The Truth About Tithing
So Far we learned that the tithe in the Old Testament was only required under the Law. No record of the tithe is found outside of the Law in the Old Testament. Adam did not tithe and he did not eat from a tithe in the Garden of Eden. There is no record of Jacob actually paying tithes even though he promised God he would if God blessed him. Abram did not pay 10 percent of his personal possessions to Melchizedek. He took the booty from a battle and divided it up among the kings, and Melchizedek received 10 percent of that. Melchizedek was a king and a priest.
Only the Levites could collect and distribute the tithe. The priests did not collect their tithe but they received their portion from the rest of the Tribe of Levi after the ten percent was collected. Only one percent of the tithe was brought to the storehouse for the priests. The children of Israel did not pay tithes while they were in Egypt. They did not pay tithes while they were wandering in the wilderness. Tithing was instituted when they entered the promised land, and the reason for that was the tribe of Levi had no inheritance. The tithe was based on the harvest. Before this everyone ate manna.
It was the job of the Tribe of Levi to run the government. They distributed the tithe and fed the poor with it. They enforced the Torah. The Torah was the moral code, the civil code, the legal code, the health code, and a host of other things. The Tribe of Levi’s job was to run the government affairs. The harvest and the different types of tithes totaled up actually yielded 25 to 30 percent of goods for this government structure to function. When they entered the promised land Israel had leaders known as “judges” that God would use to bring about His will.
The tithes were given for the same reason we are taxed today. That money we pay in taxes goes to fund government services like the police department, the fire department, military … etc.
Ultimately enthroned as king over the government of Israel was God himself! When Israel asked for a king like other nations it was considered a sin because they had rejected God from being their King.
1Sa 8:4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah,
1Sa 8:5 And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.
1Sa 8:6 But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the LORD.
1Sa 8:7 And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them. –KJV
All Things Common
I have heard of those preachers who say that the early church had all things common. No one had any possessions and everything was distributed according to the needs of the church. The conclusion is usually this; it’s better to tithe than to have all things common. Better for whom?
The early church having all things common is a myth. Every member of the early church did not have all things common. Let’s put this in the proper perspective. We will now look at what the Bible really says.
Act 2:42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
Act 2:43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.
Act 2:44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common;
Act 2:45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. –KJV
So after the birth of the church the members sold their possessions. As people were saved and new believers were added, other people sold their property so that no one would lack anything they needed. This was done to benefit the poor!
Act 4:34 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,
Act 4:35 And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.
Act 4:36 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,
Act 4:37 Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet. –KJV
But this is something that was primarily only happening in Jerusalem and the surrounding area outside the city. Simon the tanner still had his house. He lived in Joppa.
Act 10:5 And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter:
Act 10:6 He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do. –KJV
Everyone did not sell their property!
Act 12:11 And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews.
Act 12:12 And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying. –KJV
It was not a requirement for people to sell their homes. People sold their homes out of compassion for the poor and to help support the gospel.
Act 5:3 But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?
Act 5:4 Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. –KJV
It is important to know that Ananias was not killed because he kept back part of the money for himself. He was killed because he and his wife both lied to the Holy Spirit.
Act 5:7 And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in.
Act 5:8 And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much.
Act 5:9 Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out.
Act 5:10 Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband. –KJV
The act of selling properties was something that was very special. It was going on for a number of reasons. It furthered the gospel, it fed the poor, and it prepared the church for what was to come. These people gave 100 percent, not ten percent! This was something that was primarily happening in and around the city of Jerusalem. The Holy Spirit was preparing the church. Let’s see what happened.
Luk 21:5 And as some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts, he said,
Luk 21:6 As for these things which ye behold, the days will come, in the which there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
Luk 21:7 And they asked him, saying, Master, but when shall these things be? and what sign will there be when these things shall come to pass? –KJV
Jesus is about to give an explanation but it is important to note that this discourse is different from the one found in Matthew chapter 24. People tend to get these two confused. They think they are both the same. The reason for this is because Jesus is directly answering the question about the Temple’s destruction while they were outside of the Temple in Jerusalem in Luke 21. In Mathew 24 Jesus is on the Mount of Olives and He is talking about His second coming in more detail. Let’s see what Jesus has to say about this matter.
Luk 21:12 But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name’s sake.
Luk 21:13 And it shall turn to you for a testimony.
Luk 21:14 Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer:
Luk 21:15 For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist.
Luk 21:16 And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death.
Luk 21:17 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake.
Luk 21:18 But there shall not an hair of your head perish.
Luk 21:19 In your patience possess ye your souls. –KJV
This more or less describes some of the events that happened in the book of Acts, but I will not definitely say that those are the only events Jesus is talking about here. Much of this description reflects what happened to the apostles in Acts and the 70 AD destruction of the Temple. Some of this chapter can also be applied to his second return.
Luk 21:20 And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.
Luk 21:21 Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto.
Luk 21:22 For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. –KJV
So basically Jesus is saying in this chapter, “When you see Jerusalem surrounded with armies – flee! Leave the city!”
Vespasian came to Jerusalem in a march that started about 68 AD. He could have attacked Jerusalem from three sides. At the moment he was going to attack the city, a messenger brought remarkable news that came all the way from Italy. Nero had committed suicide and a senator named Galba was the new ruler of the Roman Empire. Vespasian immediately sent his son Titus to Rome to congratulate the new emperor.
Vespasian himself later left to seize the throne and become emperor of Rome. Any Christians remaining in the city of Jerusalem also left and they had no lands or property to tie them to the city. Many Christians had already left before this time because there was so much violence in the city. Then Titus returned and the city was destroyed in 70 A.D.
According to Flavius Josephus the Temple caught fire, and the gold that was in the Temple melted into the cracks of the stones. The Romans pulled the Temple down block by block in order to get the melted gold. They left one wall standing and today that is known as the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem.
The New Covenant Changed Everything
Jesus said the Temple would be utterly destroyed. (Luke 21:6) Under the New Covenant, God does not dwell in temples made with hands.
Act 17:24 God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands –KJV
The true believers under the New Covenant now have become God’s temple.
1Co 3:16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
2Co 6:16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. –KJV
All theologians know that when the Temple ceased, the priesthood officiating at the temple also CEASED! Each individual believer under the New Covenant forms a BRAND NEW priesthood.
1Pe 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: –KJV
The church members form a nation of priests. According to the New Testament every Christian believer is a priest, and his body is the living temple of God! This is why the model of bringing the tithe to the storehouse for the priest is wrong. This model ended in the Old Testament. This is why the curtain in the temple was torn from top to bottom. YOU ARE THE PRIEST!
How in the world under the New Covenant does a Christian believer give a tenth to a priesthood that does not exist!? At a temple that does not exist!? But now he himself is the temple wherein God dwells!?
Heb 7:27 Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself.
Heb 7:28 For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore. –KJV
We no longer need to have priests with spiritual infirmities interceding for us, but rather we have Christ Jesus as our perfect Intercessor and High Priest! He is seated at the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens!
This is why the tithing model is not needed in the New Testament. Any church that teaches tithing is teaching a false doctrine! Ministers justify asking for the tithe because they believe they are priests in a temple, the temple in this case being the church building or their ministry.
What About The Local Church Building
The truth is churches need money for ministry. They have upkeep and maintenance that needs to be financed as well. It costs money to spread the gospel. It costs money to minister to people. I support my church with my time, with my money, and with volunteering and service.
If you go to a church and your family is blessed by that church then you should support it and not neglect its needs. If there is a ministry that blesses you then by all means support it.
2Co 9:7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. –KJV
We have just read the stories about the people in Acts who sold their properties and gave to the poor. Giving is supported in scripture. Sacrificial giving is also supported in scripture. We as Christians are supposed to give to the poor and help them.
If you feel led to give 10 percent 20 percent or even 100 percent, then by all means give it. God loves a cheerful giver and it is more of a blessing to give than it is to receive.
Some people think that since they no longer need to pay tithes that they no longer need to give at all. This is not the case. You should give to support the local church.
The error comes when the scriptures are manipulated and we are told that if we don’t give 10 percent of our income then we are robbing God!
This puts undo stress and condemnation on the congregation. The local church should make their needs known and the local members should strive to meet them. But whatever amount the members give, be it 10 percent or 1 percent, they are not robbing God! They are blessing him! Don’t go into debt as a result of giving to the church.
Rom 8:33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.
Rom 8:34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
Rom 13:8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. –KJV