Dr. Willis Newman, Esmeralda Newman, bible-teaching-about.com

Bible teaching about tithe

QUESTION:

Dear Dr Newman,

My question is about tithe. The tithe was in the days of the Old Testament. Why do Christians of New Testament, Christians of grace still lay more emphases on tithe. Could you please tell me why Apostle Paul didn't talk about the tithe? Which Bible passage in New Testament taught about tithe? I am an Evangelist and I do encourage paying tithes, until one occasion when I met a pastor who told me that tithe has gone with the law. He said Abraham was the first person to pay tithe for priesthood. We are now a royal priesthood through the blood of Jesus Christ. He said it is wrong to preach tithe. Sir could you please share light on this matter.

Thanks till I hear from you

ANSWER:

Dear: Ray E.

You ask a complicated question.

Some of the teaching you have already spoken of. Let me try to give an overview of the issue. I will do this by listing several occasions where giving is involved, and then I will draw some conclusions. Here are the observations.

The practice of paying a tithe to a ruler (as tax), or to the religious priest has a long history. It seems to be something settled deeply in the human heart. Here are a few examples.

1. Cain and Able brought offerings to God, although the amount of a tithe was not stipulated (Genesis 4:3, 4).

2. The giving of the tithe for religious reasons was practiced in Babylon, Persia, Egypt, and even in China

4. Abraham knew and practiced the giving of a tithe to Melchizedek who was a priest of the Most High (Genesis 14:17-20). He evidently learned of the practice from the land of Ur. He saw it as a holy deed (Hebrews 7:4). This was before the Mosaic Law was instituted.

5. Dividing spoils of war with rulers and religious leaders, such as with Abraham and Melchizedek, was wide spread in the days after end of the Old Testament (1Maccabees 10:31)

6. Samuel warned Israel that if they got the king they wanted, he would take a tithe from them (1 Samuel 8:10-18).

7. Jacob gave a tithe when he made his covenant with God, and this was before the Mosaic Law (Genesis 28:16-21).

8. Eventually tithing was codified in the legal requirements of Israel. The tithe was to support the Levite priests, and also used for charitable work (Numbers 18:20-32).

9. Priests of Jesus’ day understood that there were three tithes to be given, although the times are uncertain. They calculated three tithes: the Levitical tithe, one spent celebrating in Jerusalem, and one to be distributed in charity. Some tithes were given once a year, some every three years (Deuteronomy 14:28, 29). 

Jesus did not condemn their tithing (Matthew 23:23; Luke 11:42). Jesus did not condemn the practice, but he struck hard at the hypocrisy, and corruption involved. I realize this occurred before the church came into existence. 

10. In addition to the tithe, offerings were taken up for special projects such as building the temple (1 Chronicles 29:1-9). 

11. Malachi speaks of a distinction between tithes and offering (Malachi 3:8).

12. Jesus said generous giving had great reward in return (Luke 6:38). He also indicated that we are stewards of that which He gives us, and we are to wisely invest it in the work of the gospel (Luke 12:35 and following). Jesus warned against greed (Luke 12:15).

13. Paul taught us that anything we give will be credited to our account in heaven, and is an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God (Philippians 4:17-19).

14. Paul taught us to take up special offerings to help others (2 Corinthians chapters 8, 9). The event he had in mind was humanitarian work in Jerusalem, not the support of the local church.

15. John taught us to generously give to itinerant ministers of the gospel (evangelists, Bible teachers, etc.). (3 John 1:5-5-8). Paul as a missionary accepted and encouraged the Philippians to give to his support (Philippians 4:15ff.).

16. Here is where it gets tricky. Paul also said we are to support the local church (1 Corinthians 9:1-14). In this passage, his main point is that those who proclaim the gospel as an occupation should get their living from the gospel. He speaks of itinerant ministers being supported. He also appeals to the Mosaic Law to buttress his argument (vss. 8-13). Specifically, in verse 13 he refers to those who work in the temple – which is pointing to a local, establish community of believers. One gains from this section of Scripture that Christians in a local church are also to give, and one could infer they are to follow the example of the Jewish synagogues – which was a tithe. 

17. Another theological problem that is involved is Covenant verses Dispensational theology. Dispensationalists see a clear distinction between the church and Israel. Covenant theologians see the church as spiritual Israel, and still responsible to some of the practices of Israel.

Well, I have looked at history, the beginning of history, other cultures, the pre-law days of Israel, the Mosaic Law, and the New Testament. The problem is there is no clear picture that emerges. And, there is room for disagreement among Bible believing Christians. Here is my own take on the situation. You can take it for what it is worth.

1. We are not commanded to give a tithe under the New Covenant. We are not under obligation to the Mosaic Law. That is what the book of Galatians and Hebrews is all about. Our responsibility is to Jesus Christ – not the law.

2. We are to support generously the local church, itinerant missionaries, evangelists, and Bible teachers – and also for special building projects, and humanitarian projects. As stewards of what God has given us, we are to trust God, not our money, and generously give, which stores up reward for us in heaven (1 Timothy 6:17-19). Anything that supports the Great Commission, Christians should give to.

3. The question is, “How much should we give?” The final answer is, “As much as you can”. It is to our advantage to give much. 

4. Does that mean we are forbidden to give a tithe? No. Not at all. In fact, it seems to me that the tithe is a good standard or rule to go by. It seems that it is a practice or precident that is set in human history, the human heart, and both within and outside the Mosaic Law. We have to set a percentage or dollar amount someway, so why not at 10%? It is a long established practice among the people of God. Paul even appealed to the Mosaic Law to encourage giving. 

I hope this helps in your ministry and teaching. I wish you all the best as an evangelist. Could you tell me a little about yourself? What country are you from? What is your background? What is your ministry like?

I am in the process of putting up a two year Bible Academy online. Hopefully, the first year will be up in operation by summer. You may wish to take some courses. They will be priced at about USD$30.

Thank you for your interest,

Dr. Willis C. Newman

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