Matthew 17:25 What do you think, Simon?

KJV Verse: 

Mat 17:25 What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers?

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

What do you expect yourself, Simon? From whom do the rulers of the planet seize products or taxes? from their own children, or from that belonging to others?

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

Here Peter was being asked to pay a tax for entering Capernaum and this is Christ's response. Taxes were apparently as big an issue in Christ's time as they are now. Taxes are a form of compulsion. The absence of taxes is the absence of compulsion. This verse, however, sets up a clever play on the idea relating to Christ's own position. Notice, this question is about "kings of the earth" not "kings of the world."

The word translated as "thinkest thou" doesn't mean "think" as much as it means "expect" or "imagine." It is in a form where the subjet acts on himself.

"Kings" is translated from a Greek word which means a "king" or "chief."

The word translated as "earth" means the physical planet, not society, which Christ describes as the world. See this article for more on these words. this is the critical word in this verse because Christ usually refers to worldly leads as "worldly," that is, as "kings of the world," that is, lords of society, not the planet. Why the change here? The answer is in the next verse.

The word translated as "receiveth" primarily means "take," and has many different uses as we use "take" in English. Among these are the ideas of "understanding" and "possessing." It is often translated as "receive" in the NT.

"Custom" is a word that means the purpose or goal of something. It means consummation", "achievement", "fulfillment," "product", "service rendered by a citizen," and "dues extracted by the state."

"Tribute" is translated from a Greek word that means "tax", "census," and "poll-tax," but this word is only used in the New Testament.

The word translated as "of" means "from" in both location and when referring to a source.

The word translated as "children" more generally means "children" but it specifically "sons."

"Strangers" is from a Greek word that means "belonging to another." So it refers to possesions that belong to others, not just those that are unknown.

Greek Vocabulary: 

Τί (irreg sg neut nom/acc) "What" is from tis which can mean "someone", "any one", "everyone", "they [indefinite]", "many a one", "whoever", "anyone", "anything", "some sort", "some sort of", "each", "any", "the individual", "such," and so on. In a question, it can mean "who", "why," or "what."

σοι "You" is from soi which is the singular, second person pronoun, "you".

δοκεῖ, (verb 2nd sg pres ind mp) "Thinkest thou" is from dokeo, which means "expect", "suppose", "imagine", "have an opinion", "seem", "seem good," and "to be reputed."

Σίμων; (part sg pres act masc voc) "Simon " is from Simon, which is the Greek for the name "Simon," but it also a verb used as a noun that means "to bend up," and "turn up one's nose," and, in the passive, "to become." Metaphorically, it means "to blame" and "to censure."

οἱ βασιλεῖς (noun pl masc nom) "Kings" is from basileus, which means a "king", "chief", "prince", "lord", "master", "a great man," and "the first and most distinguished of any class." It is a form of the world used for "kingdom."

τῆς γῆς (noun sg fem gen) "Earth" is from ge, which means "the element of earth", "land (country)", "arable land", "the ground," and "the world" as the opposite of the sky. Like our English word "earth," it means both dirt and the planet.

ἀπὸ "Of" is from apo, a preposition of separation which means "from" or "away from" from when referring to place or motion, "from" or "after" when referring to time, "from" as an origin or cause.

τίνων (part sg pres act masc nom) "Whom" is from tis which can mean "someone", "any one", "everyone", "they [indefinite]", "many a one", "whoever", "anyone", "anything", "some sort", "some sort of", "each", "any", "the individual", "such," and so on. In a question, it can mean "who", "why," or "what."

λαμβάνουσιν (verb 3rd pl pres ind act) "Take" is from lambano means to "take", "take hold of", "grasp", "seize", "catch", "overtake", "find out", "detect", "take as", "take [food or drugs]", "understand", "take in hand", "undertake", "take in", "hold", "get", "receive [things]", "receive hospitably", "receive in marriage", "receive as produce", "profit", "admit", "initiate", "take hold of", "lay hold on", "seize and keep hold of", "obtain possession of", "lay hands upon", "find fault with", "censure," "to apprehend with the senses", "to take hold of," and "to seize." It is also specifically used to mean "seized with emotion."

τέλη (noun pl neut acc) "Custom" is from telos, which means "consummation", "expenditure", "end", "achievement", "fulfilment", "product", "service rendered by a citizen," and "dues extracted by the state."

κῆνσον; (noun sg masc acc) "Tribute" is from kênsos, which means "tax", "census," and "poll-tax," but this word is only used in the New Testament.

ἀπὸ "Of" is from apo, a preposition of separation which means "from" or "away from" from when referring to place or motion, "from" or "after" when referring to time, "from" as an origin or cause.

τῶν υἱῶν (noun pl masc gen) "Children" is from huios, which means a "son," and more generally, a "child." -

αὐτῶν (adj pl masc gen) "Their own" is from autos, which means "the same," and the reflexive pronouns, "myself", "yourself", "himself", "herself", "itself," or the oblique case of the pronouns, "him", "her," and "it." It also means "one's true self," that is, "the soul" as opposed to the body and "of one's own accord."

"Or" is e which is a particle meaning "either", "or," or "than." -- "Than" is translated from a Greek word that means primary "or" but serves as "than" in a comparison.

ἀπὸ "Of" is from apo, a preposition of separation which means "from" or "away from" from when referring to place or motion, "from" or "after" when referring to time, "from" as an origin or cause.

τῶν ἀλλοτρίων; "Stranger" is from allotrios, which means "belonging to another", "stranger", "foreign", "hostile", "alien", "unfavorably disposed", "abnormal," and "foreign to the purpose," and "strange."

Wordplay: 

The form of the word "whom" means "whom" in this context because it is the object of the preposition, but it also means "the one paying the price" (as a participle of the Greek verb tinon) as the subject of a sentence. This could be a coincidence or a very clever play on words.