12:13 Then 1 they sent some of the Pharisees 2 and Herodians 3 to trap him with his own words. 4 12:14 When they came they said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are truthful and do not court anyone’s favor, because you show no partiality 5 but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. 6 Is it right 7 to pay taxes 8 to Caesar 9 or not? Should we pay or shouldn’t we?”
1 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “then” to indicate the implied sequence of events within the narrative.
3 sn Pharisees and Herodians made a very interesting alliance. W. W. Wessel (“Mark,” EBC 8:733) comments: “The Herodians were as obnoxious to the Pharisees on political grounds as the Sadducees were on theological grounds. Yet the two groups united in their opposition to Jesus. Collaboration in wickedness, as well as goodness, has great power. Their purpose was to trip Jesus up in his words so that he would lose the support of the people, leaving the way open for them to destroy him.” See also the note on “Herodians” in Mark 3:6.
4 tn Grk “trap him in word.”
5 tn Grk “and it is not a concern to you about anyone because you do not see the face of men.”
6 sn Teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Very few comments are as deceitful as this one; they did not really believe this at all. The question of the Pharisees and Herodians was specifically designed to trap Jesus.
7 tn Or “lawful,” that is, in accordance with God’s divine law. On the syntax of ἔξεστιν (exestin) with an infinitive and accusative, see BDF §409.3.
8 tn According to L&N 57.180 the term κῆνσος (khnso") was borrowed from Latin and referred to a poll tax, a tax paid by each adult male to the Roman government.
sn This question concerning taxes was specifically designed to trap Jesus. If he answered yes, then his opponents could publicly discredit him as a sympathizer with Rome. If he answered no, then they could go to the Roman governor and accuse Jesus of rebellion.
9 tn Or “the emperor” (“Caesar” is a title for the Roman emperor).