Render unto Caesar  

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This page Render unto Caesar is part of the Christianity series.Illustration: Triumph of Christianity (detail) by Tommaso Laureti (1530-1602.)
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This page Render unto Caesar is part of the Christianity series.
Illustration: Triumph of Christianity (detail) by Tommaso Laureti (1530-1602.)

"Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things which are God's"

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

"Render unto Caesar" is the beginning of a phrase attributed to Jesus in the synoptic gospels, which reads in full, "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's" (Ἀπόδοτε οὖν τὰ Καίσαρος Καίσαρι καὶ τὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ τῷ Θεῷ).

This phrase has become a widely quoted summary of the relationship between Christianity, secular government, and society. The original message, coming in response to a question of whether it was lawful for Jews to pay taxes to Caesar, gives rise to multiple possible interpretations about the circumstances under which it is desirable for the Christian to submit to earthly authority.

Narrative

All three synoptic gospels state that hostile questioners tried to trap Jesus into taking an explicit and dangerous stand on whether Jews should or should not pay taxes to the Roman authorities. The accounts in Template:Bibleref2 and Template:Bibleref2 say that the questioners were Pharisees and Herodians, while Template:Bibleref2 says only that they were "spies" sent by "teachers of the law and the chief priests".

They anticipated that Jesus would oppose the tax, as their purpose was "to hand him over to the power and authority of the governor".Template:Bibleref2c The governor was Pilate, and he was the man responsible for the collecting of taxes in Roman Judea. At first the questioners flattered Jesus by praising his integrity, impartiality, and devotion to truth. Then they asked him whether or not it is right for Jews to pay the taxes demanded by Caesar. In the Gospel of MarkTemplate:Bibleref2c-nb the additional, provocative question is asked, "Should we pay or shouldn't we?"

Jesus first called them hypocrites, and then asked one of them to produce a Roman coin that would be suitable for paying Caesar's tax. One of them showed him a Roman coin, and he asked them whose head and inscription were on it. They answered, "Caesar's," and he responded: "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's".

The questioners were impressed. Template:Bibleref2 states that they "marveled" (Template:Lang) and being satisfied with the answer, they went away.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Render unto Caesar" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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