The Bible

Matthew 17:24-27 : The Temple Tax

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24 And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute?

25 He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers?

26 Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free.

27 Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.

Study the Inner Meaning

Commentary on this chapter:


Explanation(s) or references from Swedenborg's works:

Arcana Coelestia 6394

Apocalypse Revealed 405

Show references from Swedenborg's unpublished works


Incorporating the New

By Rev. Todd Beiswenger

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There's an old saying that says, "When the student is ready the master will appear." The idea is that the student must incorporate everything they've already been taught into their life before the next master will come to teach them the next steps. We see something similar in the Word, where Jesus opens the eyes of Peter, James and John to a new spiritual reality, but now they have a difficult time trying to synthesize what they've just been taught with everything they've always believed. *note - Pastor offers his apologies where he mistakenly says in this audio that the "spiritual serves the natural"... he meant to say, "natural serves the spiritual."

(References: Arcana Coelestia 6394; Matthew 17:24-27, 17:14-20; The Apocalypse Explained 64, 405)

From Swedenborg's Works

Arcana Coelestia #6394

Arcana Coelestia (Elliott translation)

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6394. 'And will be one serving for tribute' means so that he may earn merit. This is clear from the meaning of 'being one serving for tribute' as being subject to and serving. And since those who wish to earn merit through works are spoken of as bony asses lying down between burdens and as those who bend their shoulder to bear a burden, 'one serving for tribute' too means those who wish to earn merit through works; for they are lowest-ranking servants, see above in Arcana Coelestia 6389. The fact that 'one serving for tribute' means being subject to and serving is clear in Moses,

When you draw near a city to fight against it you shall proclaim peace to them. 1 But it shall be, if it responds to you in favour of peace and opens up to you - it shall be, that all the people who are found in it will become tribute to you and serve you. Deuteronomy 20:10-11.

In Jeremiah,

How lonely dwells the city [that was] great with people! She has become like a widow, [she who was] great among the nations; she who had dominion over provinces has become a payer of tribute. Lamentations 1:1.

In these places it is self-evident that 'becoming a tribute' and 'becoming a payer of tribute' mean serving. In Matthew,

Jesus said, How does it seem to you, Simon? The kings of the earth, from whom do they receive tribute or tax, from their own sons or from strangers? Peter said to Him, From strangers. Jesus said to him, Then the sons are free; but so that we may not offend them, set off for the sea and cast a hook, and take the fish that comes up first. Open its mouth and you will find a stater; 2 take it and give it for Me and for you. Matthew 17:25-27.

Here also 'giving tribute moneys or taxation' means those who serve, and therefore it says that strangers were to give it but the sons would be free; for strangers were servants, Arcana Coelestia 1097. Peter's taking a fish from the sea and his finding in its mouth a stater which he was to give represented the fact that the lowest part of the natural, which is a servant, would accomplish it; for that part of the natural is meant by 'fish'.


1. literally, you shall invite them to peace
2. A Greek coin


(References: Genesis 49:15)

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