God, includes Jesus, doesn’t want any human being to pay taxes on illegally enacted and antisocial legislations and their Rules etc. – Would that be a truthful statement?
I have to quote the whole passage to refresh my memory of those verses, which might even lead to serendipitous discovery of a missed understanding of Christianity.
24 And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute?
25 He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers?
26 Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free.
27 Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.
The three words which need to be defined are
“Tribute” in Roman times, referred to a certain sum periodically paid to the Victor/Captor country by the vanquished country, which was collected from the citizens of the vanquished country, for making such payments to the Victor country.
“Custom“ refers to the taxes imposed on goods which were brought from outside jurisdictions, which is ultimately collected from the purchaser of the goods but is levied on the seller at the time of him bringing those goods into the customs levying jurisdiction. Customs is prepaid before the sale mostly, but definitely before delivery.
“Money“ is the most difficult to define as its functions are more important than what it was originally intended for. If one were to ask a bitcoiner, he would say that Money is a medium for store of value. If one reads the Nicomachean Ethics of Aristotle- which defines Money as a measure of value for equitable exchange of goods and services, then it is ‘measure of value’.
But from this passage of the Bible, Jesus looks into the purpose of deployment of such money. Jesus looks into the ‘taxation’ carried out by the Romans on the Israelites – one is a ‘tribute tax’ the other being ‘custom’ – a tax levied on goods brought into from other jurisdictions.
Jesus asks Peter, do the kings levy tribute and customs on their citizens? Peter says: No. That’s because a country doesn’t levy ‘tribute’ on its own citizens, because sovereign citizens don’t have to pay tribute, Israel then being a vassal state was bound to pay the agreed indemnity amount called Tribute.
Therefore, when Jesus visited Capernaum, He and Peter had to pay taxes as they were from Galilee.
Jesus does something amazing at this moment:
1. Compliance without conviction
2. Payment for such taxes are made out of resources generated NOT OUT OF ONE’S SWEAT OR TOIL
Jesus tells Peter, let us not offend the Tax Collectors therefore let us pay the Tribute. Jesus didn’t believe in the Tribute imposed on him, yet He complied with that unjust tax being levied on a citizen whose country had become a vassal state.
The way Jesus defrays the tax obligation is even more interesting: He tells Peter to catch fish by dropping a hook – not a net. In all the other instances where fishing was involved Jesus always talks of casting the net, but when it comes to paying those unjust taxes, He instructed Peter to drop a hook and catch that fish which came up first, open its mouth and find a ‘piece of money’ and that piece of money was instructed to be used for making payment of the Tribute Tax.
If we read this as a whole, this incident shows that the unjust claims of the puppet governments need NOT be met out of the hard earned resources but out of the miscellaneous gains made during the course of one’s engagement in the society. Not all obligations are lawful but they have to be met – so don’t waste the money given by the devotees, disciples and benefactors.
I would also like to narrate what would have happened after the fish was caught:
Jesus would have instructed Peter to release the first fish caught once the piece of money was recovered from its mouth. The purpose of that fish swallowing the piece of money was to deliver the same to fulfill the unjust obligations imposed on Jesus. That fish should NOT be sold or eaten immediately. After all even the Jealous God the Father, in one of the commandments had instructed that ‘Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother’s milk’ (Exodus 34:26). Why was that Commandment given – the kid which ought to be nourished on its mother’s milk should not be used to boil the kid! Don’t yoke together LIFE and DEATH. Don’t take the benefit of Life from a person and use that to kill the person! It was that mental COMPASSION, which has withstood the rest of time and exalted the Name above every other Name!
Likewise the fish which was designated to deliver the piece of money, shouldn’t be used for consumption immediately – though it could be caught later by fishers for eating purposes.