Tax-collector - Berry's New Testament Synonyms


τελώνης, ἀρχιτελώνης.

The Roman system of collecting taxes, especially the τέλοι, in their provinces, included ordinarily three grades of officials. There was the highest, called in Latin publicanus, who paid a sum of money for the taxes of a certain province, and then exacted that and as much more as he could from the province. This man lived in Rome. Then there were the submagistri, who had charge each of a certain portion of territory, and who lived in the provinces. Then there were the portitores, the actual custom-house officers, who did the real work of collecting the taxes. The N.T. word τελώνης is used to describe one of the portitores, it is the lowest of these three grades. It does not correspond to the Latin publicanus, and the word publican used to translate it in A. V. and R. V. is apt to be misleading, tax-collector would be better. ἀρχιτελώνης, only occurring in Lu. xix. 2, describes a higher official than τελώνης, and is probably one of the submagistri, next higher grade.