Is Tithing A Commandment?

Posted: October 22, 2011 in Christian Living
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

In the Church today, some claim that God instituted the “tithe” 400 years before God brought the children of Israel under the covenant of the Law of Moses. Therefore, since the “tithe” preceded the Law of Moses it is still relevant and therefore binding in the New Covenant. But the Sabbath was also instituted before the Law of Moses; on the seventh day of creation week. (Gen 2:2-3) If it can be claimed that the “tithe” is binding in the New Testament because it is a pre-law ordinance, shouldn’t it also hold true of the Seventh Day Sabbath?

We all know that Abraham gave a tithe (or a tenth) to Melchizedek, the priest. (Gen.14:20). Many proponents of New Testament tithing use this verse to prove tithing is valid for the church today. Yes, Abraham gave 10% to the priest. But he gave it from the spoils he repossessed from the enemy kings. Abraham gave the remaining 90% to those to whom the goods belonged to in the first place and only tithed once in his lifetime (as far as the Bible recorded). Abraham had not touched his own property or income. (And he was a very wealthy man)

Gen 28:22 is another favorite verse New Testament tithing proponents use to support tithing. Jacob pledged the Lord his life and a tenth of all possessions that would become his along the way. But remember that Jacob was the person who, through deception, took his brother’s birthright and blessing. His name even means deceiver. (Gen. 27:36) Jacob made this promise of giving his tithe conditional: If God would remain with him, keep him in the way, and bring him safely home again,  then he would carry out his part of the pledge. “And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace; then shall the LORD be my God: And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God’s house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee.” (Gen.28:18-22)

Some try to use Deuteronomy 14:22 to support tithing. But this verse is taken completely out of context. Deut. 14:22-29 refers to the tithe during the Pilgrimage Feasts, which went to support the house of God and its services during this time. It also refers to the tithes received every third year for helping the poor and needy. This has nothing to do with the weekly tithe taught by the Christian Church.

I do not claim that believers today should not give back to God as they prosper, and as we purpose in our hearts. Believers should “give liberally” as the grace of God allows them. (2 Cor. 9:7) My argument is that the verses used by these tithing proponents are invalid and they are clearly taken out of context. Christians have grace to give, but they are not commanded to tithe. Pastors who want to do what is right should study to rightly divide the word of truth and end this fraudulent teaching.

“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven, and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.” (Malachi 3:10)

Here we have the tithing teachers’ favorite verse in the whole Bible. On this verse they hang most of this doctrine. But if we take a closer look at the verse, we will find something very interesting.  In Nehemiah 10:38 we read, “And the priest, the son of Aaron, shall be with the Levites when the Levites receive tithes, and the Levites shall bring up the tenth of the tithes (tithe of the tithes)to the house of our God, to the chambers of the storehouse.” The word ‘storehouse’ is translated as ‘treasure house’ and the Hebrew (‘owtsar) is the same in both Nehemiah and Malachi.

“Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.  Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.” (Mal 3:8-9) The tithe was payable by the Levites, not the people. (See Num. 18:20- 32) Malachi is not rebuking the people, he is rebuking the Levites. (Mal.2:1) When our modern day tithing teachers use this verse to point at the people, they are really pointing at themselves –except that most of them refuse to accept this teaching and refuse to teach their congregation this Biblical Truth. 1 Timothy 6:3-5 warns, “If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.”  The pastors today who claim to have authority to receive tithes place themselves in a position equivalent to the Levites. So the pastors (Levites) are the ones whom Malachi is rebuking; not the people.

The only ones ever authorized to receive tithes were the Levites. Ever since the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D., it has been impossible to keep the tithing law. Today, Orthodox Jews do not tithe because no one is qualified to receive tithes now that the priesthood and temple are gone. WHY? Because the sacrifices that needed to be offered daily has been accomplished “once and for all” (Heb. 10:11-13) There is no more work for the Levite in the administering of offerings. If Christians today need to give offerings then they also need to offer heave offerings, burnt offerings, meat and drink offerings and even peace offerings. But we no longer need to do these things because Christ made peace through his blood on the cross. (Col 1:19-20)

If you have money your family needs, but you withhold it from them in order to pay it to the Church as tithes, you are doing exactly what the Pharisees did. You are saying your money is “Corban” (a gift devoted to God) and is more important than caring for your family. Jesus taught that by doing so you were invalidating the Word of God. (Mark 7:9-13)

I commend churches I have visited that have installed a collection box in the back of their church for contributions and rarely mention tithing. This practice actually has its origin in the Jewish temple.  A charity box called ‘kuppah shel tzedakah’ was a repository of public treasury. It was constructed and placed in the courts of the temple, in which the property of widows and orphans were deposited. In Mark 12:41 the term “near the treasury” seems to be used to refer to this receptacle mentioned by the rabbis where contributions were voluntarily paid by the Jews for the service of the temple and the support of the poor.

We are under the perfect law of liberty. (2 Cor. 3:17) According to scripture, we are not told where to worship, or when. (John 4:20-24) We are told to not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, (Heb. 10:25) but we are not told how often to assemble. We are not told that Christ instituted a “new” Sabbath that replaces the seventh day Sabbath with the Lord’s Day-Sunday, as many preachers teach. We are not told we must be in church to assemble ourselves together. We are not told how much to give. And we are not told that all of our Christian giving must go only to the church where we are members.

The Gospel is the free gift of God in Jesus Christ. (If it were not free, it would not be a gift!) If you really think about it, discipleship is often reflected fiscally in the life of a congregation. Jesus said that repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations. (Luke 24:47) What does your congregation really need for the hearing and spreading of the Gospel? Usually, very little is needed.

For example, how large a chunk of the congregation’s budget is used up for evangelism? How much does it cost to hear a sermon? How many items on the budget have nothing to do with the spreading of the Gospel? How much more could be spent for world-wide mission work, if the non-Gospel expenses were minimized? If all the extra frills in your budget are sinking your congregation into the red, it probably means that in God’s eyes you do not really need them.

What does a Gospel-based congregation truly treasure, anyway? I remember talking to a member of a congregation that had moved into a very large building and they were now dealing with many problems within and without the congregation.  When asked what time in the congregation’s history, did they remember most fondly, their response was: “The days when a few of us heard the Gospel in the pastor’s home.” Yes, it was a time when they had no building at all!

Many people wrestle everyday with poverty. Yet, Jesus did not allow people to use poverty as an excuse for failing to accomplish His purposes. Our Lord said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 5:6)

Jesus knows that poverty can be a blessing, instead of a curse. He said, “The poor you will always have with you.” (Mark 14:7) His statement doesn’t reflect a lack of concern for the poor because He cherishes all of humanity; rich and poor alike. Instead of allowing poverty to be used as an excuse for failure to do the will of God, Jesus made the most of whatever He had and encouraged others to do the same.

The Lord also knows that everyone who wants to get rich can fall into temptation, and get trapped into many foolish and harmful desires that can end in ruin and destruction. “For the love of money is the root of all sorts of evil.”  (I Tim. 6: 9, 10)

Jesus taught His disciples to focus on doing His will before worrying about daily necessities. The Lord wants us to have our priorities right.  Jesus told His disciples,  “Do not worry about what you will eat or drink or what kind of clothing you will put on. Look at the birds of the air. They do not sow or reap or gather into barns and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? But seek first His kingdom and righteousness and all of these things will be added to you as well.” (Matt. 6:30-33)

Jesus commended people for giving to the poor, but His priorities involved introducing people to the new birth, discipleship, and building up His church. Ministering to others should be done out of a God love that seeks to draw people into a closer relationship with Jesus Christ.

Jesus knew that many people are easily distracted by money matters – do not fall into that trap. Jesus said, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head… Follow Me.” (Luke 9:58)  The Lord was always actively encouraging people to be busy about the business of helping the kingdom of God grow. This seems to be God’s mission for all of us. And it isn’t dependent on our finances but on our trust in God’s ability to work through us.

Some people give less than a tithe, and because of the Gospel, they still remain recipients of God’s grace. But there will be others in the Church who will be moved to give a tenth of their income. But there may be others who wind up giving more than a tithe like the widow who gave 100% (Luke 21:4) or Zacchaeus, who gave far more then what was expected. (Luke 19:8) You never know what is going to happen when the truth of the Gospel is preached and people are given the freedom to choose.

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Comments
  1. Sandy Valdez says:

    That is alot to read, very interesting. You made me laugh when you said teacher’s favorite verse Malachi 3:10

  2. lookmom says:

    This is what my husband has come to believe about the tithe, and I believe it too, but the old teaching is very entrenched in my psyche. When times are tough, I still tend to think it is because we are not giving enough or giving in the traditional tithing way. Thanks for the reminder of what the Word says.It is all about the grace…as usual.

    • Thank you for your comment. The Bible does encourage us to give to those in need but never commands us to tithe. “Tzedakah” is the Hebrew word for the acts that we call “charity” in English: giving aid, assistance and money to the poor and needy or to other worthy causes. However, the nature of tzedakah is very different from the idea of charity. In Judaism, giving to the poor is not viewed as a generous act; it is simply an act of justice and righteousness, our duty of giving the poor their due while allowing them to keep their dignity. In Luke 6:38 we read, “Give and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” Strong’s Concordance translates the word “Give” here as, “…to give of one’s own accord – to give one something to his advantage.” This verse has also been used to encourage tithing, but in the context of Chapter 6 Jesus is speaking of being kind to our enemies. It has nothing to do with giving money to be more blessed. It has to do with mercy and grace. It is given to your bosom, (the person you are deep inside to make you filled) If you give another person mercy or grace the same will be given to you. If you are a gracious forgiving person in your life when it is necessary, then God will bless you with the same. When times are tough, sometimes it may because we are not giving enough grace and mercy to others.

    • Stockman says:

      Salutations ‘lookmom’.

      I hope your house is fully submitted to The LORD of lords today, and willling truthfully to submit to HIS will in all that is before you, your husband and all those you care about. Our Father in Heaven’s name is hallowed in my house as well…I hope my house and yours will fellowship some day – to encourage and strengthen each other.

      My darling Michele and I have struggled with these such issues before and currently we have money put aside as ‘tithe’ but are without a church locally we trust to accept it, that is for the purpose that we believe up to now – tithe is intended. In short, I am uncertain whether or not upon greater study of scripture – in it’s entirely, including the original meaning before the buld of original scripture was corrupted or completely lost – reveals that Tithing is a direct commandment for followers of Christ or the adopted under the promise to Father Abraham.

      While it is true that honest tithing honours The LORD, it is also said that to provide for one’s family is certainly a sign of obedience to HIS Word, and since HE is The WORD, well…

      I could not help but read between the lines in your brief statement and wonder where your husband stands on other such potentially contentious issues: Seventh Day Sabbath, loving discipline when raising and guiding children in your care, liberal ‘choices’ we are faced with in our rebellious society and the distinction between the loving obligations of a husband and a wife.

      My darling and faithful Michele still struggles with tithing, ‘churchianity’ and willingly fellowshipping with other self-labelled ‘Christians’ – and I completely understand. I would embrace any further dialogue you or your husband my have to share with us on this subject and we are interested in leading in worship and teaching from our humble home here on Southern Vancouver Island.

      Thank-you for your time. For reasons I cannot adequately explain, your brief comment from 2011 reached me and I am glad I was led to this site today. May your house receive love and grace in abundance today.

      Seeking The TRUTH in all things, standing for Christ .

      Stock Foyster
      Sooke, British Columbia

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    this web site contains awesome and really excellent stuff in support of visitors.

  4. Asking questions are really good thing if you are not
    understanding something fully, except this post provides fastidious understanding even.

    • Tammy says:

      If all of what is said true,then can someone please tell me what is it meant by “you have robed me even this “Whole Nation”

      • Mal 3 is often used by many Christian pastors to prove the importance of tithing: “Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’ “In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me.” (Mal 3:8-9)

        But God begins His conversation with the prophet in chapter 2: “And now, you priests, this warning is for you. If you do not listen, and if you do not resolve to honor my name,” says the LORD Almighty, “I will send a curse on you, and I will curse your blessings. Yes, I have already cursed them, because you have not resolved to honor me. (Mal 2:1-2)

        So this idea of tithing is directed at the priests (pastors and religious leaders) and NOT the common people! Tithing was part of the Mosaic Law. It is not part of the New Testament model of giving. The New Testament model of giving is that every person gives to others as they are able. (See Heb. 13:16; Luke 6:38; 2 Cor. 9:6-8) It is safe to say that the New Testament model is that we give willingly, to those who have need, out of all of our excess, not just 10%!

        I find it horrible that when a brother or sister is in financial need, the first thing that many pastors ask is if they are paying their tithes. And then if the person is not paying their tithes they tell them that that’s why God has refused to bless them! This type of teaching is a stain on Christianity! When a brother or sister is in need then the local church (and the pastor) should be the FIRST to step in and help them!
        So according to Malachi 3, Christian pastors should be tithing to the Church just like the Hebrew priests tithed to the temple!

      • ntslim888 says:

        Thank you for your word of Truth that has setting me free effect = Joy!!!
        I have heard my rich uncle told that lie to my father before “You are in financial trouble because you didn’t tithe”…. that comes from the accuser of the brethren. It is so true & liberating to practice Grace & Mercy especially when you have the means to your own brother than to pick out something from the bible and throw at the weak fellow !
        Thank you once again wordfromthestreet for your liberating advice. God Bless you 🙂

      • Thank you for your words of encouragement. I am glad that I could bless you. May God continue to bless you with His truth. You can also check out my songs and videos at jonahreuben music.com

      • hmmmmm splitting hairs. All are members of the priesthood.

      • Not in the context of Malachi 3:10; which is used by many church leaders and Catholic priests to guilt people into giving.

  5. Buford Ness, PhD says:

    How do you explain away Hebrews 7:5-9 King James Version (KJV)

    5 And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham:

    6 But he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises.

    7 And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better.

    8 And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth.

    9 And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, payed tithes in Abraham.

    Why would Jesus still be receiving tithes?

    I agree it is not a command… there is only one command for a Christian to love your God with all your being. Fear and the love of money causes the Believer to want to believer he can still open the windows of heaven by not giving the tithe.

    In 40 years of tithing and ministry… when people are in financial difficulty my experience is that it is because they are robbing God of the opportunity to bless them by not tithing. When people stop “trying” to tithe and do the tithe… the windows of blessings begin open on them in ways they cannot explain.

    I choose to go with

    • Buford, No Christian can be cursed for not tithing or claim blessings because of tithing today. It is a contradiction of sound hermeneutics. One cannot be positionally “holy, just, perfect and sinless” in the righteousness of Jesus Christ while, at the same time, being “cursed” for not tithing. Because God’s temporal blessings are neither synonymous with prosperity nor incompatible with suffering. Christian spiritual principles are based on better promises. (2 Cor. 3:9-10; Gal 5:18, 22-23)

      In the King James Version of tithing occurs 40 times in the Bible, 32 times in the Old Testament, and 8 times in the New. In the New Testament, 5 of the 8 occurrences are found in Hebrews 7:5-9, which are referring to the tithe of Abraham to Melchizedek in the Old Testament.

      Two of the remaining 3 occurrences occur in Luke. In Luke 11:42 we find a parallel text to the one remaining text. (Matthew 23:23) Here, Jesus accuses the Pharisees of tithing in the small, inexpensive, things (mint, dill, cummin), but neglecting the weightier matters. Thus, Jesus does not condemn tithing, but says that there are more important matters. In Luke 18:12 we see the self-righteous Pharisee, boasting about his tithing as proof (in his mind) of his righteousness.

      In Malachi 1:6-8, it is shown that God was speaking to the leaders (the Levites and Priests of Israel) who were defrauding and robbing God of the tithes and offerings—NOT the people who brought the tithes to them. The people continued to bring their offerings to them even while these corrupt Levites and priests stole from God and the widows, the poor and strangers in the land. But the priests were keeping the best for themselves to sell and increase their own wealth from the things offered by those who were required to tithe.

      Notice in verse 6 of Malachi chapter one God says, “It is you, O priests, who show contempt for My Name”; there you have it! It were the priests not the people, who were robbing God. Many “gospel peddlers” today love to quote Malachi 3:8 when they want more of your money in their control (Just as the unlawful Levites and priests did) when they say, “Will a man rob God?” They never tell you who God is speaking to in this Scripture, they just speak about it in such a way as to lead you to believe that God was speaking to you. And yet in truth, God is speaking to the very ones who are using God’s Word to pick your pockets while hiding behind the pulpit!

      So far as I can find in the New Testament, neither Jesus nor any of his apostles taught the necessity of tithing. Neither can we find any statement that they practiced tithing. Jesus did pay the temple tax (Matthew 17:24-27), but we do not read of him paying a tithe.

      You know, the more I study what God really says about tithes and offerings, the more I wish these gospel peddlers would rightly divide God’s Word for a change and give God His honor and reverence among the people of this world. For many of our poor widows and fatherless children would be cared for with the tithe money they collect, and God would receive His honor and be glorified. Yet, these ministers use your tithes and offerings for “their pet projects”. (Building expansions, community projects, Youth Camps, etc)

      I am not saying that we should not give from our abundance; but today, we as Christians, are called upon by the New Testament Covenant, much more in giving and helping those in need than just a 10% tithe. For we, as Christians, shall be judged by our treatment of those in need and not how much we have given to our local church. Jesus said, “Whatever you did (or didn’t do) for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25: 31-46)

      “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?” (1 John 3:17)

  6. Henry Shilo says:

    You are right. The teaching on tithing has been over emphasied by the greedy and it is sadduning when scripture is very plain in Heb 7-9 about the begining and end of tithing.

  7. pastor tunde says:

    this type of teachings on tithing is rear in churches today. one looks like an unbeliever when his such topics for discuss. its so unfortunate that we do selective doctrines that suits us. thanks brother for this teaching

  8. wow, this is what i have been looking for – a place where the bible is taught in sincerity and explicitly.

    I will like to attend your church or ministry (if you have one)

    thanks a bunch,

    many regards,

    charles

    • Thanks for your comment Charles. Unfortunately, I cannot recommend any churches for you to attend as we have decided years ago to fellowship and study the Bible in our home. I would suggest that you seek out other like-minded believers to study the Bible with. Feel free to use any of my articles for discussion groups. May God bless your search for truth.

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