Why Did Jesus Pay Taxes With A Coin From The Mouth Of A Fish

Coin in the fish’s mouth – Wikipedia

Apostle Peterpaying the temple tax with a coin from the fish’s mouth by Augustin Tünger, 1486. Thecoin in the fish’s mouthis one of themiracles of Jesus, recounted in the Gospel ofMatthew 17:24–27.

Biblical accounts

According to the Gospel narrative, in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachmatemple tax approach Peter and inquire whether Jesus has paid the tax, to which he responds affirmatively. “Do the rulers of the land collect duty and taxes from their own children or from others?” Jesus inquires when Peter comes to the place where they are staying, bringing up the subject. Peter responds as follows: “”Then the children are excluded,” Jesus responds, and the children are exempt. However, in order to avoid offending anyone, please go to the lake (the Sea of Galilee) and cast your line.

Take it and give it to them so that they may use it to pay mine and your taxes.”


The tale comes to a close at this point, without mentioning whether Peter caught the fish as Jesus said he would do. It’s possible that this was the only occasion Jesus performed a miracle in order to avoid upsetting anybody (in this case, those who collected the two-drachmatemple tax). It would take four drachma (or shekel) coins to pay the temple tax (two drachma coin) for two persons, which would be exactly the amount needed. In most cases, it is assumed to be a Tyrrian shekel. Generally speaking, placing a coin in the mouth of a fish is seen as a symbolic gesture or sign, although there is no consensus on what it represents.

Peter’s fish” since it is the fish that Peter caught.

See also

  • Render unto Caesar
  • Jesus’ life in the New Testament
  • Jesus’ miracles
  • The Tribute Money (Masaccio)
  • Render unto Caesar


  1. The following resources are available: abDaniel J. Scholz, 2009,Introducing the New TestamentISBN0-88489-955-1p. 86
  2. AbSteven L. Cox, Kendell H Easley, 2007, Harmony of the GospelsISBN0-8054-9444-8p. 349
  3. AbHerbert Lockyer, All the Miracles of the Bible(Zondervan, 1988), p. 219
  4. AbGraham H. David Hendin’s “The coin in the fish’s mouth” may be found here. Coins are released on a weekly basis. Lewis, Peter E., and Bolden, Ron (2016, February 19)
  5. Lewis, Peter E., and Bolden, Ron (2002). The Coins Discovered by Saint Paul During His Travels is a pocket guide to the apostle’s travels. p. 21. Wakefield Press, Inc. Obtainable on February 19, 2016

The Coin in the Fish’s Mouth

Reading through the Gospels, we come across a number of miracles that have clear connections to the remainder of Jesus’ career. Examples of healing demonstrate Jesus’ concern for the ill and those who are tormented by demons. However, in the case of other miracles, the relationship is less obvious. Consider the miracle of discovering the coin in the fish’s mouth, for example: When they arrived in Capernaum, the tax collectors approached Peter and asked, “Does your teacher not pay the tax?” When Peter said affirmatively, the tax collectors walked away.

And when he entered the home, Jesus addressed him first, asking, “What do you think, Simon?

“Do they want it from their sons or from others?” Moreover, when he stated, “from others,” Jesus responded by saying, “Then the sons are free.” Going to the sea, casting a hook and taking the first fish that comes up will result in you finding a shekel when you open its mouth, so as not to offend them.

  1. 17:24–27; Luke 17:24–27) This miracle appears to them to be more random and unrelated to the greater aims of God’s kingdom than previous miracles have been.
  2. King’s resources are available.
  3. This specific episode does not focus on the coin’s miraculous appearance, but rather on the conversation that preceded the appearance of the coin.
  4. They were free because of their status as sons.
  5. God reigns as king in the kingdom of God, and the disciples serve as his sons and daughters.
  6. Jesus himself is the only route to God (John 14:6) and the only genuine temple (Matthew 16:18).
  7. His given name, Immanuel, literally translates as “God with us” (Matt.

Through him, the disciples are able to establish a personal relationship with God.

1:13–14), referring to the transfer of believers from the realm of darkness to the kingdom of God’s beloved Son.

However, if the sons choose to pay anyhow in order to avoid offending the king, God the monarch has a large amount of wealth that he distributes to his sons.

First and foremost, it reaffirms Jesus’ assertion that he is the only Son of God, as he claims.

Because of their closeness to him, they are considered sons as well.

“And my God will meet every need of yours according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus,” says the apostle Paul (Phil.

The coin in the fish’s mouth foreshadows the final provision of blessing made possible by the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

A miracle supply from God, on the other hand, emphasizes the privilege of sonship.

In many ways, the lesson is comparable to what Jesus taught his followers when he told them that they should seek first the kingdom of God: Don’t be concerned about what to eat or drink or what to wear since you don’t know what you’re going to do.

Rather, seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all of these things will be given to you as a bonus.

The temple served as God’s house of worship.

Furthermore, it foreshadows the closeness with God and access to God that the “sons” of the king would have as a result of their adoption as sons of the king via Jesus, the one and only Son of the Father.

It foreshadows the climax provision of blessing made possible by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Through our trust in Jesus, we have been adopted as sons of God, and the text applies to us as well.

We have a special relationship with God and an extraordinary position, not because of our own efforts, but because of our friendship with Jesus, who is the one and only Son of God: As the fullness of time approached, God sent out his Son, born of a woman and subject to the law, to redeem those who were under the law, allowing us to be adopted as sons in his family of grace.

Father!” because you are sons.

(Galatians 4:4–7) The scripture also says that people who are still outside of Christ should repent and come to him in order to be adopted as sons of God by him.

It is based on Vern Poythress’s book, The Miracles of Jesus:How the Savior’s Mighty Acts Serve as Signs of Redemption (Phillipsburg, NJ: P R, 2016), pages 213–214. The publisher has granted permission for this use.

What’s the meaning of the coin in the fish’s mouth? — Episcopal Church of the Resurrection

There’s a narrative that has long perplexed me in which Jesus instructs his disciples to capture fish that would have money in their jaws so that they may use them to pay their taxes. What is the significance of this story? In this narrative, the tax collectors corner Peter and question him as to why Jesus is paying the Temple tax but he is not. Peter responds by saying that Jesus does. In the following exchange of dialogue, Jesus challenges Peter on his beliefs about who is responsible for collecting taxes: monarchs’ own offspring or outsiders.

  1. But, Jesus continues, in order to prevent the disciples from causing offense, he tells Peter to go fishing in the lake, promising him that he would find a coin to pay the Temple tax in the mouth of the first fish he catches.
  2. During the course of history, this fee collected on Jews in support of the Lord’s sanctuary was gradually raised in order to pay for the repair and functioning of the Temple.
  3. There are several accounts in the Bible regarding extraordinary discoveries!
  4. In addition, it’s important to note that this is the only Gospel to include the narrative – perhaps because Matthew himself was a former tax collector.
  5. The disciples were in the midst of a dilemma.
  6. However, if they did not pay the Temple tax, they would no longer be considered Jews, and they had no intention of giving up their Jewish identity.

The Miracle of Christ: The Coin in the Fish’s Mouth Read: Matthew 17:24-27

It was during Christ’s final six months on earth that the penny appeared in the fish’s mouth, and it was a miracle. Peter had just declared Christ to be the Son of God (16:16), after being enlightened by the Holy Spirit. It was a wonderful confession on Peter’s part. Despite this, he still had a great deal to learn, both about himself and about the Lord. In this reading about the next miracle Jesus did, we’ll look at four things Peter appears to be taking away from it.

An All-Wise Prophet⤒

“Does not your lord pay tribute?” they were questioned when they were in Capernaum by those who collected tribute money. “Does not your master pay tribute?” they were asked. (See v. 24.) Not a civil tax, but a religious tax, sometimes known as the Temple Tax, was levied in lieu of this contribution. The sum owed was adidrachma coin, which represented the earnings of approximately two days’ labour for a day laborer. Every adult man was expected to contribute half a shekel as ransom money toward the construction of the tabernacle, in accordance with Exodus 30:11-16.

  1. 26:20-25; 38:25-31).
  2. 10:32-33).
  3. 25).
  4. Christ is, in fact, the silent witness to all of our words and thoughts, no matter where we are.
  5. Are they more protective of their own children or of strangers?
  6. Which of them am I?” Because of the preceding chapter, in which Peter acknowledged so brilliantly that “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,” this inquiry is made all the more painful (16:16).
  7. The Lord’s disciples continue to live in ways that are diametrically opposed to their confession without giving it a second’s thought.

Later on, you came to understand what a fool you had been (Ps.

It is not without cause that Jesus refers to Peter by his former given name, “Simon” (v.

Peter behaved with such ease and speed, as if it were second nature to him.


or “Can you tell me what you’re thinking?” Thank you, Lord, for being such a patient and understanding educator!

The tax collectors got the erroneous image of His Mas­ter since Peter responded with a hasty “yes.” In essence, he had exacerbated His shame by portraying Him as less than He actually was in his heart.

We should keep this in mind the next time we act in a way that makes Christ appear insignificant. What we say and do either magnifies or reduces the Lord’s glo­ry, depending on our perspective. May the Lord pardon us for having done the latter so frequently, so unthinkingly, and with such ease.

A Humble Servant←⤒

Despite the fact that He was the Son of God, Christ was ready to submit Himself to an ordinance that made Him appear more like a subject than the Son He truly was. While He remained Lord over everything, including the temple, He was ready to “make himself of no reputation and take upon himself the guise of a ser­vant” in order to “serve the people” (Phil. 2:7). Despite the fact that, in His own words, He was “greater than the temple” (Matt. 12:6), He bowed his head to pay the tribute, just like everyone else.

  1. “We didn’t want to insult them,” he explained (v.
  2. Two people can perform the identical action for two completely different reasons, and one of them will be correct while the other will be incorrect.
  3. 14:21; 1 Cor.
  4. 5:13).
  5. (Luke 19:10).
  6. If the Son of God did not insist on His rights, but instead chose to forego them in order to avoid placing a stumbling obstacle in the path of uninformed sinners, how can we expect ourselves to behave otherwise?
  7. 13:8).
  8. 2:3).
See also:  Where Did Jesus Grow Up

An Omnipotent Lord←⤒

As a way of reminding Peter of what a wonderful Lord He was, Jesus told him to “go to the sea and cast a hook, and pick up the fish that first comes up; and when thou hast opened the mouth of the fish, you will discover a piece of money” (v. 27). In this miracle, the Lord demonstrated His omniscience, as He was aware of the fish in the water with a penny in his mouth. Furthermore, it demonstrated the Lord’s omnipotence, as He caused it to come to Peter’s hook. Christ expresses himself to Peter in such a calm and confident manner.

  1. He is the One about whom the Psalms are written “The deepest parts of the earth are held in his hand.
  2. 95:4-5).
  3. What makes you think that if the Lord can supply for this need, He won’t know how to provide for your need as well?
  4. 18:14).

A Redeeming Savior←⤒

There is far more to this marvel than meets the eye. The coin that Peter discovered in the fish was worth twice as much as it was needed to be there. The Greek term for the coin is astater, which has a value twice that of thedidrachma and is worth twice as much. This is what Jesus Christ says: “That which they shall take, and give unto them for me and thee” (v. 27). Christ would pay the price for Peter, both now and in the future. Peter could have been able to pay the tax on his own, but Christ wanted him to understand that, as the Lord of the universe, He had come to the lowly position of paying for the sins of people like him, in order that their spiritual obligations would be completely discharged.

When Peter writes in his first epistle, “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold from your vain conversation passed down by your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot,” we can see that he grasped the significance of this (1 Pet.

Before God, Peter would have been unable to pay his own ransom price, let alone the price of anybody else’s.


“Then are the children free,” Christ said in the plural in verse 26: “Then are the children free.” The accomplished work of Christ had resulted in Peter being adopted as a child, “and if a kid, then an heir” (cf.

Rom. 8:17). Peter had been set free by Christ, and he was now free to devote his life to serving Christ. Peter had become someone else’s property. A hefty sum had been paid for his acquisition (cf. 1 Cor. 6:19-20).


  1. Consider a situation in which you agreed to something hastily but afterwards recognized that your decision, while well-intentioned, was not the ideal one to make. What does Romans 12:2 have to say about this? Christ foresaw Peter’s thoughts before he ever had the opportunity to express them. In fact, He was more adept at discerning Peter’s own thoughts than Peter himself. How could our lives be different if we prayed Psalm 139:23-24 every day? Give a concrete example of how Christians should refrain from insisting on their rights when doing so might cause offence to others. What does this chapter demonstrate about the importance of our motivations for accomplishing something? In what ways are Christians “free” (v. 26) from oppression? You might find Chapter 20 of the Westminster Confession of Faith to be useful
  2. We’ve already seen four things Peter learnt about the Savior through the apostle Peter. What were the four things Peter may have discovered about himself as a result of the experience

The Miracles of Jesus Christ: The Coin in the Fish’s Mouth

However, even though it is among Christ’s less spectacular miracles, the discovery of a coin in the mouth of a fish (Matthew 17:24-27) can be quite instructive. Only Matthew, a former tax collector for Rome, is aware of the payment of the Temple tax in this context, which is not unexpected given its significance. Despite the fact that he did not collect this specific tax, he was nonetheless interested in it. His narrative of Christ’s life has a tendency to place a strong emphasis on the King and His Kingdom.

  1. Are you saying that He is not the Son of God, the Heir to all of His Father’s estates?
  2. In this case, the levy was not a civil tax, but rather a religious tax to sustain the Temple in Jerusalem.
  3. It funded the construction of the Tabernacle and, subsequently, the Temple, as well as the labor of the apostles and the apostles’ wives.
  4. 1.
  5. Matthew 17:25 and Matthew 17:27 Observation: Peter appears to be afraid that if Jesus does not pay the tax, He would not be seen as a good Jew.
  6. His response suggests that Jesus had already paid the tax and would continue to act in the manner expected of every faithful Jew.
  7. Peter responds to the question with the only conceivable response, “From strangers,” to which Jesus responds, “Then the sons are free.” It is in this context that he describes Peter and himself as both being sons of God, as Sovereigns of the Temple who are exempt from paying the tribute.

Despite the fact that Peter is technically incorrect concerning the legitimacy of charging the Son of God, Jesus used the concept of not intentionally upsetting a brother (Luke 17:1-2) to positively portray His divinity and spiritual power: He pulls off a miraculous feat.

His example should serve as a source of inspiration for us whenever we feel slighted or taken advantage of (Romans 14:21-22).

To what extent does Christ display command of the situation?

Matthew 17:27 is a passage of scripture.

The goal and joy of Christ’s will—which is obeyed by all of creation—guided that solitary fish from various schools in the lake to Peter’s hook via the purpose and pleasure of Christ’s will.

According to the apostle John, when he describes Christ as the Word, “all things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made” (John 1:1-3).

This is confirmed by Paul in Colossians 1:16 “For it was through Him that all things were made, both visible and invisible, in heaven and on earth, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers.

All things were made by Him and for Him, and nothing was created apart from Him.” With the help of His spiritual power, He causes a fish to generate the precise quantity of silver currency required to pay the Temple’s fees and taxes.


Jesus’ perspective on His connection with His disciples is seen in the following passage.

Those in charge of collecting the half-shekels made their way to Peter’s house.

The money raised and deposited into the Temple’s treasury helped to offset the costs of Temple functions.

Because of the miracle’s precision, a complete shekel (twodidrachmas) was discovered in the fish’s mouth, half a shekel each for Christ and Peter (“for Me and you”; verse 27), which was exactly enough money to meet the criterion.

The remarkable situation that all sincere Christians occupy is that they are no longer servants, but rather sons in Christ (Galatians 3:26).

There are two fundamental concepts in this narrative.

The second is moral in nature, demonstrating that grandeur in the Kingdom is derived from service and humility on the part of the recipient. The words “lest we offend them” from Jesus should serve as a motivator to act with humility and wisdom.

A Fish Paid Taxes – Matthew 17:24-27 — InspiritEncourage

Throughout this chapter of Matthew, we are introduced to a fish who is put to the service of both Peter and Jesus. Matt 17, New International Version (NIV), serves as a reminder of the various sections of the book. 24 In Capernaum, shortly after Jesus and his followers arrived, two drachma temple tax collectors approached Peter and inquired, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?” Peter said affirmatively. 25 “He certainly does,” he confirmed. When Peter initially entered the house, Jesus was the one who spoke out first.

  1. “Can you tell me where the duty and taxes are collected by the monarchs of the earth—from their own offspring or from others?” 26 “It comes from others,” Peter responded.
  2. 27 “However, in order to avoid offending anyone, please go to the lake and put out your line.” If you take the first fish you catch and open its mouth, you will discover a coin worth four drachmas.
  3. “Don’t you” is usually accompanied by the assumption that you have done or are about to do something unpalatable.
  4. He doesn’t give Simon Peter the opportunity to inquire about the Tax, but instead approaches him and asks about it.
  5. As a child, I was fascinated by the image of butterflies representing new creation – and I believe there is a lot to be said about the times that Simon-Peter spends with Christ being similar to those spent in the chrysalis of a butterfly.
  6. Depending on the situation, Peter was either ready or unwilling to leave the old behind.
  7. I think that is telling as well, that there is no rebuke in Jesus’s words.

So, Jesus instructs and puts things in the kingdom perspective.

But Jesus does not ruffle feathers and talk about the hidden kingdom, of which we are co-heirs with him.

It is here the fish enters the picture.

I’m not sure why the tax money doesn’t come from the purse that Judas keeps.

Give to God that which is God’s; his provision of all that is around us will also provide for the tribute to him and his work, the temple.

No, Peter doesn’t sell the fish to pay the tax, the fish yields the coins in its mouth.

He doesn’t make it a complicated mess to pay the tax worth two-days’ labor each.

Jesus asks Peter to do what he knows, go and fish.

There is little that is simple in this story, but the response is pretty basic – go and do what you know so that you can fulfill obligations.

Peter did not have to put in the four days to get enough for the taxes, God provided in the time that was available.

God provided, but Peter worked for the coins.

Peter obeyed, he fished and came back with what was needed for the day.

God does his part and we do ours.

There are many things that I’ve had to write about here. Jesus knows what we are up to, even when he isn’t there; we grow in time; He instructs; God provides, we work; he responds in time; fulfill obligations. What say you tell me what strikes you most? Leave a comment if you will.

What Does the Fish with the Coin in It’s Mouth Symbolize in Matthew 17?

Question: I enjoy fishing, thus it’s possible that my question(s) arise from it: It has everything to do with a scene from Matthew 17. The other day, while I was going through the Gospel reading for the day (Matthew 17:22-27), it came to me that some of the specifics of the tale, particularly the fish with the coin in its mouth, struck me as a little strange. Is there a symbolic meaning to this? It appears to be such an inconsequential element that there must be some deeper importance behind it.

  • Although I admit that I found the fish with the coin amusing, I was reading a book called Between Heaven and Mirth (Fr.
  • finding things where you would least expect them) at the time of writing?
  • When it comes to this chapter, it is unclear if it originally had any comedy that Jesus’ contemporaries would have appreciated.
  • The incident is most likely based on an oral legend, with the folklore aspect of the coin in the fish’s mouth serving as a link to the past.
  • The tenor of Matthew’s narrative, on the other hand, appears to be less concerned with the coin’s discovery in an unusual location and more concerned with the theological question of whether Jesus’ disciples should be paying taxes to maintain the Jewish temple in Jerusalem.
  • Assuming the disciples thought Jesus was the Son of God, why should they be required to contribute to the upkeep of their Father’s house?
  • By proclaiming his status as the Son of God (and extending sonship to his disciples), Jesus alleviates their predicament, while simultaneously insulating himself and Peter from further confrontation with Jewish authorities.
See also:  Which Of Noah'S Sons Did Jesus Come From

What does Matthew 17:27 mean?

Matthew 17:27, New International Version: But, in order not to cause offense, go to the lake and cast your line. If you take the first fish you catch and open its mouth, you will discover a coin worth four drachmas. Take it and give it to them so that they may use it for my tax and yours.’ Nevertheless, in order not to offend them, go to the sea and cast a hook, catching the first fish that comes up, and when you open its jaw, you will discover a shekel in its mouth. Take something and give it to them on my behalf as well as on your behalf.” To avoid offending them, however, go to the sea and put a hook into the water, and when the first fish comes up, you will discover a piece of money, which you should take and present to them on my and your behalf.

‘Please take that and deliver it to them on your behalf and mine.’ Matthew 17:27, New Living Translation: However, we don’t want to upset them, so we’ll walk down to the lake and cast a line into it.

Take that and use it to pay the tax for the two of us.’ Matthew 17:27, CSB: Matthew 17:27, CSB: “But, in order to avoid offending them, go to the sea and put a fishing line into the water, then take the first fish you catch.

When you open its mouth, you’ll discover a coin within it. Take it and offer it to them on my behalf and on your behalf.”

28. The Coin in the Fish’s Mouth

Illustration in the natural world that leads to a better comprehension of the supernatural realm. The analogy’s rationale is as follows:

C. Presentation Summarized:

In fact, there are fish in the Sea of Galilee that pick up fertilized eggs from the sea floor and retain them in their teeth until they hatch, according to legend. This is used by some to demonstrate that this was not a miracle. To this, the question is how did Jesus know the specific fish had a coin in its mouth, that Peter would catch the correct fish, and how did he know what denomination or quantity of currency was in its mouth.

2. Content

It appears that Jesus had not been present for the Passover, maybe because he had been in Gentile country. As a result, he was absent from the scene when the tax was collected. When the temple tax collectors inquire as to whether or not Jesus pays, Peter responds in an impetuous manner, “Yes, he does.”

b. Who should pay? 17:25-26

The Passover had taken place, but Jesus did not appear to be there; he may have been in Gentile territory up north. In order to avoid paying taxes, he was absent. In response to the temple tax collectors’ question about whether or not Jesus pays, Peter responds in an impetuous manner: “Yes, he does.”

c. He does pay 17:27

In order to avoid upsetting anybody, Jesus pays the tax, although He has already made His point. This is just another case in which we see that the old system has come to an end and that Jesus has broken his relationship with Israel.


  • He is immune from the temple tax since he is the son of the temple owner. As a result, everyone else in God’s family is as well. And you become a member of the family by faith – through faith in Jesus. Saints in the Old Testament believed in God and were required to pay the tribute. He is now informing them that they will no longer be required to pay the temple tax in the future. The Temple is in danger of collapsing. Taking the keys of the kingdom away from the Jews and giving them to the Disciples and Gentiles, he has re-established his reign.


  • What exactly does Peter’s supposition accomplish? That Peter does not believe that what Jesus is coming to do will have any influence on the current system is demonstrated by this statement. It is possible that presumption will impede spiritual development and insight. It prevents me from fully assimilating God’s progressive revelation to the world. What is the foundation of his presumption? Fear of being judged, arrogance
  • It is important not to insult other people. Our goal is to make people more receptive to the gospel
  • This is our mission. It is sometimes necessary to refrain from asserting our rights for the benefit of others. Certain things are the property of the government, while others are the property of God. Miracles are a related topic.

What the Bible says about Miracles of Christ: Coin in Fish’s Mouth

Topical StudiesWhat the Bible says about Miracles of Christ: Coin in Fish’s Mouth (FromForerunner Commentary)Matthew 17:24-27The miracle of the coin found in the fish’s mouth (Matthew 17:24-27) may be among the least dramatic of Christ’s miracles, but it is certainly instructive. The context involves the paying of the Temple tax, and not surprisingly, only Matthew, the former tax collector for Rome, reports it. Although he did not collect this particular tax, it still interested him. His account of Christ’s life tends to highlight the King and His Kingdom. Why, then, should the King be subject to a tax? Is He not the Son ofGod, the Heir of all His Father’s house?Coming to Capernaum, the tax collector asks Simon Peter, “Does your Teacher not pay the temple tax?” and Peter replies in the affirmative (verses 24-25). This tax was not a Roman civil tax but a religious one supporting the Temple in Jerusalem. God inaugurated this tax in the wilderness, instructingMosesto take a half shekel from every male twenty years and older (Exodus 30:11-16). It provided for the work of the Tabernacle and later of the Temple, including during the time ofChrist. This tax was not an evil one per se, helping to cover legitimate costs of the worship of God, but as with almost all taxation, the money was often misused.Matthew 17:24The Greek word behind “tax” (NKJV) or “tribute” (KJV) in verse 24 isdidrachma, equivalent to the Jewish “half-shekel,” the Temple rate paid by every male Israelite above age twenty. Those responsible for collecting these half-shekels came to Peter. Unlike tolls, which were duties on goods, the Temple tax was levied on individual Israelites. The collected money, paid into the Temple treasury, defrayed the cost of Temple services. The Jews were much more willing to accept this collection than to pay the despised publicans who extracted taxes for Rome.The miracle’s preciseness is seen in the coin found in the fish’s mouth, a full shekel (twodidrachmas)—half a shekel each for Christ and Peter (“for Me and you”; verse 27)—the exact amount to satisfy the requirement. In this way,Jesusputs Himself alongside Peter as sharing His position and relationship as a son of the Kingdom. All true Christians fill this amazing position: They are no longer servants, but sons in Christ (Galatians 3:26). With His brethren Jesus shares His family relationship to His Father (John 20:17).This account contains two principles. The first is doctrinal, teaching Jesus’ place in God’s Kingdom as the rightful Son. The second is moral, showing that greatness in the Kingdom derives from service and humility. Jesus’ phrase, “lest weoffendthem,” should motivate us to employmeeknessand wisdom.Matthew 17:25Peter appears concerned thatJesuswould not be esteemed a good Jew if He did not pay the tax. Not wanting to bring dishonor and danger on Him, he acknowledges Jesus’ liability to pay the taxes as if He were a mere son of Israel. His reply implies that Jesus had paid the tax and would continue to do as every devout Jew should.When Peter enters the house, Jesus immediately asks him about taxation: “From whom do the kings of the earth take customs or taxes, from their sons or from strangers?” This demonstration of Christ’s knowing what Peter had discussed elsewhere proves to the disciple that His divine omniscience is not limited by distance.Peter answers the question with the only possible answer, “From strangers,” and Jesus replies, “Then the sons are free.” He refers to Peter and Himself as both sons of the Father, the Sovereign of the Temple, and therefore, free from the tax. However, rather than causeoffense, Jesus arranges for the money to be found in a most miraculous way.Technically, Peter errs about the legality of taxing the Son ofGod, but Jesus uses the principle of not needlessly offending a brother (Luke 17:1-2) to positively express His divinity and spiritual power: He performs a miracle. Christ is so considerate that He would rather pay any amount, however unjust or objectionable, than endanger God’s work by unnecessarily provoking negative comments that would hurt its credibility, saying, “lest we offend them” (Matthew 17:27). His example should inspire us for when we feel slighted or taken advantage of (Romans 14:21-22).Matthew 17:27Jesus’ miracle consists, not only in His omniscience—knowing that the fish would yield the necessary money—but also in the fact that the first fish that took Peter’s hook contained the precise sum required. The purpose and pleasure of Christ’s will—which all creation obeys—guided that single fish out of multiple schools in the lake to Peter’s hook. Christ, the Lord of Creation, controls all things, even the sea’s fish and the earth’s silver.In describing Christ as the Word, the apostle John writes, “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made” (John 1:3). Paul confirms this inColossians 1:16, “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.”Using His spiritual power, He makes a fish produce the exact amount of silver coin to pay the Temple dues. This miracle reminds the disciples that He is indeed the omnipotent Son ofGodwho controls all creation.John 21:4-12Verse 4 reveals that none of the disciples initially recognizes the Lord. In fact, all the disciples consistently failed to recognize the post-resurrection Christ (Luke 24:1-11, 13-16, 36-45;John 20:14). Physical and emotional circumstances notwithstanding, their failure was the result of weakfaithor spiritual immaturity and the corresponding confusion and unbelief—spiritual blindness.Following His resurrection, Christ changes (I Corinthians 15:44-45;Hebrews 6:20;Ephesians 4:9-10), but His disciples, still lacking understanding, have not. Verse 12 provides insight: “Jesus said to them, ‘Come and eat breakfast.’ Yet none of the disciples dared ask Him, ‘Who are You?’—knowing that it was the Lord.” While they eventually figure out that their Master,Jesus Christ, is with them on the shore, there is something different about Him that they are unable to comprehend fully without His assistance (Romans 8:5;John 15:5;I Corinthians 13:12).After John manages, however, to identify the stranger on the shore as “the Lord,” Peter immediately dresses and dives into the water to swim about 200 cubits (100 yards), eager to join Him on the shore. Contrast this passage with the first large catch miracle where all the disciples were “astonished” at the catch, while Peter, overwhelmed by the miraculous power of Jesus, begs Him to “depart from me” (Luke 5:8).John’s narrative indicates no hesitation on Peter’s part to follow Christ’s direction to cast the fishing net, this time on the right side of the vessel. This contrasts with the first large catch miracle (Luke 5:1-11) where a newly-recruited Peter resists His direction before submitting.Subsequently, the fishing net is brimming with a massive catch, yet it does not tear, nor are any of the men anxious or overwhelmed. In fact, Peter jumps back into the water to finish dragging the miracle catch back to shore by himself. Conversely, during the first large catch incident, the net tears and the two fishing boats involved begin to sink (Luke 5:6-7).Taken together, we see how the first large-catch miracle marks the beginning, while the second miracle signals the completion of the disciples’ three-and-a-half-year education under God’s direct tutelage. We also witness the disciples’ efforts to overcome several challenges common to most Christians: learning to recognize orseeGod; following His commandments in faith, and learning how to remain steadfast in the midst of overwhelming circumstances (John 21:8-12).The narrative of the second large catch begins with an anxious and bewildered—perhaps even backsliding—group of disciples that struggles initially to identify their Lord and Master. Nonetheless, even with their initial lapse of faith, by the end of this incident, we witness good fruit from the disciples’ unique and uncommon apprenticeship: their weak faith buttressed, their unbelief dissolved, and their capacity to serve wholly enriched by the presence of God.Because each disciple’s flaws are compounded in his Lord’s absence, each will soon receive the indwelling of His Holy Spirit (Acts 2). Christ’s commission, then, recognizes and rewards their growth and points to the beginning of their new vocation (John 21:15-17). No longer will they be only “fishers of men” (Mark 1:17), but soon they will work as pioneering ministers in the nascent church of God, tending and feeding all who are called into “the Way.”
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The Coin in the Fish’s Mouth

Because Jesus was an observant Jew, he was well aware of his yearly payment responsibility to the Temple in Jerusalem. The fable of the coin in the fish’s mouth is a good illustration of this yearly homage to the emperor. In order to ensure that the yearly Temple donation was received before Passover, Jewish leaders required that it be made at the beginning of the Hebrew month of Adar. Tables of money changers were set up across the Holy Land on the fifteenth day of Adar in order to accept these payments on that day.

After ten days, on the twenty-fifth of Adar, the money-changers ceased their local collections and restricted their business to the immediate vicinity of the Jerusalem Temple compound.

The account of Jesus and his followers is told in Matthew 17:24-27 (NIV), and it describes how they were approached by the Temple tribute collectors and how they responded by giving their contribution: 24 When Jesus and his followers arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma temple tax approached Peter and inquired, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?” Peter responded affirmatively.

  • he confirmed.
  • When Peter initially entered the house, Jesus was the one who spoke out first.
  • “Can you tell me where the duty and taxes are collected by the monarchs of the earth—from their own offspring or from others?” 26″From other people,” Peter responded.
  • 27 “However, in order to avoid offending anyone, please go to the lake and cast your line.
  • It’s yours; take it and deliver it to them for my and your taxes.” In other words, we have no way of knowing if this is a factual story, partially true, based on a legend, or a parable designed to educate or otherwise benefit the audience after it has been told once or a thousand times.

Seleucidtetradrachmsanddidrachmsoften struck in Tyre, Sidon, and Antioch (along with a few fewer Seleucidtetradrachmsanddidrachmsoften struck in Antioch) were unquestionably the most widely circulated silver coins in antiquity, from the first century BC to the end of the Jewish War Against Rome in 70 AD.

  1. The obverse features the deity Melquart, who is a Tyrian version of Herakles, while the reverse displays an eagle with a club to the left, which is a mintmark for the Tyrean city of Tyre.
  2. In order to pay the annual tribute to the Jerusalem Temple, which was one half shekel every Jewish adult male, only shekels and half shekels were accepted as form of payment.
  3. The first issue was struck at Tyre from 126/5 BC to 19/18 BC, and the second issue was struck in or near Jerusalem from 18/17 BC to 79/60 AD.
  4. However, other numismatists have suggested that the second issue, which is cruder in style and manufacturing than the first, was not coined at Tyre, but was most likely minted somewhere other than Jerusalem, and that this is plausible.
  5. Shekels and half-shekels minted at Tyre after 18/17 BC, according to Meshorer, are likely to have been struck in Jerusalem.
  6. (Photo courtesy of David Hendin) Irrespective of whether they were minted at Tyre or further south, it is apparent that the silver coins of ancient Tyre were highly regarded throughout antiquity for their weight and silver quality.

(Tosephta Kethuboth 13,20) (Kethuboth 13,20) The shekel and the hekels were probably used in many New Testament stories, including the coin in the fish’s mouth mentioned above, the 30 pieces of silver paid to Judas for his betrayal of Jesus (Matthew 26: 14-15), and the large silver coins used to bribe the soldiers who fled from their watch at the Holy Sepulcher on Easter Sunday (Matthew 28:11).

Because of this quotation, which is supported by the obviously large quantity of the coins originally minted,

Why Did the Son of God Pay the Temple Tax?

“In Capernaum, those who had collected the two drachmas approached Peter and asked him: “Doesn’t your Master pay the two drachmas?” Peter replied that he did not. He responded affirmatively. And as soon as he walked into the house, Jesus addressed him directly, saying: “What do you think, Simon?” When the monarchs of the earth collect tributes or taxes, from whom do they get the money? Whether from their sons or from complete strangers? Peter said, “From complete strangers.” As a result, Jesus said to him, the children are exempt.

The World is Watching

As we read the chapter, we can see that there are a variety of events taking place. Concentrating on the miracles depicted is simple: Jesus knew exactly where Peter had been, he knew the discussion they had had, and he had (or had placed) a penny in the mouth of a fish for Peter to locate are all easy to comprehend. Despite the fact that the substance of these words is contained in a brief and simple phrase: “in order not to upset them,” In this passage, we observe that Jesus refrains from exerting his rights as the Son of God in order to avoid creating any impediments to the spread of the Good News to others.

As a result, we can learn from Jesus that asserting one’s rights is not always the best option for the sake of the Gospel or for the sake of our fellow believers.

The tax collectors approached Peter and inquired whether Jesus would be willing to pay the temple tax.

Jesus’ humanity had us expecting nothing less from him, and we were not disappointed.

Deferred Divine Privileges

Given that Jesus was entirely divine, it is astonishing that he was willing to pay the Temple tax. Apart from whatever else Peter was thinking about the situation at the time, Jesus asks him a straightforward inquiry in verses 25 and 26: Are the sons of monarchs expected to contribute to the king’s charitable endeavors? To put it another way, is Jesus, as a God-begotten child, bound to financially support the Father’s charitable endeavors? As a response, Peter points out that even the monarchs of the earth do not levy taxes on their subjects, let alone on their own children.

It is true that Jesus was the genuine Temple in the sense that, as God incarnate, he served as God’s highest habitation on earth.

The sacrifice system that was in place in the temple would only be totally complete as a result of his efforts. Jesus, on the other hand, continued to pay the temple tax.

Maintaining Heavenly Priorities

What was Jesus’ motivation for paying this tax? We do know that Jesus endorsed true temple worship because it helped people comprehend the depth of their depravity and emphasized the necessity for perfect blood to be sacrificed in order to restore their friendship with a holy God, as revealed in the Gospels. Authentic temple worship, without a doubt, directed people’s attention to the person and work of Jesus Christ! Wouldn’t it be interesting to see what would have happened if Jesus had refused to pay the tax and instead defended himself by criticizing the tax collectors’ scorn for his divine provenance?

Who knows what type of turmoil and disruption this may have generated in Jesus’ mission!

He freely agreed to pay the temple fee in order to ensure that any offense he may have committed would never become an impediment to others’ ability to come to a true understanding of God via him.

The Gospel — The Priority of Freedom, Today

Some crucial questions must be asked as we seek to learn from Jesus’ example, and they are as follows: Are we so devoted to the Gospel that we would willingly relinquish our rights in order to convey the Good News of Jesus Christ to the world? Do we care enough about our brothers and sisters that we are willing to give up our privileges, including our biblically protected rights, in order to see how Jesus might be working in someone’s life? Are we willing to sacrifice our rights, even our biblically protected rights, in order to see how Jesus might be working in someone’s life?

Don’t get me wrong, there is a tremendous deal of freedom in this life for those who follow Jesus.

Our liberties, on the other hand, must be exercised first and foremost with an evangelical attitude.

If we want our acts to be a good reflection of Jesus in our community and in the globe, we must make Jesus’ priorities our priorities as well.


During his doctoral studies in Hebrew Bible at Bar-Ilan University (Ramat Gan, Israel), Dominick received training in Semitic Philology, which he used to his research.

In addition to biblical knowledge, Dominick gives classes on ancient Near Eastern literature, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and other themes of interest. Dominick Hernández’s website, domshernandez.com, contains further information about him.

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