Matthew 17:24-27 Paying The Tabernacle/Temple Tax.

Matthew 17:24-27 Paying The Tabernacle/Temple Tax.

The tabernacle/temple tax, (“Lit. double drachma” NGSB 1534, or half shekel – Wikipedia), was prescribed in Exodus 30:13 (Cf. 38:26). The passage is not about paying taxes to the civil authority. Furthermore, it was a flat tax to pay for one’s atonement, because when it comes to atonement all persons are of equal need, and 20 was considered the age of majority (vv. 14-15). It was for the services of the tabernacle/temple (v. 16). “Those who received the temple tax came to Peter” (v. 24a). Apparently they regarded Peter as being in some sort of lead role. In his typical fashion, Peter did not ask Jesus first, but rather immediately answered in the affirmative (vv. 24b-25a). The word translated “stranger” might be a bit misleading, unless one keeps in mind that Jesus was simply referring to a poll tax of “the kings of the earth.”

All Israelites paid the temple tax, except for the kohanim or priests, since they were the recipients. Jesus was making the point that he and his disciples were legitimate priests, and not “strangers” to the true ministry of the tabernacle/temple (vv. 25b-26). However, in this time of transition, so as not to give offense, Peter was instructed to retrieve some money from a fish, his former livelihood, and to pay this “tax” to cover for the both of them (v. 27 Cf. Rom. 13:7). It was and is also the case that atonement is only to be found with the living God of holy scripture, including for those among the Gentiles, who would indeed come to help build this temple (Cf. Is. 60:10-17). One might justly argue that this is something that should be paid to the church by its members still today

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