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  IS TITHING COMPULSORY FOR THE NEW TESTAMENT CHRISTIAN? 

Table of Contents
 

IS TITHING COMPULSORY FOR THE NEW TESTAMENT CHRISTIAN (INTRODUCTION)

LAW OF FIRST MENTION

TITHING IN THE MOSAIC LAW

TITHING IN THE GOSPELS

"TITHING" IN THE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH

 

IS TITHING COMPULSORY FOR THE NEW TESTAMENT CHRISTIAN (INTRODUCTION)

Very often, this question has been asked by well-meaning Christians who are plagued by the torrents of appeal from churches for funds. Thrown into these appeals is the standard request to pay your tithes and offerings. Let me say from the very beginning that there is a distinct difference between giving to God and giving to "the church". Giving to God is a scriptural concept (Matt 22:21); Giving to "the church" could just be an emotional response to a well-orchestrated man-made appeal which is out of God's Will and God's Word. So it is important for us to study God's Word so that we are able to discern whether funds being solicited in a particular church are based on sound New Testament Scriptural principles. Prayer is the other means of helping to discern God's Will in a particular area of financial need (of such a church).

LAW OF FIRST MENTION

 It is important when attempting to derive spiritual principles from the Bible on a particular subject to go back to the time it was first mentioned. When was "the tithe" first mentioned?

 Gen 14:18-20

18 Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High,

19 and he blessed Abram, saying, "Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth.

20 And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand." Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.

(NIV)

Verse 20 says Abraham gave Melchizedek a tenth of everything. What is a tenth of everything?

Here we turn to the Living Bible for more clarification...

 Gen 14:15-16

15 He divided his men and attacked during the night from several directions, and pursued the fleeing army to Hobah, north of Damascus,

16 and recovered everything-- the loot that had been taken, his relative Lot, and all of Lot's possessions, including the women and other captives.

(TLB) Emphasis mine.

 Gen 14:19

19 Then Melchizedek blessed Abram with this blessing: "The blessing of the supreme God, Creator of heaven and earth, be upon you, Abram; and blessed be God, who has delivered your enemies over to you." Then Abram gave Melchizedek a tenth of all the loot.

(TLB) Emphasis mine.

 From the verses above, it is clear that Abraham gave Melchizedek a tenth or ten percent of all the loot that has been recovered (verses 16 and 19 above) not of all that Abraham possessed. See also Hebrews Chapter 7 verse 4.

 This is important because the tithe is based on the increase, not the capital.

The next time we hear of the word "tithe" is in Bethel after Jacob had his famous dream of angels ascending to and descending from heaven.....

 Gen 28:22

22 and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God's house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth."

(NIV)

 Notice that Jacob promised a tenth of what God intends to give him not a tenth of what he already had (not much though at this point in time). So once again we find that tithing is based on increase not capital.

TITHING IN THE MOSAIC LAW

There are three kinds of tithe mentioned in the Mosaic Law, viz,

 TITHE #1: This tithe was entirely devoted to the priestly tribe of Levi who had no land allocated to it and no inheritance among the Israelites. This is sometimes referred to as the Levite's tithe.....

 Lev 27:30

30 "'A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the LORD; it is holy to the LORD.

(NIV)

 Lev 27:32

32 The entire tithe of the herd and flock-- every tenth animal that passes under the shepherd's rod-- will be holy to the LORD.

(NIV)

 Num 18:24

24 Instead, I give to the Levites as their inheritance the tithes that the Israelites present as an offering to the LORD. That is why I said concerning them: 'They will have no inheritance among the Israelites.'"

(NIV)

 The Lord then commanded the Levites to give a tenth of their portion to the priests (see also 2 Chronicles 31:4)........

 Num 18:28

28 In this way you also will present an offering to the LORD from all the tithes you receive from the Israelites. From these tithes you must give the LORD's portion to Aaron the priest.

(NIV)

TITHE # 2: The second tithe may be called the festival tithe.

Deut 12:11-12

11 Then to the place the LORD your God will choose as a dwelling for his Name-- there you are to bring everything I command you: your burnt offerings and sacrifices, your tithes and special gifts, and all the choice possessions you have vowed to the LORD.

12 And there rejoice before the LORD your God, you, your sons and daughters, your menservants and maidservants, and the Levites from your towns, who have no allotment or inheritance of their own.

(NIV)

 It is only to be eaten at a place specified by the Lord in the land of Israel or as in the case of those living far away, in their own towns-Deuteronomy 12:18,21. Burnt offerings and sacrifices and special gifts are also included (verse 11). The celebration of this tithe is seen as an event to foster national unity and instill a sense of "brotherhood" among the people of God. 

TITHE # 3: The third category of tithing in the Mosaic Law may also be known as a "welfare tithe"....

Deut 14:28-29

28 At the end of every three years, bring all the tithes of that year's produce and store it in your towns,

29 so that the Levites (who have no allotment or inheritance of their own) and the aliens, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.

(NIV)

 Take note that this tithe is only implemented once in three years (verse 28) and it is a tenth of the year's increase. It is to be consumed not only by the Levites but also the aliens, fatherless and widows. See also Deuteronomy 26:12.

 Of special note is the fact that tithing evokes a blessing from God and the failure to tithe invokes a curse from God (under the Mosaic Law)....

Deut 14:29

29 so that the Levites (who have no allotment or inheritance of their own) and the aliens, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.

(NIV)

 Mal 3:10-12

10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.

11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit," says the LORD Almighty.

12 "Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land," says the LORD Almighty.

(NIV)

 Malachi Chapter 3 verses 10 to 12 have been used to instill fear by churches on their congregations. Let me remind you that these verses are part of the consequences of not obeying the Mosaic Law and are therefore not valid in New Testament Churches.

Our Lord Jesus has fulfilled all the requirements of the Law and has therefore taken the curse of not fulfilling it from us!

 Matt 5:17

17 "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.

(NIV)

 Gal 3:13

13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree."

(NIV)

TITHING IN THE GOSPELS

In the following two Scriptures, Jesus commanded observance to tithing as part of the Mosaic Law (which he was under)...

 Matt 23:23

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 the former.

(NIV)

 Luke 11:42

42 "Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.

(NIV)

Jesus said that it was not wrong to tithe the spices (which appear to be trifles to some) but that these teachers of the law and pharisees should also practise the other important matters OF THE LAW i.e. justice, mercy and faithfulness and the love of God. In the above context, Jesus implied that the pharisees were fastidious when it comes to tithing and other legal issues but they did not show the love of God in them. This, He defines as hypocrisy. Tithing to them is just an outward show of their self righteousness (see also Luke 18:12). Just as a reflection on this passage........if tithing was compulsory for the New Testament Christian,, would'nt it be a a sin if he forgets to tithe the "spices and herbs" or "flowers" he receives (as a gift)?

"TITHING" IN THE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH

 What is mentioned in the Scriptures with reference to the New Testament church is now relevant to all christians of all denominations. 

 PRINCIPLE NUMBER ONE

Giving is proportionate to the degree that God blesses a person without an obligatory figure being mentioned.

1 Cor 16:1-2

1 Now about the collection for God's people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do.

2 On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.

(NIV)

 John MacArthur is his "Commentary on the Book of Romans 9-16 (Moody Bible Institute) has this to say:

 ".......Christians are not under obligation to give a specified amount to the work of their heavenly Father. In none of their forms do the tithe or other Old Testament levies apply to Christians." page 233.

PRINCIPLE NUMBER TWO

Giving is from the heart.....

In fact giving should be more appropriately termed free will offerings in the context of the New Testament Church for Paul commanded us to give as we purpose in our heart. If the amount is a fixed one, there will be no need to purpose in one's heart anymore!!

 2 Cor 9:7

7 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.

(NKJ)

 I repeat there is no curse for "NOT TITHING" in the New Testament church (as is often implied on sermons from Malachi 3:10-12).We should not go back to Melchizedek (where tithing was an example and may be taken as a guide-line) or the Mosaic law (where tithing was by compulsion.) Our Lord has fulfilled all the requirements of the Mosaic Law and taken the curse of (not obeying) the Law away from us (Galatians 3:13). The New Testament Christian should abide by the teachings of the Apostle Paul (which has superseded Moses' Law.)

Christians who insist on keeping the Law of Moses or part of it are under a curse!

 Gal 3:10

10 All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law."

(NIV)

Churches advocating tithing as compulsory are putting a curse on their congregations!

So in summary, 'Giving' is a New Testament 'Church' Principle as opposed to tithing by Law (by compulsion.) Jesus clearly commanded (take note that it was not an option) that we have to give to God. 

 Matt 22:21

21 "Caesar's," they replied. Then he said to them, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's."

(NIV)

"What is God's" implies a fixed sum. BUT we must remember that Jesus made the above statement in the context of the Mosaic Law which was still existent in His Time. Further on in the epistles, the Apostle Paul qualifies this "giving" as "from the heart" and proportionate to the degree that one is blessed. He specifically spoke against "compulsion" (from sources outside). Manipulating a person to give (whether directly or indirectly) is a form of witchcraft...........

2 Cor 9:7

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.

(NIV) Emphasis mine

 "What he has decided in his heart to give" clearly has to be some amount (not zero). It may be ten percent or more. Well, it may even be less, but give as the Holy Spirit directs your heart; NOT AS THE PASTOR DIRECTS YOU. This is the distinct difference between giving to God and giving to the church. 

About the author.....

Dr Eddy Cheong is a Born-again, Spirit Baptised Christian who reveals God's Word with a deep, new spiritual insight (This is the Lord's gift to His humble vessel). He is author of the Books "Man's Life Span according to God's Word" and "Deceiving the Elect". Dr Cheong is a medical specialist by profession. 

 

Dr Eddy Cheong
PO Box 441
75760 Malacca
West Malaysia
Internet:  eddys@pop.jaring.my
 

Copyright 1997
 

OTHER ARTICLES BY THE SAME AUTHOR:

FROM CREATION TO THE FALL-PART ONE-THE CREATION (GENESIS CHAPTER 1): http://www.agape.com/creation.htm

FROM CREATION TO THE FALL-PART TWO-CREATION EXPANDED (GENESIS CHAPTER 2):
http://www.agape.com/expanded.htm

FROM CREATION TO THE FALL-PART THREE-THE FALL (GENESIS CHAPTER 3): http://www.agape.com/fall.htm

Is polygamy a sin?
http://www.agape.com/polygamy.htm

DECEIVING THE ELECT- a scriptural and critical analysis of the laughter movement: http://www.agape.com/laughter.htm 

MARRIAGE, SEPARATION AND DIVORCE IN THE LIGHT OF THE NEW TESTAMENT SCRIPTURES:
http://ww.agape.com/divorce.htm 

 





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