How Do You Render to Caesar?

Jesus answered a challenge by the political and religious leaders of His day by telling them to “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Luke 20:25).

This came from a confrontation with a group from the scribes and chief priests who sought to put Jesus in an untenable position. They asked Him whether it was right for the Jews to pay taxes to Caesar.

If Jesus answered “Yes” then the common people might withdraw from Him or start a riot. If He answered “No,” He would be at the mercy of the Romans.

Instead, He asked for a coin and asked whose image and likeness it bore. The image was that of Tiberius Caesar, the Roman emperor. Jesus then told the people to give to Caesar what belonged to Caesar and to give to God what belongs to God.

What should we do? How do we relate to government, especially one that is hostile to the Christian faith?

First, Christians should render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.

The Bible actually has a lot to say about this subject. Christians should seek to live righteously. They should be the nation’s best citizens, paying taxes ungrudgingly, voting regularly, and seeking to make the nation a better place to live (Romans 13:1-7). Paul concluded this section about Christians and government by calling believers to “Give everyone what you owe him. If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor” (Romans 13:7).

Christians should be model citizens who obey laws, pay taxes, and live kindly.

Second, Christians must render to God the things that are God’s.

These two statements to render to Caesar and to render to God can be easily switched and confused. Christians must be good citizens and therefore render to Caesar the things where government has the proper responsibility. God has given to Caesar the responsibility to punish the evildoer and to reward those who do well.

But Christians must not cede to government the things that are God’s. Can Christians support unjust politicians who loot and destroy? Can Christians sit quietly while the unborn, the infirm, and the elderly are systematically persecuted? Can we support a culture of death when God is the God of life? Can we idly allow the most sacred of relationships–marriage–to be gutted and destroyed?

While we must be good citizens, we must not be compliant citizens who do not challenge injustice and oppression. Nazi Germany had compliant citizens who empowered the atrocities of the Nazis.

We must not be those citizens.

The Manhattan Declaration (manhattandeclaration.org) stated this position succinctly: “We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar’s. But under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God’s.”

Let us resolve to please God as we live as citizens of our nation and servants of the God of heaven.

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2 Comments


  1. Norris Landry
    Oct 27, 2016

    Well said


  2. Darren Rowan
    Oct 27, 2016

    This topic/discussion is so appropriate with this nation’s upcoming election. I know in the end God’s will, will be done. But we as Christians will be held accountable for our actions/ decisions now. Let us not confuse civic duty with Christ’s calling for us. God will win over the world. Our choice today will affect our future( temporal and eternity). GOD BLESS AMERICA!

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I am the senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Covington, Louisiana, a position that I have held since 1989.

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A person finds joy in giving an apt reply— and how good is a timely word! — Proverbs 15:23 (NIV)