Jesus Is an Anarchist
Jesus Has Called us to Liberty – Yet Those Who Pay Taxes Are Not Free!
Another Bible passage
that is sometimes cited by statists to supposedly demonstrate that Jesus
supported the paying of taxes – but which in actuality demonstrates the
exact opposite – is in Matthew 17:24-27:
When they had come to
Capernaum, those who received the temple tax came to Peter and said, "Does
your Teacher not pay the temple tax?"; he said, "Yes." And when he had
come into the house, Jesus anticipated him, saying, "What do you think,
Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take customs or taxes, from
their sons or from strangers?" Peter said to Him, "From strangers." Jesus
said to him, "Then the sons are free. Nevertheless, lest we offend them,
go to the sea, cast in a hook, and take the fish that comes up first. And
when you have opened its mouth, you will find a piece of money; take that
and give it to them for Me and you."
But it appears that
the only reason Jesus paid the temple tax (and by supernatural means at
that) as told above in Matt. 17:24-27 was so as not to stir up trouble
which would have interfered with the necessary fulfillment of Old
Testament Scripture (see Psalm 41:9; 69:25; 109:8; Zech. 11:12,13 – see
also Matt. 26:54,56; Mark 14:49; John 13:18-30; Acts 1:15-26) and Jesus's
previous prediction of His betrayal as told in Matt. 17:22 – neither of
which would have been fulfilled had Jesus not paid the tax and been
arrested because of it.
Jesus Himself supports
this view when He said of it "Nevertheless, lest we offend them . . .,"
which can also be translated "But we don't want to cause trouble" (CEV) –
at any rate, this comment by itself clearly demonstrates that Jesus was
hardly enthusiastic about the prospect of paying taxes.
But moreover, Jesus
said this after in effect saying that those who pay customs and taxes are
not free (v. 25,26). This is the necessary implication of this passage,
for if the sons of the kings on Earth are free because they are exempt
from paying taxes then this certainly implies that those who are required
to pay taxes are therefore not free on that account – either that or Jesus
was merely being insipid when He said this (which at least from the
Christian's viewpoint is certainly not something Jesus was ever known
Yet the fact that
Jesus considers those who are required to pay taxes as being unfree is
enough to conclusively demonstrate that Jesus is necessarily against
taxes, as one of the main reasons Jesus came was to call us to liberty!
Jesus said this Himself as recorded in Luke 4:16-21:
So He came to
Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went
into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. And He was
handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He
found the place where it was written:
"The Spirit of the
LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the
To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To
set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of
Then He closed the
book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all
who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them,
"Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."
So here we have it:
Jesus Himself said that He came to proclaim liberty to the captives and to
set at liberty the oppressed – and yet Jesus also said that those who are
required to pay taxes are not free!
Some may attempt to
get around this glaring fact by pointing out that the word "free" in
Matthew 17:26 is a translation of the Greek word eleutheros,
whereas the word "liberty" in Luke 4:18 is a translation of the Greek word
is the adjective form of the noun eleutheria, and means: freeborn,
i.e., in a civil sense, one who is not a slave, or of one who ceases to be
a slave, freed, manumitted; or at liberty, free, exempt, unrestrained, not
bound by an obligation – and aphesis means: release from bondage or
imprisonment; forgiveness or pardon, i.e., remission of the penalty.
Thus, when used in the
context above these two words are completely congruent in meaning with
each other. As well, if one desires to go back further to the original
Hebrew of Isaiah 61:1 which Luke 4:18 is quoting from, the word aphesis is
a translation of the Hebrew word rwrd (which roughly transliterates
as "darowr") which is a noun that means: a flowing (as of myrrh),
free run, or liberty.
And so this word, too,
is completely congruent in meaning with eleutheros when used in the
above context. Indeed, the Greek Septuagint translates this Hebrew word in
the above passage as aphesis.
Thus it cannot be
honestly maintained that Jesus had in mind two separate meanings when he
spoke the above words, as the only sensible meaning of these separate
words are completely congruent with one another when used in their above
It might be pointed
out by some that the New International Version translates the Greek word
eleutheros in Matthew 17:26 as "exempt." But this is a damning
example of how some modern Bible translations have been Bowdlerized in
order to avoid inconvenient facts – particularly political ones – that are
often found in the Bible.
As was mentioned
before, if indeed this were assumed to be the correct translation of this
word, then for Jesus to make such an utterly pointless and vapid comment
would have been totally insipid on His part – again, not something Jesus
was ever known for, at least from the true Christian's perspective.
The only meaning in
which this comment by Jesus can be taken which actually makes any point
whatsoever and avoids meaningless, inane and idle talk on His part is for
the Greek word eleutheros in Matthew 17:26 to be translated as
"free" (or otherwise "at liberty," etc.) – which is precisely how the King
James Version and most other English Bible translations have handled this
passage. Again, trying to avoid this most obvious and direct translation
renders Jesus's comment here absolutely irrelevant and inane.
As well, Paul and the
original apostles understood that one of the main reasons Jesus came was
to call us to liberty. Thus:
1 Corinthians 7:23:
You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.
1 Corinthians 9:19-23:
For though I am free [eleutheros] from all men, I have made myself
a servant to all, that I might win the more; and to the Jews I became as a
Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the
law, that I might win those who are under the law; to those who are
without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under
law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; to the
weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things
to all men, that I might by all means save some. Now this I do for the
gospel's sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.
2 Corinthians 3:17:
Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is
Galatians 4:6,7: And
because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your
hearts, crying out, "Abba, Father!" Therefore you are no longer a slave
but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.
Galatians 5:1: Stand
fast therefore in the liberty [eleutheria] by which Christ has made
us free [eleutheros], and do not be entangled again with a yoke of
Galatians 5:13,14: For
you, brethren, have been called to liberty [eleutheria]; only do
not use liberty [eleutheria] as an opportunity for the flesh, but
through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word,
even in this: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
James 1:25: But he who
looks into the perfect law of liberty [eleutheria] and continues in
it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be
blessed in what he does.
James 2:12: So speak
and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty [eleutheria].
1 Peter 2:16: Live as
free [eleutheros] men, yet without using your freedom [eleutheria]
as a pretext for evil; but live as servants of God. (RSV.)
It needs to be pointed
out that the Greek noun eleutheria is completely congruent in
meaning with the English word "liberty," i.e., as in "freedom from
slavery," "independence," "absence of external restraint," "a negation of
control or domination," "freedom of access," etc.
Some have contended
that any demarcation of property "restricts liberty," i.e., the liberty of
others to use these resources, and so have maintained that the very
concept of "total liberty" for everyone is an untenable one. But as Prof.
Murray N. Rothbard has pointed out in
Power and Market
This criticism misuses
the term "liberty." Obviously, any property right infringes on others'
"freedom to steal." But we do not even need property rights to establish
this "limitation"; the existence of another person, under a regime of
liberty, restricts the "liberty" of others to assault him. Yet, by
definition, liberty cannot be restricted thereby, because liberty is
defined as freedom to control what one owns without molestation by others.
"Freedom to steal or assault" would permit someone – the victim of stealth
or assault – to be forcibly or fraudulently deprived of his person or
property and would therefore violate the clause of total liberty: that
every man be free to do what he wills with his own. Doing what one wills
with someone else's own impairs the other person's liberty.