Is Tithing New Testament?
Today’s Question: One area that I am researching is the Tithe and
offering. I know very well what Malachi 3:7-12 teaches that according to the Law
if a believer falls short then they have robbed God and fall under a curse. Paul
wrote to the Galatians in Galatians. 3:13 telling them they had been redeemed from the cruse of the Law.
The main point of Malachi 3 is often over looked. The prophet was
telling the Jews to turn their hearts to God and give with love so the
ministries would be fully supplied. I know that God wants us to give—and
I believe in the law of reciprocity—and I know we need to support our
local church, orphans, widows, etc. Here’s my question shouldn’t
support and giving be from the heart and not because we are under a
mandatory legal system? What are your views on Tithes, offerings and
Bible Answer: You asked a great question. I get this
question all the time.
Tithing began before the law was introduced. The Law simply regulated
the tithe. Abraham tithed to Melchizedek, 400 years before the time of
Moses and the Law, and according to Romans 4:12 we are to walk in the
footsteps of the faith of Abraham. If tithing was good for him, it should
be good for us, too.
We give tithes like Abraham gave them—not by the Law but by faith.
And beside that, if the people of God paid ten percent before the Law, and
ten percent under the Law, shouldn't we, who live by grace, be doing any
less when we have a better covenant (Heb 7:22).
There is a passage in Hebrews, which deals with this issue directly. It
is Hebrews 7:8:
In the one case, the tenth is collected by men who die; but in the
other case, by him who is declared to be living.
Melchizedek received Abraham’s tithe. The Hebrew writer shows that Melchizedek
is a prefigure of Christ. We can conclude that just as Abraham
gave a tithe to Melchizedek we give a tithe to Christ who is declared
to be living.
Some people think this is a new issue. It is as old as the second
century when more and more Gentiles were being converted. The early Jewish
believers had no problem with tithing since they had done it under the Law
and gave it to the priests. They simply gave their tithe to the elders of
the church and did by love. However, as the church became less Jewish this
issue came up to the church fathers. They answered the question of tithing
with Matthew 23:23:
"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!
You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have
neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and
faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting
Notice Jesus said, "You should have practiced the latter
(justice, mercy and faithfulness), without neglecting the former
(tithing)." The fathers argued, and rightful so, that
Jesus word ends the discussion. Since Jesus said not to neglect the former—being
tithing—then no believer should neglect tithing. I wholeheartedly agree!
argue that Jesus words are not applicable to us today, because Jesus was
under the Law and spoke to those under the Law. Their theory goes
something like this: Jesus was giving an instruction to the Jews so His
words are not binding to us.
problem with this interpretation is that these teachers are bringing Christ
down to the level of a Jewish prophet or Teacher of the Law. Jesus is the
Word of God made flesh, so this means every word that comes out of His mouth
is eternal. He cannot say anything without it being “spiritual law” and
everlasting. Jesus emphasizes this point by saying, “Heaven and earth may
pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Matt 24:35). These supposed
Bible teachers are making the words of Jesus pass away—obsolete and out of
date. Besides, these same teachers pick and choose which teachings of Christ
in the gospels they believe is applicable to us. I notice that even these
teachers agree that most of Christ’ teachings are for us; however, because
they are predisposed against tithing, they have had to come up with an
excuse for not obeying the clear word of Christ in Mathew 23:23.
believer, you have to show who your Lord is! Is it the teachers who tell you
tithing is not New Testament and who tell you that Jesus word on the subject
is out of date; or is it Jesus who clearly told us not to neglect tithing?
No modern teacher has the right to tell you to disobey Jesus instruction on
the only passages in the New Testament was Jesus word, then that would be
sufficient, however, I want to present other New Testament passages on the
subject. Let’s look at Paul’s teaching on giving.
Paul also uses the pattern of tithing under the law in 1 Corinthians
9:13-14 and says,
Don't you know that those who work in the temple get their food from
the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on
the altar? In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach
the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.
Paul argues that just as the priests got their food from the tithes of
the people, so the preachers should live the same way. This passage
clearly shows the mentality of the apostle and his understanding of
carrying over the concept of tithing into the church. The passage often
used to contradict this is 2 Corinthians 9:7:
Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
The argument goes something like this: "Each believer has a right
to decide for himself what to give and should not be told what percentage
he should contribute."
The problem with this argument is that the
above passage is not dealing with giving to support the church, but rather
giving to the poor. Under the Law, giving to the
poor was a freewill offering. The Law commanded freewill offerings as
well as tithes:
But you are to seek the place the LORD your God will choose from among all your tribes to put his Name there for his dwelling. To that place you must go;
there bring your burnt offerings and sacrifices, your tithes and special gifts, what you have vowed to give and
your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks.
It is quite inconsistent for people to appeal to freewill offerings yet
claim that tithing has been abolished. Both tithing and freewill offerings
were incorporated in the Law as the above passage shows, but they preceded
the Law, thus they both should be practiced. The burden of proof is placed
on those who teach that tithing has been abolished. If so, where in the
New Testament does it clearly say that tithing has been abolished?
One last thing, notice the resemblance of the language
Paul uses in the first passage in Galatians and compare it with the
Old Testament passage about tithing:
Anyone who receives instruction in the word must
share all good things with his instructor. (Gal
And you and the Levites and the aliens among you
shall rejoice in all the good things the LORD your
God has given to you and your household. When you have finished
setting aside a tenth of all your produce in the third year, the year
of the tithe, you shall give it to the Levite, the alien, the
fatherless and the widow, so that they may eat in your towns and be
satisfied. (Deut 26:11-12)
Galatians 6 is dealing with giving to the teacher of
the gospel and he uses the same language about the Levites receiving the
tithe of the people and he calls it "all good things."
This is pretty good internal evidence that the early church tithed to
the ministers of the gospel, although, I admit it is not explicit
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