Rendering to Caesar What is Caesar’s and to God What is God’s

The Tribute Money by Titian depicts Jesus being shown the tribute penny. Copyright of photo/Image and artwork it is based upon is in Public Domain
The Tribute Money by Titian


“Then they sent to Him (Jesus) some of the Pharisees and the Herodians, to catch Him in His words. When they had come, they said to Him, “Teacher, we know that You are true, and care about no one; for You do not regard the person of men, but teach the way of God in truth. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Shall we pay, or shall we not pay?”

But He, knowing their hypocrisy, said to them, “Why do you test Me? Bring Me a denarius that I may see it.” So they brought it. And He said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?” They said to Him, “Caesar’s.” And Jesus answered and said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they marveled at Him.” (Mark 12:13-17, NKJV)

Many Christians are familiar with the Scripture story above in which Jesus foiled the attempt of the scribes and Pharisees to incriminate him in the eyes of both the Jewish and Roman authorities. While a surface reading of this passage might seem to only cover the subject of taxation, the lesson that Jesus imparted to his disciples then and to us now goes much deeper than that.

In the passage, Jesus insightfully expounded upon the nature of both God’s law and man instituted civil law. There are two distinct spheres of law and government: God’s divine or natural law and man made statutes and law. Human government serves only a few enumerated but important purposes. Its primary responsibility is to protect the natural rights of life, liberty, and property. It is only to secure and protect these rights that “Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” (Declaration of Independence)

Man made law is not meant to supersede God’s natural order. As Jesus said, we are to render to “Caesar” (government) the things that are due to government under its delegated powers and responsibilities. When any individual leader or government body seeks to usurp power that is beyond its enumerated jurisdiction and attempts to force citizens to render to government the obedience and reverence that is rightly due to God alone, we cannot in good conscience submit to such devilish authority.

Unfortunately in these United States today, a significant number of professing Christians have forsaken this divine principle and have rendered to government the veneration that is due to Almighty God alone. Many pastors, ministers and priests throughout the land are either too paralyzed with the fear of losing their church’s tax exempt status to speak out or are all too willing to promote the wicked, despotic and unconstitutional policies emerging from that putrid province on the Potomac (and out of many state capitols as well).

When confronted over their reluctance to speak up or for their support of these policies, the above mentioned clergy will sheepishly hide behind a mantra of “I’m not supposed to get involved with politics, my job is to win souls” or will even use Scripture in an effort to justify their support for such tyranny. Verses from Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2 are heinously misinterpreted to instill in their congregations an unwavering, cowardly submittance to any and ALL government edicts now matter how ungodly, unbiblical, and unconstitutional they happen to be.

One need not look any further than the Scriptures to see that standing up for the principles of liberty and justice is not “politicking” and that nowhere in both Testaments did the Holy Spirit of God, who inspired the pens of the biblical writers, mandate unconditional submission to ANY human government or law:

In Exodus Chapter 1 the Hebrew midwives had been rendering to “Caesar” but when they disobeyed Pharaoh’s commandment to kill all new born Hebrew males they rendered unto God.

In Exodus Chapter 2 Moses, who had been brought up in Pharaoh’s court, rendered to “Caesar.” But when he killed the sadistic Egyptian task master to save the life of his Hebrew brother he rendered unto God.

In 2 Samuel Chapter 12 the prophet Nathan, who served as one of King David’s most trusted advisers, rendered to “Caesar.” But when he confronted and condemned David over his adultery with Bathsheba and his arraigned murder of her husband Uriah he rendered to God.

In Daniel Chapter 6 Daniel, who served as prime minister in the Babylonian government, rendered to “Caesar.” But when he disobeyed the royal decree not to worship anyone other than the king and was thrown in the lion’s den, he rendered to God.

In Mark Chapter 6 John the Baptist rendered to “Caesar.” But when he publicly scolded and confronted King Herod over his adultery and was imprisoned and ultimately beheaded, he rendered to God.

Let us all take note of the courageousness and conviction that these Biblical heroes showed in their devotion to the principles of right and justice. Let us pray in these times when a majority of Americans choose prosperity and notoriety over truth and principle that we may be granted the strength to stand fast and render “to God what is God’s.”

God, Family, and Country Editor at The Moral Liberal, Conor MacCormack, is currently completing coursework for an Associate’s degree in Sociology/Psychology/Anthropology from Mass Bay Community College State University in Wellesley, MA. His blog, A Young Man Speaks, addresses the current political and spiritual turmoil gripping our nation and how a return to America’s biblically based founding principles will lead to lasting liberty and prosperity. He has served as a congressional intern for Republican presidential candidate Congressman Ron Paul, M.D. in Washington, D.C. You can also visit his website:

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