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The Penny

The denarius was a Roman (see Ancient Empires - Rome) silver coin that is often known as the "penny" of the Bible because of the King James Version translation using that word for it. The denarius was about the size of a present-day Canadian or U.S. dime.

"Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's"

The denarius was the most common Roman coin during the human lifetime of Jesus Christ. Amounting to a day's pay for workers and Roman troops (see Roman Legions), it's mentioned more often than any other coin.

Roman Coins The illustration at right shows two different denarius coins with both of the Roman emperors who reigned during the time of Jesus, Caesar Augustus and Tiberius Caesar (see also New Testament Roman Emperors). A coin identical to one or the other of those was the subject of Jesus' well-known "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's":

"Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute [see Custom and Tribute] unto Caesar, or not?"

"But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? Show me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription?"

"They say unto him, Caesar's."

"Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's." (Matthew 22:17-21 KJV)

Other examples of the denarius, sometimes translated as the "penny," in The Bible:

"For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard." (Matthew 20:1-2 KJV) (see also The Parable of The Labourers)

"When Jesus then lifted up His eyes, and saw a great company come unto Him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? And this He said to prove him: for He himself knew what He would do. Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little." (John 6:5-7 KJV)

"But a certain Samaritan [see also Who Were The Samaritans?], as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee" (Luke 10:33-35 KJV)

"Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, which should betray him, Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein." (John 12:4-6 KJV)

Fact Finder: Who were "the money changers"?
See The Money Changers


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