Summary: "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar, and to God the things that are God’s." A great text for teaching about paying your taxes, but an even better passage to remind us of our commitment to Jesus Christ.
The Jews were desperately seeking to discredit Jesus, because within the context, He was speaking parables against them. They would stop at nothing to do so. Within the context of this verse, various groups ask Him questions designed to trap Him or challenge Him. These questions, when answered, revealed to these people where they were lacking in their service to God.
• Matt 22:23-33: The Sadducees ask about the resurrection (which they didn't believe in). They think up some kind if hypothetical situation that they believed was rock solid in proving that it was incorrect to believe in the resurrection. Jesus quickly answers their question, showing how they have ignored Old Testament texts which answered the question. They were not digging deep enough in their studies of scripture and lacked faith in the power of God.
• Matt 22:34-39: One of the Pharisees, a lawyer/scribe, to test Jesus, asked Him what the most important commandment of the law is. Jesus' answer shows the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and how they were neglecting the most important things about serving God. Jesus tells them to love the Lord God with all their soul, mind, & strength was the most important commandment (which was a commandment they were clearly violating in scripture) and the second commandment He gives without being asked, to love your neighbor as yourselves, which they were also violating in trying to test and discredit Jesus so they would have reason to kill Him.
• Matt 22:15-22: But before these things, they ask a very challenging question of Jesus about paying taxes to Caesar which He also answers with great wisdom. This
Then the Pharisees went and plotted together how they might trap Him in what He said. 16 And they sent their disciples to Him, along with the Herodians, saying, "Teacher, we know that You are truthful and teach the way of God in truth, and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any. 17 "Tell us then, what do You think? Is it lawful to give a poll-tax to Caesar, or not?" 18 But Jesus perceived their malice, and said, "Why are you testing Me, you hypocrites? 19 "Show Me the coin used for the poll-tax." And they brought Him a denarius. 20 And He said to them, "Whose likeness and inscription is this?" 21 They said to Him, "Caesar's." Then He said to them, "Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's; and to God the things that are God's." 22 And hearing this, they were amazed, and leaving Him, they went away.
They set up this question in an interesting way. They characterize Jesus as One who is not a respecter of persons. They were, in other words, saying, “You truly serve God only and only make judgments based on truth, not on the status of man. Most commentators seem to think the leaders’ approach to Jesus is mere flattery. This may or may not be true; either way, they were trying to trap Him. Therefore, is it right to give tribute to Caesar?”