Whose Image and Superscription?

by Ronald W Robey

“Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s, and unto God that which is God’s.” Matthew 22:21

The above statement made by Jesus to the scribes and Pharisees is often taken out of its context and used by pastors and laymen alike, in an attempt to prove that God requires tithes of Church members’ monetary income today.

But, when read in context with the entire discourse, and rightly dividing the Word of Truth, it is easy to see that Jesus was not endorsing a monetary tithe at all.

Matthew 22:15-22 Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk. And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men. Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not? But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s. When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way.

The disciples of the Pharisees and Herodians asked Jesus a question concerning tribute paid to Caesar. Jesus’ profound reply is overlooked by many today.

The image and superscription on the tribute money was that of the ruling government… Caesar’s. In our modern language, we would phrase it, “Pay the government the taxes they require. The money is theirs.”

Jesus also said that those disciples who questioned Him were to give to God that which was God’s. Was He speaking of money when He said, “Render unto God the things that are God’s”? Not at all.In the very first chapter of the Bible, we are told that man was created in God’s image. So, the question arises, “Whose image and superscription is on man?”

Genesis 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

That’s right… God’s image. And when man places his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ for his Salvation, God’s superscription is upon that man.

Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Romans 12:1-2 tell us that we are to present our bodies as living sacrifices unto God, holy and acceptable unto Him.

“Render unto God that which is God’s.”

God’s image is not on that minted coin that Jesus held. Nor is it on the coins or dollar bills we carry in our pockets and wallets. Nor has God put His superscription on our money.

In Matthew 22:15-22, Jesus was not telling the Pharisaical and Herodian disciples to tithe money. He was telling them to yield their own selves, their bodies to the LORD’s service. And Paul echoed that admonition in his epistle to the Romans thirty years later.

God’s image is on us. Let us always be prepared to be yielded to His service.

Had Jesus, at any time during His thirty-three year life on this Earth as a Man, told anyone that they were to tithe their monetary income to the House of God, He would have been transgressing the Law and made Himself unqualified to be the sinless Lamb of God. His death would have been in vain.