The Tithe Revisited

There are 7 articles in the “Tithe” series. Please click HERE for all 7 articles. They are:
1. To Tithe Or Not To Tithe: The $earch For Truth
2. Tithe Follow-Up
3. The Tithe: Who’s Robbing Who?
4. Just What WAS Abraham’s Example?
5. Fun With Numbers
6. The Tithe: Final Thoughts
7. The Tithe Revisited
Written between 2000-2002, they were posted on my former web site Lord, You Are (dot) com (now defunct). Exposing the falsehood of the modern tithe doctrine was instrumental in setting me free from man’s Laodicean traditional church. As always, I pray the Lord will use them to set you free from false teaching and guilt-based giving. 

The article “To Tithe or Not to Tithe: The $earch for Truth” was first published in March of 2001. The comments and questions that followed publication prompted me to study the tithe in greater depth and led to the publication of 5 follow-up articles. From time to time since the last of the articles was published late in 2001, I’ve been confronted with a few additional arguments in support of the tithe, I’d like to address.

Abraham’s tithe to Melchizedek predates the Law of Moses and therefore is an example for us to follow today.

This argument was addressed in one of the original 6 articles, but I neglected to mention another objection I have with it. Gentile (non-Jewish) Christians often have strange ideas about what the Law comprises. Some hold that the law was given to Moses beginning with the 10 commandments. Teachers / followers of Judaism would disagree with that assertion. In Judaism, the entirety of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy comprise the book of “The Law”.

donottithe5Throughout the New Testament, we see Jesus and the apostles recite scripture from the Old Testament, attributing them to either “the Law”, “the Prophets” or “the Writings”, or what Judaism refers to as the Torah, Nivi’im and Kituvim, respectively. The Jewish book of scripture is commonly called the TaNaK, which draws on the first letter of the words Torah, Nivi’im and Kituvim. “The Law” (Torah) refers to the complete set of books (Genesis through Deuteronomy), not a subset of individual scriptures that cite specific commandments and requirements. Quite simply, if it’s in the Torah , it is of “The Law”.

Since the story of Abraham’s voluntary tithe gift to Melchizedek is recorded in Genesis, it is, in fact, part of the book of “The Law”.

Concerning when God began to establish the law, the teacher at a Bible study I once attended gave evidence that God began to establish the law immediately following the fall of Adam and Eve. When they became aware of their nakedness, Adam and Eve fashioned coverings from fig leaves. God knew that they could be redeemed only by blood sacrifice and so He sacrificed an animal thereby making a blood offering on their behalf and made coverings for Adam and Eve from the skin of the sacrificed animal. Thus was the first offering for sin made, long before the birth of Moses and before God gave the specifics of the law of animal sacrifice to Moses.

It is therefore absurd to claim the Abraham and Melchizedek story “predates the Law” since in fact it is recorded in the book of the Law and God established the law before Adam and Eve were banished from the garden of Eden.

The tithe has been adapted to our church culture and economy.

Per the Law, the tithe is flocks, herds, fruits and grains, brought by farmers, to the temple storehouse in Jerusalem, to feed the old covenant priesthood who are from the tribe of Levi, Aaron and sons.

To port the tithe to the new covenant, at least 5 adaptations must be made. Flocks, herds, fruits and grains must be changed to money; farmers are changed to all wage earners; the temple storehouse is changed to the local church building; the priesthoods of Levi and Aaron are changed to the clergy; the people are reduced from a royal priesthood to the laity.

These extensive adaptations of scripture deny a basic tenet for the interpretation and application of scripture cited by the Apostle Paul, who wrote “do not go beyond what is written” (1 Corinthians 4:6), a tenet of handling scripture which is also echoed in Revelation 22:18-19

“I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book,  (19)  and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.”

While many consider Revelation 22:18-19 as applicable only to the book of Revelation, the admonishment echoes the rule of scripture cited by Paul: we are NOT to add to nor subtract from the Word of God. About whether God’s warning only applies to the book of Revelation, is it OK to add to and subtract from the other 65 books of the Bible?

The tithe is the law, obedience to the law is compulsory.

donottithe19Jesus said “you give a tenth (tithe) of your mint, dill and cumin, but neglect the more important matters of the law” (Matthew 23:23). In so saying, Jesus attributed the tithe to the law. To argue that the tithe is not of the law, or predates the law, is to argue with Jesus who said the tithe is of the law. Since the tithe is of the law, it is compulsory for those who are under the law. Yet Paul writes “if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law” (Galatians 5:18). Further, Paul admonished the Corinthians NOT to give out of compulsion, which means, do not give because the law compels you to give, rather, give what you have decided in your heart to give, with cheer. (1 Corinthians 9:7).

So, is Paul wrong? Is scripture in error?

This brings up another another complaint I have with those who preach the tithe. Just because the word “tithe” appears in the New Testament, does NOT mean that tithing is a New Testament practice. Context is imperative. Jesus was speaking to Jews. Jesus had not yet gone to the cross and therefore everyone was still under the law. Everyone, including Jesus, was under Old Testament Law until the cross. Jesus mention of “mint, dill and cumin” is consistent with the Law which says the tithe is food. By simple reasoning, only food-growers tithed.

I’ve heard similar “one word” arguments concerning Jesus intent that man build churches, because Jesus is claimed to have used the word “church” in Matthew 16:18. Really? Jesus said “church”? The word “church” is a poor translation of the Greek word “ekklesia” which means a “called out assembly”. The better translation of ekklesia is “community.” Does anyone realistically think that Jesus spoke Greek, the language of Israel’s Roman oppressors when He was teaching His Jewish disciples? Or is it more likely that He spoke Aramaic, the regional dialect of the time, or Hebrew, the sacred language of God’s people? To put the  word “church” into Jesus mouth is not honest of the translators. What’s worse is to hang an entire doctrine, a false one at that, on the appearance of a single-word in scripture and applied wholly out of context.

If indeed we are “IN Christ” as 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, where the tithe is brought TO Christ, AND, by virtue of being IN Christ we are a spiritual temple and holy priesthood as it says in 1 Peter 2:5 & 9, shouldn’t we be receiving the tithe?

In the OT, it was the farmers of the 11 non-priest tribes who tithed of their flocks, herds, fruits and grains to feed the 1 remaining priest tribe of Levi who were given no land as an inheritance. The tithe was brought to the temple for distribution to the Levite priests. Since in the NT we are IN Christ, who is our priest, which makes us a holy and royal priesthood, AND a holy spiritual temple, shouldn’t we receive the tithe, when it is brought / given to Christ? How is it that we are IN Christ, we are priests and temples, except for when the tithe is received and then we’re just the laity? Doesn’t the kind of unity Jesus wants for us, oneness with the Father and with each other, mean we are all equal IN Christ? Why aren’t the gifts and offerings of the whole Church shared with the whole Church? Note that the church in Acts 2 and 4 shared everything. So what happened to divert the gifts and offerings of the Church in Acts, away from all believers and to just the so-called “clergy”?

donottithe1I understand that the modern clergy has adapted the tithe for the New Testament, largely by claiming the economy of the Jews was food-based, our economy is cash-based, therefore the tithe is changed from food to money. Likewise, the temple storehouse in Jerusalem does a local congregation no good, so the temple storehouse of old has become the local church storehouse. Such is not an honest Biblical / scriptural reapportionment of the priesthood and temple.

  • All believers are the new priesthood (1 Peter 2:5-9, et al).
  • All believers are the new temple (1 Cor. 3:16, 6:19, et al).

It is dishonest to appoint a priesthood and temple other than what scripture establishes.

EPILOGUE

For 15 years, I’ve written about the tithe. It was the Lord’s teachings about the tithe that began to open my eyes to the nature of man’s money-loving Laodicean church system and its shameful partnership with the harlot of Revelation 18. I’ve exchanged countless emails with brothers and sisters and contended with hirelings  (John 10 “paid shepherds”) concerning the tithe for many years. To be frank, I’m sickened to the core with the churches love of money.

These 7 articles concerning the tithe represent the teachings the Lord has given me. They are a kind of record of working out my own salvation with fear and trembling before the Lord. It is for each of us to work out our own salvation, and that, with the Lord. Accordingly, I will not be discussing the tithe and have closed the comments section on each of the 7 tithe articles. If the reader is blessed by the tithe article(s), then praise the Lord! If the reader takes issue with the article(s), then take it to the Lord and work it out with Him. I have presented the articles here only as my personal witness and testimony in the matter of the tithe.

In 1 John 2:27 (GNB), it is written:

But as for you, Christ has poured out his Spirit on you. As long as his Spirit remains in you, you do not need a man to teach you. For his Spirit teaches you about everything, and what he teaches is true, not false. Obey the Spirit’s teaching, then, and remain in union with Christ.

It is the Lord through the Holy Spirit who taught me these things. It is my earnest hope and prayer that the reader will sit down with the Lord, who is the Good Shepherd and teacher to learn at His feet.

As it says in 1 John 2:27, “what He teaches is true, not false.”

And remember: “You shall know the Truth and the Truth shall set you FREE!” (John 8:32)