2.27.2010

Should Christians Tithe? Part Two

tithes Did Jesus Tithe?

The New Testament doesn’t explicitly say so. But many things lead us to believe that He did. He was born and reared in a pious Jewish home and the pious (orthodox) Jew did tithe. His Bible was our Old Testament and the Old Testament is very clear concerning tithes.

Jesus said in Matthew 5:17, “I came not to destroy the law or the prophets.” Both the law and the prophets are clear on tithing. Jesus received criticism because he did not observe their traditional laws concerning the Sabbath, their elaborate methods of washing of hands, and vessels, etc.

As a carpenter, Jesus would have paid tithes of His material supply as well as His monetary compensation. Jesus even sat with the Pharisees at their feasts, but no pious Pharisee would sit with Him if He had not. The Pharisees were forbidden to extend hospitality to, or receive hospitality from those who were not faithful in their tithing. They KNEW he tithed. As we pointed out earlier in Matthew 23:23, Jesus approved of tithing.

Answering Some Objections:

In reality tithing is PRE-LAW. It is a universal principle that was practiced by Egyptians, Mesopotamians, O.T. believers, etc. The Mosaic Law only re-instated and expressed the how, why, when, and where. It does not hinge or depend upon the Mosaic Law; therefore we cannot find scripture where tithing is done away with seeing that it is not under the Law. The percentage used by Abraham and Jacob is harmonious and not coincidental. In textual criticism harmonization is a major factor in solidifying a texts authenticity. I believe it is NOT coincidence that these two men as well as other major historical religious societies participated in the tenth. Accordingly, this universal religious principle is only affirmed—never denied in scripture.

Having land, sold it , and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles' feet.” (Acts 4:37 KJV)

Those who reject the tithing principle should of course ONLY follow the above (Acts 4:37) if they choose to give in a supposed New Testament sense. If we were to abide by that tradition, we would have to sell all that we had and bring it into the church, to the apostles' feet. A.W. Pink has noted in his book on Tithing:

“Tithing is even more obligatory on the saints of the New Testament than it was upon God’s people in Old Testament days—not equally binding, but more binding, and that for two reasons: first, on the principle of “unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required” (Luke 12:48). The obligations of God’s saints today are much greater than the obligations of the saints in Old Testament times, because our privileges and our blessings are greater. As grace is more potent than law, as love is more constraining than fear, as the Holy Spirit is more powerful than the flesh, so our obligations to tithe are greater, for we have a deeper incentive to do that which is pleasing to God.”

The church is a hospital and place for safety. The church should be the first to give and support the widow and fatherless etc. For example, an elderly widow woman experienced her roof being torn off by a storm, consequently the church she attended gave her the portion needed to meet her deductible for Insurance. This is a great example of Christian charity.

We do not assert "lording over God's inheritance" or hoarding the tithing. However, I have seen many, many, churches who follow non-tithing teachings and they struggle spiritually very much. Their teachings and services are weak and anemic spiritually. The "elder" or "teacher" gets home from working around 6 p.m. takes a shower and steps in the pulpit at 7 p.m. to deliver a half-hearted, non-prepared, rambling, dissertation on chicken and eggs.

The problem with those who teach non-tithing, because it is used in the O.T. is that it does not hinge upon a Law, Covenants, or even dispensations. Should we feel that God would destroy the earth by flood? Do you feel that the command to NOT kill is still a biblical precept? Tithing was not founded in the context of the Law; therefore, the one who denies the tithe bears the burden of proof of finding where in the Holy texts it is found being done away with.

In addition, in the Apocryphal writings of Wisdom of the Son of Sirach 35:9-11, we see a very close parallel to something Paul said almost verbatim years later in 2 Corinthians 9:7:

"In all thy gifts show a cheerful countenance, and dedicate thy tithes with gladness. Give unto the Most High according as he hath enriched thee: and as thou hast gotten give with a cheerful eye. For the Lord recompenseth, and will give thee seven times as much" Wisdom of the Son of Sirach 35:9-11.

Notice what Paul said, “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, [so let him give]; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7 KJV)

In Acts 20 we witness the departure of Paul. Paul is giving his final dissertation to the Elders of Ephesus and is encouraging them to be wholly committed to the Gospel. Paul's usage of "more blessed to give than to receive" was not solely recited of Christ to represent financial giving. It is possible that it is primary, yet not solely as many imply.

Giving is not only represented by monetary donations. It can be done through ones tireless efforts of self, strength, wisdom, or abilities. Many assume the entire context is a financial seminar.

Tithing: An Ancient Tradition

It is my position that since tithing was not post-law, but pre-law meaning "the baby doesn't go out with the dishwater." Tithing was a heavy principle inlaid in religious culture well before the Mosaic Law. This financial custom did not originate within the Law and neither was it peculiar to the Hebrews or even the Bible. Tithing was very common throughout the ancient Near East, especially Mesopotamia where Neo-Babylonian texts from the 6th century B.C. discuss the collection of tithes as a means of supporting a sanctuary (See Harpers Bible Dictionary) 14 Century B.C. Tablets from Ugarit portray the tithe as a royal-tax the king collected and distributed to his officials. The Seleucid king’s of Syria likewise viewed the tithe as a source for royal income (1 Macc. 10:31, 11:35). However, the Jews at that time viewed tithes as a sacral tax (1 Macc. 3:49).

The passion of some who tithed in the Bible was noticed by Jesus, who criticized such people for neglecting more important religious and ethical demands (Matthew 23:23); however, note that He did not condemn such tithing practices. Which would seem natural to Jesus who withstood the Pharisees on many occasions—why not here?

In my view and the view of many denominations and Christians groups, tithing does not hinge upon the Law or Covenant and therefore knows no extinction. In light of Paul's discourse upon giving and other texts we have mentioned, I feel that he would encourage the N.T. Church to give without compulsion in their offerings, but expected as did others—a tithe.

Some may ask, "where, pre-law, are we commanded to tithe?" Does any or all need to have an explicit command or can it be implicit? I feel that by recognizing the actions of Abraham, Jacob, and the fact that God would require us to support the ministry it is a principle we should receive and adhere. Abraham and Jacob (pre-law) both felt an obligation to give God a tenth, (Grk. Deka), in awe respect of God. We should do the same to support God's gifts to the church.

Paying tithes should not be a dreaded task, but one of worship. “God loveth a cheerful giver” (II Corinthians 9:7). Abraham, Jacob, and the Israelites paid tithes and gave offerings as an act of worship (Deuteronomy 26:1-11).

Deuteronomy 26:1-11 is one of the most beautiful portions of Scripture on bringing our tithes to the house of God. Since tithing is an act of worship, it necessarily involves spiritual people. Spiritual people tithe regularly, just as they sing, pray, and testify. When you give let it be from the heart and let it be with a cheerful heart.

5 comments:

Russell Earl Kelly said...

As a carpenter Jesus did not qualify as a tithe-payer.

True HOLY biblical tithes were always only food from inside God's HOLY land of Israel which HE had miraculously increased. Although money was very common even in Genesis and essential for sanctuary worship, money was never a tithe-able item for over 1500 years from Leviticus to Luke. The definition never changed. Therefore nobody can give a biblical HOLY tithe today. www.tithing-russkelly.com

tithe said...

- Since Israel's tithe was only required off of agriculture or animals, only some Israelites tithed off their increase, while others such as doctors, lawyers, bankers, and carpenters did not tithe from their occupational increase. (Leviticus 27)

- There were times when giving from increase was not a tenth (Num. 31:9, 27-29), and sometimes it was a tenth (Genesis 14:20, Hebrews 7:4)

- At one point tithing was voluntary (Genesis 28:22), and then at another it is mandatory (Leviticus 27).

In the 3 examples i gave above- who gave the tithe, what they gave, how much they gave, and whether it's required, are all different in each scenario.

So, if there is not a single, consistent pattern from all the examples, how exactly can we claim that those examples should be a pattern for us?

- jared

Anonymous said...

Bro. Seagraves, I noticed Hebrews 7:5 and 7:18-19 as a text that clearly teaches that tithing is of the law and has been disannulled in the new covenant. Notice the exegesis of the chapter is on this subject. This can also be verified by the text in Malachi 3:7. All ordinances and laws are not destroyed but fulfilled or finished according to Ephesians 2:15. I have been an active Bible study teacher in our fellowship for 32 years and I believe we are teaching the truth. However, I will not teach the doctrine of tithing with these unanswered scripture questions in my mind. We just may be preaching the LAW OF MOSES. Please respond with your explaination of my blog. God bless.

Anonymous said...

Bro. Segraves does not post here.

This post is written by James Anderson.

I've read the post and agree. The conclusions I've seen posted here in the comment section, so far, do not necessarily follow.

Tithing is a principle that precedes and does not originate in Law of Moses. It was only expanded upon and reiterated in the Law.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I agree with Bro. Russel Kelly, tithing like sabbath has been fulfilled by our Lord Jesus.N.T church shoul give willingly not compulsory.Thanks GBU.

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