Give Unto Ceasar?
by David Hathaway
used parables and other indirect rhetorical devices, some that represented
more complete stories like "The Laborers in the Vineyard,"
(Matthew 20:1-16), some that offered shorter insights like "The
Pompous Pharisee and the Sinful Tax Collector" (Luke 18:9-14),
and many that present thought-provoking short metaphorical commentaries
like "Putting New Wine in Old Wineskins" (Matthew 9:17),
and "The Leaven" (Matthew 13:33). The Bible often requires
us to think about what is meant by something like "…a dog returneth
to his vomit." (Proverbs 26:11)
devices cause the listener (or reader) to come to the truth through
thought on underlying truths. Jesus also employed these methods
when being challenged by those who wanted to hand him over to the
state to be tortured and killed. One of the verbal devices used
by Jesus was the technique of giving the question back to the belligerent
asker to require him to figure out the truth for himself. It avoided
confrontation while at the same time presenting the truth in the
conversation if the asker chose to honestly follow logic and obtain
the true conclusion.
One such occasion
involved an attempt to get Jesus to say something about the evil
nature of the state that would result in him being imprisoned. This
may be the only time recorded when Jesus (rather than one of his
apostles) actually conversed directly on the topic of the nature
of the state. The loaded question was carefully constructed and
posed by the interrogators with the assumption that there was no
way for Jesus to present an answer that wouldn’t anger the state’s
minions resulting in Jesus’ arrest.
Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might
entangle him in his talk.
And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians,
saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way
of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest
not the person of men.
Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to
give tribute unto Caesar, or not?
But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt
ye me, ye hypocrites?
Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a
And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription?
They say unto him, Caesar's. Then saith he unto them,
Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and
unto God the things that are God's.
When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left
him, and went their way.
we derive from this? Jesus clearly gives the question back to the
asker by saying to render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s.
The asker was given the task to do the thinking. This answer avoided
confrontation with those who would have immediately bound him in
chains if it was stated more directly. So, Jesus has the interrogator
ask himself, "what things are Caesar’s?"
said, "Everything the State says is a lie, and everything it
has it has stolen."
pointed out that men "can secure the means of existence in two ways:
by creating them or by stealing them" (Economic
Harmonies, p. 479)
that "The Romans could not fail to consider property anything
but a purely conventional fact – a product, an artificial, of written
law. Evidently they could not go back, as political economy does,
to the very nature of man and perceive the relations and necessary
connections that exist among wants, faculties, labor, and property."
He said that it "would have been absurd and suicidal for them"
to do so because "they lived by looting, when all their property
was the fruit of plunder, when they had based their whole way of
life on the labor of slaves." (Selected
Essays on Political Economy, p. 101). In other words,
what the state claimed as its property was actually stolen. A state
decree of written "law" attempted to legitimize the theft
from those who actually owned the property which they obtained through
their own production or voluntary exchange.
passage is often used incorrectly to postulate that Jesus was a
statist. The true meaning couldn’t be farther from that. The passage
itself directly states that Jesus perceived their, "wickedness."
Jesus then masterfully has us ponder and determine what the state
really owns. The answer is nothing. Give Caesar what pertains to
him. You do the math.
Hathaway [send him mail]
is a former supervisory DEA Agent who homeschools his nine children.
He enjoys writing about the injustices of the state.
© 2012 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in
part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.