Speaking of taxes in Matthew 22:21, Jesus taught His disciples to “render . . . to Caesar the things that are Caesar's,” enjoining His disciples to pay them. This teaching parallels the general principle that Christians are to be subject to the governments of this world (Romans 13:1) yet to obey God rather than man (Acts 5:29). In doing so, we are to be good citizens appreciating the privileges and opportunities extended to us. We are to submit to the nation's laws and regulations as long as they do not conflict with the commands of God. If they do, we must be willing to submit to their penalties.
Above all, Christians must follow Christ's teaching and example. Jesus neither attempted to reform human government nor use political means to forge a better world. Rather, He preached the doctrine of a radically different world to come, calling His followers out of this present evil world and to allegiance to His coming Kingdom.
Jesus told Pilate that His Kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36)—that is, of this age or present time. This is Satan's world, and Christ came, not to reform Satan or improve his handiwork, but to save His followers from Satan and his system. A Christian is a citizen of the Kingdom of God (Ephesians 2:19), and since that Kingdom is not yet set up on earth, our citizenship is now reserved in heaven (I Peter 1:4).
This fact means that Christians are to be separate from the world and its social, political, economic, and religious affiliations (II Corinthians 6:14, 17). We live by God's laws and give Him our sole allegiance, since we cannot serve two masters (Matthew 6:24).
Martin G. Collins
Would Jesus Christ Vote? (Part Three)
Though people in the world heard what Jesus taught, marveling at it (Matthew 7:28-29), they did not believe what He said. Moreover, He intentionally taught principles in the form of parables so that they would not understand, but His disciples understood because He opened their minds (Matthew 13:10-17). His message, we can conclude, was not directed at the world at all.
When the Pharisees questioned Jesus about paying taxes to Caesar, He replies, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.” He points out a clear distinction between God's Kingdom and the nations of the world: They have authority here on earth now and should be obeyed, but they were given that authority by God (Romans 13:1). He, then, is the ultimate authority. Though Jesus paid taxes to them (Matthew 17:24-27), His first loyalty was to God. As He said, we should follow Him.
Martin G. Collins
Would Jesus Christ Vote? (Part Two)
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Matthew 22:17: