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Matthew 17:27 NLT

However, we don’t want to offend them, so go down to the lake and throw in a line. Open the mouth of the first fish you catch, and you will find a large silver coin.[h] Take it and pay the tax for both of us.”

The preceding verses had referred to the disciples coming to Capernaum together with Christ

Matthew 17:24 NLT

On their arrival in Capernaum, the collectors of the Temple tax[e] came to Peter and asked him, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the Temple tax?

It would seem the other disciples were also around because we are immediately told after this incident(temple tax) that they came to Capernaum querying about who was the greatest in the kingdom

Matthew 18:1 NLT

About that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?

Why did Christ pay for Peter only?

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The record does not say, but context allows for an educated guess:

  • They're in Capernaum (v 24)
  • They're at somebody's house (v 25)
  • It's not Jesus' house (Matthew 8:20)

Peter's home was in Capernaum, and we know that Jesus spent time in Peter's home (e.g. Luke 4:38). Some have suggested that Peter's home in Capernaum was something of a "home base" for Jesus' Galilean ministry.

Although we cannot be entirely sure, the context fits well with this being Peter's home. If so, Jesus is staying in Peter's home and, as a result, both men in the home are expected to pay. Several other disciples also lived in Capernaum, so there's no reason a priori to assume they're all staying in the same home.

This passage reads similarly to other instances (e.g. paying taxes to Caesar, woman taken in adultery) where someone tried to trap Jesus by getting Him to do something that would either:

  • Alarm the Jews
  • Alarm the Romans

It may be, then, that Peter's involvement here is only incidental--the trap was set for Jesus, but because Peter was with Him, Peter got a tax bill too.

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