Is Tithing required by the New Testament?
FREQUENTLY QUOTED VERSES
Commonly quoted scriptures:
Matt 23:23 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!
For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin,
and have neglected the weightier matters of the
law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought
to have done, without leaving the others undone.
Luke 11:42 But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and
rue and all manner of herbs, and pass by justice
and the love of God. These you ought to have done,
without leaving the others undone.
Christ spoke these words during His ministry and this teaching was in
harmony with the directives of the Old Covenant.
The following verse explains the position of Christ in relation to the
existing Old Covenant Law.
Gal 4:4 But when the fullness of the time
had come, God sent forth His Son,
born of a woman, born under the law,
:5 to redeem those who were under the
Christ planted the seeds of the New Testament while acting and speaking
in harmony with the law of the Old Covenant. It is for this reason that
He also commanded a cleansed leper to obey the law of Moses.
Matt 8:3 ... And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.
:4 See that you tell no one; but go your way, show
yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that
Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.
The physical offering of animals does not apply under the New Testament,
so why did Christ compel this compliance with the Law of Moses?
For the same reason he compelled tithing in Matthew 23:23. The Law of
Moses was still in force during the life of Christ. It would have been
'sin' for Christ at this time to have taught against the Law of Moses!
In the Matthew 23:23 and Luke 11:42 verses Christ was not teaching
that tithing was required by the New Testament, but rather was just
re-enforcing that this was a requirement under the Old Covenant!
OTHER NEW TESTAMENT VERSES
Looking for other tithing verses in the New Testament we do not find
any requirement for Christians to tithe.
A) A PHARISEE'S PRAYER
Tithing is mentioned in the parable of the prayers of the Pharisee and
the Tax Collector, where the Pharisee states;
Luke 18:12 'I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that
In this illustration we have the teaching that strict obedience to the
law, and the self righteousness it can produce, amounts to less than the
display of humility by a sinner seeking mercy.
B) THE TITHING OF ABRAHAM
The following verses discuss the example of Abraham paying tithes to
Melchizedek and how the Levites under the Old Covenant were to receive
the tithes of the people.
Heb 7:4 Now consider how great this man was, to whom even
the patriarch Abraham gave a tenth of the spoils.
:5 And indeed those who are of the sons of Levi, who
receive the priesthood, have a commandment to receive
tithes from the people according to the law, that is,
from their brethren, though they have come from the
loins of Abraham;
:6 but he whose genealogy is not derived from them
received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had
:7 Now beyond all contradiction the lesser is blessed by
:8 Here mortal men receive tithes, but there he receives
them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives.
:9 Even Levi, who receives tithes, paid tithes through
Abraham, so as to speak,
:1 for he was still in the loins of his father when
Melchizedek met him.
This text and the subsequent commentary is discussing
the identity of Melchizedek and the changing of the
priesthood under the New Testament. The issue of
tithing in the time of Abraham and in the Old
Covenant is covered, but the question of tithing
in the New Testament is not clarified. However,
should the analogy of the transfer of authority
to receive tithes be extended along the lines of
the priesthood change, then this text would be
suggesting we in the New Testament would be
required to tithe directly to Christ (and not to
any type of representative).
EXAMPLE OF THE APOSTLES
If we wish to see the New Testament position in respect to tithing the
logical place to look is in the writings of the apostles.
We do not find any specific commandment for the newly converted
Christians to tithe so we have to consider verses which may suggest
this teaching prevailed at that time.
Acts 20:33 I have coveted no one's silver or gold or apparel.
:34 Yes, you yourselves know that these hands have
provided for my necessities, and for those who
were with me.
:35 I have shown you in every way, by laboring like
this, that you must support the weak.
2Cor 11:8 I robbed other churches, taking wages from them
to minister to you.
:9 And when I was present with you, and in need, I
was a burden to no one, for what was lacking to
me the brethren who came from Macedonia supplied.
12:13 For what is it in which you were inferior to
other churches, except that I myself was not
burdensome to you? Forgive me this wrong!
:15 And I will very gladly spend and be spent for
your souls; though the more abundantly I love
you, the less I am loved.
9:1 Now concerning the ministering to the saints, it
is superfluous for me to write to you;
:2 for I know your willingness, ...
:5 ... I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren
to go to you ahead of time, and prepare your
bountiful gift beforehand, which you had previously
promised, that it may be ready as a matter of
generosity and not as a grudging obligation.
:6 But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also
reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will
also reap bountifully.
:7 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart,
not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a
:8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward
you, that you, always having all sufficiency in
all things, may have an abundance for every good
8:12 For if there is first a willing mind, it is
accepted according to what one has, and not
according to what he does not have.
:13 For I do not mean that others should be eased
and you burdened;
:14 but by an equality, that now at this time your
abundance may supply their lack, that their
abundance also may supply your lack - that
there may be equality.
1Cor 9:11 If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it
a great thing if we reap your material things?
:12 If others are partakers of this right over you,
are we not even more? Nevertheless we have not
used this right, but endure all things lest we
hinder the gospel of Christ.
:14 Even so the Lord has commanded that those who
preach the gospel should live from the gospel.
Gal 6:6 Let him who is taught the word share in all good
things with him who teaches.
1) In these verses the apostle Paul both accepted wages from other
congregations and also worked to supply his own needs.
2) Paul had avoided placing a monetary burden upon the Corinthian
congregation, but this apparently had not favourably altered
their disposition toward giving.
3) We encounter in the letters to the Corinthians considerable
references to the collection of food Paul was organizing to
assist the brethren in Jerusalem, due to the famine they were
experiencing. Refer Acts 11:27-30 and Romans 15:26.
4) Giving should be balanced by the goal of 'equality', that is
one party should not be unnecessarily burdened.
5) Those involved in preaching the gospel should be financially
rewarded by those receiving the message.
Despite the existence of a need to assist in supporting the ministry
these verses do not clarify if the factor of 10% as suggested by the
tithing principle is applicable. In fact, from the example of Paul's
handling of the Corinthian church, we can see that the New Testament
leadership did not always request monetary assistance.
We can conclude from reviewing the New Testament scriptures that
although there is support for the sharing of material wealth with the
ministry, there is no conclusive proof in the New Testament to support
the inclusion of the Old Covenant tithing principle in Christian