|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
12:13-17 The enemies of Christ would be thought desirous to know their duty, when really they hoped that which soever side he took of the question, they might find occasion to accuse him. Nothing is more likely to insnare the followers of Christ, than bringing them to meddle with disputes about worldly politics. Jesus avoided the snare, by referring to the submission they had already made as a nation; and all that heard him, marvelled at the great wisdom of his answer. Many will praise the words of a sermon, who will not be commanded by the doctrines of it.
Verses 13, 14. - St. Matthew (Matthew 22:15) tells us that "the Pharisees took counsel how they might ensnare him (ὅπως αὐτὸν παγιδεύσωσιν) in his talk;" namely, by proposing to him captious and insidious questions, which, in whatever way he might answer them, might expose him to danger. On this occasion they enlisted the Heredians to join them in their attack upon him. These Herodians were a sect of the Jews who supported the house of Herod, and were in favor of giving tribute to the Roman Caesar. They were so called at first from Herod the Great, who was a great supporter of Caesar. Tertullian, St. Jerome, and others say that these Herodiaus thought that Herod was the promised Messiah, because they saw that in him the scepter had departed from Judah (Genesis 49:10). Herod encouraged these flatterers, and so put to death the infants at Bethlehem, that he might thus get rid of Christ, lest any other than himself might be regarded as Christ. They said at it was on this account that he rebuilt the temple with so much magnificence. The Pharisees took, of course, altogether the other side, and stood forward as the supporters of the Law of Moses and of their national freedom. So, in order that they might ensnare him, they sent to him their disciples with the Herodians, and in the most artful manner proposed to him, apparently in good faith, a question which answer it how he might, would, as they hoped, throw him upon the horns of a dilemma. If he said that tribute ought to be given to Caesar, he would expose himself to the malice of the Jewish people, who prided themselves upon their freedom. If, on the other hand, he said that tribute ought not to be given to Caesar, he would incur the wrath of Caesar and of the Roman power.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And they send unto him,.... That is, the chief priests, Scribes, and elders, who had been with Jesus in the temple, and were silenced by his reasonings, and provoked by his parables; and therefore left him, and went together to consult what methods they should take to get him into their hands, and be revenged on him; the result of which was, they send to him
certain of the Pharisees. The Syriac and Persic versions read "Scribes", who were the more skillful and learned part of that body of men, and scrupled paying tribute to Caesar, he being an Heathen prince, and they the Lord's free people:
and of the Herodians; who were, as the Syriac and Persic versions read, "of the household of Herod"; his servants and courtiers, and consequently in the interest of Caesar, under whom Herod held his government, and must be for paying tribute to him: these two parties of such different sentiments, they sent to him,
to catch him in his words; or "in word", or discourse; either with their word, the question they should put to him, or with his word, the answer he should return: and so the Ethiopic version supplies it, reading it, "with his own word"; they thought they should unavoidably catch him, one way or other; just as a prey is hunted, and taken in a net or snare, as the word used signifies: for if he declared against giving tribute to Caesar, the Herodians would have whereof to accuse him, and the Pharisees would be witnesses against him; and if he should be for it, the latter would expose him among the people, as an enemy to their civil liberties, and one that was for subjecting them to the Roman yoke, and consequently could not be the Messiah and deliverer they expected; See Gill on Matthew 22:16.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Mr 12:13-40. Entangling Questions about Tribute the Resurrection, and the Great Commandment, with the Replies—Christ Baffles the Pharisees by a Question about David, and Denounces the Scribes. ( = Mt 22:15-46; Lu 20:20-47).
The time of this section appears to be still the third day (Tuesday) of Christ's last week. Matthew introduces the subject by saying (Mt 22:15), "Then went the Pharisees and took counsel how they might entangle Him in His talk."
13. And they send unto him certain of the Pharisees—"their disciples," says Matthew (Mt 22:16); probably young and zealous scholars in that hardening school.
and of the Herodians—(See on Mt 12:14). In Lu 20:20 these willing tools are called "spies, which should feign themselves just [righteous] men, that they might take hold of His words, that so they might deliver Him unto the power and authority of the governor." Their plan, then, was to entrap Him into some expression which might be construed into disaffection to the Roman government; the Pharisees themselves being notoriously discontented with the Roman yoke.
Tribute to Cæsar (Mr 12:14-17).
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