The Name Tax Collector
The Tax Collectors | Index
The term "tax collector" or "tax gatherer" is from the
Greek word "telones" and the King James Version of the Bible translates the word
"publican," although the Greek word telones were really NOT the
publicans. Publicans were wealthy men, usually non-Jewish, who contracted with
the Roman government to be responsible for the taxes of a particular district of
the imperial Roman state.
The Publican collected income tax for Rome. Sometime around 200 B.C. the Roman
Senate found it fitting to farm the vectigalia (direct taxes) and the
portoria (customs) to capitalists, who agreed to pay a substantial sum into
the publicum (treasury) and so received the name of publicani.
The Roman class who handled the contracts and financial arrangements were called
equites. They often went further in their dealings with the publicani and
formed a joint-stock societas (company) partnership with them or one of
their agents magister (manager). This manager usually resided at Rome and
conducted business and paying profits to all partners through the submagistri
(officer) who lived among the provinces. Directly under their authority were the
portitores (customhouse officers) who would examine all goods, whether
imported or exported, assess the value, wrote out a ticket and enforced payment.
They would live within the province where they were stationed and come into
contact with all classes of the population. It was these portitores who
were referred to as the Tax Gatherers (telones) in the New Testament.
The Tax Collectors in the
The Tax Collectors
NT Tax Collectors
Jesus and Tax Collectors