Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Render to Caesar

13 And they send unto [Jesus] certain of the Pharisees and of the Herodians, to catch him in his words.
14 And when they were come, they say unto him, Master, we know that thou art true, and carest for no man: for thou regardest not the person of men, but teachest the way of God in truth: Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not?
15 Shall we give, or shall we not give? But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, Why tempt ye me? bring me a penny, that I may see it.
16 And they brought it. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? And they said unto him, Caesar’s.
17 And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. And they marvelled at him
(Mark 12:13-17).

Elder James E. Talmage's commentary on this passage is insightful. I here quote it in part:

"One may draw a lesson if he will, from the association of our Lord's words with the occurrence of Caesar's image on the coin. It was that effigy with its accompanying superscription that gave special point to His memorable instruction, 'Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's.' This was followed by the further injunction: 'and unto God the things that are God's.' Every human soul is stamped with the image and superscription of God, however blurred and indistinct the line may have become through the corrosion or attrition of sin; and as unto Caesar should be rendered the coins upon which his effigy appeared, so unto God should be given the souls that bear His image. Render unto the world the stamped pieces that are made legally current by the insignia of worldly powers, and give unto God and His service, yourselves--the divine mintage of His eternal realm" (Talmage, James E. Jesus the Christ, 507.).

Is this passage, therefore, teaching that man is in the physical image of God much like the coin was the physical representation or copy of Caesar? If so, this would confirm the LDS belief that man is created literally in God's physical image as per Genesis 1:26-27.


JayFlow22 said...

I think that is very much the meaning of the verse. The point the Savior is making is that the coin is Caesar's b/c his physical image is on it. Therefore, we, having the same physical image as God, should render ourselves to God.
There isn't really any room for allegorizing this and saying it's about "spiritual" or "moral" image, like the attempts made on the Genesis chap. 1 verse.
Also, just to note, 10% of our "Caesar" is God's and should be rendered to Him as well.

Andrew Miller said...

Thanks for your comment, JayFlow22.

You have a cool blog, by the way.

NM said...


I have to say this with MUCH sadness...dude, you've totally missed the point of the passage!?!

This passage is not about Caesar being a literal representation of God or whatever Mate, this is NOT what Mark wanted us to know...if this is what Mark wanted us to know - he'd have made it VERY obvious. One of my pet peeves is when people approach the Bible with their own presuppositions...people approach the Bible with what they want to get out of it, rather than letting the Bible speak for itself =)

Look at who approached Jesus - the Pharisees. Why do Pharisees usually approach Jesus? Answer: to trip him up.

The motive behind their [pharisees] question was to render Jesus to a conundrum - publicly. They wanted to publicly humiliate Jesus...

Mark merely wanted to show us just how shrewd the Pharisees were. Look at how they addressed Jesus in verse 14:

they say unto him, Master, we know that thou art true, and carest for no man: for thou regardest not the person of men, but teachest the way of God in truth

they try to massage Jesus' ego by giving him such titles, and giving lip service to the mere words they are saying ABOUT Jesus...Andrew, their words do not match their intention.

How do we know that the Pharisees were acting incongruently? Look at verse 15...and he [being Jesus], knowing their hypocrisy said unto them...

you see? the Pharisees merely wanted to show to the people just how fake Jesus was...but Jesus was having none of it...

The question the Pharisees posed to Jesus was a lose-lose situation. And the question (as described in other gospels) is about paying taxes to Caesar...

Andrew, remember the Pharisees were out to trip Jesus up. If Jesus had answered yes - pay your taxes to Caesar, Jesus would have lost - because it would have meant that giving money to Caesar condones the Romans' oppression over the Jews. And for Jesus to have said no - don't pay taxes, - Jesus would have gotten into trouble with the Roman guards with a charge of starting an uprising...

Andrew, the Pharisees were out to TRIP JESUS UP.

But notice the Pharisees' reaction to the answer Jesus finally gave to them..."...and they marvelled at him..."

Do you see that? They just couldn't believe (on top of all the miracles and the renown Jesus had received) just how incredibly intelligent Jesus was...

It was all a trap...that is all that the passage shows; nothing more, nothing less =)