During the Roman era, tax collectors and the manner in which taxes were collected evolved and varied from one region to the next. Here we offer a general picture of the process that will allow us to appreciate the role tax collectors played in the Gospels. Taxes were paid to both the temple and the state, each of which established its own tax code without consideration of the other. First-century Jews paid a religious tithe of their produce, herd, and flock (Lev 27:30-32); they were also required to pay the half-shekel or two-drachma tax for sanctuary upkeep (Exod 30:13; Matt 17:24). The state demanded taxes that included a poll tax levied on males fourteen to sixty-five years of age and females twelve to sixty-five, real estate tax, customs tax collected at road and harbor stations, a tax on produce that amounted to 10 percent on grain and 20 percent on wine, fruit, and oil, a 1 percent income tax, and sales and inheritance taxes.Continue reading EVERYDAY LIFE IN BIBLE TIMES (TAX COLLECTOR PT1)
To be entirely and blatantly truthful in everything we say could unnecessarily hurt a lot of feelings and create a lot of worries. Thus, in everyday conversation we say “white lies” about someone’s appearance or even about our own state of health.Continue reading IS IT EVER OKAY TO LIE?
The Old Testament concept of being clean can be difficult to grasp. The basic idea sounds foreign to modern ears, and the legislation that describes how that state is achieved and maintained can overwhelm us, making books like Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy much more difficult to understand. But when we acquire a clearer understanding of the notion, we find that the image of being clean is a helpful one that spreads its influence from Genesis through Revelation.Continue reading SIGNS AND SYMBOLS OF THE BIBLE (CLEAN/UNCLEAN PT1)
This verse is a guideline, not a rule without exception. Peter and John paid no heed to governments edicts in Acts 4. The Old Testament’s preeminent statesman, Daniel, refused to comply with government strictures on prayer (Daniel 6). When civil law clearly contravenes divine command, biblical precedent calls for appropriate civil disobedience.Continue reading WHY SUBMIT TO GOVERNMENT AUTHORITY WHEN SO MUCH OF IT IS CORRUPT AND MORALLY WRONG?
It is official membership community. When the world divided into nations, citizenship became the certified recognition of privilege and accountability to the laws and leaders of the nation granting it. Paul invites Christians to think of membership in God’s kingdom in the same way-a relationship of privilege and responsibility. This latter citizenship supersedes and qualifies all other memberships so that the Christian, while loyal to the state (Rom 13:1), is not unconditionally so.Continue reading WHAT IS CITIZENSHIP?