The Tiberius Denarius
The Biblical account of “Tribute Penny” is an
intriguing story of Christ out-smarting Pharisee spies
who were attempting to entrap and to bring down Jesus
and his ministry. Here is the Biblical account?
"Is It Lawful to Pay Taxes to Caesar?" (Luke
“So they watched Him, and sent spies who pretended to
be righteous, that they might seize on His words, in
order to deliver Him to the power and the authority of
the governor. Then they asked Him, saying, “Teacher,
we know that You say and teach rightly, and You do
not show personal favoritism, but teach the way of God
in truth: Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar or
not?” But He perceived their craftiness, and said to
them, “Why do you test Me? Show Me a denarius.
Whose image and inscription does it have?” They
answered and said, “Caesar’s.” And He said to them,
“Render therefore to Caesar the things that are
Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” But
they could not catch Him in His words in the presence
of the people. And they marveled at His answer and
If Christ had said to pay Caesar, the Pharisees would
broadcast to the Jewish population that Christ was
supporting the much hated and despised Roman
government. But if he had said no, they would have
reported Jesus to the Roman government as an
insurgent trouble maker, resulting in having the Roman
authorities arrest Jesus and be done with him. Tricky
huh? Sounds like modern day politics!
The “Answer” & Practical Application
Instead, Christ asked to see a denarius, which had
Caesar’s image on the coin. (The image would be that
of Caesar Tiberius or that of the previous Caesar
Augustus). When Christ asked “who’s image is on the
coin?”, they replied Caesar’s. He then said that they
should give to Ceasar that which has Caesar’s image
and to God that which is made in God’s image. Simple
enough, the coin was made in Caesar’s image, and we
are made in God’s image. The government can have
their money, but we ourselves belong to God.
Obv: TI CAESAR DIVI AVG F AVGVSTFS; laureate
bust of Tiberius r.
Rev: PONTIF MAXIM; femal figure (Livia?) sits on a
plain chair r. holding an olive branch in her left hand
and a long scepter in her right.
A denarius was often the day’s wage for a soldier or
Biblical Coins from the time of Jesus Christ ~ Mark 12:41-44
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