Matthew 22:15-22

Matthew 22:15-22
Ordinary A47


15 Then the PhariseesA wentB and plottedC to entrapD him in what he said.E

Notes on verse 15

A “Pharisees” = pharisaios. From Aramaic peras (to divide, separate) and from Hebrew parash (to make distinct, separate, scatter). This is a Pharisee, a member of a Jewish sect active in the 1st century. Their name meant separate in the sense of wanting to live a life separated from sin. Whereas the Sadducees were part of the priestly line and inherited their religious position and responsibilities, Pharisees were regular people who studied the scriptures and offered guidance to regular folk. Sadducees were often wealthier and willing to sacrifice their identity to rub elbows with Roman society. Pharisees were often more concerned with what it meant to follow God without compromising what made them different as followers of God. Sadducees primarily believed in that which was written down (the first five books of the Bible) and Pharisees believed in the Bible and the traditions of the elders. Pharisees had a very wide range of interpretations and diversity of opinion. Their standard mode of religion engagement was lively debate with one another. To argue religion with another teacher was to recognize that they had something of value to offer.
B “went” = poreuomai. From poros (ford, passageway). This is to go, travel, journey, or die. It refers to transporting things from one place to another and focuses on the personal significance of the destination.
C “plotted” = sumboulion + lambano. Literally “took counsel.” Sumboulion is 8x in NT. From souboulos (counselor or adviser in an official capacity); {from sun (with, together with) + boule (counsel, plan, purpose, decision; wisdom that comes from deliberation); {from boulomai (to wish, desire, intend; to plan with great determination)}}. This is to counsel and so could be used for a group of advisers. It could also be to plot or conspire together. Abstractly, it could refer to advice or resolutions.
D “entrap” = pagideuo. 1x in NT. From pagis (a trap or snare; particularly, a trap used on birds; figuratively, a wile, trick, or stratagem); from pegnumi (to fasten, to set up a tent). This is to entrap in a literal or figurative sense.
E “what he said” = logos. From lego (to speak, tell, mention). This is word, statement, speech, analogy. It is a word that carries an idea or expresses a thought, a saying. It could refer to a person with a message or reasoning laid out in words. By implication, this could be a topic, line of reasoning, or a motive. It can be used for a divine utterance or as Word – Christ. Here, a singular noun.

16 So they sentF their disciplesG to him, along with the Herodians,H

Notes on verse 16a

F “sent” = apostello. From apo (from, away from) + stello (to send, set, arrange, prepare, gather up); {probably from histemi (to make to stand, stand, place, set up, establish, appoint, stand firm, be steadfast)}. This is to send forth, send away, dismiss, send as a messenger. It implies one that is sent for a particular mission or purpose rather than a quick errand. This is where “apostle” comes from.
G “disciples” = mathetes. From matheteuo (to make a disciple of); from manthano (to learn key facts, gain knowledge from experience; generally implies reflection as part of the learning process); from math– (thinking things through). This is a disciple, learner, or student. It is where we get “mathematics” from.
H “Herodians” = herodianoi. 3x in NT. From Herodes (Herod, perhaps meaning “hero’s song,” “Hera’s song,” or “heroic”); {perhaps from heros (hero, warrior) + oide (song, ode, legend, tale) [from aoide (song, ode, legend, tale) {from aeido (to sing) + e (this is added to verbs to make them nouns)}] OR from hera (Hera) + oide (same as above)}. This is Herodian – one who followed Herod Antipas. See

saying, “Teacher,I we knowJ that you are sincere,K

Notes on verse 16b

I “Teacher” = didaskalos. From didasko (to teach, direct, instruct, or impart knowledge; in the New Testament, almost always used for teaching scripture); from dao (to learn). This is teacher or master.
J “know” = eido. This is to know, consider perceive, appreciate, behold, or remember. It means seeing with one’s eyes, but also figuratively, it means perceiving – seeing that becomes understanding. So, by implication, this means knowing or being aware.
K “sincere” = alethes. From a (not) + lanthano (concealed, hidden, unnoticed; to shut one’s eyes to, unwittingly, unawares). This is true, unconcealed; true because it is in concert with fact and reality – attested. Literally, what cannot be hidden; truth stands up to test and scrutiny and is undeniable, authentic.

and teachL the wayM of GodN in accordance with truth,O and show deferenceP to no one;

Notes on verse 16c

L “teach” = didasko. Related to “Teacher” in v16. See note I above.
M “way” = hodos. This is way, road, path, or journey. It can imply progress along a route.
N “God” = theos. From Proto-Indo-European origins, meaning do, put, place. This is God or a god in general.
O “truth” = aletheia. Related to “sincere” in v16. From alethes (see note K above). Truth is literally that which is not or cannot be concealed. This word covers more than the sense of true versus false. It spoke of truth as that which corresponds to reality – reality as opposed to illusion. Thus, it includes, sincerity, straightforwardness, and reality itself.
P “show deference” = melo. 10x in NT. This is to think about something, take an interest, to pay attention. It is to care or worry about something.

for you do not regardQ peopleR with partiality.S, T 

Notes on verse 16d

Q “regard” = blepo. This is literally to see – it is primarily used in the physical sense. However, figuratively it can be seeing, which includes attention and so to watchfulness, being observant, perceiving, and acting on the visual information. It can also mean beware.
R “people” = anthropos. Probably from aner (man, male, husband) + ops (eye, face). This is human, humankind. Used for all genders.
S {untranslated} = prosopon. Perhaps related to “people” in v16. From pros (at, towards, with) + ops (see note R above) {from optanomai (to appear, be seen); perhaps from horao (become, seem, appear)}. This is the face, surface, or front. It can imply presence more generally.
T Literally “for you do not look on the appearance of people.”

17 Tell us, then, what you think.U Is it lawfulV to pay taxesW to the emperor,X or not?” 

Notes on verse 17

U “think” = dokeo. From dokos (opinion). This is to have an opinion, seem, appear, think, suppose. It deals with a personal judgment. This is the root of the word “doxology.”
V “is…lawful” = exesti. From ek (out, out of) + eimi (to be, exist). This is what is permitted or what is allowed under the law. It can mean what is right, what holds moral authority, or, more broadly, something that is shown out in public.
W “taxes” = kensos. 4x in NT. From Latin census (a census of people and goods; the record of a census; gifts, wealth); from censeo (to think, decree, determine, count, judge, assess); from Proto-Italic kenseo; from Proto-Indo-European *ḱn̥s-é-ti, *ḱn̥s-eyé-ti, from *ḱens- (to announce). This is an annual tax based on a census. It can also refer to the money collected in that census. This is a tax paid to Rome as tribute. It is where the word “census” comes from. See
X “emperor” = kaisar. From Latin (Caesar); perhaps from Punic caesai (elephant) OR from Latin a cesiis oculis (because of the blue eyes) OR from Latin a caesarie (because of the hair) OR from Latin a caeso matris utero (born by Caesarean section) OR from Latin caedo (to cut). This is Caesar, at first a last name, then taken as a title by Roman emperors. See

18 But Jesus,Y awareZ of their malice,AA said, “Why are you putting me to the test,BB you hypocrites?CC 

Notes on verse 18

Y “Jesus” = iesous. From Hebrew Yehoshua (Joshua, the Lord is salvation); {from YHVH (proper name of the God of Israel; the self-existent and eternal one); {from havah (to become) or from hayah (to come to pass, become, be)} + yasha (to deliver, defend, help, preserve, rescue; properly, to be open, wide or free, which implies being safe. So, in a causative sense, this is to free someone). This is Jesus or Joshua in Greek – the Lord saves or the Lord is salvation.
Z “aware” = ginosko. This is to know, recognize, realize, perceive, learn. It is knowledge gained through personal experience.
AA “malice” = poneria. 7x in NT. From poneros (bad, evil, wicked, malicious, grievous, or toilsome; properly, something that bears pain –emphasizes the miseries and pains that come with evil); from poneo (to toil); related to ponos (pain, trouble, labor, distress, suffering; toil, which implies anguish); from the base of penes (a laborer, poor person, starving or indigent person; someone who works for their living); from pernomai (working for a living; laborer, poor person; to work for daily bread); from peno (to toil to survive day by day). This is iniquity, wickedness, pain-ridden evil. It is the drudgery of evil and sin. By contrast, the Greek kakos refers to evil as part of someone’s core character. Also contrasting the Greek sapros, which deals with falling away from a previously embodied virtue. This word can mean ill, diseased, morally culpable, derelict, vicious, malicious, or guilt. It can also refer to the devil or sinners.
BB “putting…to the test” = peirazo. From peira (trial, experiment, attempt, experience, assaying); from the base of peran (over, beyond, across); akin to pera (on the far side); from a derivative or peiro (to pierce). This is to test, try, tempt, or make proof of. It is to test, scrutinize, or assay something. It could also be examine, entice, prove, or discipline.
CC “hypocrites” = hupokrites. 18x in NT. From hupokrinomai (to answer, pretend, respond as an actor on stage; figuratively, to lie) {from hupo (by, under, about) + krino (to judge, decide, think good, condemn, determine, pass judgment, stand trial, sue; judging whether in court or in a private setting; properly, mentally separating or distinguishing an issue – to come to a choice or decision, to judge positively or negatively in seeking what is right or wrong, who is innocent or guilty; can imply trying, condemning, punishing, or avenging.)}. This is literally an actor. Figuratively, it is someone playing out a role, which is to say, lying, pretending, or being a hypocrite. This is where the word “hypocrite” comes from.

19 ShowDD me the coinEE used for the tax.” And they broughtFF him a denarius.GG 20 Then he said to them, “Whose headHH is this, and whose title?”II

Notes on verses 19-20

DD “show” = epideiknumi. 7x in NT. From epi (on, upon, among, what is fitting) + deiknumi (to show, point out, exhibit; figurative for teach, demonstrate, make known). This is to show, demonstrate, prove, or display.
EE “coin” = nomisma. 1x in NT. From nomizo (to practice, think, consider, suppose, hold by custom; thinking that something applies given precedent and practice – to do by law); from nomos (what is assigned – usage, law, custom, principle; used for the law in general or of God’s law; sometimes used to refer to the first five books of the Bible or the entire Old Testament; also used to refer to theology or the practice and tradition of interpreting and implementing the law of God); from nemo (to parcel out, assign). This is something that has a particular value. It is a coin, money, or a custom. This is related to the root of the word for studying and collecting coins “numismatics.”
FF “brought” = prosphero. From pros (at, to, with, towards, advantageous for) + phero (to bear, bring, lead, make known publicly; to carry in a literal or figurative sense). This is to offer gifts or sacrifices, to bring up.
GG “denarius” = denarion. 16x in NT. From Latin deni (ten each) + arius (belonging to). This is a silver Roman coin.
HH “head” = eikon. From eiko (resemble, be like) OR perhaps related to eiko (to submit, give way, be weak, yield). This is a likeness such as an image, statue, or other representation. It implies a prototype that is being mirrored – a replication rather than a shadow. It can be an image in a figurative sense as well. This is where the word “icon” comes from.
II “title” = epigraphe. 5x in NT. From epigrapho (to write on, inscribe, read; a literal inscription or a mental one); {from epi (on, upon, to, against, what is fitting) + grapho (to write, describe)}. This is some kind of title or label like an inscription or superscription.

21 They answered, “The emperor’s.”

Then he said to them, “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” 22 When they heardJJ this, they were amazed;KK and they leftLL him and went away.

Notes on verses 21-22

JJ “heard” = akouo. This is hear or listen, but it also means to understand by hearing. This is where the word “acoustics” comes from.
KK “were amazed” = thaumazo. From thauma (a wonder or marvel; used abstractly for wonderment or amazement; something that evokes emotional astonishment); may be from theaomai (to behold, look upon, see, contemplate, visit); from thaomai (to gaze at a spectacle; to look at or contemplate as a spectator; to interpret something in efforts to grasp its significance). This is to marvel, wonder, or admire. To be amazed out of one’s senses or be awestruck. Being astonished and starting to contemplate what was beheld. This root is where the word “theatre” comes from.
LL “left” = aphiemi. From apo (from, away from) + hiemi (to send). This is send away, release, permit, forgive, allow to depart, discharge, or send forth.

Image credit: “Denarius of Tiberius, obverse” from the York Museums Trust.

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