Tithing

I was reading through Malachi the other day, and it just so happened I was revisiting an older Dalrock thread and ran across this post by Otto Lamp on Tithing. Most of the links are books on the passage, but there are two articles here on tithing specifically:

I’ll try to best to summarize the points, mainly from the Russell Kelly article:

  • The word “Tithe” specifically denotes a collection of what was given from the produce of the land. Never money.

“There are 16 verses from 11 chapters and 8 books from Leviticus 27 to Luke 11 which describe the contents of the holy tithe. And those contents never included money, silver, gold or anything other than food from inside Israel! Yet the incorrect definition of tithe as “the first tenth of income” is the greatest error being preached about tithing today! Lev 27:30, 32; Numb 18:27-28; Deut 12:17; 14:22-23; 26:12; 2 Chron 31:5-6; Neh 10:37; 13:5; Mal 3:10-11; Matt 23:23; Luke 11:42. In order to be honest tithe-teachers must honestly use the biblical definition of the holy tithe.”

  • Abraham’s “Tithe” to Melchizedek (Gen 14) and Jacob’s “free will vow” (Gen 28) were not Tithes but rather spoils of war and free will offerings. Note: spoils of war in Mosaic law were supposed to be 1% (Numbers 31), so Abraham gave 1000% more.
  • “The purpose of the first tithe was (1) to replace the loss of any inheritance or portion of Israel’s wealth in the land and (2) to pay Levites and priests for their labor in the sanctuary and temple.”

“Numb 18:20 And the LORD spoke to Aaron, You shall have no inheritance in their land; neither shall you have any part among them: I am your part and your inheritance among the children of Israel.

Levites and priests were to have no inheritance “in the land” (not “of the land”). That meant they were neither to inherit land nor to inherit anything else from any other source. “Neither have any part among them” meant they were not to share in the wealth of other Israelites. That explains why Levites are first in line among the poor in Deuteronomy 14:29. In other words, they were expected to remain among the poor and humble. See comments on the third tithe.”

  • Those who receive the Tithe (Levites, workers of the altar, etc.) have no inheritance in the land. That would preclude ‘pastors’ from owning pretty much anything, which is obviously not true.

“God forbade Levites and priests who received the first whole tithe from owning property in his land or receiving any other inheritances. He also forbade them from sharing wealth with other Hebrews (“no portion among them”). This Bible fact is found an amazing 12 times in (Numb 18:20, 26; Deut 10:9; 12:12; 14:27, 29; 18:1; Josh 13:14, 33; 14:3; 18:7; Eze 44:28).”

  • Second and third tithes were required (up to 23%).

“Old Covenant Hebrews were clearly expected to bring a second tithe at their three annual feasts, or festivals (Deut. 12:6-7; 14:23). Distinct from the first tithe which was only for Levites and priests, this was to be eaten by all in the streets of Jerusalem. It did not go to the temple; its purpose was “that you may learn to fear the LORD always.” The first-born of the herds was in addition to this tithe (proof that first and tenth were different). This meant that the tithe was at least 20% instead of 10%. Yet most tithe-advocates do not teach 20% tithing.”

“Old Covenant Hebrews were also commanded to keep a third tithe at home in their cities every third year (Deut. 14:28-29). This was an extra subsidy for Levites who were expected to be first in line among the poor (14:29). This meant a total tithe of around 23% instead of 10% (plus another 10% government tax (1 Sam. 8:14-17). Some teach that this replaced the 2nd festival tithe every third year. However, if this were true, there would be no food for the three yearly festivals. Again, it is obvious why this is not taught today.”

  • First fruits (and first borns) are different than tithes

“In God’s Word, firstfruits and firstborn are never the same thing as tithes. Firstfruits were the first wave-sheaf of the whole harvest, not the best (Lev. 23:10); in addition to the tithe, they were the “first offspring of your herds and flocks,” not the best (Deut. 12:7). Unlike the food-tithe, it was a very small token amount of the first crops harvested and was small enough to fit into a hand-held basket (Deut. 26:1-10). Firstfruits were a very small token offering — like a handful of grapes or olives. And, like tithes, first-fruits and first-born were always only food from inside God’s holy land of Israel.”

  • Malachi speaks directly to the Priests the entire time

“THE REAL GOD-ROBBERS OF MALACHI: The God-robbers of Malachi were actually the dishonest priests of Judah and not the general population. Beginning at Malachi 1:6 God addresses the dishonest ministers at the altar of Judah as “you”: “… unto you, O priests that despise my name.” Follow the pronoun “you”; it does not change in the remainder of Malachi. Priests offer polluted bread on the altar (1:7). Priests offer inferior animals for sacrifice (1:8). Priests are in charge of the doors and starting sacrificial fires (1:10). Priests had better animals in their flocks received as tithes (1:14; Numb. 18:25-29). Priests were cursed (1:14). Priests are addressed again: “And now, O ye priests, this commandment is for you” (2:1). The blessings of the priests are cursed (2:2). Priests had broken their special covenant with Levi (2:4-5). Priests had not taught God’s Law (2:6-10). Priests covered the altar with their tears (2:13). Priests had married Gentile wives (2:14-16). Priests mock God and ask why He had not judged them (2:17). God promises to punish the priests (3:1-7). Every priest in the nation has helped steal the tithes from the Levites (Neh 13:5-10). God curses the priests once again (1:14; 2:2; 3:9). Priests are told to return the stolen tithes (from Neh 13:5) back to the temple storerooms (3:10).”

Points 13-19 in the article, if you want to check it out.

  • Early Church dissent against Tithing & Paul himself working as a Tentmaker

“TITHING DID NOT BECOME A LAW IN THE CHURCH UNTIL A.D. 777: The earliest Christian assemblies patterned themselves after the Jewish synagogues which were led by rabbis who, like Paul, refused to gain a profit from preaching and teaching God’s Word. There are many books on Jewish social life which explain this in great detail.

From Christ’s death until Christianity became a legally recognized religion almost 300 years later, the majority of great church leaders took self-imposed vows of poverty. This is historically documented! They took Jesus’ words to the rich young ruler in Luke 18:22 literally “sell all that you have, give it to the poor, and follow me.” Most church historians agree that these early church leaders for at least the first 200 years worked for a living and were self-supporting. A Christian leader could not tell a Roman census-taker that he was a full-time preacher of an outlaw religion.

Clement of Rome (c95), Justin Martyr (c150), Irenaeus (c150-200) and Tertullian (c150-220) all opposed tithing as a strictly Jewish tradition. The Didache (c150-200) condemns traveling apostles who stay longer than three days and ask for money. And travelers who decided to remain with them were required to learn a trade. These early opponents of tithing are not quoted by tithe-teachers.

Cyprian (200-258) tried unsuccessfully to impose tithing in Carthage, North Africa around A. D. 250. At his conversion Cyprian gave away great wealth to the poor and lived under a vow of poverty. His idea of tithing included equal re-distribution to the poor. And –we must remember—his ideas of tithing were not adopted.

When tithe-teachers quote Ambrose, Chrysostom and Augustine as church fathers they conveniently leave out the first 200 years of church history. Even after Christianity became legal in the fourth century many of the greatest spiritual leaders took vows of deep poverty and preferred to live unmarried lives in monasteries. If these tithe-teachers are quoted, then the church should also be told what kind of lives they usually led.

While disagreeing with their own theologians, most church historians write that tithing did not become a legally enforced doctrine in the church for over 700 years after the cross. According to the very best sources it took over 500 years before a local church Council of Macon in France, in the year 585, tried unsuccessfully to enforce tithing on its members. It was not until the year 777 that Charlemagne legally allowed the church to collect tithes. That is the history of tithing found in the Encyclopedia Britannica, Encyclopedia Americana and the Roman Catholic Encyclopedia.”

  • Giving principles

Provide for your family

1 Timothy 5:8 But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

Not to reflect the old law but the Spirit

“(1) According to Galatians 5:16-23, there is no physical law which controls the fruits of the Holy Spirit. (2) Second Corinthians 3:10 says that the Old Covenant has “no glory” when compared to the “surpassing” glory and liberty of the Holy Spirit. (3) Hebrews 7 is the only post-Calvary mention of tithing and it is an explanation of why the Levitical priesthood must be replaced by Christ’s priesthood because it was weak and unprofitable. Study Hebrews 7 and follow the progression from verse 5 to verse 12 to verse 19. (4) The manner in which tithing is taught today reflects a failure of the church to believe and act on the far better principles of love, grace and faith. Mandatory giving principles cannot, has not and will not prosper the church more than principles guided by love for Christ and lost souls (2 Cor 8:7-8).”

“Christians are commanded to give freely, sacrificially, generously, regularly, joyfully and with the motivation of love for God and man.”

“(1) Giving is a “grace.” These chapters use the Greek word for “grace” eight times in reference to helping needy saints. (2) Give yourself to God first (8:5). (3) Give yourself to knowing God’s will (8:5). (4) Give in response to Christ’s gift (8:9; 9:15). (5) Give out of a sincere desire (8:8, 10, 12; 9:7). (6) Do not give because of any commandment (8:8, 10; 9:7). (7) Give beyond your ability (8:3, 11-12). (8) Give to produce equality. This means that those who have more should give more in order to make up for the inability of those who cannot afford to give as much (8:12-14). (9) Give joyfully (8:2). (10) Give because you are growing spiritually (8:3-4, 7). (11) Give because you want to continue growing spiritually (9:8, 10-11). (12) Give because you are hearing the gospel preached (9:13).”

Conclusion

Since most of this was quoting the other articles, let me summarize it by saying a few things.

Tithing is an OT concept that is rooted in God’s blessing and provision from the land. As Christians not under the old covenant and instead under the Spirit, we should stop trying to obey things from the old covenant (like Acts 19 and circumcision). Instead, we should be motivated and not compelled, according to the Spirit, to given “freely, sacrificially, generously, regularly, joyfully, and out of love for God and man.”

What has “replaced” the tithe as provision and inheritance for the Levitical priesthood from the fruit of the land is provision of one’s own family (1 Tim 5) as Christians are now in the priesthood of believers (1 Pet 2):

1 Timothy 5:8 But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

Giving should be rooted in:

2 Corinthians 8:1 Now, brethren, we wish to make known to you the grace of God which has been given in the churches of Macedonia, 2 that in a great ordeal of affliction their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality. 3 For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability, they gave of their own accord, 4 begging us with much urging for the favor [a]of participation in the [b]support of the [c]saints, 5 and this, not as we had [d]expected, but they first gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will of God. 6 So we urged Titus that as he had previously made a beginning, so he would also complete in you this gracious work as well.

7 But just as you abound in everything, in faith and utterance and knowledge and in all earnestness and in the [e]love we inspired in you, see that you abound in this gracious work also. 8 I am not speaking this as a command, but as proving through the earnestness of others the sincerity of your love also. 9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich. 10 I give my opinion in this matter, for this is to your advantage, who were the first to begin a year ago not only to do this, but also to desire to do it. 11 But now finish [f]doing it also, so that just as there was the readiness to desire it, so there may be also the completion of it by your ability. 12 For if the readiness is present, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have. 13 For this is not for the ease of others and for your affliction, but by way of equality— 14 at this present time your abundance being a supply for their need, so that their abundance also may become a supply for your need, that there may be equality; 15 as it is written, “He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little had no lack.”

  1. Give joyfully, even in poverty (2 Cor 8:2)
  2. Give beyond your ability, willingly (2 Cor 8:3)
  3. Give yourself to God (2 Cor 8:5)
  4. Don’t give because of commandment (2 Cor 8:8; 9:7)
  5. Give out of sincere desire (2 Cor 8:8,10,12; 9:7)
  6. Give as it will help you grow spiritually (2 Cor 8:8-12)
  7. Give in response to the gift of Jesus (2 Cor 8:9; 9:15)
  8. Give to supply others’ need (2 Cor 8:12-14)
  9. Give because if you sow sparingly you reap sparingly and if you sow bountifully you reap bountifully (2 Cor 9:6)
  10. Give, not grudgingly or under compulsion, but out of a cheerful heart (2 Cor 9:7)
  11. Give because it enables preaching the gospel which will bear fruit (2 Cor 9:13)

For me, I have been consistently “tithing” and God has always put it on my heart to want to give more than “10%” anyway. Therefore, knowing that tithing is bunk under the New Covenant, I don’t have an issue with any of this. It’s not my money anyway. One of the principles that I want to give under is that every year I increased on what I gave the year before.

Those who don’t tithe should know they are not condemned for not tithing. However, God desires that you give “freely, sacrificially, generously, regularly, joyfully and with the motivation of love for God and man.” Maybe more abundantly than even 10% or even 23%. Just as we shouldn’t be “misers with love” to borrow the phrase from Dalrock, we also shouldn’t be misers with money.

Tithing, like circumcision and other parts of the old covenant, is not part of the New Covenant.

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21 Responses to Tithing

  1. Also, this is why “prosperity gospel” doesn’t work, and why the people who preach it are con men.

  2. There’s an interesting part of the New Testament where it spends a lot of time unwinding the “You should follow X rules!” effect that everyone takes from the Old Testament, while at the same time laying out the need to work within the Lord for the details of application of Faith. (See: Philippians 2:12 )

    It leaves the situation where there are absolutes, but pretty much no “rules” to follow. It goes back to the “freedom in Christ” issues, as well.

  3. donalgraeme says:

    The Catholic Church (and I believe the Orthodox Church as well) doesn’t mandate a set amount of money. Merely that we give as much as we are able.

    The whole point, as always, is that we are to be moved by a heart aligned with God.

  4. Thanks for sharing my articles. One change –Malachi speaks directly to the Priests the entire time–should read “beginning in 1:6.” May God bless you is my prayer.

  5. feeriker says:

    Bottom line: churches today are a business. No, they will never be so honest as to describe themselves as such, but even a glance at their operations tells us that this is exactly what they are. As such, they have no choice but to treat their followers like a business treats customers, which inevitably means asking them for money. As much of it as they can get out of them. Frequently doing so through ethically, morally, and scripturally questionable means.

  6. @ Ruyssell Earl Kelly, PHD

    Thank you for writing a well researched piece.

  7. we all understand the business model, but God puts these verses to motivate his children, …you know them by their fruit and the simple fact is that the more evangelical church has expanded through the mission [old-new] of giving in comparison to other church models. Whether the fruit is generous, spiritual and is beneficial is another question, but it doesn’t mean that we shirk from our responsibilities. I recommend looking at Charles Nieman – ‘Kings of Priests’ which highlights this dynamic. Several points, it is one of the few areas God openly says to ‘test him’, moreover as the number of ‘tithers’ continue to fall in the church as does the membership, one should ask what will become if we don’t’ give at that level to potential winnable souls? Nevertheless, our prime concern is that we hear the words ‘well down good and faithful servant’ and tithing is just part of our duties so that we can manage funds properly and move onto higher callings. I’ll happily give 10% plus given the spiritual insurance and if it can sustain some form of model that will continue to expand the Kingdom; even better but I am also wary that when Jesus comes down on the earth for inspection, like the Parable of the Ten Talents that I have not short-changed him in anyway because at the end of the day, Prov 13:”the wealth of the wicked is reserved for the righteous,” and that if I can inherit [part of the kingdom] “and [be] priests to serve our God, [so we] will reign on the earth.” Rev 5:10 and gain a higher benefit, even better….

  8. Lost Patrol says:

    Good essay. Thanks.

    As to those con men of the “prosperity gospel”, their house of cards instantly collapses on this alone.

    Luke 9:58, Matthew 8:20

    And Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”

    They don’t even know what prosperity is. They think it has to do with the world. They don’t seem to know who is the ruler of this world, even though they are working for him.

  9. @ TheLdnQuaestor

    Several points, it is one of the few areas God openly says to ‘test him’, moreover as the number of ‘tithers’ continue to fall in the church as does the membership, one should ask what will become if we don’t’ give at that level to potential winnable souls?

    Check out the 2nd article above.

    It makes a good case that Malachi is not talking to the population but the to the priests directly due to the wording of the passage used. It’s not a general verse for the population.

    Although, however, I do this God honors some “form” of this based on 2 Cor 8 where people were giving beyond their ability. I wouldn’t use Malachi 3 though.

    I do think as we grow more in the faith we become more and more generous overall.

  10. shredifier says:

    I’ll give you my next 2 pay checks if you can find 1verse in the new testament that commands believers in the dispensation of grace, after the cross to give TITHES
    Just 1 verse where believers are COMMANDED to give 10% or a tithe under the requirements stipulated under the old testament
    You won’t find 1verse

  11. Don Quixote says:

    Don’t give because of commandment (2 Cor 8:8; 9:7)

    Great post DS.
    There is something I think is worth mentioning which is often overlooked. When Jesus was teaching His disciples in Luke 12:33 He said:
    Sell your possessions, and give alms; provide yourselves with purses that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys.

    The above commandment is both scary and simple. So notice the preceding verse:
    Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

    As scary as the thought is to sell your possession and give alms it is comforting to know that it is both God’s will for us to receive the kingdom, and to commit fully to His cause. Jesus was not talking to rich people, He was talking to regular working class folks.

  12. shredifier says:

    Jesus wasn’t talking to “us” when he referred to the little flock, we believe the little flock refers to Jews who will inherit the Kingdom during the millenial reign of Christ
    I fear having to sell all my possessions and give alms as much as I fear that I’m actually Judas Iscariot awaiting to be cast into the lake of fire…..in other words I have no fear at all that Jesus was speaking to me when he commanded the disciples to sell all they had
    Rightly divided I can’t take a command given to law abiding JEWS as having any direct application to me as a Gentile under the dispensation of grace

  13. Don Quixote says:

    I might add that Luke’s gospel was written to Gentiles. And after hearing this message Luke 12:15 – 40, Peter asked the question [12:41] speakest thou this parable unto us, or even unto all? Jesus’ response was clear. Go read it.

  14. The link between New and Old is coming from John 8:56 where Jesus says he met Abraham and
    also in Hebrews 7:8 – “In the one case, the tenth is collected by people who die; but in the other case, by him who is declared to be living”. This can’t happen unless people are still giving a tenth.

    Jesus doesn’t receive tithes, but receives the heart of the action of the tithe. I am giving more than 10%, as my assets grow so does my giving, as im blessed to be a blessing, if I was at the same stage then that would be a problem.

    1 Cor 10:26 – “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.” We are doing this as an act of honour as in Proverbs, but more so in the very end, you sow sparingly and therefore reap alike.

    This is difference from the Old Testament where the people paid their Tithes to the Levites, but in the New Testament, it is given. So yes “Shredifier” you owe ,me 2 monthly wages, of which I will tithe back 10% since you are obviously not doing it. How the kingdom can grow and help others without the necessary operational needs is beyond me. Yes, be careful to which Church you Tithe, but at very least take care of the poor esp the widows and the children, that’s a standard remit.

  15. shredifier says:

    Are you deficient in remedial English?
    I asked you to provide 1 verse in the new testament where a believer in Christ, in the dispensation of grace is COMMANDED to give a tithe,or a verse that states that a believer is REQUIRED to give a tithe….you haven’t provided 1 verse so I’ll keep my pay thank you….don’t throw out some generalized vague verse that’s not even applicable, show me the verse with the word tithe in it in the context of a COMMAND

  16. I showed the link, through the fact that as we know Hebrews 7:2 is a link to John 8:5-6 and please listen since I know you are a 1-talent servant.

    By believing that Abraham tithed to Jesus as the the name Melchizedek means “king of righteousness” and linking John 8:5-6 that Jesus met Abraham. Then coupling that with what I wrote under Hebrews 7:8 – “In the one case, the tenth is collected by people who die; but in the other case, by him who is declared to be living”. Then tithing still needs to be going on obviously under the institution of the local church.

    Jesus said to the Apostle Paul that when you are doing something to the church, you are doing it to him. So I’ll let the King come, since he is coming anyway and you can tell him that you even didn’t want to to give a portion of your banking interest.

  17. shredifier says:

    You really are thick arn’t you

    Jesus never met Abraham at all…..because Jesus existed as the Son of God before his incarnation in the flesh it could rightly be said of him that “before Abraham was I AM ” , This in no way says that Abraham met Jesus so I’m astonished at how illiterate you are
    You couldn’t prove that Melchisedec is Jesus if your life depended on it, that is the most retarded interpretation that I’ve ever heard of, and not 1 scholar has ever come to your baseless conclusions
    And the final blow to your preposterous exposition comes with the fact that the priesthood was abolished by the cross, there are no priests in the new testament let alone priests supposedly receiving tithes off people
    With all these facts that I’ve presented you are either a LIAR trying to induce Christians to give tithes using guilt as a weapon or you’re utterly clueless in what the bible teaches on this subject, take your pick

  18. @ TheLdnQuaestor

    Melchizedek is covered in the OP.

    Abraham “tithed” 10% of the spoils of war to him. He didn’t tithe 10% of his income and/or possessions. As is noted in the Mosaic law (which is pre-Abraham anyway), 1% of the spoils of war were to be tithed, so it doesn’t even make it to the 10% mark anyway.

    Anyway, the point is that tithing is not a New Covenant practice like circumcision or any other OT law. Use it as a guideline, for sure, as the principles are sound. However, it’s not commanded or required.

  19. @ shredifier

    I suggest not arguing in hyperbole and/or name calling because it tends to shred the credibility of your points, even if you’re right.

  20. I am not tithing 10%, as I said I am giving more than that.

    I explained the link between Abraham and Melchizedek above, as they had met before in Genesis, 12, 14 and 18. If Melchizedek was a gentile priest how did he discover the real God? Upon their meeting, he had brought out the articles of covenant “bread and wine”. There was already an relationship as Abraham knew who Melchizedek were. I explain the link between Melchizedek and Jesus by explaining John 8:5-6 and Hebrews 7:8.

    In the passage you will notice that Melchizedek never asked for 10% of the spoils, but the King of Sodom asked for the people, echoing the Devil around today. Abraham turned to the King of Sodom and said “I lift up my hand to the Lord” implying all his power and possession comes from God quoting Melchizedek in the same passage of whom he turns to. Only Jesus can be the Priest of the most High and simultaneously a King at the same time.

    The fact that you DONT know that Abraham met Jesus explains a lot why you don’t see the link of what I am saying.

    Lastly, although the Priesthood of OT has been abolished remember in NT Ephesians 4:11 -So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers. Now again, give to the right church, give where the ground is fertile, but still give.

  21. shredifier says:

    None of your verses have any relevance today to born again believers in Christ who are under grace
    Not once have you supplied any verses or proof texts that support your view point, so I will ask again: Find me 1 verse in the NEW TESTAMENT where believers are COMMANDED to give a tithe, or REQUIRED to give a tithe of their possessions or income. …Deep Strength and I are not talking about “giving” here, we’re talking about a specific amount that was obligated through LAW, namely a “tithe”
    You boast that you give more than 10% lol, good for you! Now show me a verse in the NEW TESTAMENT that has commanded you to do that as a member of the body of Christ
    You can’t do it and you know it that’s why you keep putting yourself back under the law and pull out totally irrelevant verses from the OLD TESTAMENT that have no relevance to Christians living in the age of grace, being baptised by one Spirit into the body of Christ which is the church

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