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Tithing, Is it New Testament?
Welcome To Tithe, Tithes and Tithing, Should Christians Tithe? Is Paying Tithes a Commandment to the Church?
(Short Excerpt from Midnight's Cry)
Often, good pastors misuse the Old Testament tithe, teaching and preaching that the tithe, or that a mandatory 10 percent giving of one’s income, is “New Testament.” Normally, to teach the tithe is simple error. Still, error is error, no matter how innocently it is cloaked.
For some, certain traditions that have nothing to do with the faith of the Gospel are hard to overcome, which often happens to be the case with the tithe. Sustaining the Tithe Doctrine is the fact that many Christians have reported a blessing when tithing. And rightly so, since the Lord blesses all who participate in any form of giving, especially when the believer adds faithfulness to their tithe. Despite that reality, personal experience is not a biblical validation for the 10 percent tithe as a commandment to the Church.
In searching out the words “tithe,” “tithes,” and “tithing,” which altogether appear seven times in the New Testament, we quickly learn that no such command exists for the Church. In addition to this fact, the inspired writers of New Testament were well aware of God’s will. They didn’t simply forget to tell us that the Church is to tithe or practice tithing.
Moreover, it is wise to discern that when the tithe is preached, it can only be preached effectively from the Old Testament, not the New. Another factual point is that there is no record of the early Church ever collecting or receiving tithes.27 This in itself ought to be enough to disprove tithing for today’s Church, seeing that they, the early Church, never recorded the practice of tithing.
In Hebrews 7:18, Paul penned a pivotal verse in understanding the tithe. He wrote, “For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment.” Odd enough to “the tithe,” when it comes to commandments of any kind in Hebrews 7, the strict exegesis is the Tithe Commandment (Heb. 7:5). Indeed, Paul references no other commandment within that chapter, or many surrounding chapters. As a result, the “disannulling of the commandment” is none other than a setting aside of Levi’s Tithe Commandment for the Christian.
Why was there a disannulling of the Tithe Commandment? Paul’s answer in the very next verse was that the law made nothing perfect, but a hope in Christ did (Heb. 7:19). Interestingly enough, this shows that Paul considered the tithe as part of the Law of God.
In Hebrews 7:16, Paul tagged Levi’s Tithe Commandment as carnal, telling us that Christ wasn’t made after a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life. Forthrightly, emanating from another priesthood, is why Paul rebuffed Levi’s Tithe Commandment as carnal for Christians. And this why Paul also cited the necessity of changing the law (Heb. 7:12) in his disannulling of the Tithe Commandment for Christians (Heb. 7:18). Of course, because of the Old Covenant’s ties to Israel in the future, the tiniest part of the law will not pass for Israel until all things are fulfilled (Matt. 5:17-18). Nevertheless, again, there is a disannulling of Levi’s tithe Commandment for the Church.
Although there is a disannulling of the tithe, many in the Church still cling to the example of Abraham tithing to Melchizedek. For the record, the only time Abraham tithed to Melchizedek was after his return from the slaughter of the kings, which was a once and only tithe, not a repetitive tithe.2 Fittingly, what is often overlooked here, is that there is no record of Abraham ever paying tithes on his personal income and property before or after this one-time tithe. Of course, Christians aren’t to slaughter their enemies and tithe to the King of Peace. Quite oppositely, we are to be as wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove (Matt. 10:16).
From the viewpoint that Abraham is the Father of Faith, true, Abraham is largely considered as such, even though Noah predated him in using faith (Heb. 11:7). But this alone doesn’t warrant a directive to mimic Abraham in all things, because all things that Abraham did, clearly were not of the faith:
1.) Abraham simultaneously had two wives (Gen. 16:13; 23:19), whereas bishops, deacons, and elders are to have one (1 Tim. 3:2, 12; Titus 1:6).
2.) According to the Old Covenant to come, Abraham circumcised his flesh (Gen. 17:9-14). Nowadays, to do so for religious purposes is not to practice the “gospel of uncircumcision,” which, by the way, is the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Gal. 2:7), the New Covenant!
3.) Abraham offered a burnt offering unto the Lord (Gen. 22:13).
Not only did Abraham tithe 430 years before Moses wrote the law, he circumcised himself. Without controversy, the Church accepts the fact that circumcision is very much a part of the Law of God (Gal. 5:2-3), even though Abraham did so 430 years before the law existed. Knowing this fact, time-wise, there is no reason to claim that the tithe is not also part of the law, just because Abraham tithed 430 years before the advent of the law.
On the onset of the law, the tribe of Levi received the commandment to collect and receive tithes (Heb. 7:5). Nevertheless, the tribe of Levi was also to pay a tithe (Num. 18:26). Concerning their obligation, the Scripture tells us that Levi also paid tithes in Abraham when Abraham tithed to Melchizedek (Heb. 7:9). Here, Paul really tells us that Abraham’s one-time tithe was for Levi (the future priesthood of Israel), not for himself.
What about Jacob’s tithe? When Jacob promised the tithe, he did so by vowing a vow. In vowing his vow, he typified the Old Covenant; that if God would ensure his return to Bethel and supply all his needs, he in turn would give a tenth to God. God then would be his God. By the way, his sentiment identifies with the Old Covenant:
And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the Lord thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth. (Deut. 28:1)
Granted, in Matthew 23:23, Jesus approved the tithe of the Scribes and Pharisees. However, we must remember that these were Jews still under the law of the Old Covenant, who also were recipients of Christ’s criticism for omitting “the weightier matters of the law.” In addressing these religious teachers, Jesus said:
woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought you to have done, and not to leave the other undone. (Matt. 23:23)
To omit the weightier matters of the law is to omit love, or the entire fulfillment of the law by love (Gal. 5:14). It is, then, to omit judgment, faith and mercy, or the heart intent of the law.
Now judgment, faith, and mercy can’t be found within the Tithe Commandment. So what was left “undone” by the Pharisees was the purpose of the law, not the “tithe part” of the law. And this reveals that Christ also counted the tithe as part of the Law of God.
To tally each tiny dill seed, the practice of the Scribes and the Pharisees, was legalism personified. And this is why our Lord said to them, “You blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel” (Matt. 23:24).
As already emphasized in this work, Christ’s objective isn’t to put Christians back under the legalism of the law’s letter, but to deliver us from it; that is, if one is wholly led of the Spirit of God (Gal. 5:18).
Oftentimes, good pastors have wrongly accused Christians by the ill use of Malachi 3:8, pointing out that Christians who don’t tithe 10 percent of their income are robbers of God. This ought not to be, for when Malachi preached the tithe, he addressed Jews under the Old Covenant of Mosaic Law (1 Cor. 9:20), not Christians under the Grace of God.
To verify this, we must only realize that Christians aren’t under the Law of God, much less the curse of the law (Gal. 3:13). In marked contrast, the Jews, even their “whole nation” was to be cursed if they refused obedience to the tithe (Mal. 3:8-9).
The curse of Malachi 3:8-9 is not just a curse of the fields, but the result of the curse of the law. We find this to be true in reading Deuteronomy 28:15-16, that if the Jews would observe all of God’s commandments, their fields would be blessed, leaving the clear instruction of how to avoid the curse of the law (Deut. 28:15-16).
Knowing the vast differences of the two covenants, Jesus contrasted the Old with the New. By so doing, He warned of the drawing effect of the Old:
And he spoke also a parable unto them; No man putteth a piece of a new garment upon an old; if otherwise, then both the new maketh a rent, and the piece that was taken out of the new agreeth not with the old. And no man putteth new wine into old bottles; else the new wine will burst the bottles, and be spilled, and the bottles shall perish. But new wine must be put into new bottles; and both are preserved. (Luke 5:36-38)
Today, many profess that “the old is better.” Nevertheless, those who do so can drink strictly of the New (Matt. 26:27-29); that is, if only they will utilize “faith which worketh by love” as a guideline, and not the oldness of the letter of law. Actually, the proceeds of “faith which worketh by love,” given time, far surpass the receipts of legalistic 10 percent giving.3 Why? Because faith that works by love represents the seed of an inner growing Christ, whereas the 10 percent tithe represents the outward oldness of the letter. So when churches claim that they must have the tithe to survive, it is obvious that they aren’t giving agape love a chance by teaching the how of increasing Christ in their congregations.4
In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul traversed great lengths in convincing this New Testament Church to give to the ministry. In doing this, he never told the Corinthians to tithe:
Do you not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? And they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel. (1 Cor. 9:13-14)
In the above, Paul contends that ministers have the right to make a living by preaching the Gospel. In asserting this, Paul alludes to both the Altar and the Temple, but he declined to indicate the tithe in establishing a minister’s right to live off the Gospel.
If tithing were a New Testament commandment to the Church, why did Paul neglect to use it in instructing the Corinthians? Profoundly, the answer lies in the fact that the liberty of the New Testament Gospel, God’s Grace of the Royal Law of Liberty, overtly contrasts with that of God’s Law, the tithe.
Clashing with the contemporary views of some, Christians are never to give of need, expecting a return. Rather, all are to give from the heart, for God loves a cheerful giver. Paul wrote, “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7).
In Paul’s text, the word “purposeth” in the Greek means to bring forth by choice. This, then, validates that 10 percent giving was never a viable commandment to the Church. Here also lies the New Testament principle of freewill giving, since the amount that we give is a personal choice: “as a man purposeth,” not as a man is commanded.
Now if we really believe the Word of God, specifically the New Testament, we must accept this veritable point of freewill giving as fact. Jesus said, “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that you mete withal, it shall be measured to you again” (Luke 6:38). Here, the same measure that we mete can be bountiful or little, yet it remains to be our freewill choice. Also, this Scripture wasn’t just meant for the everyday Christian; its directive is also to pastors. For when pastors don’t practice giving from the heart, it is a good sign that neither do their congregations.
Paul wrote, “Let him that is taught in the Word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things” (Gal. 6:6). Here, the word “communicate” means to share; to partake and distribute. Respectfully, we are to share our blessings liberally with those who have taught us in the Word of God. Speaking of sharing, not tithing, Paul instructed the early Church:
Upon the first day of the week, let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come. And when I come, whomsoever you shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem. (1 Cor. 16:2-3)
Here again, Paul didn’t mention the tithe, yet he did teach that we are to give as God prospers us, and for many this amount could easily result in much more than 10 percent. Notably, Paul tagged this kind of giving as our liberality.
“Liberality” can only mean our freedom from the law, or more specifically in this case, freedom from the tithe or set percentages. In fact, when we give, we are not to let our left hand know what our right hand is doing, because in the presence of other believers our giving is to be done in secret (Matt. 6:3-4). Thus, in Church, biblically, we are not to record the amount that we give.
Paul’s request in 1 Corinthians 16:1 had nothing to do with tithing—it had to do with the storing of funds as God had prospered the Corinthians, that there be no “collections” (Greek: gatherings) of believers when Paul came. Dissimilar from that of many ministers and televangelists of today, Paul didn’t want to initiate the gathering of funds from the people publicly; nor did he want money to be a part of his discussion in his ministering to the Corinthians. Rather, Paul wanted the Corinthians to put something aside (their liberality) for his work in advance, so he wouldn’t have to approach them or mention this subject during his ministry time. In this instance, the Corinthians had probably asked Paul in advance if they could help him in his missions; Paul obliged. But for the record, never is it recorded that Paul ever solicited funds.
Surely Paul never collected tithes from the Corinthians. If he did, then there wouldn’t have been a need for him to write 2 Corinthians 11:7‑9, which more than conflicts with the idea of Paul receiving tithes from the Corinthians. In fact, Paul never collected a tithe from any Church. We know this because he did take wages from some other Churches to minister to the Corinthians, but he referred to this act as “robbing” them (2 Cor. 11:8).
Also, take for example the Apostle Paul’s remark in Philippians 4:15, that no Church communicated (shared) with him except the Philippians. Certainly, if tithes were collected in the early Church, then the Apostle Paul would have had his share of their blessings. But according to his writings, this obviously was not the case!
Thus so, it must be noted that tithing was first accepted at the Council of Macon in 585 CE.28 In clearer terms, tithing was not always accepted in the Body of Christ, but began in the Catholic Church in the sixth century. Since then, the Tithe Doctrine has become a strong Protestant tradition, which has no foundation in the New Testament.
Moreover, those who preach that paying 10 percent of one’s income buys their way out of the curse (Mal. 3:8-9), in teaching that a man shouldn’t “rob God,” are preaching much more than they can imagine. Although it may seem okay, anyone who denies Christ Jesus’ redemption from the curse of the law, no matter how innocent their teachings seem to be, jeopardize their own faith and the faith of others. As Paul wrote, “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is everyone that continues not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them” (Gal. 3:10).
Here is a review of the major points of this teaching:
1.) The Tithe Commandment was given to Levitical Priesthood, not to the Church (Heb. 7:5).
2.) There is no recording of the early Church ever receiving or collecting tithes in the New Testament.
3.) Emanating from another priesthood, Paul rebuffed the Tithe Commandment as a carnal commandment (Heb. 7:16). Also, because the priesthood had changed, Paul cited the necessity of changing the law for Christians (Heb. 7:12).
4.) In summing up his teaching on the Tithe Commandment, Paul wrote “For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment” for Christians (Heb. 7:18), even though he knew that no part of the law would ever fail (Luke 16:17).
5.) Paul considered circumcision, even though Abraham did so 430 years before the law was given at Sinai, as very much a part of the law (Rom. 2:25). Likewise, Paul also considered the Tithe Commandment as part of the Law of God (Heb. 7:5, 16, 18-19).
6.) The exegesis of Hebrews 7 and its surrounding chapters (exegesis meaning what a passage really says, whereas eisegesis is what we would have it to say), attests that the Tithe Commandment is the commandment of discussion. Simply, aside from Levi’s Tithe Commandment (Heb. 7:5), there are no other commandments mentioned in these chapters. In retrospect of this fact, there is a disannulling of the Levi’s Tithe Commandment for the Body of Christ, but not to Israel.
7.) Nowhere in the New Testament is there a reinstatement of the Tithe Commandment for the Church.
8.) Jesus tells us that the Scribes and the Pharisees in their tithing left the law undone, which tells us that Christ also considered the tithe as part of the Law of God (Matt. 23:23).
9.) Abraham tithed to Melchizedek on behalf of Levi, not for himself (Heb. 7:9).
10.) Paul, in affirming the right of ministers to live off the Gospel, referenced both the Temple and the Altar, but not the tithe as a commandment to the Church.
11.) Paul tagged freewill giving (as every man purposes in his heart), as our liberality in 1 Corinthians 16:3, which can only mean freedom from mandatory percentages in our giving.
12.) Tithing was not a practice in the Church until the Council of Macon in 585 CE.
13.) Christians are delivered from the curse of the law through the Cross of Christ (Gal. 3:13). In stark contrast, the Jews, even their whole nation was to be cursed if they refused obedience to the tithe (Mal. 3:8-9).
14.) No Church other than the Philippians (Phil. 4:15) communicated with Paul, or gave him money for his own personal needs (The collection of 1 Corinthians 16:1 was a collection for other Christians, not Paul.), which tells us that Paul in no way, shape or form, collected 10 percent tithes from the churches.
15.) Tithing, like all principles of the law, is to be fulfilled in our agape love actions toward others, and not by the oldness of the law’s letter: “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Gal. 5:14).
Certainly, some Christians who tithe, not all, justify their relationship with Christ by the tithe. Indeed, some will go so far as to say that Christians who don’t tithe need to fellowship elsewhere. So too, some claim that Christians who teach against the tithe are not even Christians. Of course, such judgments can lead to a transgression of the Doctrine of Christ.
In perspective, when a Christian judges another Christian by their lack of law works, that is really to claim self-justification by the law for themselves, instead of justification by faith in Jesus Christ alone. How subtle the Devil is! Certainly, Satan wants the old bottle to burst out the new wine of the New Covenant. In other words, Satan wants the loss of salvation for Christians who put themselves back under the Law of God after they have received salvation (Gal. 5:4).
In sum, strict percentages in tithing is “old covenant,” not New Testament. Indeed, there is a disannulling of this commandment to the Church.29 The subsequent concern, then, to which this author is conspicuously clear, remains:
But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; And shall begin to smite his fellow servants and to eat and drink with the drunken; The Lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. (Matt. 24:48-51; 25:1-2)
Tithing, Is it New Testament? (The full teaching of Tithing is presented in Midnight's Cry and Get Ready.)
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