Law of the Land and Law of God
Matthew 22: 15-21
The enemies of Christ have been unsuccessful in their attempts to arrest Him because He is guilty of nothing. Their hatred for Him runs deep, and so they contrive a scenario hoping to entrap Him with a question about giving Caesar "tribute money" or taxes.
However, Christ discerns their cunning, and astonishes them with how He handles the coin, looking it over, and then asking them a question, "Whose face is on the coin? Whose inscription is this?"
Of course, they must answer "the Emperor's".
The coin was of silver, which was a Roman denarius, the fiscal coin for a day's wage. The coin for Roman currency was of bronze, and the Romans engraved upon this piece inoffensive emblems of grain, and leaves. The silver pieces were engraved with the effigy of the emperor. This was the denarius which was brought to Christ.
Would He fall for their craftiness? Imagine the coin being turned over and over in His hand, and knowing why they want to catch Him with their clever questions.
What would Christ pledge His allegiance to: The Emperor of Rome, or God?
If we are confronted in a similar circumstance, will our allegiance be to the government or to God?
Let's look at what Paul tells us, that there is no authority which is not from God, and those authorities which truly exist have been established by God. Whoever is in opposition to authority is in opposition to God. (Romans 13:1-2)
Above all, we must consider Christ's answer, that He separates the "things of Caesar" from the "things of God". Respect the laws of the land, unless they are in opposition to God's. It is clear from Christ's answer about this "tribute money" that rendering to our government what is due is not in opposition to the law of God.
John Calvin comment:
John Calvin comment:
"Christ’s reply does not leave the matter open, but contains full instruction on the question which had been proposed. It lays down a clear distinction between spiritual and civil government, in order to inform us that outward subjection does not prevent us from having within us a conscience free in the sight of God. For Christ intended to refute the error of those who did not think that they would be the people of God, unless they were free from every yoke of human authority. In like manner, Paul earnestly insists on this point, that they ought not the less to look upon themselves as serving God alone, if they obey human laws, if they pay tribute, and bend the neck to bear other burdens (Romans 13:7).
Christ declares that it is no violation of the authority of God, or any injury done to his service, if, in respect of outward government...
We might be apt to think, no doubt, that the distinction does not apply; for, strictly speaking, when we perform our duty towards men, we thereby render obedience to God. But Christ, accommodating his discourse to the common people, reckoned it enough to draw a distinction between the spiritual kingdom of God, on the one hand, and political order and the condition of the present life, on the other. We must therefore attend to this distinction, that, while the Lord wishes to be the only Lawgiver for governing souls, the rule for worshipping Him must not be sought from any other source than from His own word, and that we ought to abide by the only and pure worship which is there enjoined; but that the power of the sword, the laws, and the decisions of tribunals, do not hinder the worship of God from remaining entire amongst us."