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97: Trapping Trappers Trapped

May 15, 2009

Major Text: Matthew 22:15-22

Harmony Texts:

Matt. 22:15-22      Mark 12:13-17      Luke 20:20-26


  1. The Trap is Set Matt. 22:15-17
  2. The Trap is Sprung Matt. 22:18-21
  3. The Trap is Empty Matt. 22:22


Jesus continues to teach on Tuesday before His crucifixion. This is probably after lunch, after the Pharisees and other Jewish leaders met to find ways to trap Jesus. They join with the Herodians [they have nothing in common] to raise the question of whether or not they should pay taxes. In raising this question, they approach Jesus with flattering statements acknowledging His integrity, His Godly teaching, and His independence of thought.

To put this in perspective, the Pharisees are for the common people. They believe in many laws and they exercise political power by controlling their community with a self imposed religious legal system. They have made themselves valuable to the Romans for governing purposes even though they despise Roman control. The Herodians, on the other hand, practice a religion of government control and stability. The political arena is more important to them than the religious arena. Both groups are Jews and both groups are at odds with each other. So this is unusual for them to work together. It shows just how desperate the Pharisees were to trap Jesus, arrest Him for false teaching, and have Him killed.

Having asked their question, Jesus calls them hypocrites and asks for a coin. He says to give Caesar what belong to him and give God what belongs to God.

Therefore, we have an appropriate lesson regarding Church and state. I recommend reading the book by Chuck Colson; Kingdoms in Conflict. It is excellent on this subject. So, what should the Christian witness be regarding Church and State? We should be for separation but not control, for participation but not governing, for freedom of speech and the exercise of such. Religion should not interfere in government business and government should not interfere in religious expression.


1. God wants what belongs to Him, our lives.

2. There are two kingdoms and they are in conflict.

3. Our authority to answer/silence our critics is based on the integrity of the life we live.

4. Conflict is resolved through faithful service; not by submission, shouting, shutting up, or subversive activities.

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