Luke 20:20-26

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

February 27, 2002


Jesus is in the last week of His life.  He is in the temple teaching the people.

:20 And they watched him, and sent forth spies, which should feign themselves just men, that they might take hold of his words, that so they might deliver him unto the power and authority of the governor.

they watchedparatereo – to stand beside and watch, to watch assiduously, observe carefully

spiesegkathetos – secretly to lie in wait, a spy; one who is bribed by others to entrap a man by crafty words

Mark tells us a little about the people they sent:

(Mark 12:13 KJV)  And they send unto him certain of the Pharisees and of the Herodians, to catch him in his words.
The Pharisees were those that strictly held to the keeping of God’s laws.  The Herodians were members of an aristocratic Jewish political group that favored the policies of Herod Antipas and who supported the Roman government.

which should feignhupokrinomai (“hypocrite”) – to take up another’s statements in reference to what one has decided for one’s self; to make answer (speak) on the stage; to impersonate anyone, play a part; to simulate, feign, pretend

justdikaios – righteous, observing divine laws; in a wide sense, upright, righteous, virtuous, keeping the commands of God

take hold of epilambanomai – to take in addition, to lay hold of, take possession of, overtake, attain, attain to

These guys are looking for things that they can “grab on to” to use as evidence against Jesus.

deliverparadidomi – to give into the hands (of another); to give over into (one’s) power or use; to deliver up treacherously; by betrayal to cause one to be taken

powerarche – beginning, origin; the first place, principality, rule, magistracy

authorityexousia – power of choice, liberty of doing as one pleases; the power of authority (influence) and of right (privilege); the power of rule or government (the power of him whose will and commands must be submitted to by others and obeyed); jurisdiction

the governorhegemon – a leader of any kind, a guide, ruler, prefect, president, chief, general, commander, sovereign



Some people are not exactly what they claim to be.  There can be “false” apostles.
(2 Cor 11:13-15 KJV) For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. {14} And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. {15} Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
There can be “tares” among the wheat.
(Mat 13:24-30 KJV) Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: {25} But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. {26} But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. {27} So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? {28} He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? {29} But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. {30} Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.

:21 And they asked him, saying, Master, we know that thou sayest and teachest rightly, neither acceptest thou the person of any, but teachest the way of God truly:

Masterdidaskalos – a teacher; in the NT one who teaches concerning the things of God, and the duties of man

rightlyorthos (“orthopedic”) – rightly; from orthos, straight, erect; upright; not crooked

We know you are totally “upright”

acceptest thou the person – a phrase that translates two words,

acceptestlambano – to take; to receive (what is given), to gain, get, obtain, to get back

the personprosopon – the face; the appearance one presents by his wealth or property, his rank or low condition; outward circumstances, external condition

We could translate it, “You don’t receive the face”. We call it partiality. Jesus didn’t tailor the things He said based on who was standing before him. He didn’t just speak nice things to rich people, but He spoke the truth.

trulyaletheia – truly, in truth, according to truth; of a truth, in reality, in fact, certainly; or, that candour of mind which is free from affection, pretence, simulation, falsehood, deceit

They’re setting Jesus up.


Be careful about flattery

There’s something in me that really, really likes to hear a compliment. There’s a part of me that would just love to stand here for hours listening to you tell me how absolutely awesome my ministry is.
But I have to admit that some of the people that have hurt me the most in the ministry are people who at one time buttered me up the most. When I hear someone say, “This is the absolutely the most wonderful church I’ve ever been to”, my radar goes up.
I imagine that some people have learned that if they want to have influence in your life, they first have to get you to like them and appreciate them.
Be careful. Solomon wrote,

(Prov 29:5 NLT) To flatter people is to lay a trap for their feet.

Don’t get me wrong, if you want to say something nice about a person, PLEASE DO!!! Just be sure you do it for the right reasons, to build a person up. Don’t say something nice to manipulate a person.
Solomon wrote,

(Prov 26:28 NLT) A lying tongue hates its victims, and flattery causes ruin.

(Prov 28:23 NLT) In the end, people appreciate frankness more than flattery.

:22 Is it lawful for us to give tribute unto Caesar, or no?

Is it lawfulexesti – it is lawful

tributephoros – tribute, indicates a direct tax which was levied annually on houses, lands, and persons, and paid usually in produce.


Forgive me for telling a joke about a “bar”.  It gets the point across.

The local juice bar was so sure that its bartender was the strongest man around that they offered a standing $1000 bet: The bartender would squeeze a lemon until all the juice ran into a glass, and hand the lemon to a patron. Anyone who could squeeze one more drop of juice out would win the money. Many people had tried over time (professional wrestlers, longshoremen, etc.), but nobody could do it. One day this scrawny little man came in, wearing thick glasses and a polyester suit, and said in a tiny, squeaky voice, “I’d like to try the bet.” After the laughter had died down, the bartender agreed, grabbed a lemon, and squeezed away. Then he handed the dried, wrinkled remains of the rind to the little man. But the crowd’s laughter turned to total silence as the man clenched his fist around the lemon and SIX drops fell into the glass. As the crowd cheered, the bartender paid the $1000, and asked the little man, “What do you do for a living? Are you a lumberjack, a weight lifter, or what?” The man replied, “I work for the IRS.”

Keep in mind the day in which Jesus lived.  People in Jesus’ day were no different than people are anywhere in that they didn’t like to pay taxes.  But also keep in mind that Israel was not an independent nation.  They were under the rule of Rome.  They hated Rome.  And so for a Jew living in Israel, it was bad enough to pay taxes, but to pay them to the hated Romans was even worse.

Here’s the catch to this question:

The people are listening intently to Jesus.  They hate to pay taxes. 

If Jesus tells the questioner what the people want to hear, He’ll say that they shouldn’t be paying taxes to Rome.  But this will get Jesus into trouble with the Roman government since the “Herodians” are present, and give reason for Jesus to be arrested.
Yet if Jesus tells everyone to pay their taxes, then the people aren’t going to like Jesus.

:23 But he perceived their craftiness, and said unto them, Why tempt ye me?

he perceivedkatanoeo – to perceive, remark, observe, understand; to consider attentively, fix one’s eyes or mind upon

This isn’t necessarily a “supernatural” word.  I don’t think the idea here is that Jesus “read their minds” or that He is utilizing a gift of discernment.  I think the idea is that Jesus is simply paying attention to what the guys are saying, and He realizes the implications of the question. Pay attention

craftinesspanourgia – craftiness, cunning; a specious or false wisdom; in a good sense, prudence, skill, in undertaking and carrying on affairs

temptpeirazo – to try whether a thing can be done; to try, make trial of, test: for the purpose of ascertaining his quality, or what he thinks, or how he will behave himself; in a good sense; in a bad sense, to test one maliciously, craftily to put to the proof his feelings or judgments; to try or test one’s faith, virtue, character, by enticement to sin

:24 Show me a penny. Whose image and superscription hath it? They answered and said, Caesar's.

showepideiknumi – to exhibit, show; to bring forth to view, to show; furnish to be looked at, produce what may looked at

a penny denarion – “containing ten”; A Roman silver coin in NT time. It took its name from it being equal to ten "asses", a number after 217 B.C. increased to sixteen (about 3.898 grams or .1375 oz.). It was the principal silver coin of the Roman empire. From the parable of the labourers in the vineyard, it would seem that a denarius was then the ordinary pay for a day’s wages. (#Mt 20:2-13)

This coin was imprinted with Tiberius Caesar’s image and the inscription “Tiberius Caesar Augustus, Son of the Divine Augustus.” The reverse side pictured Livy, Caesar’s mother and claimed Caesar was “High Priest.” Caesar’s claim to be divine galled the Jews.

imageeikon – an image, figure, likeness

superscriptionepigraphe (“upon” + “writing”) – an inscription, title

Roman coins typically had a picture of the emperor on it.  For example, here’s a coin dating back to AD 70 –

Imperial Roman bronze coins commemorating the victory over Judea in A.D. 70/71.

They depict the Emperor Vespasian and are inscribed on the reverse, “Judea Capta.”

:25 And he said unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar's, and unto God the things which be God's.

Renderapodidomi – to deliver, to give away for one’s own profit what is one’s own, to sell; to pay off, discharge what is due; a debt, wages, tribute, taxes, produce due; to give back, restore


Pay your taxes

As Christians, we are supposed to be paying our taxes.
(Rom 13:1-7 NLT)  Obey the government, for God is the one who put it there. All governments have been placed in power by God. {2} So those who refuse to obey the laws of the land are refusing to obey God, and punishment will follow. {3} For the authorities do not frighten people who are doing right, but they frighten those who do wrong. So do what they say, and you will get along well. {4} The authorities are sent by God to help you. But if you are doing something wrong, of course you should be afraid, for you will be punished. The authorities are established by God for that very purpose, to punish those who do wrong. {5} So you must obey the government for two reasons: to keep from being punished and to keep a clear conscience. {6} Pay your taxes, too, for these same reasons. For government workers need to be paid so they can keep on doing the work God intended them to do. {7} Give to everyone what you owe them: Pay your taxes and import duties, and give respect and honor to all to whom it is due.

I don’t think we need to be paying more than we should.  I think it is completely fine that we take advantage of the tax laws and pay what we should .  For example, a person might give cash to the church because they want to remain anonymous, which is fine, but the law allows you to deduct your giving to the church.  Years ago we filed to become a non-profit, tax exempt, 501C3 organization just for that reason, to allow you the legally allowed benefit of deducting your giving to the church on your taxes.

We also ought to be sure that we don’t cheat on our taxes either.  A common practice for some business is to pay their workers with cash so the income isn’t reported and taxes aren’t paid.  This isn’t legal and it’s simply not right before God.  Pay your taxes.

:26 And they could not take hold of his words before the people: and they marvelled at his answer, and held their peace.

couldischuo – to be strong; to have power; to exert, wield power, to have strength to overcome; to be a force, avail; to be able, can

take hold ofepilambanomai – to take in addition, to lay hold of, take possession of, overtake, attain, attain to; to lay hold of or to seize upon anything with the hands, to take hold of, lay hold of

The passage started off with the idea that these men had come to “take hold of” His words.  But Jesus isn’t giving them anything to grab on with to use against Him.

they marvelledthaumazo – to wonder, wonder at, marvel; to be wondered at, to be had in admiration

I find this amazing that they would “marvel” at Jesus’ answer, and yet miss who He was.

held their peacesigao – to keep silence, hold one’s peace; to be kept in silence, be concealed

I think that sometimes we look at this verse and just focus on the fact that Jesus is teaching us to pay our taxes, but He goes way beyond that.


Give God His due

Just as we owe our taxes to the government, there are things we owe God.
I suppose I could talk a little here about giving money to God, but I’m not sure that’s exactly what Jesus had in mind.
The Roman coin had an “image” and a “superscription”.  I don’t know of any coins that have God’s “image” and “writing” on them.  But something else does.
You are made in the image of God.

(Gen 1:27 KJV)  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

God has written His law on the tablet of your heart.

(Jer 31:33-34 KJV)  But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. {34} And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

Give yourself to God.
As Jesus is teaching, He’s sitting in the temple. 

All around Him are people who have come to give things to God.

Some are bringing their “tithes”.  Others are bringing sacrifices.

Part of the worship of Israel was to bring a burnt offering to God every morning and every evening.

(Num 28:3-4 KJV)  And thou shalt say unto them, This is the offering made by fire which ye shall offer unto the LORD; two lambs of the first year without spot day by day, for a continual burnt offering. {4} The one lamb shalt thou offer in the morning, and the other lamb shalt thou offer at even;

The burnt offering was a picture of total consecration.  The lamb that was being offered represented a person, or here, a nation.  The entire animal was to be consumed upon the altar in the flames.  It wasn’t something that happened just once, it was to happen twice every day.

We too need to learn to give ourselves to God EVERY DAY.

(Rom 12:1-2 KJV)  I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. {2} And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.