5 Tax Collectors in the New Testament

Have you ever thought about the tax collectors from Jesus’ time? They were important in the stories of the New Testament, often meeting Jesus. We will dive into the lives of five well-known tax collectors. By doing this, we aim to reveal the special connection they shared with Jesus.

Levi and Zacchaeus are among the tax collectors we’ll look at. Their stories with Jesus teach us about second chances, kindness, and breaking social rules. Let’s explore their tales and the deep lessons they offer.

Levi, the Called

In all three synoptic Gospels, we learn about Jesus calling a tax collector named Levi. This is found in Matthew 9:9, Mark 2:14, and Luke 5:27. Jesus’ act of inviting Levi highlights his transforming power. Tax collectors were not well-liked because of their dealings with Romans and for being seen as greedy. But Jesus looked past this, showing grace and mercy. He invited Levi to follow Him.

“As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he rose and followed him.” – Matthew 9:9 (ESV)

Levi, also called Matthew, answered Jesus’ call. He became one of the twelve apostles. Additionally, he authored the Gospel of Matthew. Meeting Jesus completely changed Levi’s life. He shifted from collecting taxes to being a faithful disciple of Christ. Matthew’s Gospel tells us about Jesus’ teachings. It also highlights his own experience as a follower, witness, and apostle.

The Calling of Levi in Luke’s Gospel

Luke’s account brings out the remarkable nature of Jesus’ invitation to Levi. In Luke 5:27, it says, “After this, he looked up and saw Levi the tax collector, and said to him, ‘Follow me.'” This brief exchange shows the life-changing impact of Jesus’ call. Levi left everything behind to start a new journey following Jesus.

Levi’s Transformation and Redemption

Jesus’ call to Levi shows His inclusive and redemptive mission. Jesus reached out to someone society rejected, showing love to all, regardless of their standing. Levi’s story reveals the power of meeting Jesus. It shows how our lives can change when we begin to follow Him.


Levi, or Matthew, might have seemed an unlikely choice for Jesus. But through Jesus’ calling, his life transformed. He became a key part of Jesus’ ministry and the early Christian community. Levi’s story is a great example of how Jesus’ call brings new life and redemption.

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Zacchaeus, the Chief Tax Collector

In the Gospel of Luke, we find an interesting story about Zacchaeus, the Chief Tax Collector. He was unique among tax collectors. Zacchaeus not only held a special job but also had a life-changing meeting with Jesus.

Zacchaeus, the Chief Tax Collector

Tax collectors like Zacchaeus faced dislike and were watched closely because of their work. Meeting Jesus changed Zacchaeus’s life.

Even though he was short, Zacchaeus climbed a tree to see Jesus. This showed Zacchaeus really wanted to meet Jesus, despite his position in society.

“When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.’ So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.”

Luke 19:5-6

What happened next was surprising. Jesus told Zacchaeus he wanted to stay at his house. This shows Jesus wanted to meet everyone, including people considered outcasts.

Later, Jesus eating with Zacchaeus and his friends was not just a meal. It showed that Jesus wanted to save Zacchaeus, despite his past.

“Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Luke 19:9-10

This event led to a big change in Zacchaeus’s life. As a Chief Tax Collector, he was used to making money in unfair ways. But after meeting Jesus, Zacchaeus decided to do things differently.

Zacchaeus said he would give away half of his money to help the poor. And if he had cheated someone, he would give them back more than he took. His actions showed real change and a wish to right his wrongs.

The story of Zacchaeus is a strong message about Jesus’s ability to change lives. It shows how Jesus’s love and forgiveness can reach everyone, no matter what they’ve done. Zacchaeus’s story is a powerful example of the effect of meeting Jesus.

The Innkeeper of the Parable of the Good Samaritan

In the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37), the innkeeper is key. This story is about who is a true neighbor. The innkeeper shows kindness by looking after the traveler who was hurt. Often, the innkeeper is thought of as a friend to tax collectors.

“A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise, a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine, and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.'”

– Luke 10:30-35 (NKJV)

In this powerful story, a man is attacked and left for dead. A priest and a Levite pass by without helping. But a Samaritan, normally despised by the man, stops to aid him. The Samaritan treats his wounds, takes him to an inn, and ensures his care, leaving money with the innkeeper.

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We don’t learn much about what the innkeeper did, but we can guess. He probably followed the Samaritan’s instructions, caring for the man. This likely meant making sure the man had food, a place to stay, and any needed medical help. The innkeeper’s story shows us about caring and responsibility.

Role in Challenging Perspectives

The choice to talk about an innkeeper matters in this story. It challenges beliefs about certain jobs and those who do them, like working with tax collectors. It shows that anyone can be a kind helper, no matter their profession.

The Parable of the Good Samaritan is about loving others without limits, no matter where they come from or who they are. It tells us to help those in need, showing age-old wisdom on caring for all people equally.

The Innkeeper’s Role Today

The innkeeper’s tale reminds us that what we do affects others. Like the innkeeper, we can make a difference every day by showing kindness to others in need.

We can help by volunteering, giving to charities, or just helping someone that needs it. This way, we follow the innkeeper’s example and help make our world kinder and fairer for everyone.

Key Points The Innkeeper of the Parable of the Good Samaritan
Role Although not a tax collector, the innkeeper plays a vital role in the Parable of the Good Samaritan.
Compassion The innkeeper demonstrates compassion by caring for the injured traveler.
Perception The innkeeper challenges stereotypes associated with their profession, which is often seen as collaborating with tax collectors.
Lessons Today The innkeeper’s example encourages us to be compassionate and extend help to those in need.

The Tax Collector in the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector

In a parable, Jesus compares a proud Pharisee to a humble tax collector. This story teaches us about the value of humility and the meaning of true goodness.

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It comes from the Gospel of Luke. It’s about two men who went to the temple to pray. The first was a Pharisee. He proudly listed his good deeds and judged others. The second was a tax collector. He felt sorry for his wrongs and asked God for forgiveness.

The Pharisee stood alone and prayed: ‘Thank you, God, that I’m better than these people—thieves, bad folks, cheaters—or even that tax collector. I fast and tithe.’ (Luke 18:11-12)

The tax collector was far off. He wouldn’t even lift his eyes to heaven. He beat his chest and said, ‘God, forgive me. I’ve done wrong.’ (Luke 18:13)

Jesus then says the tax collector was the one right in God’s eyes, not the Pharisee. He highlights the importance of being humble and admitting our mistakes. This, he says, is what truly makes us good.

The story reminds us that everyone needs God’s forgiveness. It shows us to check ourselves and to come to God with humbleness. We should see our need for a fresh start.

Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector

Key Points
The story contrasts an arrogant Pharisee with a modest tax collector.
The Pharisee boosts about his good actions; the tax collector admits his faults and seeks mercy.
Jesus points out that the humble tax collector was the one justified before God.
The tale underscores the roles of humility and true sorrow for one’s actions.

Are Tax Collectors Considered Religious Leaders in the Bible?

In the Bible, tax collectors are not considered religious leaders. Instead, the 6 types of religious leaders mentioned are priests, scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, elders, and teachers of the law. Tax collectors were often looked down upon in society, seen as traitors or collaborators with the Roman authorities.

Tax Collectors Mentioned in Passing

In the Gospels, they often talk about tax collectors. They link them with “sinners” (Matthew 9:10-11, 11:19; Mark 2:15-16; Luke 5:30; 7:34; 15:1). This helps us understand that tax collectors weren’t liked much back then.

Jesus goes to eat at a tax collector’s home in Matthew 9:10-11. This makes religious leaders upset. Later, in Luke 15:1, he’s criticized for spending time with tax collectors and sinners. This shows how people back then judged tax collectors.

In Mark 2:15-16 and Luke 5:30, Jesus shows he’s not afraid to be with tax collectors and others who were left out. He even picks Levi, a tax collector, to be his disciple. This broke the rules of society. But it showed Jesus’ effort to help those who were lost find true meaning.

The New Testament talks about tax collectors only a little. But, these mentions show a lot about Jesus’ message. His message was about love, forgiveness, and welcoming all. This means there’s hope and a new chance for everyone, even those who were pushed aside.