Coins Mentioned in the New Testament

Coins: Values and New Testament References

The denarius or drachma is the standard unit, equal to a typical day’s wage.


6,000 drachmae/denarii

Matt. 18:24; 25:14–30


100 drachmae/denarii

Luke 19:13–26


4 drachmae/denarii



4 drachmae/denarii

Matt. 17:27


2 drachmae/denarii



2 drachmae/denarii

Matt. 17:24


Greek: a day’s wage

Luke 15:8


Roman: a day’s wage

Matt. 18:28; 20:1–16; 22:19; Mark 6:37; 12:15; 14:5; Luke 7:41; 10:35; 20:24; John 6:7; 12:5; Rev. 6:6


1/10 drachma/denarius

Matt. 10:29


1/4 assarion

(1/40 drachma/denarius)

Matt. 5:26; Mark 12:42


1/2 quadrans

(1/80 drachma/denarius)

Mark 12:42; Luke 12:59; 21:2


talent: This unit of silver was equal to six thousand Greek drachmae or Roman denarii. One talent was roughly equal to what a typical worker could earn over a sixteen-year period. Jesus tells a parable (Matt. 25:14–30) in which a wealthy man gives his servants different amounts of talents (one, two, five; in the latter case, the amount was more than the servant could hope to earn in a lifetime). In another parable (Matt. 18:23–35), Jesus uses creative exaggeration to stress the incalculable difference between divine and human mercy: a servant owes his king (God) ten thousand talents (= millions of dollars) but is upset with a fellow servant who owes him one hundred denarii.

mina (pound): The NRSV uses the word “pound” for a Greek mina, a silver coin worth one hundred drachmae (or denarii). The only New Testament reference comes in a parable told by Jesus in Luke 19:13–26 (the parable of the pounds); another version of the same story appears in Matthew 25:14–30 (the parable of the talents).

denarius: This silver coin was the usual day’s wage for a typical laborer (see Matt. 18:28; 20:1–16; 22:19; Mark 6:37; 12:15; 14:5; Luke 7:41; 10:35; 20:24; John 6:7; 12:5; Rev. 6:6). The denarius (a Roman coin) appears to have been roughly equivalent in value to the drachma (a Greek coin). The “lost coin” in the parable that Jesus tells in Luke 15:8–10 is a drachma.

shekel (pieces of silver): The story of Judas receiving money to betray Jesus uses an imprecise term: the Greek simply says that Judas was paid thirty “silvers” (Matt. 26:15). Most scholars think this referred to thirty shekels. A shekel was a silver Judean coin (i.e., not Roman or Greek, for the priests avoided using coins bearing idolatrous images of Caesar or pagan gods). It was worth about four drachmae (or four denarii).

stater, didrachma (temple tax): The story of the temple tax in Matthew 17:24–27 involves two different Roman coins. The amount of the annual temple tax was two drachmae (or two denarii) per person.

In Matthew 17:24, the NRSV uses the English expression “temple tax” to translate a reference to a Greek coin called the “didrachma,” a coin that was worth two drachmae. This was the typical coin that an individual used to pay the tax.

In Matthew 17:27, Jesus tells Peter to use the “coin” that he finds in a fish’s mouth to pay the temple tax for both of them. Here, the Greek word translated “coin” in the NRSV is stater. A stater was a silver Greek coin worth about four drachmae; thus the single coin could pay the temple tax for two people.

assarion, quadrans, lepta (penny): The NRSV uses the English word penny for three different Roman coins: