Are You Thinking about Tithing?
Hopefully this set of web pages will assist you in understanding the
topic of tithing. Help you realize it is not necessary to tithe upon
ones income to please God.
For readers not familiar with the term 'tithing', as it is used in
Christian teaching, it means:
The practice of giving one tenth (a tithe) of ones income
(net or gross) to a church organisation based upon the
understanding that this is a biblical teaching applicable
Churches must always keep in mind
that they are required by God to
truly discern the spirit of the
New Testament and teach God's
* TITHING IN THE NEW TESTAMENT *
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.
NEW TESTAMENT SUMMARY
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
* PROPHETIC TEACHING ON TITHING *
Is Tithing required by Prophecy?
Having exhausted the New Testament scriptures on tithing we should now
consider if the prophetic scriptures enforce the concept of 'Christian
Let us consider Malachi chapter 3.
Mal 3:8 "Will a man rob God?
Yet you have robbed Me!
But you say,
'In what way have we robbed You?'
In tithes and offerings.
:9 You are cursed with a curse,
For you have robbed Me,
Even this whole nation.
:10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,
That there may be food in My house,
And prove Me now in this"
Says the LORD of hosts,
"If I will not open for you the
windows of heaven
And pour out for you such a blessing,
That there will not be room
enough to receive it.
:11 And I will rebuke the
devourer for your sakes,
So that he will not destroy the
fruit of your ground,
Nor shall the vine fail to bear
fruit for you in the field,"
Says the LORD of hosts;
:12 And all nations will call you blessed,
For you will be a delightful land,"
Says the LORD of hosts.
It is interesting to also consider Amos chapter 4.
Amos 4:1 Hear this word, you cows of Bashan, who are
on the mountain of Samaria, who oppress the
poor, who crush the needy ....
:4 "Come to Bethel and transgress, at Gilgal
multiply transgression; bring your sacrifices
every morning, your tithes every three days.
:5 Offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving with leaven,
proclaim and announce the freewill offerings;
for this you love, you children of Israel!"
Says the Lord GOD.
:11 "I overthrew some of you, as God overthrew
Sodom and Gomorrah, and you were like a
firebrand plucked from the burning; yet you
have not returned to Me," Says the LORD.
:12 "Therefore thus will I do to you, O Israel;
and because I will do this to you,
prepare to meet your God, O Israel!"
In these verses quoted from Amos oppressing the poor and needy was
considered worthy of death despite obedience to the law of tithing.
[ NB: It should be noted here that some translations incorrectly
render the Hebrew word for 'days' mentioned in Amos 4:4 as
Prophetic scriptures are usually directed toward two audiences. The
audience of that day and to those living in the 'later days'. For
this reason the message of Malachi 3:8-12 is couched in terminology
which is in accordance with the requirements and promises of the
However, it would be WRONG to take the raw literal
meaning of such Old Testament prophetic verses and
utilise them to establish New Testament doctrine!
If one wishes to establish doctrine or determine
prophetic warnings from prophetic scriptures one
must be careful to take into account biblical
symbolism and spiritual equivalents, as well as
the overall 'spirit' of the New Testament.
* SPIRITUAL TITHE OF THE NEW TESTAMENT *
Many have not realized the Old Covenant, with all its promises and
requirements, was merely a shadow of the greater spiritual New Testament
Heb 8:4 ... there are priests who offer the
gifts according to the law; who serve
the copy and shadow of the heavenly
Heb 10:1 For the law, having a shadow of the
good things to come ...
Col 2:16 Therefore let no one judge you in food or in drink,
or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths,
:17 which are a shadow of things to come ....
[ In these verses the context is placed in the future 'to come',
because prophetically the true 'spirit of God' will not be made
known until the 'end time'. ]
Paul in Romans discusses the same topic in a different manner,
Rom 7:6 ... we should serve in the newness of the spirit
and not in the oldness of the letter.
[ It is these 'spirit' principles which comprise the New Testament! ]
So what is the 'SPIRITUAL TITHE' of the New Testament?
Some denominations have concluded, the
'spirit of giving' is the New Testament
equivalent. However, we will see this
To determine what the 'spiritual tithe' is, we will look at the
example of circumcision and then take another look at Malachi 3:8-12.
In the early church days we notice a great dispute arose in regard to
exactly how the principle of circumcision was to apply. Acts 15:1-29.
Circumcision, like tithing, existed prior to
the creation of the Old Covenant at Mt Sinai.
Circumcision was even formalized into an
everlasting covenant. Gen 17:9-14.
Later it was codified again in the Sinai
covenant, refer Lev 12:2-3.
What was the effect of the New Testament arrangements upon these two
The New Testament radically modified their form!
Rom 2:29 but he is a Jew who is one inwardly, and
circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit,
and not in the letter, whose praise is not from
men but from God.
NB: Physical circumcision of the physical flesh,
became spiritual circumcision of the spiritual
flesh (ie ones heart)!
The Old Covenant Law underwent a very dramatic transformation!
The prior Old Testament contractual requirements were not destroyed or
added to, but elevated from the physical level to the spiritual level!
So following this principle we have,
Physical tithing of ones physical increase
Spiritual tithing of ones spiritual increase.
To help us perceive the transformation of tithing, let us look at the
central message of Malachi 3:8-12,
"Bring all the tithes into the storehouse
that there be food in my house ..."
With tithing under the Old Covenant the nation of Israel mostly tithed
food. This food took the form of wine, oil and crops etc.
To consider the spiritual equivalent we must ask:
What is spiritual food?
People due to different religious backgrounds have different concepts
of what comprises spiritual food. Nevertheless few will disagree that
the Word is a source of food for Christians. The Word provides food in
the form of 'milk' and 'meat'.
Taking this viewpoint it becomes obvious that what is to be tithed is
not money, but the milk and meat teachings of God.
COMMENT: God originally intended for the church membership to
bring to the attention of the local ministry some of
the biblical inspirations they received as result of
their own study or research. The local ministry were
then to select the best of these perspectives and in
turn 'tithe' them to the central leadership of their
church for consideration.
Those perspectives considered to be of benefit would
then be disseminated through the local ministry back
to those members in need.
In such an arrangement the church membership equate to the children
of Israel who were to till the land. The local ministry correlate to
the 'farming community' priest and the upper church echelon to the
Why is spiritual tithing so important?
* WHY THE SPIRITUAL TITHE IS NECESSARY *
Spiritual Tithing is Needed !
Very few Christians realize just how complex the Word of God is!
People do not generally grasp that much of their Christian understanding
comes from either:
1) The obsolete teachings of the Old Covenant
or 2) The perverted traditional teachings of men.
The warning of Christ to the Jews, also applies to us,
Matt 15:9 And in vain they worship Me, teaching as
doctrines the commandments of men.
Failure within the Christian community to carefully examine the bible
has led to teachings being taught in the name of Christ, which upon
careful examination can not be supported.
The bible itself warns its readers to be very diligent in its study,
for it is a book designed to trap and deceive the unwary.
Isa 28:9 Whom will he teach knowledge?
And whom will he make to understand the message?
Those just weaned from milk?
Those just drawn from the breasts? [The answer is No!]
For precept must be upon precept,
precept upon precept,
line upon line,
line upon line,
here a little,
there a little.
Heb 5:13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled
in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe.
Isa 28:13 But the word of the LORD was to them,
"precept upon precept,
precept upon precept,
line upon line,
line upon line,
here a little,
there a little,"
That they might go and fall backward, and be broken
and snared and caught.
Some take the approach, 'the Old Covenant was deceptive, however the
New Testament is quite plain'. Many who think this is the case should
try proving the ministry of Christ lasted 3.5 years without referring
to a text book. Or even worse try to understand the book of Revelation.
If we struggle over these points why are people so sure they have a
good grasp of doctrine! The bible doesn't suddenly become easier just
because the topic changes to doctrine.
It goes without saying that if one can not understand doctrine, how
does one know if one is pleasing God.
How much of what 'Christianity' currently understands is wrong?
One will never know unless one studies.
29:11 The whole vision has become to you like the
words of a book that is sealed, which men
deliver to one who is literate, saying,
"Read this, please"; and he says,
"I cannot, for it is sealed".
:12 Then the book is delivered to one who is
illiterate, saying, "Read this, please";
and he says, "I am not literate".
:13 Therefore the LORD said:
"Inasmuch as these people draw near to
Me with their mouths and honor Me with
lips, but have removed their hearts far
from Me, and their fear toward Me is
taught by the commandment of men,
:14 Therefore, behold, I will again do a
marvelous work among this people, ...
for the wisdom of their wise men shall
perish, and the understanding of their
prudent men shall be hidden."
The hard truth is that by failing to diligently struggle to understand
the Word, churches and people show their true inner disrespect.
It is precisely because of the complexity of the Word of God that there
exists a need for all to contribute to the spiritual storehouse.
It is easy to see how spiritual tithing could quickly increase the
level of spiritual food in God's storehouse.
What then prevents this from taking full effect today?
Pride, greed and laziness!
- Pride, this shows itself in how quickly one church group
will unjustly undermine another.
- Greed, this prevents the removal of non-scriptural teachings
due to a fear of a resulting loss of members and income.
- Laziness, results in people failing to earnestly ponder the
word of God, creating dependence upon a minister, church or
church founder in place of dependence upon the word of God.
(This provides ample scope for long-term deception and stunted
These factors have been so successful that after nearly two thousand
years of Christianity, Christians still barely grasp even the most
basic of the teachings of God.
In summary as physical tithing was essential to the proper operation
of Israel, so spiritual tithing is essential to the proper operation
of Christianity today!
* FINANCING THE 'WORK' *
How to Finance the Work?
If the spiritual equivalent of tithing does not cover the provision
of the monetary requirements of the work, what principle in the Old
Deut 25:4 You shall not muzzle an ox
while it treads out the grain.
1Tim 5:18 For the Scripture says, "You shall not muzzle
an ox while it treads out the grain", and "The
laborer is worthy of his wages."
1Cor 9:9 For it is written in the law of Moses, "You shall
not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain".
Is it oxen God is concerned about?
:10 Or does He say it altogether for our sakes? For
our sakes, no doubt, this is written, that he who
plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in
hope should be partaker of his hope.
:11 If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a
great thing if we reap your material things?
:14 Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach
the gospel should live from the gospel.
This principle does not involve a set percentage!
The person who chooses to give has plenty of freedom to consider their
financial circumstances. There is also no implied need to donate if one
is not benefiting spiritually from the labour of a minister or ministry.
Quite clearly however, if one is gaining benefit from the study of
another there is an obligation to return this favour through the
provision of material (or other) assistance.
* TITHING SUMMARY *
Despite 'physical tithing' being commonly taught in Christian churches
there is no support for including a corruption of this Old Covenant
principle in the New Testament.
The words of Jesus Christ in Matt 23:23 and Luke 11:42 were merely
confirming the requirement of the Old Covenant as indeed were His
words in Matt 8:4. Christ having been 'born under the law' supported
the Law during His ministry.
We do not find in the example of the apostles, mention of any need for
the Gentile churches to tithe or give a fixed percentage. Rather we
observe the apostle Paul suggesting 'equality', ensuring neither the
provider or the receiver should be burdened.
Malachi 3:8-12 should be viewed along with the less complementary Amos
4:1-12. It is wrong to use Old Covenant prophetic teaching in its raw
form to try and strengthen the view that literal tithing is required
The notion that the Law was merely a shadow of the
New Testament spiritual 'law' is commonly overlooked.
Churches today do not need storehouses of literal
food, but storehouses of spiritual food. It is time
to build up a 'heap' of scriptural food!
Although the principle of tithing does not cover the need to financially
support the work, the spiritual equivalent of the following does;
'You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain'.
With this principle, no fixed percentage applies!
Is tithing required today? YES!
However, not a tithe of money, but a tithe of 'spiritual food'!