A CLOSER LOOK AT TITHING
By: Victor T. Stephens
"People often claim to hunger for truth, but seldom like the taste when it's served up."
~ George R.R. Martin
As we come to the conclusion of our study, let’s reemphasize the following key points:
1. Remember the noble Bereans in Acts 17:11. They "checked out" the veracity of what had been taught to them by Paul. Thus, it is our responsibility to do the same.
2. Study God’s Word in proper context and objectively (2 Tim. 2:15, 2 Peter 1:20).
3. Beware of idolatry: Refrain from exalting a pastor, a church facility, traditions, friends, family, or anything else higher than the authority of Scripture.
4. Beware of false prophets and false teachers (Matthew 7:15, Acts 20:29-31, 2 Peter 2:1-3, 2 Cor. 11:13-15).
5. Revealing the truth about tithing is an essential issue. Theft by deception and experiencing financial hardship as a result of tithing are serious matters.
6. Adam and Eve did not pay tithes. Scripture does not say or suggest that the "Tree of the knowledge of good and evil" was one tree out of ten. The "Tree" was simply used as a test of obedience.
7. Abel did not pay tithes. Rather, he offered "fat portions" from some of his firstborn.
8. Abram's tithe to Melchizedek was a cultural voluntary tithe. He was never commanded by God to give Melchizedek a tenth of the spoils of war.
9. Likened to his grandfather, Abram, Jacob's vow to give God a tenth was based upon cultural practices.
10. Tithing became part of the Mosaic Law as a result of Jacob's covenant tithing vow. Vows are voluntary, but once a vow is made, it must be performed. (Deut. 23:21-23, Eccl. 5:4-6)
11. The biblical tithe did not consist of money; but rather food items (Lev. 27:30-32). Although money was in use during biblical times (Gen. 23:16, Micah 3:11, etc), there is not one scripture record which illustrates money given as a tithe.
12. During certain occasions ("Feast of Ingathering") the tithe was eaten by the givers (Deut. 12:5-7, 12, 17-18; 14:22-27).
13. The tithe was actually paid every three (3) years, and was shared with the Levites, the fatherless, aliens, and widows (Deut. 14:28-29, 26:12-13).
14. There was no full scale tithing every seven (7) years (Exodus 23:10-11, Lev. 25:2-7, 20-22).
15. The new covenant priesthood does not consist exclusively of church leaders; but rather all believers in Christ.
16. The Old Testament temple was not supported by tithes, but rather the yearly temple tax (two days wages) and freewill offerings (Exodus 30:12-16; 35:21, 29, Ezra 1:4; 2:68-69; 7:15-16). The purpose of the tithe was to ensure that the Levites, the fatherless, aliens, and widows had sufficient food to eat.
17. Tithes and firstfruits are not identical.
18. Malachi 3 is not addressed to the new covenant church, but rather the nation of Israel. The temple
"storehouse" is not the local church building. Thus, Christians are not cursed for failing to tithe. Moreover, Christ nailed the curse to the cross (Gal. 3:13).
19. Nowhere does the Word of God say that an offering is "over and beyond" a tithe.
20. The temple tax paid by Jesus and Peter was not a tithe. The tax was a two-drachma tax equal to two (2) days wages paid yearly by every Jewish male twenty (20) years of age and older.
21. The "things" Jesus was alluding to in Matthew 22:17-21 were not tithes, but the bodies of all believers (Rom. 12:1, 1 Cor. 6:19-20, 2 Cor. 8:5).
22. In Matthew 23:23, Jesus stated that tithing was required on account the Mosaic Law was still in effect. Thus, tithing was not abolished at the opening of the New Testament, but rather after the death of Christ in 33 A.D.
23. The story of the widow's offering in Mark 12:41-44 does not represent sacrificial giving, but instead
demonstrates the deceptive practices of the teachers of the law.
24. Likened to Matthew 23:23, the Pharisee in Luke 18:11-12 was required to tithe because the Mosaic Law was still in effect at that period of time. However, this particular Pharisee was self-righteous ... exceeding the requirements of the law. Thus, it was not necessary for him to tithe on all his possessions or fast twice a week.
25. "Exceeding the righteousness of the Pharisees" (Matthew 5:17-20) does not mean that Christians should give at least ten percent of their monetary income to the church. The Pharisees attempted to gain righteousness by observing the Mosaic Law and their own traditions. In today's age of grace, believers are made righteous by their faith in Christ ... which supersedes the Law of Moses and the traditions of men.
26. There are no accounts in Scripture to suggest or demonstrate that Jesus ever paid or collected tithes.
27. The account of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-5) has nothing to do with tithing.
28. Paul never paid tithes or taught tithing.
29. While there is much insight to be gained from reading the Old Testament (Romans 15:4), this does not mean Christians are obligated to perform or adhere to the six-hundred plus old covenant laws ... which included tithing.
30. Those who teach and preach the Gospel ... especially older teachers, have a moral right to receive
compensation (Matthew 10:10, Luke 10:7, 1 Tim. 5:18, 1 Cor. 9:4-14). However, a pastor's salary should be comparable to those who are under his leadership (2 Cor. 8:10-13). Moreover, if necessary, a pastor should be willing to work for a living rather than being a financial burden to those whom he teaches.
31. The "Order of Melchizedek" (Heb. 7:1-19) does not mean that Christians are required to tithe to Jesus. The theme of this lengthy passage is to illustrate that the Priesthoods of Melchizedek and Jesus are superior to the Levitical order.
32. The early church never taught tithing. Many years ago tithing was incorporated into mainstream churches by the Catholic Church.
33. Under the new covenant, believers should give cheerfully, according to their ability, and as discreetly as possible (Matt. 6:2-4, 2 Cor. 8:1-5; 9:7).
Using historical evidence coupled with proper hermeneutical principles of biblical interpretation, it should be obvious that there is no injunction for tithing today. Some people are aware of this truth. Some people will welcome this new insight. Unfortunately, we have elements within the church that know the truth, but will remain selfishly or cowardly silent on this issue. They will continue to engage in cognitive dissonance by ignoring and shutting out anyone who presents a challenge to their tithing doctrine. Skillful intimidation and manipulation will continue to be employed by false teachers for the designed purpose of keeping people in the dark, under their control, and in control of their finances.
Nevertheless, we must remain cognizant of the fact that it is the responsibility of every believer to test all teachings (Acts. 17:11); expose and separate from false teachers (Eph. 5:8-11), and encourage other true believers in sound doctrine (1 Tim. 4:16; 5:20, 2 Tim.4:3 -4, Titus 1:9). If we adopt a posture of complacency and permit church leaders to exalt themselves beyond correction and accountability, then we have subjected ourselves to spiritual tyranny. Let’s not permit anyone to deceive and enslave us to man-made doctrines. God's Word is the final authority pertaining to all issues in life.
If you are a pastor who teaches tithing, then I encourage you to reconsider your present position. If you believe that I am in error, then please feel free to offer a constructive rebuttal with accompanying Scripture in context.
I pray that this publication has been a blessing to you. It is my hope that you now know the truth and understand your freedom in Christ.
Glorify God by giving Him your best ... which is one-hundred percent of your body, your entire life, and everything you do.
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* I am currently writing a book entitled after this article. God willing, I anticipate it will be completed and published later this year (2019). If you enjoyed reading this comprehensive publication and wish to gain additional insights to the issue of tithing, then please feel free to enter your email address in the form below. Upon completion of the book, I will contact you with info on how to purchase.