Is tithing still for Christians.

We need to establish some ground rules before discussing this.

1. The Old Testament is written to Jews and is the Jewish scripture. It may still apply to Christians, but we have to ask whether the teaching of Jesus or Paul changed and whether the cross changed it.

2. If the bible teaches something, we have to take it precisely as taught. We cannot modify it to suit our tradition without scripture clearly changing it.

For example consider the Sabbath. That is defined as Friday evening to Saturday evening. If one wishes to observe the Sabbath, that is when it must be done. So when christians observe ‘their Sabbath’ on a Sunday, that cannot be legitimate without a scripture changing the day of Sabbath – and there is none.

So, if we are to teach tithing, it either needs to be that which was given to the Jews and done exactly as the Jews did it, or we need New Testament scripture to support a change.

What is the Old Testament rules on tithing?

1. 10% of your growth is given to support the Levites who have no inheritance, no property and no other source of income. The full time priests.

2. A second 10% is put aside throughout the year for a feast. Dt 14:22-28. This money is to be used to purchase whatever your heart ‘lusteth for’ KJV – including wire or strong drink. So God endorses and approves the drinking of strong alcohol in a religious feast to celebrate himself. Bit of a problem for the teetotal ‘christian’.

3. The tithe belongs to the Lord, all the balance belongs to the one who tithes.

So how do these stack up against New Testament teaching?

1. There is no mandate anywhere to give this tithe to anyone but the Jewish Levites. Nowhere does the NT say that this is to be transferred to a local church. Actually, in the NC we are all priests, so if anything, we could be the recipients of our own tithes.

BUT there is no basis to tithe to the Synagogue (church). Synagogue was always funded out of offerings.

Thus tithing to your local church has no NT mandate and is not obeying the Old Covenant.

2. For some reason this tithe is never taught by the church!

3. In the New Covenant we are bought with a price 1 Cor 6:20. None of who we are or what we have is ours any more. 100% already belongs to God. We have died with Christ in baptism Rom 6:4 and dead people don’t own anything. How can we give to God that which is already his, unless we take back ownership of the balance, thus denying the New Covenant.

Acts 2:44-46 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.

This early believers attitude to their possessions goes far beyond mere tithing.

So there is no basis for christians to adopt and modify the Jewish practice of tithing, unless we can find some teaching in the NT.

In Acts 15 Paul has taken his gospel of grace to the leaders of the church. His message is that gentiles are required to have faith in Jesus, not to obey the law of Moses or and Jewish laws. They Council of Jerusalem makes the following declaration.

Acts 15:23-29
the following letter: “The brothers, both the apostles and the elders, to the brothers who are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia, greetings. 24 Since we have heard that some persons have gone out from us and troubled you with words, unsettling your minds, although we gave them no instructions, 25 it has seemed good to us, having come to one accord, to choose men and send them to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26  men who have risked their lives for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who themselves will tell you the same things by word of mouth. 28 For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements: 29  that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.”

What is totally clear from this is that they did NOT decide to include tithing and something to impose on the gentiles. When Paul reports on this incident in Gal 2:10 he reports that ‘they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do’. Note that remembering the poor is NOT part of the tithe as commonly taught in christian churches.

But it is clear from these two scriptures that tithing to a church in NOT for gentiles. Giving to the poor is.

In other places Paul asks people to make gifts and says each should decide what to give, without compulsion and give willingly and cheerfully.

In all the the NT from Acts to Revelation you cannot find a single reference to tithing or given 10% of anything.

From all this it is clear that christians do not tithe and the church tradition is just that – an unbiblical tradition.

 

Some will say that whilst tithing was never imposed on believers, 10% is a minimum standard. However, there is not a single scripture that says this, so it has the status of unbiblical tradition.

Jesus did endorse tithing at least once in his ministry, but that was speaking to Jews who tithed and Jesus said then that the law remained in place ‘until all is accomplished’. We now know that he was referring by that to the cross when he said ‘it is finished’. So tithing was still in place for JEWS during the life of Jesus. But we’re not Jews and Jesus has died and risen..

Abraham tithed before the law. Yes, once and once only. You cannot use something done once to support a teaching to do the same thing throughout your life and again, you need scripture to prove that Abraham was our example. There is none.

Of course, if someone wants to be part of an institutional church with leaders and expenses, then like any other club, it’s fair for them to pay membership fees. It is morally wrong to take all the benefits of a church and not expect to pay your share. But that is not tithing and those institutions never existed in the early church.

 

 

 

 

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