Tithing keeps people in bondage. Many so-called pastors will teach that New Testament believers are required to pay at least 10 percent of their income to the Lord or they will suffer a curse from God; they’re told they’re robbing God, as if we are the Old Testament nation of Israel under the Mosaic Law. This errant teaching is either incredibly overt, with some “pastors” demanding they be paid, or covert, with others “gently” using scripture out of context to guilt “parishioners” into paying their salaries. The teaching leads to many dumb questions, too, like, “Well, do I tithe on my paycheck before or after taxes?” as if we were even supposed to pay ten percent of anything at all! What we will do is look at some verses in the Old and New Testaments and carefully study this topic out.
Gen 14:20 – In this verse, Abram tithes (gives 10 percent) “of all,” referring to the spoils of war. First, this is not his income. Second, the tithe was voluntary, not by force or command. Third, in context, the King of Sodom says, “Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself.” Abram said, “I have lift up mine hand unto the LORD, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth, That I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take anything that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich: Save only that which the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men which went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their portion” (Gen 14:22-24). Abram actually didn’t keep very much of the spoils. He only asked that the men who hazarded their lives on behalf of the battle be rewarded (and we’re not sure exactly how much), but the rest was returned to the King of Sodom. Pray, tell me, which of you tithers would give 10 percent to the LORD on Sunday and then return the rest of your paycheck to your employer?
Lev 27:31 – This verse is rather incriminating. “And if a man will at all redeem ought of his tithes, he shall add thereto the fifth part thereof.” In other words, if a person pays their 10 percent, but then redeems it later, they are penalized another fifth! Today, when tax season rolls around we are told our “tithe is tax deductible” because, after all, the church is a “501c3 non-for profit” (even though by virtue of being called a “church” it already is). The point is that the tax refund (or whatever it’s called) people claim should actually be taxed a “fifth part.” Why? Because God doesn’t like “Indian givers.” Does any person today practice this? Does any person dare follow the law to such an extreme? How can we cherry pick? I think it’s because the “man of god” in the pulpit is a lying, thieving hireling who uses a handful of verses to cheat people.
Num 18:24 – The Levites had no inheritance in terms of land, but the LORD provided for them by means of the “tithes of the children of Israel, which they offer as an heave offering unto the LORD.” Really, if we’re going to tithe today, can’t we be honest and say that IF “all believers are priests” then ALL believers in churches should be getting a slice of the pie? Does this happen? I’ll let you ponder this.
Lev 27:30,32 – The tithe is defined here as “the seed of the land,” “fruit of the tree.” In verse 32, we read, “And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the LORD.” In other words, let’s say there’s a shepherd, and he’s counting his sheep. The Bible says the tenth one which passes under his rod shall be counted holy. He wasn’t allowed to examine its condition (v. 33), and if he did, and “exchanged” it, then BOTH were to be holy unto the Lord, and he wasn’t allowed to redeem the other. If he tried, he would be charged another fifth! Try doing this in the offering plate as those “ushers” panhandle for the overlord of the flock.
Deut 14:22, 28 – First, tithe is of “seed,” “fruit,” and “herds,” etc. Verse 22 continues to bear this out. The other interesting thing we find in Scripture is in verse 28, where the LORD commands, “At the end of three years thou shalt bring forth all the tithe of thine increase the same year, and shalt lay it up within thy gates.” This is a tithe that took place every three years, and yet we have no such practice in New Testament churches.
The pattern I’m seeing is that many, many people are inconsistent with the commands to tithe, and it’s because they just don’t care. For some reason, they love being ignorant.
Now I want to look at New Testament examples of tithing and see just what the teaching is for us today.
Matt 23:23 – “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” Defenders of the tithe cite the fact that Jesus said “and not leave the other undone.” That’s correct. In Deut 26:12-15 we read about how the tithes were supposed to be given unto the Levites, widows, fatherless, and strangers. Jesus was addressing the fact that the Pharisees heart was only about tithing, even on the smallest of herbs, as an outward, self-righteous act. But the weightier matters were actually part of the tithe system which we might call the “spirit of the law.” My question is who does this today? In many churches, it has remained an outward tradition, a “duty” that has kept families in bondage.
Heb 7:1,2 – We learn in this chapter what we read in Genesis 14, but we are given a New Testament perspective on it. The key verse, or verses, in this chapter is really 12 (“For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law”), and 18 (“For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof”). The tithes, the sacrifices—all the demands of the law, particularly the ceremonial law—were fulfilled and perfected in Christ Jesus, who died on the cross, was buried, and rose again (Heb 7:19-28). What’s the point? The point is why are you paying tithes if you’re not offering up animal sacrifices?
1 Cor 16:1-4 – This is the verse that is often cited to support tithing every Sunday. But we have context, and believe it or not, the context of this verse spans many New Testament passages.
1—“Now concerning the collection for the saints…” First, notice, the collection is FOR THE SAINTS, not the for the pulpiteere. The saints. Next, notice “as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye.” The order was to other churches.
2—“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.” I wonder where the command to give a tithe (10 percent) is. He said, “as God hath prospered him.” The amount is subjective, and it is specific to each individual or families case. Paul is saying it would be easier for them to collect the money ahead of his arrival. But what is the purpose?
3—“And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem.” The purpose is to send their “liberality” (giving/gift) unto Jerusalem. And he’s saying that if they approve anyone, they can accompany Paul on the journey. But WHY the collection? WHY the return journey?
The problem is many people view the New Testament as a collection of single verses, and use them how they would Proverbs. They just grab and go. But there is context.
Acts 11:27-30 – “And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch. And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar. Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea. Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.”
Here is the WHOLE context of the matter of giving (not tithing) in the New Testament. It was to send relief to brethren back in Judaea at the hands of Barnabus and Saul. Not only were they charged with planting churches, and teaching those new believers, but also taking up collection and returning it to Jerusalem. This is NOT “New Testament tithing,” and if you insist it is, then you lack discernment.
Rom 15:26, 27 – “For it hath please them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem.” Verse 27 is interesting because there is a cross reference that is all too familiar to “tithers.” It reads, “It hath please them verily; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things.”
2 Cor 8:1-4 – “Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.” Again, we see an overwhelming LACK of reference to a 10 percent minimum in these passages, but these are all surrounding the circumstance given in Acts 11:27-30. In context, in the over-arching context of giving as it relates from one church to another, we see the purpose, and it isn’t a “tithe.”
2 Cor 9:4-7 – “Lest haply if they of Macedonia come with me, and find you unprepared, we (that we say not, ye) should be ashamed in this same confident boasting. Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren, that they would go before unto you, and make up beforehand your bounty, whereof ye had notice before, that the same might be ready, as a matter of bounty, and not of covetousness.” Paul is hoping that he will not find them “unprepared” to give. Remember 1 Cor 16:1-4? Paul has already written them to collect on the first day so when he came he wouldn’t have to. Paul is reestablishing that charge, referring to Macedonia’s liberality as encouragement and an example (because they were very poor), hoping that the very wealthy Corinthians wouldn’t be stingy.
Now, in verses 6 and 7 we look at the two-most often-wrested verses of scripture to teach tithing. They read, “But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” There are so many lessons to pull from these two verses alone!
- In context, it has nothing to do with tithing but rather lending unto poor SAINTS (again, not a money-grubbing pastor)
- “according as he purposeth” doesn’t sound like a command to give at least 10 percent. It sounds like they’re to give as they’re able to afford.
- “not grudgingly, or of necessity” means that it isn’t necessary. Shameless hirelings cite Malachi 3:8-10 to teach that if a person or family doesn’t pay their tithe, they’re robbing God and will be cursed—that nullifies the liberty we have in Paul’s Epistle!!! It enforces the tithe; it necessitates giving; it BURDENS believers.
1 Cor 9:11 – “If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?” Here, we have a reference to Romans 15:7, and the same is true. But this doesn’t prove tithing every Sunday as a New Testament church! Paul’s purpose for writing the chapter is to vindicate himself and the Apostleship because he was accused of abusing the office. He says, “Have we not power to eat and to drink? Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?” and adds in verse 12 “If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ.” While it is true that the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel (v. 14), Paul has shown everyone a better way: work and labor to sustain yourself and be an example. Paul did that as to not hinder the gospel. Perhaps liberty should be given here to allow the reader to consider for him or herself what Paul meant, but suffice it to say that this doesn’t teach paying tithes for the purpose of paying a pastor. If a church decides to pay the elder (or elders), then they have that liberty. But, STOP CALLING IT A TITHE!
I think it’s pretty plain that in the New Testament, there is no more tithing. If churches collect any money, it should be for the relief of her members or the aide of other Scriptural churches. Yes, a body can decide to pay an elder for his labor. But the lesson in all of this study is that it is never referred to as a “tithe.” There was no collection called a “tithe” in the churches we read about. It was for a specific purpose. The Old Testament command to tithe was for the Levites, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow.
If you insist on paying a tenth every Sunday, then promise me that you’ll be consistent and perform the animal sacrifices.