Cesar’s Tribute Coin, and the Widow’s Mite

We pray Mormons will read, research, and investigate the events of Holy Week because of how deeply important they are for their everyday lives!

Even though I was aware that spiritual conditions were at an all time low for Israel, I had overlooked a few details until this week. I had overlooked the fact the table of the moneychanger was actually sitting inside the temple! Wow, what a mess they created for themselves.

Today we’re obviously looking at the money issues going on in the temple during Jesus’ last week on earth – the tribute coin, and the widow’s mite.

To find out more details about Jesus’ activities for this day, and the rest of His week, see our series Easter and Holy Week.


Matthew 22:19-22  “Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny. 20 And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? 21 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. 22 When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way.”

Basic facts of the tribute money:

1.The penny, or ‘tribute money’, with Cesar’s superscription was the equivalent of a day’s pay for a Roman soldier.

2.The two parties questioning Jesus would’ve given different answers in other circumstances. They were enemies of each other, and collaborated for one purpose: to destroy Jesus.

3.Stamping the image of a ruler on a coin denoted the the claim of a ruler’s sovereignty.

4.The other side of the denarius was usually the image of Tiberius with the inscription ‘Pontifex Maximus’, which at that time meant ‘the great bridge builder’, or the head of the college of priests. Today it’s known as a title for the pope of the Catholic Church.

5.The denarius was a heathen coin, so they had to borrow one from a neighboring moneychanger table. A Jewish man wouldn’t have carried heathen money.

6.Notice how the heathen moneychanger’s table was inside the temple – Matthew 21:12-13.


Mark 12:44 “For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she [the poor widow] of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.”

Basic Facts of the Widow’s Mite:

1.It’s impossible to place a dynamic value on the widow’s mite. Here’s what a handful of Bible translations have said* –

  • KJV: two mites = a farthing
    RSV: two copper coins = a penny
    NASB: two small copper coins = a cent
    NIV: two very small copper coins = fraction of a penny
    ESV: two small copper coins = a penny
    HCSB: two tiny coins = very little
    NLT: two small coins

2.The ‘moral to the story’ as they say, is the lesson to us about the scenario as a whole, not today’s face value of the coins themselves. One of the main teachings of this is of course, the condition of our heart when giving to the Lord.

3.Heaven sees what man won’t look at. While the offerings of the rich made a loud noise in the coffer’s box, the widow’s mite received no such attention from man.