I work in our county’s tax collection office, and I don’t understand why Jesus condemned tax collectors so much. Am I doing something wrong?


This may seem like a strange question, but I work in our county's tax collection office, and I don't understand why Jesus condemned tax collectors so much. After all, if we didn't collect taxes, we couldn't have good government, could we? Am I doing something wrong?


No, not at all; you have an important responsibility, and the Bible encourages us to support good government by our taxes. The Bible says, “Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue” (Romans 13:7).

In Jesus’ day, however, being a tax collector (or a “publican,” as older translations called them) meant something far different from what it means today. In Jesus’ day, tax collecting often was seen as a corrupt and dishonorable profession, and the reason is because the Roman government allowed tax collectors to keep anything they could collect beyond the actual taxes. In other words, tax collectors often made people pay far more than they actually owed, and they then kept the excess.

Jesus condemned this and urged tax collectors to be fair and just. He even welcomed them when they came to Him. On one occasion, an important tax collector named Zacchaeus decided to follow Jesus. Jesus forgave his sins, and in return Zacchaeus promised, “If I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount” (Luke 19:8).

No matter who we are, God loves us, and Jesus Christ wants to forgive us and save us. If you have never done so, invite Him into your life and ask Him to help you live for Him every day.