It’s bad enough when churches replace sound biblical preaching with dramas, comedians, choirs, concerts, special guest singers, and other forms of man-centered entertainment. Sunday after Sunday grown men and women are subjected to various forms of childish and foolish antics. But what troubles me even more is when Christians are subjected to false teaching. I am amazed at how many Bible believing Christians actually believe that tithing is a New Testament concept. And I am even more amazed at pastors who claim to be biblically sound yet teach this false doctrine. One can only assume that the motivation is greed. Christians are nowhere commanded to tithe. Tithing is part of the Old Covenant when Israel was under a Theocracy. And it required much more than 10%. In fact, it was closer to 28% of ones total income, which by the way consisted of crops and livestock, not money.
In order to come up with a New Testament doctrine for tithing one has to willfully manipulate and twist the scriptures. A simple reading of the New Testament is all that is needed to determine whether or not tithing is required under the New Covenant. Here are the passages that hucksters use to defend New Testament Tithing:
VERSES ON TITHING
These are the verses that mention Tithing in the New Testament.
VERSE 1 – Matthew 23:23 & Luke 11:42
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!” (Matthew 23:23-24 ESV) & (Luke 11:42)
The first thing we must ask is the “who, what, when, were and why”.
Who was Jesus speaking to? Pharisees
What did Jesus tell them that they ought to do? Tithe without neglecting justice, mercy, and faithfulness.
When did Jesus say this to the Pharisees? Prior to Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. In other words, while they were still under the Old Testament Covenant, the Law of Moses. Jesus would never have Commanded anyone to disobey the Law of Moses. He did not come to abolish the Law but to fulfill the Law. If Jesus told them to “stop tithing” Jesus would have been guilty of teaching what was contrary to the Law of Moses. That would have disqualified him from being the Savior since the Savior had to obey the Law of Moses perfectly without sin. Anyone who uses this verse to promote New Testament Tithing is not rightly dividing the word of truth.
VERSE 2 – Luke 18:12
“The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.” (Luke 18:11-12 ESV)
By asking one simple questions we come to find that this verse does not teach New Testament Tithing.
Who was this person? He was a Pharisee under the Law of Moses who was was required to tithe. So we can also dismiss this verse for supporting New Testament tithing.
These are the verses that mention a “tenth” in the New Testament.
VERSE 3 – Hebrews 7:1-10
“The Priestly Order of Melchizedek For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace. He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever. See how great this man was to whom Abraham the patriarch gave a tenth of the spoils! And those descendants of Levi who receive the priestly office have a commandment in the law to take tithes from the people, that is, from their brothers, though these also are descended from Abraham. But this man who does not have his descent from them received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. It is beyond dispute that the inferior is blessed by the superior. In the one case tithes are received by mortal men, but in the other case, by one of whom it is testified that he lives. One might even say that Levi himself, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, for he was still in the loins of his ancestor when Melchizedek met him.” (Hebrews 7:1-10 ESV)
Again if we ask a few questions this passage becomes crystal clear that the author is not teaching New Testament Tithing. The story can be found in Genesis 14.
Who gave a tenth to Melchizedek? Abraham.
What was the tenth that Abraham gave? A ONE-TIME tenth of the spoil he recovered from the war with the four kings. Abraham did not give a single dime of his own money, but only the spoils that he recovered from the battle. Therefore the tenth that he gave Melchizedek did not consist of any of Abraham’s personal property. The writer of Hebrews clearly states that Abraham only gave him a “tenth of the spoils!” (Hebrews 7:4). Abraham gave a one time, free will offering to Melchizedek, this was not a repeated practice.
When did Abraham give a tenth? Prior to the Law of Moses. So based on this point, those who teach the false doctrine of tithing claim that Abraham tithed prior to the Law. But we have already proven that Abraham did not tithe any of his own money but only a ‘tenth of the spoils”. This passage simply does not teach New Testament tithing. You have to twist these scriptures to come up with a New Testament tithing doctrine.
By simply asking three questions we quickly see that this passage does not teach New Testament tithing. The whole purpose of this story in Hebrews is to teach the Supremacy of Christ, not tithing. This passage has absolutely nothing to do with tithing.
VERSE 4 – Genesis 28:20-22
“Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the LORD shall be my God, and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house. And of all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you.” (Genesis 28:20-22 ESV)
This is the final verse used to justify the false teaching of New Testament tithing. Let’s test and see if it is valid?
Who was the initiator? Jacob.
What did Jacob promise to do? Give a tenth.
When did Jacob promise to give a tenth? When God fulfilled his part of the bargain. “If God will be with me and will keep me” This is conditional. “If God will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear” This too is conditional. So Jacob made a conditional vow. If you do this for me God, then I will do that for you. So if we are going to use this as an example of New Testament tithing, then we must also teach that New Testament tithing is dependent upon God’s faithfulness.
So by simply asking a few questions we see that this verse has absolutely nothing to do with New Testament tithing.
That’s it! There are no more verses that teach on tithing. What I do find ironic though is the fact that those who teach this false doctrine of tithing, and tell Christians that by not giving a tenth they are under a curse, are themselves under a curse for teaching tithing! If by tithing we remove ourselves from the curse, then by definition, we are trusting in the law to gain approval with God. And Paul makes it crystal clear that all who rely upon the law, which tithing is a part of, are under a curse:
“For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”—so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.” (Galatians 3:10-14 ESV)
So what is the solution? Are we to give at all?
There are plenty of verses in the New Testament that teach us to be extremely generous and sacrificial in our giving. But nowhere are we commanded to give 10% of our income. The bible never puts a number on our giving. The only model we find in the New Testament is grace giving which is found in Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians:
“The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:6-8 ESV)
1. Those who give sparingly will reap sparingly.
2. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart.
3. God loves a cheerful giver!
This is the only instructions for a New Testament believer in regards to giving. Let each man give as he has decided and he must not give under compulsion. In other words, he must not give based on dramatic stories, promised returns, or any other methods that greedy pastors use to emotionally manipulate their people to give. Our motive for giving is out of love for the Lord and for others. We must each determine in our own hearts what we should give. We must give cheerfully. We must give sacrificially. For some that might mean 5%. For others 10%. And still for others 30%. But whatever we do we must always give for the Glory of God.
If you are part of a church where the pastor is manipulating the people and teaching false doctrine, and you remain silent, you are just as guilty. We are not servants of our pastors but of the Lord And we do not submit to our leaders but to the Lord and his Word first, and then to our leaders only as they themselves submit to the Lord and His Word. If more Christians would stand up for truth, we would have less charlatans who line their pockets by manipulating naive Christians. Where are the Bereans?
We should be the most generous people on the face of the earth seeing that we are the recipients of God’s abundant grace and mercy on a daily basis. If a Christian decides in his or her heart to give 10% that is wonderful! But we should never let anyone else determine how much we should give. This is a personal decision between the giver and God alone. And those who have tasted of the grace of God will be the most generous people in the world.
More on New Testament Tithing