The topic of tithing in the churches today, is one of the most misused, abused and misunderstood topics in existence. Many churches continue to this day spending a good portion of time preaching about the tithe and collecting it. There are many questions that remain: By what authority do men collect the tithe? Is it lawful for todays ministers and preachers to collect the tithe? What was the purpose of the tithe? What are the churches doing with the tithe? Why do the churches today proclaim that the tithe portion of the law is still in effect, while the rest of the law has passed away? Any logical contradiction causes non-believers to view Christianity as a joke, or a scam religion. It is important to understand the tithe, what it was about, and why it was instituted because it was a part of the law, and as we know the law is the schoolmaster that leads us to Christ. It is also important because as you understand what the tithe was all about, you will view money and earthly possession in a completely different way. To gain knowledge and understanding, we have to examine the scriptures line upon line, and precept upon precept. Please know that this is a lengthy article, but I encourage you to read it through and take all testimony into account. Let’s begin by looking at the history of the tithe.
The Tithe & Abraham
The first record of the tithe comes from Genesis 14. In that time, the Kings of Shinar, Ellasar, Elam, and the Tidal king of nations made war against the Kings of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, and Bela. All of Sodom’s goods were taken, and Lot, Abraham’s brother’s son, was taken prisoner. When Abraham received word of this, he assembled the trained servants of his house (numbering 318 men), and went after them to rescue Lot, and to get the goods, the women and the people of Sodom back. Abraham defeated them with God’s help in the dark- at night, and was able to rescue Lot, and also recover everything of Sodom that had been stolen. Then came the first record of the tithe:
“And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abraham of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all. And the king of Sodom said unto Abram, Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself. And Abram said to the king of Sodom, 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 any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich” ~ Genesis 14:18-23
Keep in mind, that this tithe given by Abram (later known as Abraham), was a tithe of the spoils of war, and at this time there was no law concerning the tithe. Notice that Abraham didn’t take ANY of the spoils of war for himself- rather he gave a tithe of the spoils to Melchizedek, and gave the remainder back to the King of Sodom from whom it was originally taken. Abraham believed in God to care for his needs, and wanted no one to take credit for his riches, except for God. For this reason he returned everything and went his way. The spoils were NOT IMPORTANT TO ABRAHAM, as his faith was in God to provide for his needs. This tenth, was given to Melchizedek, the priest of the most high God, the King of Salem. We don’t know much about Melchizedek, except that he was a King, and a Priest of the most high God- and that Paul explains later that he was a shadow of Jesus who would come, our King and Priest:
“For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood. And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest, Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life. For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.“ ~ Hebrews 7:14-17
The Law of the Tithe Through Moses
The next we hear about the tithe, comes in the time of Moses at Mount Sinai, where God was giving the law.
“And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord’s: it is holy unto the lord. And if a man will at all redeem ought of his tithes, he shall add thereto the fifth part thereof. And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the Lord.” ~ Leviticus 27:30-32
Remember, in Moses’ time, God was dealing with a people that had been in slavery in Egypt for 400 years. They were hard hearted. Egypt was an evil and idolatrous place to live, and many of the ways of the Egyptians had become the ways of the Israelites, including idolatry, coveting riches, etc. God in this time had to again teach His people from scratch who He was, and what it looks like to be holy. He once again had to teach the Israelites how to trust in Him. As you can see, the tithe had to do with seed, agriculture, fruit/anything harvested in the field. This was their life and livelihood. The tithe also included one tenth of the herd or the flock. This was all reserved as “holy unto the Lord.” Your next question is probably- where did the tithe go?:
“But the tithes of the children of Israel, which they offer as an heave offering unto the Lord, I have given to the Levites to inherit: therefore I have said unto them, Among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance. And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Thus speak unto the Levites, and say unto them, When ye take of the children of Israel the tithes which I have given you from them for your inheritance, then ye shall offer up an heave offering of it for the Lord, even a tenth part of the tithe. And this your heave offering shall be reckoned unto you, as though it were the corn of the threshingfloor, and as the fullness of the winepress. Thus ye also shall offer an heave offering unto the Lord of all your tithes, which ye receive of the children of Israel; and ye shall give thereof the Lord’s heave offering to Aaron the priest. Out of all your gifts ye shall offer every heave offering of the Lord, of all the best thereof, even the hallowed part thereof out of it. Therefore thou shalt say unto them, When ye have heaved the best thereof from it, then it shall be counted unto the Levites as the increase of the threshingfloor, and as the increase of the winepress. And ye shall eat it in every place, ye and your households: for it is your reward for your service in the tabernacle of the congregation. And ye shall bear no sin by reason of it, when ye have heaved from it the best of it: neither shall ye pollute the holy things of the children of Israel lest ye die.” ~ Numbers 18:24-32
We can gather several interesting conclusions from this text. First, we see that the tithe was given as the inheritance to the Levites (the priesthood that would care for the tabernacle/temple and had no earthly inheritance). We see that the Levites were not permitted to have any other kind of inheritance, rather they received the tithe. We see that the Levites were to offer 10% of the tithe (the best part, the best pieces of the food) that they received as a heave offering up to Aaron the high priest, so even the receivers of the tithe had to give a “tithe of the tithe.” Finally, we can see that the Levites were to enjoy and eat the tithe (because the tithe was FOOD) in “every place” because it was their reward for service in the temple/tabernacle. They could enjoy the tithe, and there was no sin in enjoying it. The tithe in Moses’ time was the inheritance of the Levitical priests of God. Next we have the account of Deuteronomy 12, which really spells out what the tithe looked like. Here God instructs the Israelites what to do when they come into the promised land:
“These are the statutes and judgments, which ye shall observe to do in the land, which the Lord God of thy fathers giveth thee to possess it, all the days that ye live upon the earth. Ye shall utterly destroy all the places, wherin the nations which ye shall possess served their gods, upon the high mountains, and upon the hills, and under ever green tree: And ye shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and burn their groves with fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images of their gods, and destroy the names of them out of that place. Ye shall not do so unto the Lord your God. But unto the place which the Lord your God shall choose out of all your tribes to put his name there, even unto his habitation shall ye seek, and thither thou shalt come: And thither ye shall bring your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, and your tithes, and heave offerings of your hand, and your vows, and your freewill offerings, and the firstling so of your herds and of your flocks: And there ye shall eat before the Lord your God, and ye shall rejoice in all that ye put your hand unto, ye and your households, wherein the lord thy God hath blessed thee. Ye shall not do after all the things that we do here this day, every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes. For ye are not as yet come to the rest and to the inheritance, which the Lord your God giveth you. But when ye go over the Jordan, and dwell in the land wich the Lord your God giveth you to inherit, and when he giveth you rest from all your enemies round about, so that ye dwell in safety; Then there shall be a place which the Lord your God shall choose to cause his name to dwell there; thither shall ye bring all that I command you; your burnt offerihngs, and your sacrifices, your tithes, and the heave offering of your hand, and all your choice vows which ye vow unto the Lord: And ye shall rejoice before the Lord your God, ye and your sons, and your daughters, and your menservants, and your maidservants, and the Levite that is within your gates; forasmuch as he hath no part nor inheritance with you. Take heed to thyself that thou offer not thy burnt offerings in every place that thou seest: But in the place which the Lord shall choose in one of thy tribes, there thou shalt offer thy burnt offerings, and there thou shalt do all that I command thee. Notwithstanding thou mayest kill and eat flesh in all thy gates, whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, according to the blessing of the Lord thy God which he hath given thee: the unclean and the clean may eat thereof, as of the roebuck and as of the hart. Only ye shall not eat the blood; ye shall pour it upon the earth as water. Thou mayest not eat within thy gates the tithe of thy corn, or of the wine, or of thy oil, or the firstlings of thy herds or of thy flock, nor any of thy vows which thou vowest, nor thy freewill offerings, or heave offering of thine hand: But thou must eat them before the Lord thy God in the place which the Lord thy God shall choose, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite that is within they gates: and thou shalt rejoice before the Lord thy God in all that thou puttest thine hands unto. Take heed to thyself that thou forsake not the Levite as long as thou livest upon the earth. When the Lord thy God shall enlarge thy border, as he hath promised thee, and thou shalt say, I will eat flesh, because thy soul longeth to eat flesh; thou mayest eat flesh, whatsoever thy soul lusteth after. If the place which the Lord thy God hath chosen to put his name there be too far from the, then thou shalt kill of thy herd and of thy flock, which the Lord hath given thee, as I have commanded thee, and thou shalt eat in thy gates whatsoever thy soul lusteth after. Even as the roebuck and the hart is eaten, so thou shalt eat them: the unclean and the clean shall eat of them alike. Only be sure that thou eat not the blood: for the blood is the life; and thou mayest not eat the life with the flesh. Thou shalt not eat it; thou shalt pour it upon the earth as water. Thou shalt not eat it; that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee, when thou shalt do that which is right in the sight of the Lord. Only thy holy things which thow hast, and thy vows, thou shalt take, and go unto the place which the Lord shall choose: And thou shalt offer thy burnt offerings, the flesh and the blood, upon the altar of the Lord thy God: and the blood of thy sacrifices shall be poured out upon the altar of the Lord thy God, and thou shalt eat the flesh. Observe and hear all these words which I command thee, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee forever, when thou doest that which is good and right in the sight of the Lord thy God. When the Lord thy God shall cut off the nations from before thee, whither thou goest to possess them, and thou succeedest them, and dwellest in their land; Take head to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou enquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? Even so will I do likewise. Thou shalt not do so unto the Lord thy God: for every abomination to the Lord, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods. What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.” ~ Deuteronomy 12
“And thou shalt eat before the Lord thy God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and of the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; that thou mayest learn to fear the Lord thy God always.” ~ Deuteronomy 14:23
This chapter contains details on exactly what God instructed the people to do upon entering the promised land- destroy everything erected to other Gods, destroy their altars, everything, and wipe every abomination out of the land. Then he speaks concerning the tabernacle with His name, and the tithe. Again, we can see that the tithe has to do with FOOD! We also can see that God required the people to eat of the tithe not within their own homes/gates, but rather before God at the tabernacle with JOY! The tithe was not “money.” You can see also that the tithe was not used for “spreading the gospel,” or paying ministers, funding programs, making improvements on the temple, putting a new sound system in, etc. The tithe was FOOD, and it was to be eaten before God at the tabernacle with joy! There was also another tithe to be collected at the end of every three years of their increase. This tithe was to be given to a very specific group of people:
“When thou hast made an end of tithing all the tithes of the increase the third year, which is the year of tithing, and hast given it unto the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that they may eat within thy gates and be filled.” ~ Deuteronomy 26:12
Notice that this tithing took place every third year, much different than our “weekly” tithing preached about today. Remember, the Levite had no inheritance, no house to inherit, no belongings to call their own. God did not give the Levites money for homes or belongings- rather he fed them and cared for their NEEDS with the tithe. When a Levite would die, they typically had nothing to pass on to their families. They owned no earthly inheritance. Their lives were lived in service to the tabernacle/temple of God. This food was given to them, and was also given to the stranger, the fatherless (orphan), the widow, those in need etc. This is the purpose of the tithe! Also note- the tithe was TO BE CONSUMED by the Levites/orphan/widow/stranger- before God at His holy tabernacle! The one or the other Levite didn’t have a savings account where they’d put the tithe, sell it, and buy possessions. They used the food and animals that were tithed as their livelihood, and shared everything with those that were in need. Does this sound anything like the tithe collected by the churches today? Additional references to tithing can be found in 2 Chronicles 31, Nehemiah 10, 12, & 13, and Amos 4. God gave warning concerning the tithe in the last book of the Prophets:
“Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.” ~ Malachi 3:8
“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” ~ Malachi 3:10
The people neglected to bring the tithe of food into the temple for the Levite, stranger, widow, orphan etc. He instructs- bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, THAT THERE MAY BE MEAT IN MINE HOUSE. At the tabernacle, God fed those in need, and those in service to him using the tithe. Our God truly is loving and righteous. The Israelites were required to give far more than 10% when you factor everything together. In addition to the tithe, they were to give of the firstborn of their animals, and the firstfruits of their crops. This was risky for them, as they didn’t know that their cow might give birth again, or if their field would produce another crop again. They had to have faith in God’s blessing. They were also instructed to leave a portion of their fields unharvested so that the poor could eat those portions for food. They were also asked to give free-will offerings in addition to all of this. These were willingly given sacrifices in thanks to God. The Levites were also required to give the tithe of the tithe. Everyone in Israel had to learn to be a giver, and to have faith in God’s blessings and provisions. This was a training for us- as the law is the schoolmaster that leads us to Christ.
The Tithe & Jesus
Then comes Jesus on the scene. We find that the Pharisees of Jesus’ time were faithful in tithing, but neglected what Jesus referred to as the “weightier matters of the law”:
“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.” ~ Matthew 23:23
“But woe unto you Pharisees! For ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” ~ Luke 11:42
You can see that the tithe was important, but was not the most important matter to be considered. Judgment, mercy, faith, love of God, these are the weightier matters of the law. Having said that, Jesus indicates they should not have left the tithe undone either- it was still important, and remember the purpose of the tithe- to feed the Levites (priests caring for the temple), the orphan, the widow, the stranger. Again, tithing was in food, herbs, agriculture, animals, etc. These people gave 1/10 of all they possessed:
“I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.” ~ Luke 18:12
Jesus instructed his disciples in a very unique and radical way. When it came to possessions, he instructed those that followed him not to make provision for anything (a mirror of what was the norm for a Levitical priest who had no earthly inheritance):
“Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.“ ~ Matthew 6:31-34
“And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give. Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat. And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, enquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence.“ ~ Matthew 10:7-11
Just as the Levitical priests under the Old Covenant were the workers in the tabernacle of God and were to have no possessions or earthly inheritance, so Jesus addresses his disciples to do the same. Regardless of this law for the Levites, it is clear that some of them purchased land in disobedience to the law. Jesus indicates that a workman is worthy of his meat, just as the Levites were worthy of eating the tithe. All throughout His ministry, he admonished casting away all earthly things that we have, and following Him.
“And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.“ ~ Matthew 19:17-24
Jesus echoed over and over again in His ministry, that we must separate from earthly things to have part in Him. We know that Jesus became our High Priest of the New Covenant, replacing the Levitical priesthood of the Old Covenant. His priesthood would be the new receiver of all things. That being said, how do we give to the priesthood of Jesus?:
“For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.” ~ Matthew 25:35-46
Jesus brought about a new way of thinking for the New Covenant. Under the Old Covenant, everyone would bring tithes, offerings, etc to the Levites, and the Levites would distribute the tithe among themselves and the poor, the hungry, the widow, the orphan, etc. Under the New Covenant, we become righteous as the Holy Spirit lives in us, and WE personally are called to distribute to the poor, the stranger, the widow, the orphan, the naked, the servant of God, etc. WE BECOME THE TABERNACLE, it lives in us. This is the way that leads to life eternal!
The First Church & The Tithe
Next came the death of Christ on the cross for the sins of the world, and the Holy Spirit baptism of the first church. This is a significant event, in that the temple went from being a man-made earthly building, to dwelling in every believer that carries the Holy Spirit. The very spirit of God came down to dwell within man, creating a new creation. We can see the result of this in the first church.
“And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” ~ Acts 2:44-47
“Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need. And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.” ~ Acts 4:34-37
Not only did they give up everything, but they never had a need among the people. All needs were fulfilled. Why were these people giving up everything they owned? Why weren’t they just giving the tithe required by the law? By today’s standard these people sound crazy. Who would do that? The answer can be found in “identity.” Their identity had changed as they received the Holy Spirit. They went from sinners and outcasts, to a new creation, saints, kings and priests, temples of the Holy Spirit. Christ now lived in them. The Spirit of God lived in them. The temple of God now lived in them. Remember the Levites, how they were to have no earthly inheritance. These were the priests of the Old Covenant. Every reborn believer in Christ is a “Priest” of the New Covenant- Jesus/Yeshua being the High Priest. As a priest, we don’t count on earthly possessions or an inheritance here, just as Abraham didn’t count on the spoils of war but rather returned them to their original owner. We count on God! Our inheritance is eternal! It is spiritual. Remember Paul when he said “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God”:
“So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.” ~ 1 Corinthians 15:42-50
Flesh and blood, and everything in this world is appointed to melt away. Eternal life is found in the new Spiritual Body:
“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?” ~ 2 Peter 3:10-12
Under the New Covenant, the focus is not on the “earthly,” rather it is placed on the spiritual heavenly things. The tithe was a carnal commandment that would lead us to life in Christ, where we freely give of all that we have to those in need, and Christ provides for our daily needs just as the tithe provided for the Levitical priest of the Old Covenant. We find this concept reflected in the “Lord’s Prayer.” Jesus is the High Priest of the New Covenant, and we have been given EVERYTHING through Him. He is rich, and was only made poor for our sakes. Just as the Levitical priest of the Old Covenant had to have faith that the tithe would come in, we must have faith that God will provide for us every day. Just as the Israelites had to have faith that after they gave of the firstfruits of their food and cattle, that their fields and cattle would continue producing- we must have faith that when we give freely of everything that we have, the Father will fill up our cup again! Tithing was a teaching, that all things already belong to the Father, and everything we have is His already. He manages the flow of goods, food, cattle, lands, etc- and he gives them to whomever he wishes. It teaches us to be joyful givers. The tithe teaches us that God provides for the poor, the widow, the orphan, the stranger, and His servants.
Paul explains to us the change in the priesthood from the Levites, to Jesus who was after the order of “Melchisedec”, the high priest whom Abraham paid tithes of his spoils to. The difference between the Levitical priesthood and Christ, is that Christ is resurrected and lives forever to intercede for us in the tabernacle/temple in heaven. We also find that on this point of the law, there was a change in the law because there was a change in the priesthood (speaking concerning the tithe):
“For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.” ~ Hebrews 7:12
You can read about this in detail in Hebrews Chapter 7, and we encourage you to read this yourself. No where in the New Testament did Jesus or any of His disciples collect a tithe. There is no New Covenant example of tithe collection. Paul instead speaks about giving according to your heart:
“For as touching the ministering to the saints……..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.And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever. Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;) Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God. For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God; Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men; And by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you. Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.” ~ 2 Corinthians 9:1,6-15
What we know:
- Abraham gave of the tithe of spoils of war, and returned the rest of the spoils to their rightful owner
- Abraham didn’t want any man to claim that they made him rich, he only wanted God to receive credit
- Abraham trusted in God to provide for his needs, nothing else
- The Tithe was a command under the law to be given to the Levites
- Every 3 years the tithe was to be given to the Levite, widow, orphan, and stranger
- The Levites took care of the tabernacle of God and handled the sacrifices
- The Levites were not permitted to have any earthly inheritance
- Jesus is the new High Priest, after the order of Melchisedec, from the tribe of Judah (rather than Levi)
- The tribe of Levi is no longer recognizable
- There is no longer an earthly temple of God to maintain- the temple is in Heaven and in us
- There is no longer sacrifices required to be tended to by Levites- all sacrifice is fulfilled in Christ
- The temple of God is now within every reborn believer in Christ
- Jesus never collected a single tithe in his ministry (as Jesus was not a Levite, and it wasn’t lawful)
- After Jesus death, there isn’t a single record of the Apostles collecting a tithe
- The first Christians sold all of their possessions and laid everything at the Apostles feet
- There is no record of the first church collecting a tithe
- All goods, money, food, etc was distributed to the believers and the poor as they had need
- The first Christians gave up their earthly inheritance, for a spiritual eternal one
- As reborn believers, we are a new creation, saints, kings, priests of the Kingdom of God
- Paul taught to give according to your heart, and to give cheerfully as God loves this
- Paul taught that if we sow abundantly, we will reap abundantly and if we sow sparingly, we reap sparingly
- There remains on the earth today no authorized collector of the “Tithe” (No Levitical priesthood)
- Jesus being the High Priest is the only authorized collector of anything under the law
- Jesus explained that whatever we do to the “least” (poor, widow, orphan, stranger, naked, etc.) we have done unto Him
Tithing has been one of the most mishandled topics in modern day Christianity. Churches constantly teach the brethren to pay the church their tithe as declared by the law, while insisting that the rest of the law isn’t binding. This is opposite of the testimony of the bible that indicates that the point of the law that was actually disannulled was the tithe, because there was a change in priesthood (Hebrews 7) while the remainder of the law (minus the sacrificial laws) remains until heaven and earth pass away (Matthew 5). These churches proclaim the tithe, but don’t even adhere to the biblical law of the tithe- who collects it, who gets it, when is it collected, etc. Many churches collect the tithe and use this money for a number of business functions, paychecks, new buildings, new sound systems, travel, bigger properties, programs, etc. When approached by a widow, stranger, the poor or in need, an orphan, the hungry, many times it takes a mass movement for these organizations to provide assistance for them. Also given the eagerness to declare the law of the tithe, where is the heave offering (the tithe of the tithe) that the Levitical priests would give, and where does that 10% go?
The tithe was only authorized by law to be collected by the Levites. The lack of evidence in scripture of a New Covenant tithe, reveals the change in this law along with the change in our High Priest (Heb 7). We find the Apostles taking up collections for the poor brethren in different areas, but NEVER do we see them collect a tithe. The first church gave us an example, where as priests of the New Covenant, they gave up their earthly inheritance by selling all that they had and laying it at the Apostles feet, and the Apostles saw that everything was distributed as the brethren had need. No one was greater than the other, richer than the other, better than the other, etc. The first Christians weren’t infatuated with figuring out how much money they could put away, how many vacations they wanted to take, how nice and big their homes were, etc. They gave it up, all of it. They denied everything that the world holds dear and chose to rely on God for their daily provision, similar to Abraham. According to Jesus, this leads to “perfection.” The perception of tithing today, is that 10% is God’s, and 90% is mine. Some even view tithing as a way of paying their dues, and feeling they are right with God, no longer having to even acknowledge the needs of others. The message of Christ, is that everything is already God’s- use it (by giving to the poor, sick, orphan, widow, and servant of God as they have NEED) and He will care for your daily needs too. He will equip you to fulfill every good work. Everything in this world is getting ready to melt away with fervent heat, so all men should examine “where is my treasure?” To walk in this requires FAITH.
Today’s teachings in the USA about money both in the churches and outside of the churches, even on Christian radio and broadcasting directly contradicts the teachings of the Bible. Today’s “Christian” teachings are rooted in love for money. Many are instructed to save for retirement, put money away, acquire houses, lands, toys, cars, boats, the best food, wine, security etc. Many sit on a pile of earthly wealth, and pass by the homeless, the widow, and the orphan without a second look. Some throw pennies at them, while they live in luxury. Many tax free churches sit on a pile of wealth as well, and are slow to help those in need. Some of the richest organizations in the world, are tax-free Christian churches. I’ve personally witnessed on multiple occasions the scattering of “Christians” when a bum walks into the church, as no one wants to be bothered by him. This isn’t the case in all churches, as some churches do embrace helping others, feeding the poor, caring for the widow, housing the orphan and the homeless and stranger. Christians tithe to their churches, and pass by those in need thinking they’ve already fulfilled their duty, so that hungry person is someone else’s problem. Does this behavior sound like it is inspired by the Spirit of God? I tell you NO! The temple of God is in every reborn believer along with His Holy Spirit. Remember, the tithe was to be eaten and enjoyed in the presence of God at the tabernacle…….well you are now the tabernacle/temple. You should be on the verge of becoming a walking tabernacle equipped with food and relief for all who you come into contact with that are in need, for the poor, the widow, the orphan, the stranger. Those in need should be able to eat of the provisions of God in your presence, as the temple of God is within you!
Paul instructs us as New Covenant believers to give according to our hearts, and that God loves a cheerful giver. He also tells us that if we give bountifully, we will reap bountifully, and if we give sparingly, we will reap sparingly. This doesn’t necessarily mean you will reap money- it can also mean we will reap new believers for the Kingdom of God. We sow to those that are in need, and bring them the gospel. We reap believers based on what we are willing to sow. Churches today that collect the tithe and preach the tithe, are collecting something that doesn’t belong to them. Unless your minister is a Levite, cares for the temple of God (which no longer exists on earth), is homeless, a stranger, a widow or an orphan in need, he is not authorized to collect the tithe. Next is the question- how can a servant of God survive financially if he can’t partake of the tithe? As Christ would say “Oh ye of little faith.” He provides for His workers and makes provisions for them, but never in the New Testament did he do it through the tithe. He sent them out with nothing but the clothes on their backs and told them to inquire who was righteous in every town, and to stay with them. He explained a workman is worthy of his meat. God provides for his servants at every step of the way, but according to scripture we see that it may not be a “preferred” method by today’s standards where men want what is known as “financial security.” In Paul’s case, he held a job as a tent maker while spreading the gospel. He said he learned to be content with whatever God provided, much or little:
“Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.“ ~ Philippians 4:11-13
Does this sound like a man collecting the tithe? I think you’ll agree that it doesn’t. Today if you are a reborn believer in Christ, it is time to walk in faith that God will care for your needs, spread the gospel, give what you have to those in need, the widow, the orphan, the stranger, etc. and bring the news of the Kingdom! Educate your pastors about the tithe for their own salvation, and give to Christ by obeying His commandment! If you are a servant, when God provides for your needs, eat! Take part joyfully!
“Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. For the scripture saith, thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.“ ~ 1 Timothy 5:17-18
If you are served by a man of God and he is in need- provide for his need. It is that simple. He is worthy of his reward and we are called to do this. Give according to your heart, and give cheerfully! If you still desire to “tithe,” give to those that are truly in need, rather than to a religious organization that is more like a business than anything else. Imagine how quickly the Kingdom of God would spread, if every Christian took what they’ve been tithing, and brought the gospel to the world while feeding the poor, the stranger, the widow and the orphan. We hope that this article has helped you to better understand the tithe and how its collection is not authorized today. There is a large amount of scripture on this topic that we encourage you to dive into as well. Please educate those around you and edify them with the Word of God today!