ex 30:15-16 The rich shall not pay more and the poor shall not pay less than the half shekel, when you give the contribution to the LORD to make atonement for yourselves. You shall take the atonement money from the sons of Israel and shall give it for the service of the tent of meeting, that it may be a memorial for the sons of Israel before the LORD, to make atonement for yourselves.

Jesus did not sin and did not need to make atonement for Himself. So He did not have to pay the tax.

(To be continued)

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