Coin in the fish's mouth

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Apostle Peter paying the temple tax with a coin from the fish's mouth by Augustin Tünger, 1486.
Tilapia zilli ("St. Peter's fish"), served in a Tiberias restaurant.

The coin in the fish's mouth is one of the miracles of Jesus, recounted in the Gospel of Matthew 17:24–27.[1][2][3]

Biblical accounts[edit]

In the Gospel account, in Capernaum the collectors of the two-drachma temple tax ask Peter whether Jesus pays the tax, and he replies "Yes". When Peter returns to where they are staying, Jesus speaks of the matter, asking his opinion: "From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes—from their own children or from others?" Peter answers, "from others," and Jesus replies: "Then the children are exempt. But so that we may not cause offense, go to the lake (the Sea of Galilee) and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours."


The story ends at this point, without stating that Peter caught the fish as Jesus predicted.[4]

This may be the only time Jesus performed a miracle in order to avoid offending people (in this case, those who collected the two-drachma temple tax[citation needed]).

The four-drachma (or shekel) coin would be exactly enough to pay the temple tax (two-drachma coin) for two people.[5] It is usually thought to be a Tyrian shekel.[6][7]

The coin in the fish's mouth is generally seen as a symbolic act or sign, but there is little agreement concerning what it signifies.[4]

The Bible does not specify the species of the fish caught by Peter, but tilapia is sometimes referred to as "St. Peter's fish".[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Daniel J. Scholz 2009 Introducing the New Testament ISBN 0-88489-955-1 p. 86
  2. ^ Steven L. Cox, Kendell H Easley, 2007 Harmony of the Gospels ISBN 0-8054-9444-8 p. 349
  3. ^ Herbert Lockyer, All the Miracles of the Bible (Zondervan, 1988) p. 219.
  4. ^ a b Graham H. Twelftree, Jesus the Miracle Worker: A Historical and Theological Study (InterVarsity Press, 1999), p. 137.
  5. ^ Keener, Craig S., 2009, The Gospel of Matthew: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, ISBN 0-8028-6498-8, p. 445.
  6. ^ Hendin, David. "The coin in the fish's mouth". Coins Weekly. Retrieved 19 February 2016.
  7. ^ Lewis, Peter E.; Bolden, Ron (2002). The Pocket Guide to Saint Paul: Coins Encountered by the Apostle on His Travels. Wakefield Press. p. 21. Retrieved 19 February 2016.