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TABLE OF CONTENTS
ABRAHAM AND JACOB
NEW TESTAMENT TITHING
Seated in one of several adult Sunday school classes, I
prepared to listen to the lesson for the day. It was the first
Sunday following the new year; thus I knew, without hearing the
announcements or reading the Sunday bulletin, the lesson would be
on "tithing." The morning message, of course, would likewise be
on "tithing." One of the first four Sundays of each new year
always yielded messages, either in Sunday school, or during the
morning preaching service, on "tithing." Once, I recall, all
four Sundays during January were on tithing. One thing was
certain, at the beginning of each new year, we were taught
tithing and at least once or twice in the year's balance,
depending on the financial condition of the church, we were
reminded of our responsibilities.
Since I had been taught tithing from childhood, I
immediately, upon leaving home for Bible college, began tithing
from my earnings. The first check my wife and I earned following
our wedding, and every paycheck thereafter, we tithed. In fact,
soon after marriage, we squeezed our giving to fifteen percent.
Shoot! Everybody wants to be blessed; even newly weds;
especially newly weds! Later we even gave twenty-five percent of
our income to the church as I traveled as a Baptist evangelist
I do not want to mislead the reader so I will
parenthetically state from the beginning that tithing is not only
unscriptural but simply not found in the Bible as a New Testament
doctrine. I will also state that those who teach that tithing is
God's way of financially blessing His own are being less than
Scripturally honest and are doctrinally inconsistent. I even
challenge those teachers of tithing to "put their money where
their mouth is" and cease from teaching something they know isn't
Biblical I.E. tithing.
Have you heard any of the following: "Tithing is a command?
You can't out give God! If you don't tithe, you're robbing God.
Tithers are blessed of God. You can't afford not to tithe. If
you fail to tithe, God will get His money out of you some way.
Tithing is your God-given responsibility. If you want God to
really bless you, give more than the tithe. Tithing is part of
your spirituality. The spiritual man will tithe and go beyond
the tithe. God will get you if you don't give Him His tithe. We
only teach this about tithing because we want you to be
blessed...you can't be blessed otherwise. You can't grow unless
you tithe." Quite a list isn't it? I'm sure I left some out,
too. None, however, are true, Biblical, or have any Scriptural
bases. It makes for mighty good preaching, however, and the
offerings always increase following such teaching. My greatest
concern, however, is that tithing is used to control and
manipulate Believers. In another words, it is a cheep way of
exercising authority over others.
"Tithing" in both Old and New Testaments means (tenth). It
was practiced, long before the Mosaic law was given by God to the
nation of Israel, to show honor and respect, it was invoked by
God to provide for the Levitical priesthood as they ministered in
the tabernacle. The Biblical instruction was for the first ten
percent of all one possessed and earned to be given to the
Levites. Such included monies, cattle, flocks, herds, crops, and
the like. Actually, the first born son of a family was given to
the Lord as a "tithe"offering, but he was not, of course,
sacrificed as were the animals; the first born lamb was
sacrificed in the son's place. It, the offering of the first
born son, was symbolic of Christ, the Son of God, being offered
for us. Abraham, you may recall, was commanded to offer his only
begotten son, Isaac, as a human sacrifice. A ram, however, was
substituted at the last moment; depicting Christ as the
substitute Lamb of God. In short, the "tithe" was symbolic.
The Hebrews spoke in word pictures similar to many indian
cultures of North America. Often a single word carried with it a
complexity of definition far beyond the value of the word itself.
Thus their speech was often symbolic and spoken with preciosity.
Succinctly stated, when they spoke, it had meaning.
The conscientious Bible student will, of course, attempt to
gain some understanding of Biblical numerics because of the
spiritual insight it affords. The number (3) in Scripture
depicts completeness or finality; the Trinity being a prime
example. The figure (5) often reveals the grace of God; the
number (7) perfection; the number (12) that which is chosen. The
figure (10), on the other hand, often represented judgment or
testing. The ten plagues on Egypt, the ten kingdoms in the book
of Revelation, the ten virgins Jesus referred to in the Gospels,
and the ten commandments, all demonstrated judgement and testing.
The tithe, or giving of a tenth, also was symbolic of judgment or
testing. It was a "judgment" or debt owed God by His people to
support His house - tabernacle, and the ministers thereof - the
Levites. It was a "testing" to bring conformity to His law. To
violate such a commandment invoked a penalty for sin for it
represented a (falling short) of God's requirements for
obedience. The law of God, by the way, was not given to prove
one righteous; it was to demonstrate one was not righteous and
could in no way make himself righteous even by keeping the law.
This is evident because of God's promise that a Messiah would one
day come and fulfill the law; thus no need for the law to
continue. Seen in this light, the tithe was a sign that one was
keeping the law until the law
was fulfilled in Christ. It was one of many "laws" which
afforded one rightness with God. It was literally one way of
personalizing one's responsibility for maintaining righteousness-
right living before God.
Let me stop at this point and say that the practice of New
Testament tithing is not unscriptural if one desires to exercise
it as a principle. It is not, however, a command nor can it be
taught as a Bible doctrine. Tithing is no more a doctrine than,
for example, fasting. Is it wrong to fast today? No! Will
fasting benefit one spiritually? Yes! I have fasted on numerous
occasions and twice for twenty-one days. It isn't commanded by
God, however, nor do I have Scriptural license to teach on
fasting as though it were a doctrine. I can, on the other hand,
teach it as a Biblical principle which yields spiritual benefit.
Likewise "prayer" is not a doctrine. It, too, is a principle by
which one can, and should live, and its benefits are likewise
numerous. You will not, however, be forsaken by God, barred from
Heaven, chastened by sickness and disease, loose your children,
be turned into a pillar of salt, ask to sacrifice your first
born, be burned at the stake, loose your salvation, succumb to
warts, or suffer eternal condemnation if you don't pray, memorize
Scripture, read your Bible, attend church faithfully, fast, or
tithe! All such offer spiritual provision for a Christian but
they cannot be substituted for Bible doctrine no matter how hard
one may try. You will, on the other hand, be criticized,
ridiculed, called a heretic, faithless, selfish, a God robber,
sinful, crazy, foolish, dumb, stupid, back slider, unholy,
unrighteous, stingy, cheep, unorthodox, and you might even be
kicked out of church if you refuse to believe what some say about
tithing, but that won't come from God; just friends.
The biggest question, and the one I might add which strikes
the greatest fear, in the hearts of most Christians is Malachi
3:8-10. Here, we are told by those who teach tithing is for
today, that we are literally robbing God if we fail to tithe.
Many over look that God said in this passage that those who were
robbing God were failing to bring both tithes and offerings. Why
do most tithing proponents leave the offering out? The answer
is; it's hard enough just squeezing the tithe out of people, not
to mention offerings, too.
As I mentioned, there is certainly nothing wrong with the
idea of tithing nor the practice of it today. It is when one
teaches it as a doctrine and that God will not bless those who
fail to tithe which is the problem. If one wishes to tithe, he
is not unscriptural, or in anyway, barred from doing so. It just
simply isn't a New Testament requirement. Jesus fulfilled the
law for us. We either walk in that freedom as New Testament
Christians or we do not. If Jesus fulfilled the law, why do we
try to restore the law by practicing it? Do we refrain from
eating pork, do we stone adulterers, do we execute homosexuals,
do we stone sabbath violators, sacrifice animals, or leave the
corners of our fields for the poor to harvest? If not, why not?
As New Testament Christians we know why; Jesus fulfilled the law.
Then why do we insist upon tithing? The answer is fear.
Churches need money to function because they have become
businesses rather than ministries. Pastors are fearful they
won't be able to pay the church expenses; water, lights, staff,
radio/television programs, monthly newsletters, special guest
speakers, trips to mission fields, new buildings, improvements on
the old building, staff cars, gymnasiums, school buildings,
fellowship halls, new carpet, commodes, air conditioning, and we
mustn't forget the pastor's salary. Do pastors worry about such?
As a pastor, I can guarantee we do.
There is fear on the Christian's behalf as well. Let's face
it! Most of us are scared spitless that God isn't going to bless
us for some reason. Wouldn't you know it, God always hits us in
the pocketbook when He wants to punish us for something. Malachi
3:8-10 also uses the word "cursed." God said His people were
cursed for not tithing and giving offerings. Now be honest.
Doesn't that kind of spook you when some preacher is up there
pounding the pulpit and telling you that you're cursed of God if
you don't tithe? Believe me, you are going to tithe if you hear
that long enough and loud enough because nobody wants to be
cursed of God.
ABRAHAM AND JACOB
One of the biggest arguments for New Testament tithing is
the Old Testament reference to Abraham and Jacob. It is stated
that since these two patriarch tithed, they living long before
the Mosaic law, it is not, therefore, Old Testament law but God's
law for all time. May I point out that if you indeed are going
to practice tithing as these two great men of God, you will only
need to tithe once in your life time of everything you have in
your possession at that moment. Abraham did exactly that when he
gave a tenth to Melchizedek. Jacob, who promised to give a
tenth to God, apparently did so when he was faced with his angry
brother. No other reference to tithing is recorded in Scripture
by these two men. By today's standards, therefore, they would
not be good tithers. One may assume, however, that these men
often gave to others of their prosperity and it perhaps could
even be assumed they gave to those in God's service. There was,
however, no levitical priesthood and no prophets of God as during
the Mosaic law. It would be Scripturally unwise, therefore, to
consider them as Biblical examples of New Testament tithers.
I really began examining tithing a few years ago when I
recognized that what I had been taught was not working. I was
taught, and I preached it, too, that if one tithed, financial
blessings would always dog me. It never happened! I was told if
you didn't tithe, you would be chastened by God and He would get
His money out of you somehow. It never happened! I was taught
that if your finances were in disarray and you were not tithing,
that was the reason. Of course, if that one was true, then those
whose finances were regular and consistent had to be tithers. I
knew unsaved people who had better financial stability than I
ever had as a Christian and I knew they weren't tithers.
On my knees in my most desperate hour, I cried out to God
and begged Him not to take away my desire for giving. I knew it
my heart it was the one last thing I had which obligated God to
bless me. I gave when my family went without food. I tithed
when my house payments and rent were past due. I tithed when the
utilities were two months behind, I tithed even when I lost my
home and nothing I had been taught on tithing proved true. I
went for a four year period hardly giving a thing to the Lord. I
was not tithing, I was not giving, I did not give an offering;
except occasionally, and the truth was, I did not have any money
to give. Was I afraid. You bet! I knew God was going to kill
me if I didn't start that tithing bit up again and, bless God, I
tried for four years to start tithing over and over and over and
over again. Every single time I tried, things got worse instead
of better. Every single time I went to my knees and prayed over
my dilemma. "Why wasn't God's Word working?" God continually,
for that period of time, told me He didn't need or want my money.
Right in the middle of the whole thing, God gave me a house;
providing both the down payment and a way of keeping my monthly
payment to a level I was able to afford. How could the Lord
bless me when I wasn't tithing? On my knees, therefore, I sought
the Lord and beg for understanding.
NEW TESTAMENT TITHING
The Greek word for "tithe" and it's related forms; (tithes
and tithing). appears seven times in the New Testament. Likewise
"tenth" appears twice in reference to the "tithe." In not one of
these cases, as we will see, does the Bible teach tithing is for
today. The practice of tithing is conspicuously absent from the
New Testament epistles; the letters to the churches. If tithing
were to be taught to God's people, why would He forget to include
such instruction in the letters He sent to the churches? He
didn't forget...it simply doesn't exist. Something I notice
about those who constantly affirm that healing and the gift of
tongues isn't for today always make a point to say that such
doctrine isn't taught in the New Testament epistles so why
believe in it? Funny how many of those same unbelievers of the
ministry of the Holy Spirit fail to tell us that tithing isn't
once mentioned in the epistles but they are determined to make it
In Matthew 23 and Luke 11, Jesus taught His disciples and
the multitudes concerning hypocrisy. He accused the pharisees
and scribes of being exactly that. One will have to read the
account to gain the full impact of His statements. Our Lord
mentions, however, that these hypocrites are tithers (Matt.
23:23). He says, however, they tithed even the most
insignificant of herbs to the Lord but totally ignored the rest
of the law. Some "tithe" promoters use this verse, along with
Luke 11:42, to suggest Jesus was confirming we should be tithers
today. "This also ought ye to do," refers to the part of the law
they were forsaking. Read the account! They were keeping God's
law in many areas but failed to keep the whole law. In fact,
these Gospel passages, when examined carefully, are rebukes to
the tithers not blessings. If Jesus were preaching to tithers
today, he would rebuke them as hypocrites because they keep only
part, rather than the whole, law.
Another ostentatious reference to tithing is the story Jesus
told concerning the prayer of the publican and pharisee. The
pharisee was a super Christian. Not only did he tithe but he
fasted twice a week. Jesus said, on the other hand, that the
publican was more honored by God because of his humility; the
publican wasn't a tither. Since he wasn't a tither, we cannot
use him as an example of such.
The only other New Testament passage available to us on the
subject of tithing again has absolutely nothing to do with the
practice of "tenth" giving. I will not take the time to quote
the passage but suggest the reader stop and read Hebrews chapters
(7) and 8). If one fails to read both chapters together, it may
seem as though tithing is being taught. In fact, such is not the
The writer of Hebrews is illustrating how Abraham paid
tithes to Melchizedek and that this act included the levites as
those who paid tithes being yet unborn. Likewise, the passage
confirms that the levites indeed received tithes from the
children of Israel as they ministered in the duties of the
tabernacle. If the reader is careful to interpret Scripture
properly, it will be discovered that the entire point of the
complete passage is revealed in Hebrews 8:6: (we have a Mediator
of a better covenant with better promises). This Mediator, of
course, is Christ the Lord.
Now think back to the covenant under which the children of
Israel lived. For their covenant to function, they were required
to offer sacrifices, tithe, abstain from certain foods, refrain
from Sabbath activity, and a wide variety of other such laws
given by God. Their firstborn was likewise required but a lamb
was vicariously offered instead. Today the Lamb of God - Christ
Jesus - is our substitutionary sacrifice. Literally, Jesus is
The writer of Hebrews teaches that as the levites paid
tithes, because their father Abraham did so; they being yet
unborn, paid tithes. We likewise have sin's debt paid in Christ;
we being yet unborn - unborn again I.E. lost in sin. Jesus
Christ was, and is, that fulfillment of the law in our behalf.
In another words, Jesus paid the debt - tithe - for sin. One may
choose to tithe today as a token of ones gratitude, but he cannot
teach it as doctrine.
NEW TESTAMENT GIVING
II CORINTHIANS 9:6-9
#6 He which sows sparingly shall also reap sparingly;
and he which sows bountifully shall reap also
bountifully. #7 Every man according as he purposes in
his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of
necessity: For God loves a cheerful giver. #8 And
God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that
you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may
abound to every good work: #9 As it is written, He hath
dispersed abroad, He hath given to the poor: His
righteousness remains for ever.
Tithing teachers agree that this passage is not in reference
to the tithe. They must, because the word (tithe) never appears
in the passage. They will and do say, however, that Paul was
trying to teach us that to "give" to God is over and above your
tithe. Funny, Paul, nor any other New Testament writer, said any
such thing. Any time we refuse to interpret Scripture in its
context, we must substitute conjecture, personal opinion, and
hearsay for the truth of God's eternal Word.
If one will read chapters 8 and 9 of II Corinthians, it can
be clearly seen that Paul was instructing the Corinthian
believers how offerings should be collected. In fact, in these
two chapters, as well as I Corinthians 16:1-4, Paul makes no
reference to offerings being taken for the support of the local
church but the "collections" to which he refers is that which is
collected for those who today would be considered evangelists and
missionaries. I think it is perfectly within Scriptural
boundaries, however, to assume such teaching is applicable to the
needs of the local body of believers as well. If not, these
offerings to which Paul referred in this passage cannot even be
applied to teaching giving to support one's own local church.
Let's consider some of the key words Paul used in this
passage. The word "sow" or "soweth" means (to scatter).
"Sparingly" is a word which means (stingy). "Reap" means (to
harvest). "Bountiful" is a rather unusual word used by Paul. It
means (elegance in word or speech). The Greek word he used is
where we get our word "Eulogy." "Purpose," or as it is
translated in the King James; "purposeth," means (to choose for
oneself) or (to intend). "Grudgingly" means (sadness), or in
this case ""not grudgingly" meaning (without,) or (no sadness).
"Necessity" is (constraint), "cheerful" is (merry) or
(favorable), and "sufficiency" means (self satisfied).
Verse (6) is our promise: If we sow "sparingly" - with a
stingy attitude - we will reap such a return. Of course Paul is
using farming as an illustration. planting few seeds will yield
a small harvest but plentiful or an abundant planting will reap
[harvest] a greater return. So far so good.
The word "bountiful" is something which, at first, seems
unrelated. As I mentioned, we get our word (eulogy) from this
Greek term. If you have ever been to a funeral, you can gain
insight to Paul's usage of this word. Literally Paul is saying
if one speaks many good words, favorable words, kind words,
pleasant words, he will reap [harvest] the same.
We live next door to an elderly lady who is often gruff and
harsh when speaking with others. I, on the other hand, have
always spoken to her with respect and dignity; never talking back
when she fussed, never rebuking her rudeness, and never arguing.
Why do I hold to such an attitude? First she is in her early
seventies; making her nearly twice my age, hence, she is my
elder. Secondly, I was talk to respect my elders. Thirdly, it
is Scriptural; and fourth, I learned very young in life that if
you speak kindly to others, they will speak kindly to you. This
is exactly what Paul is teaching us concerning our attitude of
giving to those in full time service of God. You reap [harvest]
what you so - you receive in kind what you say. It is God's
promise to those who give with the right attitude.
The principle of giving is clearly stated in verse (7):
"Every man according as he purposes in his heart, so let him
give;" literally, according as he (chooses in his heart). What
if he chooses not to give? No harvest! Need I point out that it
is stated "as he," the giver, "purposes," not according to God's
purpose/choosing. Hence, it is voluntary.
This form of giving is furthermore done with a proper
attitude; (not grudgingly), or of (necessity), because God loves
a (cheerful) giver. When one chooses to give, therefore, he
should do so without (sadness) or out of (necessity - constraint.
In another words, he should never be forced to give unless it is
an act of his own will. Boy, we've missed the boat on that one,
haven't we? The principle concludes with making reference to one
who gives (cheerfully). If you are constrained to give, if you
are threatened to give, if you are shamed into giving because
others are, or if you give out of fear of reprisal, you cannot
give with cheerfulness - a merry heart. you instead would be
giving (grudgingly) - with sadness of heart. God never intended
our giving to become a millstone about our neck to weigh us down;
He gave it in order that we might reap a harvest blessing which
would lift us.
We indeed shall reap a harvest blessing if we give in light
of what has already been said: "And God is able to make all
grace abound toward you; that you, always having all sufficiency
in all things, may abound to every good work." The product -
that which is produced by giving - is "sufficiency" - self
satisfaction. It is the awareness that you have done what you
determined [intended] to do for the glory of God. In which case,
God is "able" to make all grace abound toward you. The Greek
word for "able" contains the root word which is interpreted often
in Scripture as (miracle). In another words, the miracle working
power of God comes into play in your behalf when giving is
natural to your relationship with God.
"As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad, He hath
given to the poor: His righteousness remains for
Giving is an intimate part of our relationship with the
Heavenly Father. We have the "power" of such spiritual intimacy
because we possess His righteousness. This enables us to share
personally in His nature by giving to support those who minister
in our behalf to others.
The promise is one of harvest: we reap what we sow. If we
sow a little, we reap the same. If we sow much, likewise the
return will be in kind. I might add, if we so nothing, so shall
be our return. Thus the promise is our (reward).
Our attitude of giving is a principle, or rule, we should
follow faithfully and consistently in order to maintain
continuity in our relationship with God. Since we already have
favor with God through Christ, we should never practice giving to
obtain favor or attention. Our giving should be as natural as
our love for Him.
The product, or result, of such a natural form of giving is
self satisfaction. We have given because we are secure in Him
and His grace is applicable to every thing we do in His name.
Finally, it is our right - power - to give with such freedom
and intimacy because we possess the righteousness of God as His
children. Since He has therefore liberally given of His nature,
we in turn have the power to manifest that nature as we give of
our money in His name.
A marriage IS not confirmed by the number of times one
confesses love for another. It is how they live which confirms
and completes their relationship. As love, therefore is common
to marriage, so giving is in our fellowship with God. If it
isn't natural, it isn't Scriptural. Does that make it wrong to
give because you wish to be blessed? We should only give because
we are blessed! We are blessed because of Christ. If we are
blessed of God, then giving will be natural.
Paul makes it plane: Our giving should be done as an act of
our own will. We need to decide what we will give and it should
be given when the Christians gather as a body weekly. There
should be no set amount except by the one doing the giving. It
should be a reflection of our thankfulness to God for His
blessings to us. We should expect a harvest and do so by faith.
We should expect to experience God's grace in all that we do in
His name and our giving should be natural and not forced. Our
giving is not a mathematical equation by which we calculate our
spirituality but rather an expression of our love for the one who
gave Himself for us that we might be made rich.
End Of Document
Tithing - Fact vs. Fiction by Richard Wayne Garganta
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