"Gloss., non occ.: The disciples were exceeding sorrowful when they heard of the Lord’s passion, and therefore that none might ascribe His suffering to compulsion, and not to a voluntary submission, he adds an incident which instances Christ’s power, and His submission; “And when they were come to Capernaum, there came to Peter those who received the didrachma, and said unto him, Doth not your Master pay the didrachma?”
Hilary: The Lord is called upon to pay the didrachma, (that is, two denarii,) for this the Law had enjoined upon all Israel for the redemption of their body and soul, and the use of those that served in the temple.
Chrys.: For when God slew the firstborn of Egypt, He then accepted the tribe of Levi for them. [margin note: Numb 3:44] But because the numbers of this tribe were less than the number of firstborn among the Jews, it was ordained that redemption money should be paid for the number that came short; and thence sprang the custom of paying this tax. Because then Christ was a firstborn son, and Peter seemed to be the first among the disciples, they came to him. And as it seems to me this was not demanded in every district, they come to Christ in Capernaum, because that was considered His native place.
Jerome: Or otherwise; From the time of Augustus Caesar Judaea was made tributary, and all the inhabitants were registered, as Joseph with Mary his kinswoman gave in His name at Bethlehem. Again, because the Lord was brought up at Nazareth, which is a town of Galilee subject to Capernaum, it is there that the tribute is asked of Him; but for that His miracles were so great, those who collected it did not dare to ask Himself, but make up to the disciple.
Chrys.: And him they address not with boldness, but courteously; for they do not arraign, but ask a question, “Doth not your Master pay the didrachma?”
Jerome: Or, They enquire with malicious purpose whether He pays tribute, or resists Caesar’s will.
Chrys.: What then does Peter say? [p. 618] “He saith, Yea.” To these then he said that He did pay, but to Christ he said not so, blushing perhaps to speak of such matters.
Gloss., ap. Anselm: Otherwise; Peter answered, Yea; meaning, yea, He does not pay. And Peter sought to acquaint the Lord that the Herodians had demanded tribute, but the Lord prevented him; as it follows, “And when he had entered into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, Of whom do the kings of the earth receive custom or tribute,” (i. e. head- money,) “of their children, or of strangers?”
Jerome: Before any hint from Peter, the Lord puts the question to him, that His disciples might not be offended at the demand of tribute, when they see that He knows even those things that are done in His absence.
It follows, “But he said, From strangers; Jesus said unto him, Then are the children free.”
Origen: This speech has a twofold meaning. First, that the children of the kings of the earth are free with the kings of the earth; but strangers, foreigners in the land, are not free, because of those that oppress them, as the Egyptians did the children of Israel.
The second sense is; forasmuch as there be some who are strangers to the sons of the kings of the earth, and are yet sons of God, therefore it is they that abide in the words of Jesus; these are free, for they have known the truth, and the truth has set them free from the service of sin: but the sons of the kings of the earth are not free; for “whoso doth sin, he is the servant of sin.” [John 8:34]
Jerome: But our Lord was the son of the king, both according to the flesh, and according to the Spirit; whether as sprung of the seed of David, or as the Word of the Almighty Father; therefore as the king’s son He owed no tribute.
Aug., Quaest. Ev., i, 23: For, saith He, in every kingdom the children are free, that is, not under tax. Much more therefore should they be free in any earthly kingdom, who are children of that very kingdom under which are all the kingdoms of the earth.
Chrys.: But this instance were brought to no purpose if He were not a son. But some one may say, He is son indeed, but not an own son. But then He were a stranger; and so this instance would not apply; for He speaks only of own sons, distinct from whom He calls them strangers who are actually born of parents. Mark how here also Christ certifies that relationship which was revealed to Peter from God, “Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jerome: Howsoever free then He was, yet seeing He [p. 619] had taken to Him lowliness of the flesh, He ought to fulfil all righteousness; whence it follows, “But that they should not be offended, go to the sea.”